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Posted on on May 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Monday, May 21, 2012

G-8 first-timers Noda, Hollande share concerns over European debt crisis


Washington — Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda shared his concerns about Europe on Saturday with new French President Francois Hollande as fears continue to rear up again about the region’s sovereign debt crisis, the Foreign Ministry said.

Noda, in his first face-to-face meeting with Hollande, urged France and the other eurozone economies to make further efforts to overcome the crisis. Hollande, a Socialist, won the May 6 election by advocating more economic growth.

The two leaders met on the fringes of the Group of Eight summit at the U.S. presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland. Both Noda and Hollande were making their G-8 debuts.

Noda, who recently called Europe’s sovereign debt crisis the “biggest risk” to Japan’s economy, urged France and other eurozone countries to work together to stabilize the region’s economy.

He also reminded them of the money Japan has thrown their way to combat the crisis, a $60 billion shot in the arm of the International Monetary Fund, and the bonds Japan has purchased from the European Financial Stability Facility, the eurozone’s temporary bailout fund.

Hollande was quoted by the ministry as praising Japan’s help while stressing that Greece must be prevented from leaving the euro. He also said Greece should fulfill its international obligations, a reference to the austerity measures Athens promised in exchange for an international bailout.

During their 30-minute meeting, Noda and Hollande also shared deep concerns about the Iranian nuclear standoff and agreed to deal sternly with North Korea.

As for the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang decades ago, Hollande promised to continue to support Japan in resolving the issue, the ministry said.

Noda also called for France’s help in swiftly launching negotiations on a free-trade agreement between Japan and the European Union, the ministry said.

Hollande showed his support for such an FTA but called on Japan to make more efforts to open its markets to foreign products and services.

In a step to boost Japan-France ties under the new French leader, Noda invited Hollande to visit Japan at an early date.

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