Abe Leaves For European Tour

Abe leaves for European tour

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has left for his European tour, including attending a summit of the Asia-Europe meeting known as ASEM.

He left Tokyo on Tuesday morning bound for Spain, the first leg of the 5-day tour.

He will also visit France and attend the ASEM summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Brussels, Belgium, before returning to Japan on Saturday.

Ahead of his departure, Abe told reporters that he hopes to establish close policy coordination with other leaders over North Korean issues. He said he will appeal for resolution not only of nuclear and missile programs, but also the abduction of Japanese nationals -- Japan's first and foremost concern.

Abe also referred to concern over a possible global economic slowdown triggered by trade friction between the United States and China.

He said he will call for the early implementation of the economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union that was signed earlier this year. Abe said he will tell the meeting that Japan supports free trade, and will seek cooperation from others.

On the sidelines of the ASEM summit in Brussels, the prime minister is expected to hold bilateral talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.