Shinzo Abe

Francois Hollande to swot up on 'Abenomics' on state visit to Japan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:35am


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French President Francois Hollande arrives in Japan tomorrow, hoping to close agreements on nuclear co-operation and in the aviation sector.

He also is keen to learn more about "Abenomics", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's big-spending, loose-money bid to stoke growth in the Japanese economy, to see whether the lessons could be applied at home

The first state visit by a French president in 17 years takes place against the backdrop of Japanese unease over France's recent moves to build a closer relationship with Beijing.

Hollande visited Japan's regional rival China just weeks ago, but is, nevertheless, expected to find common ground with Abe over economic issues.

His aides have confirmed he is interested in Japan's ambitious growth measures that have seen the country show tentative, but promising signs of recovery after years of crisis.

The state visit - which will also see several nuclear agreements signed - is the first by a French leader since Jacques Chirac's trip to Japan in 1996.

Hollande will be accompanied by six ministers, including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg, as well as about 40 chief executives such as the head of French nuclear giant Areva.

He will be visiting a country that finally appears to be emerging from two decades of stagnation and decline on the back of the reforms enacted by Abe.

"Abenomics" features big government spending and aggressive central bank easing. Japan posted 0.9 per cent quarter-to-quarter growth in the first three months of this year.

The International Monetary Fund expects the world's third-largest economy to expand 1.6 per cent this year.

This is in sharp contrast to France, which like many European countries is in the doldrums economically. It slipped into recession in the first quarter of the year and is registering sky-high unemployment.

As a result, "Abenomics" is drawing increasing interest in Europe, where critics of the austerity model say Japan's approach could offer the eurozone another route out of the crisis.

"The Abe government has put in place an extremely daring policy that is showing a certain amount of results," said one aide to the president. "So of course, Francois Hollande will question him on this policy."