Senior in Japan – Schultz travels to Tokyo with six ministers
The governments of Germany and Japan are meeting for joint consultations for the first time. Chancellor Olaf Scholz traveled to Tokyo on Saturday with six ministers, including Robert Habeck, Analina Berbock and Christian Lindner. With the meeting, Germany also sends a signal to China.
DrThis format is new: Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and several ministers from both sides met in Tokyo on Saturday for the first German-Japanese intergovernmental consultations.
At the start of the talks, Kishida said this would take the already close relationship between the two countries “to a new level.” Schultz also spoke of “a sign of very good relations.” “The government consultations will push our strategic cooperation further, and it is a very important contribution to giving this close cooperation a new impetus that we want to achieve together,” he added.
Schulz (Social Democratic Party) traveled to Tokyo with six of his most important ministers. Robert Habeck (Vice-Chancellor and Economy, Greens), Annalina Berbock (Outside, Greens), Christian Lindner (Finance, FDP), Nancy Weser (Inside, SPD), Boris Pistorius (Defense, SPD) and Volker Wessing ( transport, FDP).
Governmental consultations – that is, meetings of several cabinet members from both sides – are nothing new for the federal government. In the past, for example, it already existed with China, India, Brazil and Israel and until 2012 also with Russia. In this way, relationships with partners who are already close or strategically important are deepened. For Japan, this is the first ever government consultation.
Schulze shifts focus from China to Japan
Germany is Japan’s most important trading partner in Europe, and Japan is Germany’s second largest trading partner in Asia after China. With the consultations, Scholz is also sending a signal that he leans less towards China in Asia than his predecessor Angela Merkel (CDU). The chancellor’s first visit to Asia in April last year was to Tokyo, not Beijing.
The talks will deal with the issue of economic security. The main focus is on expanding international cooperation in order to reduce dependence on individual economic forces, for example when it comes to importing raw materials. Germany wants to learn lessons from its former dependence on Russia for gas, which can only be broken again after Russia invades Ukraine through a round of force.
Japan, which also imports raw materials on a large scale, has enacted its own law on economic security, which the federal government considers exemplary. A separate ministerial post has also been created for the priority topic.
The meeting also deals with defense issues. The German military has already sent a warship and fighter planes to the Pacific region to enhance cooperation with friendly armed forces there. She wants to participate in rehearsals again this year.
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