Scholz is visiting Japan to strengthen economic and defense ties – KGET 17

TOKYO (AP) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held the first round of government consultations in Tokyo on Saturday in an effort to strengthen economic and defense 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 their Japanese counterparts on deepening economic and national security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as other global issues, including China’s determination to assert its maritime territorial claims and closer ties with Russia.

“I believe that the government consultation will be a springboard for even closer cooperation between Japan and Germany,” Kishida said in his opening remarks at the meeting. Kishida said the focus of the talks was on economic security, the Indo-Pacific region, Russia’s war against Ukraine and other common concerns.

Germany has a similar framework of “government consultation” with several countries. Of the 17 members of Scholtz’s cabinet, six of them, including the ministers of economy, finance, foreign affairs, interior affairs, transport and defense, are traveling with him.

The two defense ministers met separately and confirmed the continued engagement of the German armed forces in the Indo-Pacific region and stronger military cooperation between the two countries.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius agreed to closely coordinate the future regional deployment of the German military and step up joint exercises. They also agreed to seek a legal framework to enable increased joint defense activities, as well as cooperation in defense equipment and technology, Japan’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Japan, noting the growing threats from China and North Korea, is expanding military cooperation beyond its main ally, the United States, and has developed partnerships with Australia, Britain, European and Southeast Asian countries. Kishida’s government last year adopted a new national security strategy that sees Japan deploy long-range cruise missiles to bolster its ability to strike back, a major departure from the country’s postwar self-defense policy.

Scholtz visited Japan last year before going to China, prioritizing Germany’s economic ties to Tokyo over Beijing. Scholz is in favor of diversifying Germany’s trading partners, while at the same time speaking out against a complete separation from China.

Japan, along with the United States, is looking for ways to counter China’s growing economic influence in the region. Tokyo also wants to strengthen economic security with other democracies in areas such as supply chains and protection of sensitive technologies, apparently as a counterpoint to China.

But Japan, which is America’s main ally and main trading partner with China, is in a delicate situation and must balance its position between the two superpowers.

For Germany, China was the largest trading partner in 2021 for the sixth consecutive year, as business ties flourished even as political relations became strained.


Associated Press reporters Geir Moulson in Berlin, Haruka Nuga and Chisato Tanaka in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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