• Kyodo


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Danish counterpart Helle Thorning-Schmidt agreed Tuesday to strengthen bilateral cooperation on maritime security and pledged to seek the early conclusion of a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union.

Abe explained Japan’s policy to make contributions to global peace and security during the talks in the prime minister’s office with Thorning-Schmit, who agreed on the importance of promoting the rule of law and free trade.

With Japan facing a tough decision on its future energy mix and the third anniversary next week of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, the two leaders agreed to seek cooperation on renewable energy and encourage private-sector partnerships, Japanese officials said.

“We’d like to work together in such fields as peace-building, (development in) the Arctic region, and empowerment of women, and further bilateral relations,” Abe told a news conference after the talks.

One of Abe’s top priorities is to put the deflation-mired economy on a path of sustainable recovery, and he has being calling for more women to join the workforce while implementing his “Abenomics” policy package.

Japan and the European Union launched negotiations last year on a free trade accord.

“Trade and cooperation have thrived for many years, but it still holds tremendous potential. I believe that one of the best ways to fulfill this potential is to finalize the free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union,” Thorning-Schmidt said earlier in the day at a meeting to commemorate the relaunch of the Japan-Denmark Parliamentary Friendship League.

The league includes around 40 Diet members, including former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi. Liberal Democratic Party Lower House member Taro Kono chairs the group.

“This league is a testimony of the excellent relations between our two nations,” Thorning-Schmidt said, expressing her expectations that the group will support the deepening of economic, political and people-to-people ties.

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