Canada agrees to export shale gas to Japan after summit talks

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed Tuesday that Canada will start exports of shale gas to Japan, making it the second country after the United States to provide the natural resource to Japan.

During the summit talks held in Ottawa, Abe and Harper also decided to enable the Self-Defense Forces and the Canadian military to provide logistics support to each other when they engage in international humanitarian assistance such as U.N. peacekeeping operations, and in relief efforts, a Japanese government official said.

The agreement, when formally signed, will become the third of its kind for Japan after the United States and Australia, the latest in a series of defense cooperation that the prime minister is hoping to promote with other countries.

The Japanese prime minister is on a visit to Canada on the first leg of his tour that takes him to the United States to attend a U.N. General Assembly meeting.

As the crisis in Syria has been a major topic at the General Assembly, both leaders confirmed that they support a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, and Abe explained Tokyo's determination to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.

To prepare for shale gas to be exported to Japan, Abe and Harper confirmed that they will accelerate talks at the ministerial level, the Japanese official said.

The Japanese prime minister also offered assistance in developing necessary infrastructure in Canada to ship shale gas and asked Harper to enable Japanese companies to participate in shale gas-related projects.

Shale gas, a relatively cheaper source of energy, is expected to help reduce rising costs at utility companies that have been forced to rely on fossil fuels after their nuclear power plants were kept off-line in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.

As negotiations continue for the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative, Japan and Canada will jointly cooperate in boosting trade within bilateral and multilateral frameworks, the two leaders agreed.

Both leaders agreed to hold a meeting at the vice-ministerial level of foreign and defense officials at an early date again, after Japanese and Canadian officials met in 2011 to discuss security cooperation under the same framework, the Japanese official said.

Abe is aiming to review Japan's defense posture with an eye to amending the pacifist Constitution so it can take on a greater security role in contributing global peace and stability.