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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Diplomacy: Germany and Japan deepen their relations

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26 hours on the plane for three and a half hours of deliberations and press conference: Chancellor Scholz and six ministers take on a lot for the first government consultations with Japan. Is it worth it?

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and several ministers from both sides met in Tokyo for the first German-Japanese intergovernmental consultations. At the start of the talks, Kishida said that this would take the already close relationship between the two countries “to a new level”. Scholz also spoke of a “sign of very good relationships”. “The government consultations will further advance our strategic cooperation, and they are a very important contribution to providing this close cooperation with a new impetus, which we want to achieve together.”

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Scholz (SPD) traveled to Tokyo with six of his most important ministers. Robert Habeck (Vice Chancellor and Economy, Greens), Annalena Baerbock (Outside, Greens), Christian Lindner (Finance, FDP), Nancy Faeser (Inside, SPD), Boris Pistorius (Defense, SPD) and Volker Wissing (Transport, FDP).

Government consultations – i.e. meetings of several cabinet members from both sides – are nothing new for the federal government. In the past, for example, they already existed with China, India, Brazil, Israel and, until 2012, also with Russia. In this way, relationships with partners who are already close or strategically important are further deepened. For Japan, these are the first government consultations ever.

The talks will focus on the topic of economic security. The main focus is on expanding international cooperation in order to reduce dependencies on individual economic powers, for example when it comes to importing raw materials. Germany wants to learn lessons from its former dependence on Russia for gas, which could only be broken again after the Russian invasion of Ukraine through a tour de force. Japan, which also imports raw materials on a large scale, has enacted its own law on economic security, which the federal government regards as exemplary. A separate ministerial post was also created for the priority topic.

The meeting also deals with defense issues. The Bundeswehr has already sent a warship and fighter jets to the Pacific region to strengthen cooperation with friendly armed forces there. She wants to take part in exercises again this year.

Japan wants to strengthen economic cooperation

Japan wants to strengthen economic policy cooperation with Germany. “In view of the drastically changed international situation, strengthening strategic cooperation between our two countries, including for shaping the international order, is of great importance,” Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a meeting with the German economy minister Robert Habeck in Tokyo. At the start of the first bilateral government consultations, Habeck mentioned the development of raw material sources as a possible field of cooperation.

The topic of climate-neutral energy supply “seems suitable for even more intensive cooperation,” said Habeck. “In view of the rapprochement between China and Russia and the division of the world economy, the unification of the western countries is all the more important,” said Nishimura.

Source: Stern

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