Japan's Itochu shows interest in Turkey’s nuclear bid

Japan's Itochu shows interest in Turkey’s nuclear bid

Japans Itochu shows interest in Turkey’s nuclear bid

Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan (C) puts his arms around Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba (L) and Trade Minister Yukio Edano (R) at a Tokyo meeting. AFP photo

Itochu, a Japanese nuclear plant developer, is interested in the construction of Turkey’s third nuclear power plant, which would be built by 2023, Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said at a press meeting in Tokyo yesterday.

The minister’s remark came at a time when the Japanese government is facing harsh public criticism of a recent move to re-open its nuclear facilities, which were shut down gradually after last year’s March 11 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Çağlayan urged Itochu to act quickly, given that there was also interest from the Canadians, South Koreans, Chinese, Americans and even the French.

Turkey has already shaken hands on a nuclear plant project in southern Turkey with Russia’s Rasatom. Talks regarding a second plant in northern Turkey still continue.

Japan’s TEPCO earlier withdrew from its Turkey bid, saying that other Japanese firms might still be interested in Turkey’s ambitious nuclear power plans.

Çağlayan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Economy, Industry and Trade Minister Yukio Edano yesterday, a move which is seen as the first step in a free trade agreement between the two countries.

Gemba said he was pleased to meet Cağlayan again after his visit to Turkey in January, while Edano said Turkey was located in an important position between Europe and Asia and had a very young population, adding that Japan wished to boost its economic relations with Turkey.

Dai-Ichi eyes Turkey

The deal comes on the heels of a wave of Japanese investment announcements for Turkey, with insurance giant Dai-Ichi Life recently joining the list of interested investors. This week Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), the largest bank in Japan, also announced that it planned to establish a lending institution in Turkey, which would be one of only two new banks in Turkey in the last 14 years. The founding of the $300 million bank is subject to the approval of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), Turkey’s banking regulator. Japanese Toytota and Honda also announced this week that they were interested in doubling their production capacity in their plants in Turkey.
“Dai-Ichi will join with a local partner and enter the Turkish market. With this merger, Dai-Ichi will get to know the market and will later expand its activities in Turkey,” said Çağlayan during his meetings with the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Mitsubishi, Itochu, Mitsui and Dai-Ichi.

Dai-Ichi could possibly consider partnering with Acıbadem Sigorta, Holland-based Aegon Emeklikik or Koç Group’s Yapı Kredi Emeklilik, according to daily Milliyet.