Japan and Germany vow close cooperation over Ukraine

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier agreed Tuesday to closely coordinate their responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, vowing to maintain stern sanctions on the energy-rich nation.

Kishida and Steinmeier told a joint news conference after their meeting in Tokyo that they also confirmed Japan and Germany will join hands to deal with various global challenges as the incoming and current chairs of the Group of Seven industrialized countries.

“Now I am strongly feeling the importance of our close collaboration,” Kishida said at the outset of the talks, while the German president, whose role is largely ceremonial, underscored the necessity of putting more pressure on Moscow.

Some G7 members such as Japan and Germany still import Russian energy, including natural gas.

But the G7 nations, also involving Britain, Canada, France, Italy and the United States as well as the European Union, have been leading the international efforts to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia over its war on Ukraine since February.

Japan will take over the rotating presidency of the G7 from Germany next year.

On Tuesday, Kishida and Steinmeier pledged to work together toward the success of the G7 summit in Hiroshima in 2023. Kishida is a lawmaker representing a constituency in a western Japanese city, devastated by the first U.S. atomic bombing in 1945.

Kishida and Steinmeier also discussed their cooperation toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific, they said, a vision promoted by Japan and the U.S. in a veiled counter to China’s growing military clout in the Asia-Pacific region.

Tokyo and Berlin have shared the view that the security of Europe is inseparable from that of Asia, as Kishida became the first Japanese prime minister to participate in a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in June.

On Thursday, the Japanese and German governments are set to hold two-plus-two security talks on the fringes of a G7 foreign ministerial gathering scheduled for two days through Friday in the western German city of Munster.

Steinmeier is slated to stay in Japan for three days from Tuesday. He is on his first official trip to the Asian country since October 2019, when he attended Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony in Tokyo.

Steinmeier served as a foreign minister twice under the administration of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He was a German counterpart for Kishida, who was foreign minister from 2012 to 2017.

The president of Germany is stipulated as the head of state by law but has a ceremonial role effectively without political power. The chancellor is instead the nation’s political leader.


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