UPDATE 6-Japan, U.S. agree on Tokyo joining Trans-Pacific trade talks
* Japan could take part in TPP talks in July
* TPP key to "third arrow" of "Abenomics" policy
* Japan's Abe over-rode farm lobby on TPP
* U.S. to phase out auto tariffs over long period
By Kaori Kaneko and Doug Palmer
TOKYO/WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) - Japan and the United States on Friday agreed on a deal paving the way for Tokyo to join talks on an Asia-Pacific free trade agreement, increasing the economic weight of the proposed pact and triggering a loud protest from U.S. automakers.
The deal brings Japan closer to entering talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Australia and New Zealand hope to finish this year.
"I think Japan's national interests are protected under this U.S.-Japan agreement," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Friday after a meeting with Cabinet ministers.
Abe, who took office in December, is making the regional free trade pact a keystone of his strategy to open Japan's economy and spur long-sought growth. Continued...