European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to finalise their domestic procedures so a bilateral free trade agreement can be put into force by the end of the year.

During their talks in Brussels last week, Abe expressed concerns about stalled negotiations over Britain’s exit from the European Union and called for measures to mitigate a negative impact on Japanese companies operating in the EU.

As reported by The Japan Times, the Japan-EU summit took place in Brussels on October 18 after EU leaders failed to resolve differences on how to deal with the land border between the Republic of Ireland and the British territory of Northern Ireland at their two-day gathering.

Amid an escalating trade war between the United States and China, the two leaders also confirmed their cooperation on reforming the World Trade Organization, Japanese officials said.

Abe was in Brussels to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting, which brought together 53 countries and international organisations.

In a separate report, Japan Today online noted that Abe also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two leaders discussed security, reaffirming the need to completely implement UN Security Council resolutions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

According to Japan News, Abe also met with French President Emmanuel Macron. Both leaders agreed to reinforce security cooperation. The governments of the two countries in July signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) under which the Self-Defence Forces and the French military provide supplies to each other.

France has territories in the South Pacific Ocean. The stability of maritime order would serve national interests of Japan and France. The SDF and the French military should bolster their relations by accumulating practical cooperation, including holding joint exercises.

In 2019, Japan will host meetings of the Group of 20 major economies, and France will chair the Group of Seven advanced nations.