German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shake hands prior to the Japan-Germany summit meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Saturday. Photo: David Mareuil/Pool via AP

Scholz visits Japan to firm up economic, defense ties

By Mari Yamaguchi

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 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 Japanese counterparts to deepen cooperation in the 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 is on economic security, the Indo-Pacific region, Russia’s war on Ukraine and other mutual concerns.

Germany has similar “government consultations” framework with several countries. Of the 17 members of Scholz’s cabinet, six of them, including 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 region and stronger military cooperation between the two countries.

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 exercises. They also agreed to seek a legal framework to facilitate increased joint defense activities, as well as cooperation in defense equipment and technology, the Japanese Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Japan, noting growing threats from China and North Korea, has been expanding military cooperation beyond its main ally, the United States, and has developed partnerships with Australia, Britain, European and Southeast Asian nations. Kishida's government last year adopted a new national security strategy under which Japan is deploying long-range cruise missiles to strengthen its strike-back capability, a major break from the country's postwar self-defense-only principle.

Scholz visited Japan last year before going to China, making a point of prioritizing Germany’s economic ties with Tokyo over Beijing. Scholz is pushing to diversify Germany’s trade partners, while speaking out against a complete decoupling from China.

Japan, along with the United States, 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.

But Japan, which is a top U.S. ally and a major trade partner with China, is in a delicate situation and must balance its position between the two superpowers.

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.

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

© 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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as he considers reducing German dependence on Chinese raw materials amid global supply chain tensions.

Then why the heck is he talking to kishida about it ?

Does he need a lesson in double standards from kishida ?

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Germany and Japan should have close ties in economic and defence.

Glad to see Mr.Scholz opening to more possibilities.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Since China and Russia are the common enemies, it is very logical for Japan and Germany to team up. They should trade more with each other, and get away from China as much as possible. Too bad it took a cruel war to get them to see eye to eye, but it is not too late.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Welcome, Mr. Scholz…; I hope the meetings will be successful…; Germany and Japan should always be close… very close.


note: the name in the headline is wrong. It’s Scholz, not Scholtz.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Will any Japanese reporters ask him if he knows who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines? It's kind of important because an extremely wide array of experts have called it greatest act of environmental terrorism ever. Yet strangely, the regimes in Western Europe and North America want to treat it like one of their failing banks, i.e. ignore it and it will go away.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Since China and Russia are the common enemies, it is very logical for Japan and Germany to team up. They should trade more with each

That's ridiculous !

Neither country has much to trade that didn't originate from Russia and China anyway or from Russian and Chinese allies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

China, China, China. My goodness the Japanese media is obsessed. The DW article on Scholz' visit only mentions China once saying that Japan is the 2nd largest trading partner in Asia after China.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

German and Japanese were close ,they were the Axis during World War 2, now they are both defanged military powers Google Japan Germany Military Alliance

2 ( +2 / -0 )

With all my respect to Japanese culture, to your friendly people..... look at the map... where China is and where Japan is.....Turn on the simplest logic! Germany is a weak-willed gasket that does not even care about its own people. You are being plunged into a new war and poverty with such a team

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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