Abe pushes nuclear power, medical services in Middle East

May 04, 2013


ANKARA—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 3 wrapped up a four-nation tour highlighted by achievements in economic diplomacy, particularly in nuclear power and medical services.

“Japan has launched a full-fledged economic diplomacy,” Abe told a news conference in Ankara. “I will take the lead in helping (businesses) in a wide range of sectors expand abroad and drive Japan’s growth strategy.”

Leading a delegation of industry executives, the prime minister visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey from April 30 to May 3, following a trip to Russia.

Abe and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 3 signed a joint declaration that awards Japan exclusive negotiating rights on a new nuclear power plant in Turkey.

The plant in Sinop on the Black Sea will be built by a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. It will be Japan’s first export of a nuclear plant since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

“Japan must be able to create perfect synergies with Turkey,” a talkative Abe told a meeting of 250 Japanese and Turkish businesspeople in Ankara. “Nuclear plants are a prime example.”

In the joint declaration, Abe and Erdogan confirmed that the two countries will conclude a nuclear energy agreement, a precondition for exporting nuclear-related technologies.

Energy issues were also high on Abe’s agenda in other countries, including Russia, which Abe visited April 28-30.

Abe confirmed cooperation not only in oil development and supply but also in nuclear power with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, key oil and gas exporters for Japan.

“We can provide the world’s safest nuclear technology as well as technologies on renewable energy,” Abe said. “We also want to contribute to increasing energy supply capacity.”

Japan signed a nuclear energy agreement with the UAE, the first since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan hopes the accord will help Japanese companies secure a contract for the 12 new nuclear reactors planned by the UAE.

In 2009, South Korea edged out Japan in winning a contract for four reactors in the UAE under the initiative of President Lee Myung-bak.

Abe and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz also agreed to start working-level discussions on a nuclear energy agreement. Saudi Arabia plans 16 new nuclear reactors.

The medical sector was another target of Abe’s economic diplomacy.

Japan agreed to expand cooperation with the UAE in dispatching doctors, exporting advanced medical equipment and opening a medical center that offers particle radiotherapy for cancer patients.

Abe also agreed to promote technological cooperation in medical services with Saudi Arabia.

Exports of medical technologies and nuclear power will form pillars of the growth strategy that Abe’s administration will formulate in June.

Japan has been running an annual deficit of nearly 3 trillion yen ($30 billion) in the trade of medical equipment and medicine due to strict safety regulations and time-consuming screening procedures.

The government in January revived the regulatory reform council, which was abolished under the previous Democratic Party of Japan administration, and listed the medical sector as one of the priority areas.

(This article was written by Takuya Suzuki in Ankara and Kazuo Ikejiri in Tokyo.)

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference after a Japan-Turkey summit in Ankara on May 3 (Pool)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference after a Japan-Turkey summit in Ankara on May 3 (Pool)

  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference after a Japan-Turkey summit in Ankara on May 3 (Pool)

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