Abe and Kenny affirm EU FTA goal

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny affirmed Wednesday that they will cooperate to bring about a free-trade agreement between Japan and the European Union soon.

During the first visit to Ireland by a sitting Japanese prime minister, Abe agreed to bolster ties with Ireland, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member European Union.

As for Abe’s economic plan dubbed “Abenomics,” Kenny expressed support and said a strong Japanese economy will be a benefit to the world, Japanese officials said.

The bilateral meeting in Dublin came after Abe attended the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, where he joined other leaders from the Group of Eight nations to discuss issues of global concern.

“Asia and Europe are closely linked and we share responsibility for and benefits of the world’s peace and stability,” Abe said at a joint press conference after his meeting with Kenny. “We will strengthen cooperation and policy dialogue with the European partners” in the security areas, Abe added.

Abe said Japan and Ireland share the same values, such as a market economy and rule of law, as Tokyo aims to boost trade and investment with Ireland, where China has sought to strengthen ties.

Tokyo is hoping the EU will maintain its arms embargo against China, but Abe did not touch on the topic during the meeting with Kenny.