Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to visit several European countries this coming May in a bid to strengthen relations with the European Union and sign a few free trade agreements. But many also see his visit as part of a PR move to gain international support in light of territorial disputes with China and South Korea and outspoken critical remarks from both countries over historical issues.
Government sources say he is set to participate in the Ministerial Council Meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that will be held this May 6 and 7 in Paris. Aside from chairing the meeting this year, Abe will also be giving a speech at the event, probably to empahsize that he is serious in implementing further economic reforms through his Abenomics programs and policies. He is also expected to talk about some changes in policies that will lead to Japan becoming even more proactive in global peacekeeping efforts.
Abe is also planning to meet with French President Francois Hollande on the side. Then he will move on to Brussels in Belgium to meet with the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and with the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso. Part of the purpose for the meetings is to finalize the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement as soon as possible. The EU and Japan were able to reach an understanding in September of last year in what is set to be one of the biggest free trade agreements in the world.
[ via Yomiuri Shimbun ]