Abe, Harper to discuss cooperation in free trade, defense, energy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for talks Tuesday with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in which they are expected to confirm cooperation in free trade, defense and energy areas.

Abe and Harper will likely discuss trade liberalization within bilateral and multilateral frameworks, as Japan and Canada have both joined the U.S.-led multilateral negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, Japanese government officials said.

Energy is another major issue for resource-poor Japan, especially since the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Tokyo is hoping to ensure imports of low-priced shale gas from Canada, which would help to lower soaring fuel costs at home, after the United States became the first country in May to authorize exports of shale gas to Japan.

On defense, the two leaders will seek to enable the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Canadian military to provide logistics support to each other by reaching an acquisition and cross-serving agreement, the officials said.

The Japanese prime minister is on a visit to Canada before heading to the United States to attend a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

With a U.N. resolution that could help improve the humanitarian crisis in Syria still pending, Abe is expected to pledge Japan's support for Syrian refugees.