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Federal President: Steinmeier visits like-minded people in Japan and South Korea

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In times of global tension, it is advisable to take care of your friends: Federal President Steinmeier is visiting Japan and South Korea. The effects of the Ukraine war can also be felt there.

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Staying with friends, with friends who are far away – that’s how the visits that Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier begins today could be described. Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday morning (local time).

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Immediately before the start of his visit to Japan and South Korea, the Federal President acknowledged the support of the two countries in the Ukraine war. “I would like to thank the partners for standing closely together against Russian aggression in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia,” he said.

“Japan and Korea are countries that, like us, are concerned about the developments in Eastern Europe since February 24. Both countries condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” said Steinmeier during the flight to Tokyo. “Both countries are looking at rising global inflation and the consequences for the global economy with similar concerns as we are.” He is excited to learn how they dealt with these challenges.

Berlin: Ukraine war is not a regional conflict

For both states, the war in Ukraine is geographically very far away. But the consequences extend to them. Take Japan, for example: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions, which G7 country Japan has joined, have sent energy and commodity prices skyrocketing. This hits resource-poor Japan hard. The sharp weakening of the yen against the dollar has compounded the problems by making imports more expensive. The rising costs of energy imports and the weak yen also brought deep red numbers in the trade balance of the world’s third largest economy. South Korea is also seeing significant increases in energy and food prices.

In Berlin, people like to point out that the Ukraine war is not just a regional conflict – which is also recognized in Tokyo and Seoul. Because if Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin were successful with his expansion and his land grab in Ukraine, this would open Pandora’s box, according to the Berlin interpretation. International law, such as the principle of territorial integrity, would be at risk around the world.

Economic integration with China as a problem

In the Indo-Pacific, where Steinmeier will be staying until Saturday evening, Beijing is already calling these principles into question, as China’s aggressive behavior towards Taiwan shows. China’s strongman Xi Jinping again threatened to take the democratic island state by force at the Chinese Communist Party Congress. The security situation in the region, which is also affected by North Korea – keyword: missile tests – will therefore be another important topic of the trip.

For Germany, on the other hand, these conflicts are geographically very far away. However, the close economic ties with China, which is becoming increasingly authoritarian, are now also seen as a problem in this country. Freeing yourself from one-sided dependencies – from the German point of view, this applies not only to the energy dependency on Russia, but also to the raw material dependency on China. The task, to which Steinmeier also wants to contribute, is: remain connected worldwide, but position yourself more broadly and concentrate on reliable partners with the same value horizon.

Steinmeier meets Japanese Prime Minister and Emperor

The Federal President wants to discuss all these questions when he speaks to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo this Tuesday. The Japanese Emperor Naruhito will receive him the following day. Meetings with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Prime Minister Han Duck Soo are planned for Friday in Seoul.

Another focus of the trip will be climate policy. In his keynote speech in Berlin last Friday, Steinmeier expressed concern that the “human task” of combating climate change could be pushed too far into the background in view of the war in Ukraine. He will now travel from Tokyo to Kyoto – by environmentally friendly train. There he will give a speech on climate protection at Doshisha University, 25 years after the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas reduction was passed.

Source: Stern

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