CHARLEVOIX, Canada (Kyodo) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau agreed Friday to work to maintain the multilateral trade system based on World Trade Organization rules, a senior Japanese official said.
Meeting on the sidelines of a Group of Seven summit in Quebec, Canada, the leaders made the affirmation after U.S. President Donald Trump recently imposed stiff global tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in reflection of his "America First" trade policy.
Abe and Trudeau also agreed to cooperate to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free trade agreement of which Japan and Canada are members, into force at an early date, according to the Japanese official.
Trump withdrew the United States from the then 12-member TPP in January last year.
In a separate meeting, British Prime Minister Theresa May assured Abe that Britain's planned exit from the European Union would not create uncertainties among Japanese companies operating in her country, the official said.
Britain's withdrawal from the European Union will be smooth and not generate confusion because the country and the regional bloc have a shared understanding on the transition period, May was quoted as telling Abe.
The Japanese leader expressed hope that Britain and the European Union will maintain high levels of market access and harmonization of trade and investment standards.
Separately, Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel affirmed close coordination toward the early signing and entry into force of a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union, for which negotiations were finalized late last year.
Abe, separately with Trudeau and May, affirmed their commitment to countering North Korea's sanctions-evading tactics, particularly through its illicit maritime activities such as ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum and sales of coal and other commodities targeted by U.N. resolutions against the country.
Trudeau, May, Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte backed Abe's efforts for a resolution of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, according to a senior Japanese official.
Conte was quoted by the official as telling Abe that the abduction cases by North Korea were "regrettable incidents" and he fully understands the feelings of the Japanese people.
Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abduction victims and suspects North Korea's involvement in many more disappearances. While five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002, Pyongyang maintains that eight have died and the other four never entered the country.
Abe and Conte, who took office June 1, agreed to visit the other's country as soon as possible as part of efforts to deepen bilateral relations.
Trade issues and Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program are high on the agenda at the G-7 summit, which brings together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union.