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Japan, Turkey to pursue economic partnership agreement

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed Tuesday in Tokyo that the two countries will work toward starting negotiations for a bilateral economic partnership agreement, hopefully before the end of this year.

During their meeting at the State Guest House in the Akasaka district, they also agreed to speed up finalizing a civil nuclear accord that they signed in May. To take effect, the accord — necessary for Japan to export nuclear power infrastructure to Turkey — needs approval from both countries’ legislative bodies.

“We will make efforts in concluding (the EPA) as early as possible,” Erdogan told reporters at a joint news conference following their meeting. “I believe our relationship will get even stronger by concluding the pact.”

Erdogan, who arrived in Tokyo on Monday with seven ministers and about 100 business leaders, said Japan and Turkey need to expand their trade, which currently amounts to less than $4 billion a year.

“We’ve discussed necessary measures for improving the situation as early as possible,” Erdogan said.

Abe and Erdogan also signed a memorandum to cooperate on establishing a joint international university of science and technology in Istanbul, aiming to nurture experts in the field of nuclear energy.

Abe offered Turkey an additional ¥43 billion in loans for construction of a subway line under the Bosporus Straits in Istanbul. Japan has already extended some ¥150 billion in loans for the project.

It was their third summit, following meetings in May and October in Turkey. In the earlier meetings, Abe worked hard to sell Japan’s nuclear power infrastructure, a central pillar for his growth strategy.

At the May meeting, the pair signed a contract to build a nuclear power plant on the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey.

During Abe’s second visit to Turkey in October, a joint venture established by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Areva SA France reached agreement with the Turkish government to build the nuclear power plant, the first such order for a Japanese firm since the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Because Erdogan’s government aims to get the power plant up and running by 2023, the Abe administration hopes to get Diet approval for the civil nuclear accord with Turkey during the session scheduled to start later this month.

Erdogan was scheduled to leave Tokyo on Wednesday after meeting with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. He is set to travel to Singapore and Malaysia after completing his three-day visit in Tokyo.