Japanese firm commits to French factory

1st February 2007, Comments 0 comments

OSAKA, Japan, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - Japan's Toyo Aluminium K.K. has promised to maintain a factory in France but asked for government support in a politically charged dispute that led a French MP to go on a hunger strike.

OSAKA, Japan, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - Japan's Toyo Aluminium K.K. has promised to maintain a factory in France but asked for government support in a politically charged dispute that led a French MP to go on a hunger strike.

Alain Rousset, the president of France's southwestern Aquitaine region, reached an understanding over the factory in the Accous village after talks at Toyo's headquarters in the western Japanese metropolis of Osaka.

"We are going to continue to renew our efforts to develop our European market through Accous," Toyo chief executive Masao Imasu said late Wednesday.

Toyo unit Toya Europe will "maintain at the Accous site the current force of up to 143 people," said a joint statement signed between Imasu and the Socialist regional leader.

In return, the Aquitaine region pledged to "support investment plans for the business's research and development," it said.

Local MP Jean Lassalle, a former shepherd in the Pyrenees, last year took nothing but water, salt and vitamins for five weeks in a protest outside the French parliament to save the local factory.

Lassalle, who feared Toyo would close the factory to build a new one in a nearby town, welcomed the accord. He is scheduled to have his own meeting with the Toyo leadership on Friday.

"These are small steps in a long walk and we will soon arrive on the top of the mountain," said Lassalle, a member of the centrist UDF, part of France's ruling coalition.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, a frontrunner in this year's presidential race, signed a deal after Lassalle's hunger strike offering financial support for the Japanese company to stay in Accous.

But disputes have since erupted on the amount the Japanese company would pay, leading to the latest spat.

"It's impossible for us to carry out normal activities and if this continues we are going to be overtaken by the competition," Imasu said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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