Nikkei Asia
May 18, 2022

Japan’s top uniformed officer to attend 1st NATO military chiefs meeting
Tokyo ramps up engagement with alliance along with Asia-Pacific partners

The highest-ranking uniformed officer in Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will attend a NATO Military Chiefs of Defense meeting for the first time Thursday, according to the Ministry of Defense, as Tokyo seeks to reach a shared understanding with the alliance on the Asia-Pacific security environment.

Gen. Koji Yamazaki, chief of staff of the Joint Staff, departed from Japan for Brussels on Monday for the NATO Military Committee in Chiefs of Defense Session.

The meeting comes at a pivotal time for NATO, with Finland and Sweden looking to join….

Yamazaki will take part in a session on the security environment and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific along with representatives from fellow non-NATO members Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.

***

The alliance has also weighed in on Asia-Pacific security matters at times, drawing a rebuke from China’s foreign ministry.

In a joint communique from their 2021 summit, NATO leaders said that “China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order.”

“We are enhancing political dialogue and practical cooperation with our long-standing Asia-Pacific partners – Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea – to promote cooperative security and support the rules-based international order,” the communique said.

***

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg this March, becoming the first Japanese leader to do so in four and a half years. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi became Japan’s first top diplomat to attend a NATO foreign ministers meeting in April.

The Defense Ministry dispatched a researcher to NATO’s cybersecurity center in March 2019 and sent a liaison officer to NATO’s Allied Maritime Command that June.