In the future, Germany and Japan want to work more closely together on securing raw materials and on defense issues. The governments of both countries decided this at their first consultations in Tokyo, with which they opened a new chapter in German-Japanese relations. "Today we are taking these good relationships to a new level," said Scholz. They want to give the already close cooperation a "new impetus". Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a similar statement. Several ministers from both sides took part in the deliberations.
The focus of the talks was on the subject of economic security. The main focus is on expanding international cooperation in order to reduce dependencies on individual economic powers, for example when it comes to importing raw materials. Germany wants to learn lessons from its former dependence on Russia for gas, which could only be broken again after the Russian invasion of Ukraine through a tour de force. Japan, which also imports raw materials on a large scale, has enacted its own law on economic security, which the federal government regards as exemplary.
In the future, institutes on both sides, such as the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, are to intensify their cooperation. A lot of knowledge has accumulated on both sides, said Scholz. "If you can bring that together, it will lead to a considerable increase in the scope for action," said the Chancellor. This creates "a common perspective" on how investments in raw material exploration can take place elsewhere. The aim is to reduce dependence on raw materials processed in China.
Who was present at the deliberations?
In the defense sector, both countries want to create a legal framework for their cooperation. In the coming year, the Bundeswehr also wants to send another ship - probably a frigate again - to the Pacific region, which will then take part in exercises there. The mission should be understood as a "commitment to the freedom of the seas", said Scholz.
The Chancellor (SPD) traveled to Tokyo with six of his most important ministers: Robert Habeck (Vice Chancellor and Economy, Greens), Annalena Baerbock (Outside, Greens), Christian Lindner (Finance, FDP), Nancy Faeser (Inside, SPD), Boris Pistorius (defense, SPD) and Volker Wissing (traffic, FDP).
For the federal government, such meetings of several cabinet members from both sides are nothing new. In the past, for example, they already existed with China, India, Brazil, Israel and, until 2012, also with Russia. This intensifies relationships with already close or strategically important partners. For Japan, these are the first government consultations ever.
After taking office, Scholz made great efforts to deepen relations with Japan. In April 2022, it was the first Asian country he visited. He deliberately did not follow the example of his predecessors, Angela Merkel (CDU) and Gerhard Schröder (SPD), who traveled to China first. Scholz was already sending out the signal back then that Germany wanted to position itself more broadly in Asia in order to reduce its economic dependency on China. The trip to Beijing followed in November.
Japan currently chairs the G7, a group of economically strong democracies. The annual summit takes place in Hiroshima in May. Scholz will then travel to Japan again.