Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed Thursday to deepen cooperation in overcoming challenges posed by the global coronavirus pandemic, including the development of effective vaccines.
During the virtual summit, Abe and Merkel also vowed to work together towards the successful Group of Seven Summit, which is expected to be held from late August to early September in the United States, according to the Japanese government.
Abe told Merkel that Japan would contribute to the development and distribution of vaccines through the so-called ACT-Accelerator, said a senior Japanese government official.
ACT-Accelerator is a newly launched collaborative framework led by the World Health Organization to accelerate the development and distribution of drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.
The prime minister also said Tokyo was trying to improve the health care system in developing countries, including in Africa, and Merkel replied that Germany wanted to work with Japan for that purpose, the official said.
US President Donald Trump originally wanted to hold a direct meeting in the United States at the end of June, but Merkel was reluctant to attend in the midst of a pandemic. Other G7 members are Britain, Canada, France and Italy plus the European Union.
During the 35-minute talks on Thursday, Merkel asked Abe to ease travel restrictions imposed amid a virus outbreak and the Japanese leader said Tokyo would consider continuing the journey gradually after considering the infection situation, according to Japanese officials.
Japan has broad entry restrictions on travelers from 129 countries and regions including Germany.
Earlier this month, the European Union lifted travel restrictions imposed during a pandemic for Japan and 13 other countries.
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