Lawmakers in Japan's Upper House of the Diet have begun deliberating the country's new trade pact with the United States.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the deal will be necessary if Japan is to play a part in economic vitality overseas as it faces a declining population at home.
Abe said "Japan has taken the initiative in the creation of a global free trade zone. It consists of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union and the Japan-US pact, accounting for 60 percent of the global economy. This is a great opportunity for our country".
Abe also said Japan will continue to pursue arrangements that are in line with its national interests.
Japan and the US reached their final trade agreement in September.
Japan agreed to cut its tariff on American beef from the current 38.5 percent to nine percent in phases.
Tokyo and Washington will continue negotiating levies on automobiles and auto parts. Japan wants them scrapped.
Japan's ruling bloc is aiming to get the Diet's approval on the agreement during the current session that ends next month.