"Japan was one of the last countries to join the now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) multilateral free trade agreement and during exhaustive negotiations with the USA came to a basic understanding that would allow the pact to go ahead with the "elimination" of trade tariffs", Hisao Katayama, a senior equity analyst at Nomura Securities Co., told Xinhua.
Up to now, the Japanese government has been cautious about pushing ahead with the TPP without the US, but has changed its approach in light of the Trump administration's hostility to multilateral deals.
Ahead of the meeting, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met and discussed their role following the first round of U.S. -Japan economic dialogue in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Aso apparently had in mind the situation involving North Korea and the first round of voting in France's presidential election, in which a focal issue is the country's possible withdrawal from the European Union.
Among the 12 countries involved in the TPP free trade talks, Japan and the US, the two largest economies involved in the talks at the time, were constantly at loggerheads, as Japan remained ever-reluctant to alleviate tariffs to protect its own interests.
He said Japan had explained to the USA the importance of the TPP in both strategic and economic terms, and he believed the US understood that stance.
On trade negotiations with the United States, Aso reiterated his view that it would be in both the interests of Japan and the United States for Washington to re-join TPP talks instead of pursuing a bilateral free trade agreement.
If Japan continues to take this leadership role in pushing forward with the TPP, it would be consistent with the joint statement released after Prime Minister Abe and President Trump met in NY in February.
Japan initially said that a TPP without the U.S. was "meaningless".
Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, said, "There's no guarantee that the United States would win a better deal in bilateral negotiations than the TPP".
At the March meeting, which was the first since Trump became USA president, members dropped the obligatory anti-protectionism line - we resist all forms of protectionism - in their joint communique at Washington's request. It's trying to revive the TPP without the U.S.
"President Trump believes it is in the interest of the United States to negotiate trade agreements on a bilateral basis".
During their talks on Tuesday, Pence and Aso launched a new "economic dialogue" that will consider ways the countries can strengthen the economic side of their alliance.