TOKYO — Japan said Monday it will "carefully monitor" how Europe reacts to the election in France of Socialist Francois Hollande as the continent seeks to navigate a series of debt crises.
"We will carefully monitor debates within Europe regarding president-elect Hollande's policies," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference.
He congratulated Hollande, calling France an "important partner" for the world's third largest economy and said Japan wanted to further strengthen ties.
In a carefully worded but brief statement, Japan's top government spokesman said the health of the European economy "greatly affects" the fate of the ailing Asian economic giant.
"We believe the European debt crisis is in the process of emerging out of the critical condition it was in last year. But it does not allow for optimism," Fujimura said.
"The trajectory of the European economy greatly affects our economy," he said, adding that Japan considered discussions between France and European powerhouse Germany "important".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has worked closely with defeated French incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy to pull Europe out of its deep economic malaise.
But while Markel has pushed for austerity, Hollande has advocated growth measures.
He has called for a review of the European Union's fiscal pact, which now stresses austerity efforts, to include more targeted investment to spur growth, while Germany has opposed changing the deal signed in March.
Merkel invited Hollande to Berlin and her foreign minister has vowed to work with Paris on a growth pact for Europe.
In a telephone conversation, Hollande and Merkel confirmed the importance of their relations and that they would "strive for good and trusting cooperation," according to the German leader's spokesman Steffen Seibert.
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