Tokyo, March 18
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday held the first round of government consultations in Tokyo as they seek to strengthen economic and defence ties in a global landscape dominated by China's growing influence and the war in Ukraine.
Scholz brought six of his ministers for talks with Japanese counterparts to deepen cooperation in economy and national security in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as other global issues, including China's assertiveness in pressing its maritime territorial claims and its closer ties with Russia.
“I believe the government consultation will be a springboard to bring cooperation between Japan and Germany even closer,” Kishida said in his opening remarks at the meeting. Kishida said the focus of the talks was on economic security, Indo-Pacific region and Russia's war on Ukraine.
Germany has similar “government consultations” framework with several countries. Of the 17 members of Scholtz's Cabinet, six of them are travelling with him. The two defence ministers met separately and confirmed the German armed forces' continued engagement in the Indo-Pacific and stronger military cooperation between the two countries.
Japan, along with the US, is seeking ways to stand up to increasing Chinese economic influence in the region. Tokyo also wants to reinforce economic security with other democracies in areas such as supply chains and the protection of sensitive technologies, apparently as a counter to China.
For Germany, China was its biggest trading partner in 2021 for the sixth consecutive year, as business ties have flourished even though political relations have turned tense. — AP
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