Hollande’s Japan visit to push nukes

Hollande’s Japan visit to push nukes

TOKYO - The Associated Press
Hollande’s Japan visit to push nukes

French President Francois Hollande arrives in Japan yesterday. AP photo

French President Francois Hollande arrives in Japan yesterday for a visit expected to focus on closer cooperation in nuclear energy technologies and on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategies for tackling Japan’s economic malaise.

Hollande and Abe will hold summit talks that local media say may yield an agreement on cooperating in nuclear fuel cycle technology, next-generation reactors and decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

Japan is struggling with the cleanup from meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters, and with the suspension of its Monju fast-breeder reactor, which is meant to process spent atomic fuel.

Abe is eager to sell Japan’s nuclear technology overseas, despite the suspension of most nuclear power generation following the Fukushima disaster, and is endeavoring to show it can offer the highest safety standards. Its Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has teamed up with France’s Areva SA in building a nuclear reactor on the Black Sea coast in Turkey.

Hollande also will get a first-hand look on how Abe is fighting Japan’s 2-decade-old economic slump through his “Abenomics” policy mix of monetary and fiscal stimulus and reforms. Many commentators have wurged European leaders to reconsider fiscal austerity imposed due to the financial crisis, pointing to Japan’s emergence from recession late last year and its 3.5 percent annual economic growth rate in the last quarter as evidence stimulus is crucial for recovery. France has been seeking to counter its economic woes by growing its business with Asia: Hollande returned just a month ago from a visit to China.