March 17, 2023
Germany’s Olaf Scholz visits Japan to ramp up security ties
AUDIO: “Our common focus is currently on Ukraine. Germany and Japan stand side by side in defending the rules-based international order.” – Chancellor Scholz
Chancellor Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will look at ways to deepen bilateral security relations amid growing challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. The war in Ukraine is also high on the agenda.
When he arrives in Tokyo on Friday for three days of discussions with the Japanese premier and other officials, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will be accompanied by no fewer than six members of his cabinet.
This underlines the importance that both sides place on what will be the inaugural session of the intergovernmental consultations that the two leaders agreed to launch when they met in April last year.
It is security issues…that will dominate the talks.
“Kishida wants to obtain a first-hand understanding of Germany’s policy towards China and on the Ukraine situation,” Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of politics and international relations at Waseda University, told DW.
Joint military exercises
Kishida will…express his gratitude for the deployment of Germany military units to Japan in recent years for joint exercises with the Japanese and US militaries in the region. The German navy frigate Bayern visited Japan in May 2021 and German fighter aircraft took part in drills here last year.
“I expect Kishida to ask Scholz for more of the same, for additional military units to train with Japanese and US forces here, because Japan is very happy to see European nations’ flags flying here,” said Robert Dujarric, co-director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at the Tokyo campus of Temple University.
Ukraine will be another critical topic during the talks, with Shigemura anticipating that Kishida will ask his German counterpart for advice and support on his plans to travel to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Kishida has reportedly been keen to travel to Ukraine to demonstrate Japan’s support for the war-torn nation….
Japan also wants to learn from Germany how it was able to overcome its long-standing reluctance to exporting weapons to another country that is at war, with Tokyo similarly struggling to overcome the fine print of its constitution to permit the export of weapons systems to Ukraine.
Scholz is likely to encourage Kishida to go ahead with weapons exports to Ukraine, Shigemura said, both to underline Japan’s support for Ukraine but also to ease some of the pressures on European nations to keep providing weapons and ammunition.