By SYLVIE CORBET, Associated Press
PARIS — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida started a weeklong trip to Europe and North America in Paris, where he held talks Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron on key issues including North Korea and the war in Ukraine.
Kishida first visited Notre-Dame Cathedral with Macron before heading to the Elysee presidential palace for a working dinner.
Reconstruction work on the cathedral, ravaged by the April 15, 2019 fire, is expected to be completed in time for its reopening to the public next year.
Japan’s historic Shuri Castle on the southern island of Okinawa, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was also nearly destroyed by fire in 2019. Both countries decided to rebuild the respective monuments exactly as they had been before.
Macron and Kishida’s talks come as Japan is leading the Group of Seven most advanced economies and is preparing the next G-7 summit scheduled in May in Hiroshima.
“We have an ambitious agenda ahead,” Macron said in a joint declaration with Kishida ahead of their working dinner.
Macron thanked Japan for its economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine and said both countries will work jointly to face the global consequences of Russia’s invasion, especially energy and food security issues.
Kishida’s five nation-tour will also take him to Italy, Britain, Canada and the U.S., where he will have talks Friday with President Joe Biden.
Japan in December adopted key security and defense reforms, including a counterstrike capability that breaks from an exclusively self-defense-only postwar principle.
Macron and Kishida notably addressed North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.
“Japan can count on our unfailing support to face flagrant breaches to international law from Pyongyang,” Macron said.
Kishida said France is a top partner to create a “free and open” Indo-Pacific area as the security situation in the region gets tenser amid China’s growing military assertiveness. He announced stepped-up joint military exercises with France.
Both leaders also vowed to enhance bilateral cooperation between France and Japan, including in the fields of nuclear and renewable energy, car manufacturing and defense.
A French official said both leaders also were to address a common concern over a U.S. clean energy law that benefits electric vehicles and other products made in North America, known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
In a visit to the U.S. last month, Macron made it clear that he and other European leaders are opposed to incentives in the IRA.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the French presidency’s customary practice.