Japan, Mexico to cooperate in concluding Pacific trade talks early

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto confirmed their cooperation Friday in seeking the early conclusion of ongoing free-trade negotiations involving the two countries and 10 other Pacific-rim nations.

At a joint press conference after their talks in Mexico City, Abe said they also reaffirmed their commitment to bilateral cooperation and promotion of investment in the areas of oil, shale gas, infrastructure-building and medical insurance.

On the first leg of his five-nation tour of Latin America to promote infrastructure exports and strengthen ties in the fields of resources and energy development, Abe secured cooperation for a stable supply of resources from a country rich in oil and shale gas.

The Latin American country plans spending equivalent to roughly 60 trillion yen on infrastructure over the next five years, with Abe apparently having promoted the roles Japanese companies can play in such projects.

As for the U.S.-led initiative to create a vast free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region, the 12 negotiating countries, including Japan and Mexico, have yet to reach a deal. The others are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

According to their joint statement, the two leaders also agreed to promote policy dialogue at the summit and foreign ministerial levels, and to upgrade the countries' economic ties.

As Abe pledged continued support for Mexico's industrial sector, the Mexican president expressed appreciation for the increasing number of Japanese companies starting operations in his country.

In a related move, Japan's government-linked Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding with Mexico's state oil company Pemex on technical cooperation and personnel exchange.

On the tie-up with Pemex, the Japanese premier said during his talks with Pena Nieto that an increase in Mexico's oil output and the development of shale gas in the country is important for stabilizing the global energy market and he expressed hope that Japanese technology and financial resources will be utilized, according to Japanese officials.

The two leaders also welcomed progress in bilateral negotiations for a civil nuclear cooperation pact required for Japan to export its nuclear technologies, and in cooperation toward Japanese infrastructure exports.

On North Korea, they expressed grave concerns over the country's nuclear and missile development and urged it to promptly deal with humanitarian concerns including its past abductions of Japanese people.

Abe said he gained support from his Mexican counterpart for taking "a stance to make a contribution to the world," following the Cabinet decision earlier this month to reinterpret the Constitution to enable Japan to come to the aid of allies under attack.

The leaders also agreed that a comprehensive reform of the U.N. Security Council is important. Japan is poised to bid next year for a nonpermanent Security Council seat from 2016.

Abe will also visit Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Chile and Brazil.