That's why potential US approval of Japan's request to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is sending automotive criers out in the streets. The TPP is a series of long-running talks to open up trade between the US and 10 other nations (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). Last month, Japan asked to join the talks, and the TPP membership would need to assent to the request within 90 days of the next TPP meeting, scheduled for Peru in July.
It looks like the US will agree to let Japan in and that has some politicians and labor groups concerned, the fear being that Japan will get an even easier time of it here without truly eliminating hurdles over there. Talks between Japan and the US are said to be at "an advanced stage," with the US trying to get some early agreements in advance in sectors like auto, insurance and agriculture before the July meeting.
The AFL-CIO is wary, just one of the labor groups worried about losing ground just when it's said that American manufacturing is coming back. Ford, not a newcomer to being vocal about trade issues with Japan, is against Japan's inclusion to the TPP talks, as is the American Automotive Policy Council. And certain members of Congress are hesitant to let Japan sit at the table, based on past and current unresolved issues. Nevertheless, it doesn't look like the Obama Administration and a large pro-business lobby will turn away from the possibility of adding the world's third largest economy to the proceedings, the US government having already unofficially welcomed Japan to the TPP talks.