Masaki Sakai, a former agricultural counselor at Japan's Embassy in the United States and current director general of the International Affairs Department of Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), visited USA Rice today to discuss trade issues, particularly the negotiations underway within the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Japan is currently not a participant in these talks, however, the Japanese government is expected to make a decision about participation sometime next month. Japan's agriculture sector is opposed to participation in the TPP because of the likely increase in market access for farm goods from other TPP partners, including the United States.

Other economic sectors in Japan are supportive of Japan's entry. Japan's original timetable for deciding on TPP participation was put back following the earthquake and tsunami of earlier this year.