Japan, France agree N. Korea should not be allowed to possess nukes

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius agreed Tuesday that North Korea should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and the international community must keep sending that message.

During a meeting in Tokyo, the foreign ministers also agreed that the two countries should strengthen the exchange of information to ensure the safety of companies operating in Asia and Africa, Kishida told a news conference after the talks.

The two countries will consider developing concrete ways to that end, he added.

Many foreigners, including 10 Japanese nationals, died in a hostage crisis at a natural gas complex in Algeria in January.

Kishida also briefed Fabius on recent maritime developments in the Asia-Pacific region and how Japan interprets them, apparently touching on China's increasing assertiveness in the region.

He then said Japan and France, both maritime nations with vast exclusive economic zones in the Pacific, share a responsibility to stabilize the region according to the principle of the rule of law, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Kishida is also believed to have asked France to refrain from supplying helicopter landing equipment to China, given that Beijing may install it on surveillance vessels that have repeatedly entered Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

France has taken the position that the equipment, which has been sold to China, is not for military use and employs civilian technology, thereby complying with an EU ban on arms sales to China.

China claims the uninhabited islands, which it calls Diaoyu.

During the same meeting, Kishida also said he proposed issuing a joint document aimed at building a "special partner relationship" between Japan and France on the occasion of President Francois Hollande's visit to Japan between June 6 and 8, and Fabius agreed.

Fabius said Paris hopes to accelerate the countries' preparations for the French leader's visit, according to the ministry.

At a meeting with Fabius earlier in the day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his readiness to strengthen bilateral ties when he meets with the French president, saying he intends to cover "various fields" during the upcoming talks.

He also conveyed his gratitude to Hollande for his assistance during the Algerian hostage crisis.

Hollande is scheduled to visit Japan as a state guest in a bid to enhance bilateral relations, including security and economic cooperation.

Tuesday's so-called foreign ministerial strategic dialogue was the third between Japan and France, following the first meeting in Tokyo in January last year and the second in Paris in October.