HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Japanese Prime MinisterShinzo Abe said on Sunday that the European Union and Japan should soon reach an economic deal, and stressed the importance of free trade to his country.


"We must conclude an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the EU at an early time," Abe said at the opening of the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, northern Germany.


He also said: "Japan, having gone through reaping in abundance the benefits of free trade and investment, wants to be the champion upholding open systems alongside Germany."


(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)