Madrid leader visits Abe; pair mark 400 years of bilateral ties

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Thursday with his Spanish counterpart, Mariano Rajoy, who is visiting to mark 400 years of bilateral relations.

During their meeting, the pair agreed to boost bilateral economic cooperation and information-sharing by the two nations’ nuclear regulators.

Abe and Rajoy also exchanged four joint documents, including one to promote joint investment in third-party countries and another to promote Japanese companies’ advancement into Central and South America and Spanish firms’ advancement into Asia.

The two leaders also agreed to launch an annual meeting of political-level leaders at their foreign ministries to promote bilateral cooperation on security and defense, according another joint statement released after the meeting.

“Four agreements have been concluded. . . . I believe we’ll make major progress in cooperation in all areas,” Rajoy told reporters through a translator at a joint press conference with Abe at the prime minister’s office.

Rajoy also said he invited Abe to visit Spain.

Rajoy came to Tokyo Tuesday on a three-day trip to mark the start of the Japan-Spain year held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of a 1613 diplomatic mission led by Hasekura Tsunenaga that was sent by Sendai daimyo Date Masamune to Spain and Rome.

Earlier in the day, Rajoy visited Fukushima Prefecture to kick off an exhibition featuring Spanish artist Jose Maria Sicilia, whose works on the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis are being displayed at the Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art until Dec. 1.