July 11, 2017 4:04 pm JST

Japan, Denmark agree to cooperate on Arctic resource development

Two countries' leaders also affirm importance of rule of law at sea

KOYA JIBIKI, Nikkei staff writer

The Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Loekke Rasmussen, right, shakes hands with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in Copenhagen on July 10. © AP

COPENHAGEN -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Danish counterpart Lars Loekke Rasmussen have agreed that the two countries will cooperate in the Arctic, including on the development of resources in Greenland.

The agreement came when the two leaders held talks at Rasmussen' s office in Copenhagen on Monday evening. Abe visited Denmark as part of a European tour, which also took him to Germany for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies.

Greenland, Denmark's autonomous territory, is said to have natural resources such as oil. Japan intends to step up its Arctic policy in the wake of Abe's visit to Denmark.

During their talks, Abe and Rasmussen, both leaders of the maritime nations, also affirmed the importance of the rule of law at sea, in an indirect warning to China over its continued aggressive advances into the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Abe told Rasmussen that Japan is attaching importance to relations with Denmark, whose prosperity is based on "free" and "open" seas and free trade. Denmark is an "important partner" in Japan's Arctic policy, Abe said, according to Japanese officials.

The melting of ice in the Arctic Ocean in recent years has prompted many countries, including China, to become interested in opening new shipping routes and developing resources in the region.

Abe and Rasmussen also agreed to increase pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile development programs, which have significantly escalated tensions in East Asia in recent months.

At a joint press conference with Abe after their talks, Rasmussen said that Denmark completely shares Japan's position of condemning North Korea's provocations in the strongest terms.

Rasmussen also emphasized that Denmark will urge North Korea to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and return to the negotiating table.

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