Leaders of Japan, E. Europe states to agree to hold regular summits

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, when meeting with his counterparts from Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia in Poland next Sunday, is likely to agree to the five nations holding summits on a regular basis, a Japanese government source said Monday.

Abe and the four European leaders, whose countries make up the Visegrad Group of Eastern European nations, are also expected to agree to strengthen their ties, with Tokyo hoping to develop such ties into a potential window for exports of nuclear power plants to the region.

In individual talks with the four leaders, Abe plans to call for better environments for Japanese firms to do business and invest in their countries, including infrastructure development, according to the source.

During the summit, Abe and the Visegrad Group leaders are expected to confirm cooperation in concluding negotiations soon for a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union, to which the group nations belong.

Future summits involving the leaders of Japan and the four Eastern European countries would be held on the sidelines of international gatherings like the annual meetings of the U.N. General Assembly held in New York every autumn.

The series of meetings in Poland will be held before Abe meets with leaders from the world's leading industrialized countries in Northern Ireland on June 17-18.

Japan has already inked a nuclear pact with the European Atomic Energy Community, known as Euratom, making it ready to export nuclear power plants to the four Visegrad Group countries, each of which has its own plans to build new or additional atomic power plants.

In the Czech Republic, Toshiba Corp.'s U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co. has been given high marks in preliminary screening for a nuclear power plant project.

Japan has held foreign ministerial-level meetings with the Visegrad Group nations since 2005.