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Will controversial comments by senior U.S. official affect U.S.-Japan TPP talks Updated: 2015-03-05 22:00:50 KST

Delegations from the U.S. and Japan are in Tokyo on Thursday for talks over a regional free trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Their meeting has gained local media attention as it follows controversial comments from a senior U.S. official that were seen as letting Japan get away with whitewashing its wartime atrocities.
Although later reports clarified that Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman's remarks did not indicate a shift in Washington's stance on the historical tensions in Northeast Asia, some say it showed U.S. efforts to strengthen its ties with Tokyo.
Concluding the TPP deal were said to be on one of Washington's priorities before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Washington in spring.

However, experts say they see no connection between Sherman's comments and the U.S.-Japan's TPP negotiations.


"This isn't just a bilateral trade relationship between the United States and Japan. There are 12 countries involved and potentially more as additional countries get added on after these agreements are hammered out."

Kim says it's not the diplomatic ties that have impact on trade relations, but rather the other way around.

"Trade often strengthens or reinforces diplomatic relations which brings the countries closer together. That's because a lot is to be gained from trade relations."

Analysts say the final agreement on the TPP could bring a shift in Washington's stance on tensions in Northeast Asia, but they added since Washington is not solely economically dependent on Japan, their stand towards historical rows in the region will likely remain unchanged.
Connie Kim, Arirang News.
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