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Press Conference by Minister Seko (excerpted version)

*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purpose only.

8:44 - 8:50 a.m.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
The third floor lobby, Prime Minister’s Office

Opening Remarks

RCEP Ministerial Meeting

Minister Seko: Good morning. First, let me start with one topic. As for the RCEP, I have been proposing to hold ministerial-level meetings in Tokyo in order to accelerate negotiations. As a result, it has been decided that Japan will host the meeting on July 1.
  In the past, the RCEP ministerial meetings have been hosted by ASEAN countries in light of its characteristics as ASEAN-centric forum. This will be the first meeting hosted by a non-ASEAN country. Together with Singapore as a co-chair, Japan will make efforts for achieving an early conclusion to the high-quality agreement, one in which the balance between market access and rules are properly secured.

Question-and-Answer Session

RCEP Ministerial Meeting

Q: As the negotiations have been protracted for five years, what is the significance of Tokyo’s hosting at this time, and what kind of achievements do you expect at the meetings?

A: At the previous meeting, I expressed my intention to support the conclusion of the negotiation within this year, provided that the contents of the agreement are well-balanced and of high-quality.
 Various issues from various fields are currently being discussed and narrowed down at the administrative-level of negotiations. Through these negotiations, it has become clear that some issues will need to be decided politically. In this sense, at the Tokyo meetings, we should exert ministerial leadership to further concentrate on our priorities to be discussed and pave the way for the conclusion of the negotiation.

Q: I would like to check about the formality; will this be the first time for the RCEP to be organized by co-chairs?

A: I think I would be better to check if there are any other cases, but so far the RCEP has been chaired by ASEAN countries. As this will be the first time to be held outside ASEAN, and Japan will host and co-chair, I think I can say, yes, “for the first time”.

Last updated:2018-11-21