Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Monday to play a more active role in maintaining stability and prosperity in the international community, including finding a peaceful solution for the Ukrainian crisis.
“As responsible global partners, the two countries have very important roles in addressing various issues that not only Asia and Europe but also the international society face,” Abe said at a joint news conference in his office after the summit with Merkel.
Pointing out that the Ukrainian crisis has serious international implications, Abe said he and Merkel, as the hosts of the next two Group of Seven summits, will cooperate on the issue.
“Together with Chancellor Merkel, I will strongly urge Russia to play a constructive role in achieving a diplomatic and peaceful solution, including implementation of a cease-fire agreement,” Abe said.
Merkel stressed that Ukraine’s territorial integrity should never be changed by use of force.
On terrorism, Merkel said the two countries have joined hands in addressing the Islamic State group.
“I felt distress at the two Japanese who fell victim to terrorism,” Merkel said, referring to the killing of two Japanese nationals by the extremists earlier this year. “Together, we have to carry out the fight against terrorism and need to come up with measures to stop such terrorism.”
Abe said he and Merkel pledged further cooperation in seeking reform of the U.N. Security Council so that it will be better suited for the 21st century. Japan and Germany are members of the so-called Group of Four nations, along with Brazil and India, seeking major reform.
The two leaders agreed to further promote talks on an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union, aiming to reach broad agreement by the end of this year, Abe added.
Asked for advice on how Japan can improve its relations with China and South Korea, which have been plagued by historical issues, Merkel noted she didn’t come to Japan to give tips on how Tokyo should conduct its diplomacy, but she did say that addressing the past is a prerequisite for reconciliation, a lesson her country learned after World War II.
“In Germany, we had an intensive discussion on how to sum up the past,” she said. “Thanks to the reconciliation, we were able to create the European Union.”
Abe, responding to a question from a German reporter, said his administration will continue to push for the restart of idled nuclear reactors once their safety is confirmed by the independent Nuclear Regulation Authority.
“We have been making efforts to increase the power-generating capacity of renewable energy,” but alternative sources still make up only a small portion of Japan’s energy mix, Abe said. “I have to fulfill my responsibility to guarantee a stable energy supply at a low cost.”
After the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Germany decided to shut down its nuclear power plants by 2022.
Earlier Monday, Merkel had an audience with Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace. Before that, she visited the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, where she was greeted by Honda Motor Co.’s humanoid robot Asimo.
Merkel will wrap up her two-day official visit to Tokyo on Tuesday.
Her last visit to Japan came in 2008 when she attended the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido.
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