By Tetsushi Kajimoto
TOKYO - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday he would welcome a decision by the United States to explore rejoining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), following news that President Donald Trump wanted to take a fresh look at the trade pact.
"If it's true, I would welcome it," he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
Aso said he expected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump to discuss the TPP at their summit meeting next week.
But he added that needed to verify facts carefully.
Trump "is a person who could change temperamentally, so he may say something different the next day", he added.
Trump had asked his trade advisers to look at rejoining TPP, a multinational trade pact he withdrew the United States from last year, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.
The United States took part in TPP negotiations under Trump's predecessor but the president withdrew the United States from it early last year under his "America First" policy, raising fears of trade protectionism.
"After the U.S. withdrawal, Japan, recognising the significance of free trade, has led the initiative in pulling together the TPP 11," Aso said, referring to the other members of the pact.
"Our efforts have borne fruit if the United States judged it would be better to rejoin," he said.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher, Robert Birsel)