Canada agrees to begin exporting shale gas to Japan

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed Tuesday that Canada will begin exporting shale gas to Japan, making it the second country after the U.S. to provide the nation with the natural gas.

During the summit talks in Ottawa, Abe and Harper also agreed to have the Self-Defense Forces and Canadian military provide logistics support to each other when engaged in international humanitarian assistance missions such as U.N. peacekeeping operations, as well as other relief efforts, a Japanese government official said.

The logistics deal, when formally signed, will be the third of its kind for Japan after other pacts with the United States and Australia. It is the latest in a series of defense cooperation deals that that Abe is hoping to pitch to other countries.

Abe visited Canada on the first leg of a tour that later Tuesday took him to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

With the Syrian crisis emerging as a major topic at the General Assembly, both Abe and Harper confirmed their support for a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Damascus’ chemical weapons, with Abe vowing to provide humanitarian aid to refugees from the war-torn nation.

To prepare for shale gas exports to Japan, the two leaders said they would accelerate ministerial level talks, the Japanese official said.

Abe also offered assistance in developing the necessary infrastructure in Canada to ship shale gas, asking Harper to allow Japanese firms to participate in shale gas-related projects.

Shale gas, a relatively inexpensive energy source, is expected to help reduce soaring costs at utilities that have been forced to rely on fossil fuels after nuclear power plants were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima atomic crisis.

As negotiations continue for the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative, the two leaders agreed to jointly cooperate in boosting trade within bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

Both leaders agreed to hold a meeting at the vice-ministerial level of foreign and defense officials at an early date, after officials from the two countries met in 2011 to discuss security cooperation under the same framework, the Japanese official said.

Abe is aiming to review the nation’s defense posture with an eye to amending the pacifist Constitution to allow the Self-Defense Forces to engage in collective self-defense in order to take a greater global security role.