National / Politics

Abe and Austria's Sebastian Kurz agree to expand tourism and economic cooperation

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz agreed Friday to expand tourism cooperation, with Kurz welcoming the start of daily direct flights between Tokyo and Vienna from this weekend.

Abe and Kurz also agreed in Tokyo to promote trade between the two countries, following the implementation of an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union on Feb. 1, creating a free trade area covering about a third of the global economy.

“We’ve been able to set an example to the world as the flag bearers of free trade amid growing moves toward protectionism,” Abe said during the talks.

Kurz noted at a press briefing after the meeting that Japan is a partner that supports free trade.

As this year marks the 150th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, Abe is hoping to strengthen mutual trust with 32-year-old Kurz, the youngest serving head of a European government.

It is Kurz’s first visit to Japan since assuming office in December 2017, though he once backpacked in Japan as a student.

Kurz plans to visit Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on Saturday and lay flowers at the cenotaph for atomic bomb victims, before returning to Austria on Sunday.