Fumio Kishida was officially elected as Japan’s 100th prime minister on Monday after winning a majority of votes in both houses of parliament. The newly elected leader has already called for a snap election to be held on October 31.
The surprise move, amid widespread expectations for a poll in November, appears to be aimed at exploiting a traditional honeymoon period accorded to new governments and a sharp drop in the number of coronavirus infections.
As he is expected to win the vote, his foreign policies are under considerable scrutiny abroad and particularly in the context of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific (CPTPP).
Brexit Britain has submitted its application for membership to the CTPPP and will begin talks on Tuesday with the 11 members of the alliance.
The CPTPP trade pact removes 95 percent of tariffs between its members: Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia.
After Britain’s announcement of its newly forged defence alliance with Australia and the US to counteract China’s military power in the Indo-Pacific, Beijing also submitted its application to join the CPTPP.
Taiwan immediately followed suit.
The move took the UK and the US by surprise, putting pressure on the CPTPP members to take a stance on both China and Taiwan.
The rotating presidency of the CPTPP is currently held by Japan, and the new prime minister is already famous for his anti-China stance which could benefit talks for UK’s accession.
Tokyo has already considered the UK’s application as its main task during its chairmanship.
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Kishida added that he would increase Japan’s military budget in a bid to put more pressure on Beijing.
He also openly welcomed Taiwan’s application to join the CPTPP, saying that Japan and Taiwan share values such as human rights.
The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s growing influence.
But the TPP was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when then-US President Donald Trump dragged the US out.
Taiwan, a major semiconductor producer, has applied to join under the name it uses in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.
Taiwan is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation grouping.
While talks to enter the WTO went on for more than a decade, Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said she did not think it would take that long for the CPTPP, but added it was hard to give a timetable.
“I think if the political obstacles can be reduced as much as possible, I don’t believe talks will go on for decades,” she concluded.