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Hollande calls on Japan to recover self-confidence of old

Visiting French president urges greater bilateral cooperation

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Japan and France should regain confidence in their capacities and assets in spite of mounting competition from emerging economies and recent economic crises, French President Francois Hollande said Saturday in a speech in Tokyo.

Many people believe Europe and Japan are no longer as powerful as before, both economically and politically, Hollande noted.

“I do not accept this kind of impression. I believe Europe and Japan, we both have roles to play in the world economy,” he said through a translator at a Tokyo hotel. “I’m confident about Japan’s future, and you should also have confidence in what is currently happening in Europe.”

Attending a meeting organized by the Nikkei financial newspaper, Hollande pointed out that Japan and France face a number of common challenges, including from emerging economies, financial problems involving public pension systems and international clout that appears to be on the wane.

He stressed that his country has already substantially cut its fiscal deficit and will begin to focus more on economic growth and employment strategies.

Tokyo and Paris can cooperate with each other in more various areas, such as by jointly helping African countries and facilitating the conclusion of a free-trade agreement between the European Union and Japan, he said.

Hollande did not say much about the economic, fiscal and monetary policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but seemed to voice approval of “Abenomics” by saying their “three arrows,” or key pillars, are not aimed at France.

Abe’s call for aggressive monetary easing has raised concerns that it could spark a global currency devaluation war.