Newly emerging countries such as Turkey, which has seen remarkable economic growth, offer very attractive opportunities for Japan, which has made infrastructure exports a major pillar of its growth strategy.
The public and private sectors should beef up their joint efforts to boost Japan’s exports to such countries.
At a summit meeting in Turkey with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed an agreement reached between an international consortium including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and the Turkish government on the construction of nuclear power reactors there.
“It’s our nation’s duty to strengthen nuclear safety by sharing lessons learned from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis with the world,” Abe declared at a joint press conference with Erdogan after their meeting in Istanbul.
It is an important pending issue for Turkey to satisfy the growing electricity demand that has accompanied its economic growth. Construction of nuclear power plants is a project of national importance.
Amid fierce international competition over an order to construct four reactors, the Japan-led consortium succeeded in winning the bid largely as a result of the “top salesmanship” strategy of Abe, who visited the country again following a trip in May.
We praise the stance of the prime minister, who aims to make international contributions through nuclear power generation technology. By exporting reactors and related technology, it may be possible for Japan to secure nuclear engineers for the medium and long term.
During the summit meeting between Abe and Erdogan, the two leaders agreed on the joint establishment of a science and technology university in Turkey. As one purpose of the school’s establishment is to foster nuclear industry experts, the university should serve as a base for technological assistance from Japan to Turkey.
Progress on EPA needed
In addition to the field of nuclear power, bilateral cooperation has also been promoted in the area of transportation infrastructure, where projects include a railway.
Abe attended the opening ceremony of an underwater subway tunnel connecting Asia and Europe across the Bosporus. The underwater tunnel was constructed through a joint venture between Taisei Corp. and Turkish companies. Of the total construction costs of about ¥390 billion, 40 percent was financed through yen loans from Japan.
As Turkey is situated at a geographically important location, the country can serve as an export base to Europe and elsewhere for Japanese companies that have set up operations in the country, including Toyota Motor Corp., or plan to do so.
It is necessary to accelerate bilateral negotiations on the conclusion of an economic partnership agreement. By creating an environment that promotes trade and investment, the cooperative relationship can be strengthened.
Turkey has been confronted with the administration of President Bashar Assad of Syria, a neighboring country where a civil war continues to rage. Cooperation between Japan and Turkey is significant in terms of providing assistance to Syrian refugees and supporting the country’s abandonment of chemical weapons.
It is worrying that Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has been negotiating with China on the introduction of a China-made air defense system. If Turkey enters military cooperation with the country, NATO military secrets could be leaked to China.
Among NATO member countries, there have been voices of concern, including those who say Turkey should think twice about negotiating with a Chinese company. Turkey should exercise caution in handling the matter.