(Repeats for wider distribution, no changes to text)
By Antoni Slodkowski
TOKYO, June 7 Japan and France on Friday agreed
to boost nuclear cooperation to secure a larger share of global
atomic energy markets as Tokyo's pro-nuclear government looks to
restart reactors despite public unease in the wake of the
The agreement comes hot on the heels of a $22 billion deal
struck in May between Japanese and French nuclear giants to
build Turkey's second nuclear power plant.
Both agreements have the strong support of Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been touting Japan's nuclear safety
standards on trips overseas, even as the wrecked nuclear plant
in Fukushima has suffered a spate of radioactive leaks and
remains in a precarious state.
"When it comes to atomic power plants, we will respond to
expectations that Japanese nuclear technology will help raise
global safety standards," said Abe during a joint news
conference with the French President Francois Hollande.
"I believe that Japan and France are the world's best
partners in this respect," said Abe.
Hollande is on a three-day visit to Tokyo accompanied by
several cabinet ministers and more than 30 executives, including
the head of France's nuclear energy giant Areva, Luc
As well as agreeing to boost the exports of nuclear
technology, Tokyo and Paris confirmed plans to cooperate on
Japan's troubled nuclear spent fuel reprocessing and
fast-breeder projects, but no further details were provided in
the joint statement released at the news conference.
Reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant triggered
by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 shook the industry
and raised questions over whether atomic energy was safe.
Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear protesters marched in
Tokyo on Sunday shouting slogans against Abe's plans to restart
nuclear reactors deemed safe by Japan's new nuclear watchdog,
which was set up after the Fukushima catastrophe highlighted
oversight failures by its predecessor.
The operator of the crippled Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric
Power Co, on Wednesday found a new leak in storage
tanks that hold contaminated water. On Tuesday, Tepco said it
had detected radioactive caesium in groundwater flowing into the
plant -- overturning an early finding that contamination was
A string of leaks and power outages plagued the facility in
March and April and the plant's still precarious state serves as
a reminder of the poor management of the worst nuclear accident
since Chernobyl in 1986, experts
(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and