March 22, 2023 12:30 am

TOKYO — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday held the 1st round of government consultations in Tokyo as they seek to strengthen financial and defense ties in a international 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 nicely as other international concerns 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 in between Japan and Germany even closer,” Kishida stated in his opening remarks at the meeting. Kishida stated 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 in between 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 enhanced joint defense activities, as nicely as cooperation in defense gear and technologies, the Japanese Defense Ministry stated in a statement.

Japan, noting increasing threats from China and North Korea, has been expanding military cooperation beyond its primary 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 beneath which Japan is deploying lengthy-variety cruise missiles to strengthen its strike-back capability, a key break from the country’s postwar self-defense-only principle.

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

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

But Japan, which is a prime U.S. ally and a key trade companion with China, is in a delicate scenario and need to balance its position in between the two superpowers.

For Germany, China was its most significant trading companion in 2021 for the sixth consecutive year, as small business ties have flourished even even though political relations have turned tense.


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