Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday said his four-nation European tour was "meaningful and fruitful", and a first step for Tokyo to pursue more assertive diplomacy.
This week Abe met with leaders of Britain, Germany, Belgium and France in addition to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in his first European tour since taking office late September.
He earned support from European leaders for his hard stance on the North Korean nuclear issue and pledged closer ties with NATO on counter-terrorism and peace-building efforts.
"This visit to Europe was meaningful and fruitful, where I could strengthen ties with European countries as strategic partners who share purposes and responsibility for a broad range of challenges in the world," Abe told reporters.
"I believe we need to expand the union of free society to Asia," Abe said, referring to his attendance at the East Asia summit in Cebu, Philippines.
"East Asia summit comprises ASEAN plus three (Japan, China, South Korea), and Australia, India, New Zealand," the latter three "share basic values with us," Abe said.
Referring to a mooted East Asia Community, Abe said "European experience is a precious reference to us".