Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande on Monday confirmed bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear power as well as in security.
During their talks in Paris, they are believed to have discussed joint research on a French-led fast reactor development project called ASTRID, an acronym for Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration.
They also attended a signing ceremony on a deal in which Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. will each acquire a 5 percent stake in a nuclear fuel reprocessing joint venture to be established by French atomic energy company Areva.
Abe revealed to reporters after the talks with Hollande that Japan will jointly conduct naval exercises with France, the United States and Britain, apparently in view of China's expansionary maritime activities.
The Japanese leader said he and Hollande shared a view that the Indian and Pacific oceans are international public goods and need to be maintained as free and open areas. Abe said a French training squadron will visit Japan in April.
Abe strongly condemned North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, while Hollande expressed Paris' support for Tokyo on the matter.
As for economic issues, Abe and Hollande agreed on the importance of promoting free trade amid the threat of rising protectionism across the world.
It was the 10th and last meeting between Abe and Hollande as the latter is not running in France's upcoming presidential election. The first round of the election is in April followed by a potential runoff vote in May.
France's election is one of a series in Europe this year in which public unease about immigration and the functions of the European Union have fuelled speculation voters could pick a populist candidate over the current political establishment.
Abe arrived in Paris on Monday after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hanover. He is scheduled to meet European Council President Donald Tusk and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni before returning to Japan on Wednesday.
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