Japan's entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade deal is looking less likely than first thought, according to a trade lobbyist.
The country's inclusion in the negotiations will be a key focus of leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Yokohama later this week.
Nine countries attending APEC are working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
New Zealand, Brunei, Chile and Singapore have already signed up to the agreement, but the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam are also in talks to join.
Japan confounded expectations when it announced it would enter preparatory talks with the TPP countries.
The New Zealand-United States Council executive diresctor Stephen Jacobi is in Japan and says its position now appears to be to only commit to the trade deal after lengthy consultations with domestic interest groups.
New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser says the politically contentious issue of tariffs on agricultural goods will have to be tackled by Japan if it is to be accepted into the TPP.
Those tariffs could be removed more slowly if it helps Japan's government win support for involvement in the deal, he says.