France′s Hollande lauds Abe on Tokyo trip | News | DW | 07.06.2013
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France's Hollande lauds Abe on Tokyo trip

French President Francois Hollande is in Japan on a three-day tour. He and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have signed a host of trade and tourism deals. Hollande also praised Abe's stimulus-driven economic policies.

Francois Hollande and Shinzo Abe agreed to closer bilateral coordination in areas including nuclear power, investment, space and tourism during the French president's trip to Japan. Hollande spoke of "a new ambience" during his trip to Tokyo, saying the two countries were taking their relationship to "a new level."

"Together, we must encourage innovation and profit from the opportunities of growth," Hollande said, praising Abe for his stimulus-driven economic policies, sometimes dubbed "Abenomics."

"The priority given to growth and the fight against deflation, along with the emphasis on competitiveness for business… is good news for Europe, because in Europe we also have to give priority to growth," Hollande said.

Abenomics for Europe?

The French government is increasingly advocating a less austerity-driven economic policy for Europe. Japan's move away from a typically cautious economic policy aiming to limit inflation contrasts with changes within the EU, and comes from a government burdened by a higher national debt - as a percentage of gross domestic product - than Greece.

Abe campaigned last year on an election platform of combining government stimulus with major monetary easing by the central bank. Tokyo's Nikkei soared as the policies were introduced, gaining 80 percent at its highest ebb, although the index has retreated sharply since mid-May.

Hollande also said in Tokyo that he supported Japanese efforts to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The two countries' pledge for closer cooperation on nuclear trade followed a joint deal where French company Areva SA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd landed the rights to build a major nuclear power plant in northern Turkey. France is Europe's biggest producer of nuclear power, while Japan also relies heavily on atomic energy. The Turkish deal was the first major foreign contract landed by Japan since the earthquake- and tsunami-triggered meltdown at the Fukushima-Daichi power plant in March 2011.

Despite the accord in the nuclear power sector, Hollande also said that both Japan and France wanted to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, with the French president naming North Korea and Iran specifically.

Appeal for journalists in Syria

The French president also called for "the immediate release" of two French journalists reported missing in Syria. France's Europe 1 confirmed on Friday that it had lost contact with reporter Didier Francois and photographer Edouard Elias.

"I demand that these journalists are freed immediately," Hollande said, explaining that "contact has, in effect, been lost with two journalists without us knowing the precise conditions." He said that the missing journalists were "not representatives of any country, these are men who worked in order to provide the world with information."

Hollande, accompanied by his partner Valerie Trierweiler, also met Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Friday.

msh/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)