President of EU parliament wants closer partnership with Japan
( dpa ) - The president of the EU parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, said during a Tokyo visit Thursday he wanted to intensify the partnership between the European Union and Japan, especially with regard to climate protection.
The two countries shared common values such as democracy and constitutionalism, Poettering told journalists.
"We should take this into account much more in our relations with other countries from a European Union and European Parliament point of view," Poettering said.
It had been his conscious decision as president of the EU parliament to visit Japan as the first Asian country, he said.
Climate issues in particular would lend themselves to a "very intensive strategic partnership" with Japan, Poettering said, adding he would "very much welcome," the EU and Japan to "take on a leading role" in climate protection.
Climate protection was also discussed in a 30-minute meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
In July, Japan is to host the G8 summit which will focus on climate protection.
However, while emphasizing shared values between Europe and Japan, Poettering also pointed out one big exception, Japan's retention of the death penalty.
Nevertheless, he said, even here the situation in Japan was was different from, for example, China, where thousands of death sentences were carried out each year.
In Japan use of the death penalty was the exception, although it created disagreement between Europe and Japan, he said.
Poettering's visit was the first to Japan of a European Parliament president since 1996. He had been invited by the speakers of the two chambers of the Japanese parliament.
German Poettering was due to have an audience with Emperor Akihito on Friday.