Japan's prime minister headed to Turkey Monday to cement nuclear contracts and push the export of more reactors as the industry tries to emerge from the shadow of the Fukushima atomic crisis.
Shinzo Abe left Tokyo bound for Istanbul, his second visit since coming to power less than a year ago, where he was expected to meet his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for discussions on Turkish atomic reactor orders.
The trip came as the head of global investment giant Blackstone gave the thumbs up to "Abenomics", the latest evidence that Abe is winning over the global business community with an economic policy blitz aimed at getting Japan Inc. moving again.
Turkey is "an extremely important country", Abe told reporters at Haneda airport in Tokyo, Kyodo News reported. "I would like to solidify the relationship of mutual trust between the leaders."
During Abe's previous visit a Japanese-French consortium won a $22 billion deal to build Turkey's second nuclear plant on the Black Sea coast, a milestone for the Japanese nuclear industry as it tries to get back on its feet after the 2011 Fukushima crisis.
He and Erdogan also penned an agreement that allows Japanese manufacturers to build nuclear power plants in Turkey.
Abe has travelled the globe since coming to power in December last year selling Japan's infrastructure as part of his bid to dramatically hike exports and light a fire under the country's long-slumbering economy.
His drive comes even as all nuclear reactors at home remain offline amid continuing nervousness about atomic power in post-Fukushima Japan.
John Studzinski, senior managing director and global head of Blackstone Advisory Partners, told journalists in Tokyo that despite the catastrophe on the Pacific coast, Japanese engineering remained well-respected.
And he said Abe's role as travelling-salesman-in-chief was giving investors confidence in Japan again.
"When you listen to him talk, listen to many of his interviews, many of his speeches he is very good at explaining how he thinks," he said.
"As a result, to other leaders around the world, there is a strong leader... people respect that."
The endorsement from Blackstone, which manages $220 billion of assets, is a further feather in Abe's cap as he works to turn around perceptions about Japan's sluggish economy.
"I think... Abe has really reinstalled in this country a sense of passion for investment, a sense of confidence and conviction, we see much more robust confidence in Japanese companies particularly trading companies investing in North America, and also investing in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe," Studzinski said.
Japan's 3.8 percent annualised growth in the first half of the year is far outpacing other G7 nations as Tokyo's efforts have helped stoke a 38 percent rally in the Nikkei stock index.