Hot on the heels on the Korea-US FTA (KorUS), Japan has reluctantly admitted that it might have to consider its own FTA with the US as well. Reflecting their ambivalence, Japanese Trade Minister Akira Amari compared KorUS to the black ships that forced Japan to open up to the outside world back in 1850. An FTA between the world’s largest and second largest economies, which account for nearly 40% of world trade, would have immense global effects. Economic effects aside, the FTA would also place additional pressure on their mutual strategic rival, China, which is still relatively new to the free trade (let alone FTA) game.

Without doubt, the biggest opponents of such an FTA would be the agricultural sector in Japan. The reduction, if not elimination, of most agricultural tariffs would be demanded by the US, although the KorUS example (where rice was excluded entirely) could offer some light in a long and very dark tunnel.