Live Updates | Japan: Macron's Reelection Key To G-7 Unity

Supporters of French President Emmanuel Macron react as the first election projections are shown on a screen in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Sunday, April 24, 2022. French polling agencies are projecting that centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron will win France's presidential runoff Sunday, beating far right rival Marine Le Pen in a tight race that was clouded by the Ukraine war and saw a surge in support for extremist ideas. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Supporters of French President Emmanuel Macron react as the first election projections are shown on a screen in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Sunday, April 24, 2022. French polling agencies are projecting that centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron will win France's presidential runoff Sunday, beating far right rival Marine Le Pen in a tight race that was clouded by the Ukraine war and saw a surge in support for extremist ideas. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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TOKYO — Japan welcomed the reelection of French President Emmanuel Macron as key to the unity of Group of Seven at a time when its members need to work together to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida congratulated Macron in his Twitter messages in both Japanese and French, saying, “I hope to closely work with President Macron in a wide range of issues, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki on Monday extended “heartfelt congratulations” to Macron on his reelection.

“As we face a critical moment to end Russia’s outrageous aggression and defend the peaceful world order, the G-7 unity is required more than ever, and we plan to continue working closely with France led by President Macron,” Isozaki said.

Japan, worried about the impact of Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Asia where China is increasingly taking assertive military actions, has tried to play a greater role as part of G-7 and has joined in sanctions against Moscow and provided support for Ukraine in line with other members.

Isozaki called France “an important, special partner for Japan” that shares universal values including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. He said Tokyo intends to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is welcoming President Emmanuel Macron’s reelection to a second term in France as a “great expression of liberal democracy.”

Macron was scathing of Morrison after Australia’s conservative government canceled a 90 billion Australian dollar ($66 billion) submarine contract in September.

Macron accused Morrison of lying to him about the state of the French contract before a deal was announced for the United States and Britain to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. Morrison denied misleading Macron, who refused to take the Australian leader’s phone calls.

On Monday, Morrison tweeted: “Congratulations Emmanuel Macron on your reelection as President. Another great expression of liberal democracy in action in uncertain times.”

“We wish you & France every success, in particular your leadership in Europe and as an important partner to Australia in the Indo-Pacific,” Morrison added.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s leader has congratulated Emmanuel Macron on winning a second term as president of France — and beating a far-right rival seen as close to Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelenskyy called Macron “a true friend of Ukraine”on Sunday and expressed appreciation for his support.

Tweeting in French, Zelenskyy said: “I’m convinced that we will advance together toward new joint victories. Toward a strong and united Europe!”

Macron has sought a diplomatic solution to Russia’s war in Ukraine. France has also sent significant weapons to Ukraine and Macron is planning more.

In a TV debate ahead of Sunday’s runoff, Macron assailed challenger Marine Le Pen’s past ties to Russia, notably a loan her party got from a Russian-Czech bank in 2014.

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PARIS — Watching France’s presidential election results was especially stressful for Yasmina Aksas.

The 19-year-old law student could have been forced to remove her headscarf if far-right leader Marine Le Pen had won instead of incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking to AP as the first projections came in showing Macron in the lead, Aksas was visible relieved — but far from overjoyed.

“It’s still 40% of people voting for Le Pen. It’s reassuring that it’s Macron but it’s not a victory,” said Aksas, who is active in feminist and social justice organizations. “It reflects nothing of what I think and what I identify with.”

She expressed concern about extremist language and ideas that “used to be limited to militant far-right groups” but have now entered the mainstream.

Under Macron’s presidency, she described encroaching limits on Muslims in the name of fighting extremism. “They made it a problem for everyone while remaining vague about who the menace is.”

“So if you feel concerned about what they’re doing, like closing mosques, associations, when they say they’re targeting jihadists, you shouldn’t feel targeted, otherwise you are suspected of not being part of the republic.”

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MORE STORIES:

— Macron vs Le Pen: France votes in tense presidential runoff

— France’s presidential rivals: Key moments, private lives

— EXPLAINER: How France’s old-school voting system works

— Follow all AP stories on France's 2022 presidential election at https://apnews.com/hub/france-election-2022

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

LONDON — A European economist says that if exit polls hold true and Emmanuel Macron wins the election against his right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen, France will most likely remain an engine of growth and progress in Europe for the next five years.

Economist Holger Schmieding says France has outperformed Germany for the past five years. He says France under Macron would likely remain on track for a sustained period of faster gains in employment and per-capita GDP. He says a dynamic France next to a still somewhat strong Germany is a major positive for Europe.

The economist says Macron has strengthened the French economy by more than any of his predecessors since Charles de Gaulle.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was the first foreign leader to call President Emmanuel Macron and congratulate him on his reelection, Scholz’ office said.

“The Federal Chancellor and the President confirmed their intention to continue the close and trusting relationship between Germany and France, not least in view of the current challenges such as the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine,” Scholz office said in a statement.

It also said the result “signified a clear commitment to Europe and the European unification process,” adding that Scholz and Macron agreed to meet as soon as possible.

The Czech prime minister also sent his congratulations to Macron.

“France is our vital partner, we are keen on developing our great relationship further,” Petr Fiala tweeted.

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PARIS — Rights groups have breathed a sigh of relief at Marine Le Pen’s failure to become French president, but warned against complacency and urged the victor, Emmanuel Macron, to fight racial profiling and discrimination against Muslims, and better protect migrants.

Cécile Coudriou, head of Amnesty International France, cited “egregious human rights failings” under Macron’s presidency including “France’s treatment of refugees and asylum at its borders, systemic discrimination in the form of ethnic profiling by police, disproportionate and dangerously vague counter-terror laws, curbs to the right to protest, intrusive surveillance that impacts the right to privacy, failing to uphold climate commitments and selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

Antiracism group SOS Racisme said : “This victory, which might look large in a cursory analysis, is not so much a victory as a relief. The reality is that Marine Le Pen ... has progressed by about eight points in five years.”

It criticized Macron’s law against so-called “separatism” by radical Muslims and government ministers’ criticism of “wokeism” or “Islamo-leftism.” It blamed Macron’s “arrogance, (economic) liberalism, brutalization of the social movement and nods to the far right” for worsening tensions in France. “It is definitely not neutral to help trivialize the far right by ‘choosing’ it as its opposition and winking at it,” it said.

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PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron said a simple “Thank you!” after winning reelection, and praised the majority who gave him five more years at the helm of France.

Macron also thanked people who voted for him not because they embrace his ideas but because they wanted to reject far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

“I’m not the candidate of one camp anymore, but the president of all of us,” he said.

Macron comfortably won reelection to a second term Sunday, according to polling agencies’ projections.

He arrived on the plaza where his supporters gathered, beneath the Eiffel Tower, to the sound of the “Ode to Joy,” the European Union’s anthem, hand in hand with his wife, Brigitte.

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PARIS — Supporters of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen gathered at her election-night even in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne booed loudly as provisional results were announced.

But they quickly looked ahead to June legislative elections — as did Le Pen in her concession speech.

Francois Denormand, a retired dentist planning to run for a seat as a lawmaker for Le Pen’s National Rally party in June’s legislative elections said that what he called “the third round” starts tomorrow.

“We must continue to fight,” he said. “We can lose the battle but not the war.”

Nineteen-year-old Paul Renkert, waving a French flag, admitted that “I’m sad.”

Renkert, who had traveled from the eastern Alsace region, said he had invested time in Le Pen’s campaign “because I believe in the future of France.”

He is looking ahead to the legislative elections and five years in the future when a new president is elected. Le Pen has not made known her intentions, but “I don’t think she’ll abandon us,” he said.

Guests from abroad were among those invited to the soiree. Among them was Tom Lamont, with Belgium’s far-right Vlaams Belang party, an ally of Le Pen’s National Rally. He, too, sent out a message of hope. “It’s a disappointment she lost but we see the right-wing movements is growing in France … and maybe in five years we will have a right-wing president” here,” he said.

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MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says that with the victory of Emmanuel Macron as projected by polling agencies, “Democracy wins, Europe wins.”

“Citizens have chosen a France committed to a free, strong and fair EU,” Sánchez, who is also leader of Spain’s Socialist Party, wrote, referring to the 27-nation European Union.

Sánchez, Portugal’s António Costa and Germany’s Olaf Scholz had published a joint open letter ahead of Sunday’s election presenting the vote as a choice between Macron, a defender of democracy in a strong European Union, and Marine Le Pen, “an extreme-right candidate who openly sides with those who attack our freedom and democracy, values based on the French ideas of Enlightenment.”

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PARIS — French far-right figure Eric Zemmour, who failed to reach the runoff in the presidential election, has called for a nationalist coalition to be created in France's parliament.

Zemmour spoke after polling agencies projected that far-right leader Marine Le Pen, head of the National Rally party, had lost the presidential election to centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

Zemmour, who created his own party, “Reconquest,” in recent months, said “the national bloc must get united.”

He suggested such a coalition ahead of June’s parliamentary elections, with the aim to fight both Macron’s party and the left.

Zemmour received 7% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election on April 10.

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European leaders have been quick to congratulate French President Emmanuel Macron on his re-election.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has often sparred with Macron over Brexit and other issues, swiftly congratulated the re-elected president.

Calling France “one of our closest and most important allies,” Johnson said he looked forward to “continuing to work together on the issues which matter most to our two countries and to the world.”

Italian Premier Mario Draghi said that Macron’s victory “is splendid news for all of Europe.”

He said “France and Italy are working side by side, along with the other European partners, to construct a stronger, more cohesive, more just European Union, capable of being a protagonist in the greatest challenges of our times, starting with the war in Ukraine.”

Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa says that, by voting for Emmanuel Macron, “French people have demonstrated once again their commitment to the European project.”

Costa, a socialist who was re-elected earlier this year in a landslide victory, wrote Sunday in a tweet that he was enthusiastic about working together with the centrist politician during the next four years.

The Portuguese prime minister made a case for voting to elect Macron in an open letter also signed by his Spanish and German counterparts, Pedro Sánchez and Olaf Scholz.

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PARIS — Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said Sunday that Marine Le Pen’s defeat in the French election is “very good news for the unity of our people,” and vowed to lead the fight against Emmanuel Macron’s party in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Melenchon, who failed to reach the second round by a few hundred thousand votes and had urged his supporters not to vote for Le Pen, said Macron’s “presidential monarchy survives by default and under the constraint of a biased choice.”

In his address, Melenchon exhorted Macron’s opponents to vote in June’s parliamentary elections to “choose a different path” and elect a majority of leftist lawmakers. Melenchon said he would be prepared to lead an opposition government.

“Courage, action, determination, always refusing fatality and resignation,” Melenchon said.

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BRUSSELS — Several European leaders and politicians have swiftly congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron for his reelection, as his far-right rival Marine Le Pen conceded defeat in Sunday’s presidential election.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted in French, “together we will make France and Europe advance.”

The Dutch prime minister also tweeted in French his hope to “continue our extensive and constructive cooperation in EU and NATO.”

In Germany, politicians around the political spectrum offered support, including from the pro-business Free Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and conservative Christian Social Union.

Many in Europe had worried Le Pen would undermine European unity and its post-war order.

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PARIS — French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has conceded defeat in the presidential runoff, handing victory to incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

She said her unprecedented score in a presidential election represents “a shining victory in itself.”

“The ideas we represent are reaching summits,” she said.

French polling agencies are projecting that centrist Macron has won the runoff against Le Pen that took place Sunday.

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PARIS — French polling agencies are projecting that centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron will win France’s presidential runoff Sunday, beating far right rival Marine Le Pen in a tight race that was clouded by the Ukraine war and saw a surge in support for extremist ideas.

If the projections are borne out by official results, Macron would be the first French president in a generation to win a second term, since Jacques Chirac in 2002. But he would face a divided nation and a battle to keep his parliamentary majority in legislative elections in June.

Five years ago, Macron won a sweeping victory over Le Pen to become the youngest French president. The margin is expected to be way smaller this time: Polling agencies Opinionway, Harris and Ifop-Fiducial projected that Macron would win between 57% and 58.5% of the vote, with Le Pen getting between 41.5% and 43%.

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PARIS — Voter turnout is lower than usual in France’s presidential runoff Sunday, apparently reflecting voter frustration with both candidates, centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen.

Turnout at 5 p.m. Paris time (1500 GMT) stood at 63%, the Interior Ministry said. That was below the 65% at the same time in the last presidential runoff in 2017, when Macron overwhelmingly beat Le Pen, and the 72% in when Socialist Francois Hollande won the presidency in 2012.

Polls before Sunday’s election gave Macron a solid lead over Le Pen, but to keep it he needs the support of many left-wing voters who shunned both him and Le Pen in the first-round election on April 10. Many of those voters may choose to stay home this time instead.

Polling agency projections and early official results are expected after final voting stations close in France at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

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LE TOUQUET, France — The two candidates for France’s presidential runoff have cast their ballots — and basked in adoring crowds outside their polling stations.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen went first, cheerily greeting election workers in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont, in France’s struggling former industrial heartland. She emerged from the ballot booth beaming to drop it in a transparent box. Outside, she took selfies with supporters.

Then came incumbent Emmanuel Macron, who shook dozens of hands — and was handed a small child to hold up — on his journey from his family home in the resort town of Le Touquet on the English Channel to his voting station.

Inside, he greeted yet more people, posed for photographs with his wife Brigitte, and cast his ballot with a wink for the cameras. The voting booths were shielded by curtains in the red-white-and-blue of the French flag.

About 48.8 million voters are eligible to take part in the runoff, which is being watched around Europe. Early results are expected Sunday night.

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PARIS — France began voting in a presidential runoff election Sunday with repercussions for Europe’s future.

Centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron is the front-runner, but he's fighting a tough challenge from far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

The centrist Macron is asking voters to trust him for a second five-year term despite a presidency troubled by protests, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. A Macron victory in this vote would make him the first French president in 20 years to win a second term.

The result of voting in France, a nuclear-armed nation with one of the world’s biggest economies, could also impact the conflict in Ukraine, as France has played a key role in diplomatic efforts and support for sanctions against Russia.