As Scholz visits Tokyo, Japan and Germany vow to enhance their relationship

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in Tokyo on Saturday and pledged to strengthen their defense ties, as well as cooperate on diversifying supply chains. Scholz brought six ministers along for the government-to-government talks, marking his second trip to Japan in less than a year. This visit is part of Berlin’s efforts to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and also in preparation for the upcoming G7 summit to be hosted by Japan in Hiroshima this May.

Although the leaders did not present many specific outcomes, they both emphasized the importance of enhancing and broadening supply chains, which have been impacted by a variety of factors ranging from the pandemic to Russia’s assaults on Ukraine.

Kishida remarked, “Our discussions on economic security involved reinforcing supply chains.” He went on to state that both countries aim to boost their impact in critical sectors such as mineral resources, semiconductors, and batteries, as well as exchange information on the best approaches to mitigate risks.

Bitten by its reliance on Russian energy since the war in Ukraine, Germany has been battling to pivot away from other economic dependencies, in particular on China.

It has also been ramping up overtures to Asian nations including Japan, Indonesia and India, as it tries to diversify its supplies and exports alike.

Scholz said relations with Japan had been raised to a “new level” in Saturday’s talks and that both countries were keen to learn the “right lessons” from the economic dependencies revealed by pandemic disruptions and the war in Ukraine.

Kishida, who is in the midst of a diplomatic blitz including talks with the leaders of South Korea and India, said the war in Ukraine had made it all the more important for Japan and Germany to step up security cooperation.

A joint statement issued by the defence ministers of both countries said they would work on new deployments by Germany’s military in the region, as well as joint exercises.
They also pledged “a legal framework facilitating joint activities” by both militaries.

Scholz said the German military would carry out a tour of the Asia-Pacific region “in coming years”.

German and Japanese fighter jets carried out joint exercises in Japan last September.

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