BY GEORGE NISHIYAMA AND FRANCES ROBINSON
BRUSSELS—Japan and the European Union agreed on Saturday to look into a free-trade pact, but their leaders stopped short of launching formal talks for a deal, which Japan sees as crucial for exports to its third-largest trading partner.
"We still have a long way to go, but the objective is now clear," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters after the summit.
"Some might say we have not gone far enough. I say we should not underestimate the political meaning of our decision," he added.
Mr. Van Rompuy said "the potential economic and political results of the decision are ...