A six-member delegation from Japan's Diet, or parliament, met with USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward, California rice producer Michael Rue, and USA Rice staff members Bob Cummings and Beth Park to exchange views on Japan's participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Japan delegation was led by Masahiko Yamada, a former minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and current Diet members.

The two sides exchanged views on Japan's rice market, with USA Rice noting the importance of providing choice to Japan's consumers and that the nearly 20 years of successful market access for U.S. rice in Japan is a solid foundation for further negotiations in the TPP.

The Diet members pointed to the positive image of U.S. rice in Japan but expressed concern over the impact of a full opening of Japan's rice market. USA Rice was the first stop of three days of meetings in the Washington, D.C. area with U.S. government officials and agricultural groups.

TPP negotiations have been underway for several years between the United States and eight countries in the Pacific region to establish free trade agreements between the negotiating partners. Japan's prime minister announced in November that Japan would seek to enter the TPP as a full negotiating partner. Since this announcement, agricultural interests in Japan, particularly the rice sector, along with some segments of the medical and financial services sectors, have expressed concern and are seeking exemptions from the TPP process.