Leaders of Japan and the European Union are calling for an ambitious and binding new international agreement on greenhouse gases to fight climate change.

In a joint statement Wednesday following an annual meeting in Tokyo, the leaders said a new global warming pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol should have binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The protocol expires at the end of 2012 and a new international agreement on greenhouse gas reductions is to be concluded by 2009. 

The joint statement did not give specific figures for the binding cuts. But, it did suggest that Japan was shifting away from its previous position of voluntary targets, and moving more in line with the EU.

The EU has proposed emissions reductions of up to 20 percent by 2020, from 1990 levels. 

The Japan-EU statement is aimed at setting the stage for the G8 summit of industrialized nations that will be hosted by Japan in July.  It was issued by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa, the current EU president.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.