Abe, E. Europe leaders agree to deepen nuclear cooperation

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his counterparts from Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia agreed in Warsaw on Sunday to deepen cooperation in the field of energy, including nuclear power and renewables.

In a statement issued after the first-ever summit between Japan and the so-called Visegrad Group of Eastern European nations, they also agreed to strengthen national security ties by holding a seminar, possibly by year-end, and confirmed the significance of holding regular talks at the leadership and foreign ministerial levels.

"We confirmed that Japan and the four countries will develop a relationship dramatically by strengthening ties in every possible area," Abe said at a joint press conference after the summit.

As the four nations are planning to boost nuclear power generation to meet rising energy demand in line with economic growth, Abe is hoping the summit will help promote Japanese infrastructure exports, including nuclear technology, as well as investment in the region that will contribute to reviving the world's third-largest economy.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at the press conference that Japan is expected to become a very important partner as a country that possesses nuclear power generation and renewable energy technology.

The statement said the "V4 and Japan discussed their achievements in such fields as nuclear energy, environment, energy saving and renewable energy," adding both sides "expressed their great interest in deepening mutual cooperation" in such areas.

With China's influence also rising in Eastern Europe, the statement said both sides share "universal values" such as democracy, the rule of law and the market economy.

On nuclear power, the Japanese side affirmed "its duty" to contribute to enhanced nuclear safety worldwide by sharing knowledge and the lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to the statement.

The leaders agreed that the security environments of East Asia and Europe are closely interconnected in light of the issue of nuclear nonproliferation.

They also reaffirmed the importance of maintaining maritime order on the basis of international law and freedom of navigation, and of upholding the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The leaders expressed "grave concern over North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, including its uranium enrichment program." They called on North Korea to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and address without delay the humanitarian concerns of the international community, including the country's past abductions of Japanese nationals.

Japan has held foreign ministerial talks since 2005 with the Visegrad Group nations that are deepening ties in wide areas ranging from economic to military affairs by holding regular summit and other meetings.

Abe and Tusk were joined by the prime ministers of the other Visegrad nations -- Petr Necas of the Czech Republic, Viktor Orban of Hungary and Robert Fico of Slovakia.