Economy and Nuclear Energy Addressed During Hollande’s Visit to Japan


View of Tokyo
Photo: oisa, flickr

President François Hollande visited Japan last week for a 3-day summit meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His visit was the first by a French president in 17 years, since Jacques Chirac visited in 1996.

France and Japan are looking to establish a free trade agreement and to collaborate on nuclear energy, in the hopes of increasing their roles in the world’s economy.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Hollande noted that many people believe France and Japan are no longer as powerful as before, both economically and politically. The two countries face similar challenges, such as emerging economies and financial problems involving public pension systems, and the waning of international clout. They must follow a similar path to regain confidence and boost growth.

Hollande praised Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his bid to reignite growth in the Japanese economy, stating that the policy may also be good for Europe.

Also called “Abenomics,” the PM’s policy of big fiscal, spending easy money, and structural reforms intended to make it easier to do business in Japan, has resulted in a booming stock market and a sliding yen. A weaker yen means that Japanese exports will be more competitive on the global stage.

While this policy seems appealing to those in Europe who are opposed to the austerity measures, it is not without criticism. According to critics, monetary easing could spark a global currency devaluation war.

Just one week after citizens took to the streets in European cities, voicing their dissatisfaction with the “troika” of international powers who continue to insist on the effectiveness of austerity measures despite continued economic hardship and increasing unemployment, Hollande declared to the people of Japan that the crisis in the eurozone is over.

Hollande wants France to play a major role in reaching an agreement on free trade negotiations between Europe and Japan. He claims that a partnership between the two states would be economically beneficial for both. “If we work together in Europe and if you, the Japanese, make an effort to participate in this new dynamic, together we can change things,” said the French President.

Nuclear energy was the other main topic of discussion. The French President and Japanese Prime Minister issued a joint statement pledging to prevent nuclear proliferation while raising safety standards for nuclear energy. Abe noted he was confident that “Japan and France are the world’s best partners.”

A dialogue between their foreign ministers and defense ministers, called a “two-plus-two” talk, will be arranged, to discuss possible cooperation in developing and managing exports of defense equipment. Japan already has similar arrangements with the United States, Australia, and Russia.

One of Japan’s main goals in this agreement is to stop France from exporting dual-use items to China that could improve the Chinese military’s capabilities, according to the Japan Times. Despite a European arms embargo on China introduced following the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, a French naval contractor sold ship-based helicopter landing systems to China. This triggered concern in Japan that it would strengthen Chinese surveillance ships deployed around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. France claims that helicopter-landing equipment is not part of the ban, and Hollande believes that the exported items are not intended for military use.

While the meeting in itself proved a success, it will be interesting to see how the partnership is carried out and how it effects the economies of both nations.


  1. […] François Hollande visited Japan for a 3-day summit meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. France and Japan are looking to establish a free trade agreement […]

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