Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls agreed Monday to further boost cooperation and exchanges in research and development areas, and designated a “year of innovation” between the two countries that will start 12 months from now.

Abe said following their talks at his office in Tokyo that they agreed to strengthen economic cooperation, especially in the field of innovation.

The project they dubbed the Japan-France Innovation Year will feature a series of events, including science seminars, symposiums and technology exhibitions.

“There exist many partnerships between France and Japan in research and development industries,” Valls said through translator at a joint news conference with Abe. “We have many corporate exchanges in the business community and I’d like to further increase the number of partnerships.”

To that end, a number of institutions from both countries agreed to promote cooperative projects. They include cooperation for innovation and a technological transfer agreement between Kyoto University and the French National Centre for Scientific Research, and shoring up the framework between the Japan External Trade Organization and Business France to encourage cooperation in the business sector.

Abe and Valls also adopted a scheme in which their countries will cooperate on helping achieve sustainable development in Africa and strengthening health care and security on the continent.

They agreed to promote cooperation on improving nuclear energy safety and to bolster their effort for preventing the use of nuclear energy technologies for military purposes.

“We confirmed that we will strengthen cooperation in this field from a global perspective toward nonproliferation and countermeasures against global warming,” Abe said. “Japan will contribute to the improvement of nuclear safety by sharing the experience and lessons from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant with the international community, including France.”

Prior to the Abe-Valls meeting, the two countries held a high-level dialogue on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.

Valls said he made a proposal to Abe that the Japanese nuclear industry take part financially in the reorganization of the nuclear sector in France.

He wrapped up his first visit to Japan later Monday.

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