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Germany and Japan want to expand cooperation, says Scholz

  • March 19, 2023

Germany and Japan want to intensify their cooperation, particularly on economic issues, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday after the first German-Japanese government consultations in Tokyo.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the talks would take the already close relations between the two countries “to a new level.”

There were few concrete results outlined by the leaders, but both stressed the need to strengthen and diversify supply chains hit by everything from the pandemic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Germany is Japan’s most important trading partner in Europe, while Japan is Germany’s second largest trading partner in Asia after China, albeit its 18th largest trading partner overall, trailing behind much of Europe.

Germany’s Scholz in Japan: DW’s Nina Haase in Tokyo

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Lessons from COVID, war in Ukraine

Scholz, who was accompanied by several ministers and a business delegation, said that both countries were keen to learn the “right lessons” from the economic dependencies revealed by pandemic disruptions and the war in Ukraine.

“In our conversations about economic security, we talked about beefing up supply chains,” said Kishida.

Kishida also said the war in Ukraine had made it all the more important for Japan and Germany to step up security cooperation.

Both nations want to strengthen “their influence in strategic sectors, including mineral resources, semiconductors and batteries, and share best practices to address risks,” he added.

Defense cooperation

A joint statement issued by the defense 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.”

Germany’s Bundeswehr military had already sent a warship and fighter jets to the Pacific region to strengthen cooperation with friendly forces there. It plans to participate in exercises again this year.

dh/msh (dpa, AFP)

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