Japan's PM says to seek closer economic ties with China, S Korea through reaching FTA

Updated: 2015-11-13 14:43


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Japan's PM says to seek closer economic ties with China, S Korea through reaching FTA

South Korean President Park Geun-hye (C) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before a trilateral summit at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, November 1, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wanted to strengthen economic ties with China and South Korea through the realization of a free trade agreement (FTA).

The prime minister said he hoped that Japan and China in unison can spearhead the proposed three-way economic enterprise between the three Asian powerhouses.

At a reception of a meeting of Japanese and Chinese business leaders, Abe said moves towards realizing the three-way free trade deal and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) should continue to be discussed at a high level between Japan and China.

The RCEP is a free trade pact that would see 16 nations grouped, comprising Japan, China, South Korea, and the 10 member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Japan and China are the third and second largest economies in the world respectively," the Japanese leader told his audience of both local and Chinese business leaders at the reception held on Thursday.

"Growth of both countries and the strengthening of economic ties has significant meaning to other parts of Asia and the rest of the world," he said, quoted by public broadcaster NHK.

Describing the relationship with China as "one of Japan's most important ones," Abe said that the two countries' bilateral relations are improving overall.

Noting that Japan, China and South Korea together account for 20 percent of global GDP, Abe said talks to bring the three-way free trade agreement to fruition should be expedited.

The Japanese prime minister heads to Turkey on Friday where he will attend a two-day summit of the Group of 20 major economies from Sunday.