• Kyodo

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Japan and the United Arab Emirates agreed Wednesday to enhance cooperation in energy development, including oil production and the construction of nuclear power plants in the Middle Eastern country.

During talks with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his desire to “further strengthen the comprehensive partnership” with the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi is the biggest of the seven emirates that make up the country.

The United Arad Emirates is the second-biggest exporter of oil to Japan after Saudi Arabia, and around 40 percent of the oil fields Japanese companies have developed abroad are located in waters off Abu Dhabi.

Japan’s interest in many of the Abu Dhabi oilfields will expire in 2018 and Tokyo is seeking to extend the rights.

Abe appreciated the United Arab Emirate’s consent in January to extend the right to one of the oil fields for 15 years beyond its expiration in 2026.

Tokyo is trying to enhance cooperation with major oil and gas producers at a time when Japan is increasing fuel imports for thermal power generation to compensate for the halt in the country’s nuclear reactors, amid safety concerns amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Abe and the crown prince agreed to go ahead with domestic procedures to approve a bilateral accord signed last May to enable Japanese manufacturers to export nuclear reactors to the United Arab Emirates.

The Diet is deliberating the civil nuclear cooperation pact, which is necessary to prevent any diversion to military use following the provision of nuclear technology to a country.

Japan is seeking to increase infrastructure exports to the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and the United Arab Emirates is also cooperating with Japan on developing renewable energy.

Abe and the crown prince released a joint statement after the meeting in which they also pledged cooperation in ensuring the safety of shipping lanes, countering terrorism and improving medical services.

Ahead of his talks with Abe, the crown prince met with Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace.

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