The acting Trade Minister, Steven Joyce, says Japan's bid to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is important, as countries move towards completing an agreement by the end of the year.
The agreement, known as TPP, is a free trade deal being negotiated by 11 countries including New Zealand, the United States and Australia.
Japan - the world's third-biggest economy - wants to be the 12th country.
Mr Joyce says Japan is New Zealand's fourth largest trading partner, and any removal of trade barriers as part of the agreement could be hugely beneficial to New Zealand.
Mr Joyce says TPP ministers will want to discuss the next steps regarding Japan when they meet next month as part of the APEC Trade Ministers' meeting in Indonesia.