Official visit to Japan
Firstly I’d like to thank Prime Minister Noda, who agreed to have a meeting with me, absolutely exceptionally on a Sunday, to discuss the issues on the agenda of the G20 meeting in Cannes – a meeting which, in today’s international economic context, takes on an extraordinary dimension – as well as the financial situation in the Euro Area, and Franco-Japanese bilateral cooperation.
First of all I want to express personally, here in Japan, my full sympathy and feelings of solidarity with the Japanese people in view of the terrible ordeal they’ve undergone, as well as my admiration for their courage and dignity and, finally, my conviction that Japan will be able to overcome the challenges she faces.
I discussed with Prime Minister Noda ways of strengthening and broadening the cooperation we established in the first days of the disastrous earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident.
France was present at the height of the crisis, both through humanitarian aid to the victims and through the dispatch of specialist equipment to help bring the situation at the Fukushima plant more effectively under control. Moreover, two French companies – Areva and Veolia – have been cooperating with their Japanese partners since those events, to treat the contaminated water present in the power station.
The French government will continue working with the Japanese authorities, according to their needs, to help them deal with the long-term consequences of the Fukushima accident.
We’ve made proposals to this end – proposals relating, among other things, to safety assessments, decontamination techniques, monitoring of the food chain, and medical follow-up.
Mr Noda and I noted this shared willingness to cooperate, and we decided today to adopt a joint declaration on energy policy and nuclear safety.
This declaration recalls the principles on which France and Japan base their action – principles we intend to promote at international level, chief among them being the implementation of the highest safety standards worldwide.
I set out to Prime Minister Noda the challenges of the European Council meeting due to begin in Brussels in a few hours’ time, whose outcome will be decisive not only for the health and development of the European economy but also for the stability of the global economy and for growth. I reminded him of the strength of the European commitment, built over more than 60 years, and of the total determination of France and Germany – as well as all the member countries and European institutions – to take the necessary measures to overcome the present crisis, whether as regards helping Greece, recapitalizing European banks, boosting the European Financial Stability Facility or the necessary improvement of Euro Area governance.
On this subject, I also want to thank Japan, who holds nearly 20% of the European Financial Stability Facility’s total bonds.
If – as I hope – the meetings on Sunday and Wednesday in the European Union lead to sufficiently strong decisions to restore confidence in the Euro Area, then we’ll be able to forge a link with the G20 in Cannes and make this G20 meeting – and we’ve agreed on it together – a starting-point for revitalizing the global economy and supporting world growth.
To that end, our priorities – on which we’re broadly in agreement with Japan – are first of all to reduce the imbalances in the global economy, and to better coordinate the policies of the great powers, be they the emerging countries, the United States, Japan or Europe.
As part of the same drive, those countries with major resources and reserves should stimulate their domestic demand, and those countries which are too indebted should make significant efforts to reduce their deficits.
We also discussed our concern to reform the international monetary system – in order to learn from past crises and from the rise of the emerging countries – and to make this system more effective and more robust.
Finally, we talked about our common interest in seeing a reduction in the volatility of commodity prices and about the joint work we’re doing on development and innovative financing.
And on this subject, I told Mr Noda of France’s determination to go further with her G20 partners by proposing the introduction of an international financial transactions tax.
Because we were short of time, we’ll continue over lunch our discussions on the economic partnership agreement between the European Union and Japan, and on Franco-Japanese bilateral relations and in particular our trade, which is making progress but where there’s further room for improvement.
We also noted the signature tomorrow of the general agreement on security, whose adoption I had proposed during my previous visit to Tokyo. This agreement relates to the exchange of classified data; it will enable us to strengthen our political relations.
There you are. I was able once again to appreciate all the common ground existing between France and Japan, as a result of our ancient cultures and our shared approaches to many subjects linked to economic development and the regulation of globalization.
Today – because of the global economic and financial crisis – the world economy, our countries’ prosperity, employment in Japan and employment in France are at risk from protectionism and a return to dangerous nationalism. We – France and Japan, France and Europe, because we share many values – are determined to combat these attempts at protectionism and these nationalist temptations by proposing a globalization that is better controlled and better regulated.