Scholtz visits Japan to firm up financial, defense ties

TOKYO (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday held the initially round of government consultations in Tokyo as they seek to strengthen financial and defense ties in a worldwide landscape dominated by China’s increasing influence and the war in Ukraine.

Scholz brought six of his ministers for talks with Japanese counterparts to deepen cooperation in the economy and national safety in the Indo-Pacific area, as properly as other worldwide problems which includes China’s assertiveness in pressing its maritime territorial claims and its closer ties with Russia.

“I think the government consultation will be a springboard to bring cooperation among Japan and Germany even closer,” Kishida mentioned in his opening remarks at the meeting. Kishida mentioned the concentrate of the talks is on financial safety, the Indo-Pacific area, Russia’s war on Ukraine and other mutual issues.

Germany has related “government consultations” framework with quite a few nations. Of the 17 members of Scholtz’s Cabinet, six of them, which includes economy, finance, foreign, interior, transport and defense ministers, are traveling with him.

The two defense ministers met separately and confirmed the German armed forces’ continued engagement in the Indo-Pacific area and stronger military cooperation among the two nations.

Japanese Defense Minster Yasukazu Hamada and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius agreed to coordinate closely in future regional deployments of the German military and step up joint workout routines. They also agreed to seek a legal framework to facilitate elevated joint defense activities, as properly as cooperation in defense gear and technologies, the Japanese Defense Ministry mentioned in a statement.

Japan, noting increasing threats from China and North Korea, has been expanding military cooperation beyond its principal ally, the United States, and has created partnerships with Australia, Britain, European and Southeast Asian nations. Kishida’s government final year adopted a new national safety technique below which Japan is deploying extended-variety cruise missiles to strengthen its strike-back capability, a significant break from the country’s postwar self-defense-only principle.

Scholtz visited Japan final year ahead of going to China, generating a point of prioritizing Germany’s financial ties with Tokyo more than Beijing. Scholz is pushing to diversify Germany’s trade partners, although speaking out against a full decoupling from China.

Japan, along with the United States, is in search of approaches to stand up to growing Chinese financial influence in the area. Tokyo also desires to reinforce financial safety with other democracies in regions such as provide chains and the protection of sensitive technologies, apparently as a counter to China.

But Japan, which is a best U.S. ally and a significant trade companion with China, is in a delicate predicament and have to balance its position among the two superpowers.

For Germany, China was its largest trading companion in 2021 for the sixth consecutive year, as organization ties have flourished even although political relations have turned tense.


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

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