In the past, European companies have faced trade barriers by exporting to Japan, which sometimes made them more difficult to compete with. (2) Japan`s free trade agreement strategy – the specific points to be considered by Japan`s major trading partners are East Asia, North America and Europe, three regions accounting for 80% of Japan`s trade. Compared to free trade agreements with the countries of North America and Europe, all of which are industrialized countries, free trade agreements with East Asia will bring the greatest additional benefits through further liberalization. As can be seen from the simple averages of tariff rates (United States, 3.6%; European Union, 4.1%; China, 10%; Malaysia, 14.5%; Republic of Korea, 16.1%; Philippines 25.6%; and Indonesia, 37.5%, East Asia, the region where Japanese products accounted for the highest share of trade, has the highest tariffs. Trade liberalization with East Asia will help facilitate the activities of Japanese companies that face competition from ASEAN and China and, in many cases, have relocated their production sites to sites in East Asia. (1) Free trade agreements with economic benefits have the effect of increasing import and export markets, moving to more efficient industrial structures and improving the competitive environment. In addition, free trade agreements help reduce the likelihood that economic frictions will become political problems and help expand and harmonize existing trade-related rules and systems. Protectionism has overwhelmed the world over the past decade, but a great economic power is going against the trend: Japan. Shinzo Abe`s government has defended the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Economic Partnership Agreement between Japan and the European Union and Japan-U.S. Trade agreements. These agreements have created free trade zones for more than 60% of the world economy. Japan is currently negotiating a comprehensive regional economic partnership with China, India and 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations with India and Australia began in 2007, while somewhere in the pipeline, Colombia, China, Korea, Cambodia and Laos are also on the agenda.
(3) The possibility of using free trade agreements to help developing countries conclude free trade agreements with developing countries could also serve as a political instrument to promote the economic development of these countries, including those in Africa. In mid-2006, Tokyo announced the launch of free trade negotiations with Brunei, concluded in 2007. Japan`s agreements with Brunei and Indonesia are unique in that they guarantee Tokyo access to oil and gas supplies. If Japan promotes free trade agreements, we must ensure political and economic stability in the broader context of a regional system. Priority should be given to the conclusion of free trade agreements with countries and regions where, despite close economic relations, there are relatively high trade barriers that hinder the expansion of the Japanese economy. From this point of view, East Asia is the region with the most promising interlocutors and, given the feasibility criteria and the aforementioned political and diplomatic criteria, the Republic of Korea and ASEAN are the most likely negotiating partners.