Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday left for a three-day trip to Turkey where he is expected to affirm closer bilateral economic cooperation, including Japan's exports of nuclear power reactors, in a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The trip, following one in May when the two governments signed an accord for peaceful use of atomic power, is also aimed at bolstering security cooperation as well as exploring the possibility of launching negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement, according to Japanese officials.
It is rare for a Japanese leader to visit the same country twice in such a short period. It is also unusual for a prime minister to make an overseas trip during the week, while the Diet is in session.
Turkey is "an extremely important country in strategic meaning," Abe told reporters at Haneda airport in Tokyo. "I would like to solidify the relationship of mutual trust between the leaders."
Abe stressed the importance of "securing and promoting national interest through summit diplomacy" as he sought the opposition camp's understanding of his absence during Diet deliberations on major bills.
In a planned meeting Tuesday in Istanbul, Abe and Erdogan are expected to call for speeding up negotiations for construction of nuclear reactors in Turkey in line with the bilateral nuclear accord.
Exporting nuclear reactors is a central pillar for Japan's growth strategy that is also designed to boost sectors such as health care and agriculture in trade with other emerging market countries including Russia, India and Middle Eastern countries.
The two leaders are also likely to discuss the situation in Syria, where a mass exodus of refugees from the civil war has affected neighboring countries including Turkey. Last month, Japan pledged an additional humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees.