National / Politics

After talks in Tokyo, Abe and Macron issue five-year plan for cooperation

Kyodo

Japan and France agreed Wednesday to step up cooperation in the field of maritime security, issuing a five-year road map for a partnership that also covers issues ranging from global trade to climate change.

The policy agreement was reached by the leaders of the two countries, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo.

Japan and France are seeking to deepen ties on maritime security and assisting developing nations with improving infrastructure, amid China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region. According to a draft of the road map that runs through 2023, areas on which the two countries will work together also include space and cyberspace.

“It is an important challenge for Japan and France to make the vast ocean spanning from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific free and open as well as a foundation for the peace and prosperity of the region and the world,” Abe told a joint news conference with Macron following their talks.

At the outset of the talks, Abe, who will also chair the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Osaka set to kick off Friday, told Macron he wants to lead discussions in Osaka together with the French president, who is currently the chair of the Group of Seven industrialized countries. France will host this year’s G7 summit in August.

The two leaders also confirmed they will work toward the success of the G20 summit despite the tough challenges highlighted by the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. The two-day conference will also focus on global issues, including marine plastic waste and reforms at the World Trade Organization.

Prior to the bilateral summit, French government officials had said that Macron, on his first visit to Japan since taking office two years ago, would take up the issue of the partnership between Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. But a senior Japanese government official who attended the talks said the issue was not discussed.

The situation within the auto alliance has become complicated following the downfall last year of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct.

The French government — Renault’s top shareholder — has sought to strengthen the alliance between the French and Japanese automakers.

In the news conference, Macron said the strength of the 20-year-old partnership between Renault and Nissan “will not falter” and that as a Renault shareholder the French government hopes the tie-up will remain long term.

“The alliance is important in winning various competitions in the auto industry, such as (in the area of) self-driving vehicles,” Macron said. “The role of the French state is to protect French firms and their employees.”

In an annual meeting Tuesday, Nissan’s shareholders approved a program to bolster the company’s governance with newly established board committees. Meanwhile, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said he will review the “unbalanced” capital structure of the alliance. Renault currently holds a 43.7 percent stake in Nissan, which holds a 15 percent nonvoting stake in its French peer.

Ghosn is believed to have been pushing for a merger between the two automakers.

Before heading to Osaka, Macron is scheduled to meet on Thursday with Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the throne on May 1.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5