April 30, 2014 11:01 pm JST

Japan, Germany to enhance dialogue for global security

BERLIN (Kyodo) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday to enhance bilateral dialogue on security and diplomatic issues, with an eye on the crisis in Ukraine and provocations by North Korea.

     They also agreed to give momentum to the ongoing negotiations between Japan and the European Union on a free trade agreement, with Merkel underscoring that the trade liberalization deal would benefit the German economy, the biggest among the 28 members of the union.

     Japan and the European Union will seek to expand cooperation in developing renewable energy, the leaders said.

     Abe was visiting Berlin on the first leg of a six-nation tour of Europe as part of Tokyo's efforts to secure understanding from other countries and international bodies about its resolve to be more proactively involved in work to ensure global peace and stability.

     On Ukraine, Abe said he and Merkel confirmed they oppose any attempt to change the status quo by force, after Russia's intervention in the country and annexation of Crimea, and that Japan and Germany will seek a peaceful solution to the crisis in cooperation with other countries.

     Russia must play roles as a "responsible player in international community," Abe said during a joint press conference following the summit in Berlin.

     Abe told Merkel that Japan is ready to extend 800,000 euros ($1.1 million) in aid to help stabilize Ukraine, including funds to ensure a fair and transparent presidential election in May, according to Japanese officials.

     He said Japan will send its officials to join an international mission to observe the election.

     Merkel said she wants to visit Japan next year in response to Abe's request.

     On security cooperation, the leaders agreed to enhance communications between relevant government offices on issues such as piracy off Somalia and the unrest in South Sudan.

     They plan to hold talks involving senior foreign and defense officials within the year.

     The dialogue will also cover the situation in East Asia, where North Korea has threatened stability with nuclear and missile development, as well as how to control exports of defense equipment, at a time when Japan has relaxed its rules on arms exports.