In the future, Germany and Japan want to work more closely together on the supply of raw materials and on defense issues. Both countries decided on Saturday at their first government consultations in Tokyo, with which they want to open a new chapter in their 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.
Japan further ahead in securing raw material supplies
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. The aim is to reduce dependence on raw materials processed in China, such as rare minerals.
In 2024, another frigate will be sent to the Pacific region
In the defense sector, both countries want to create a legal framework for their cooperation. They also want to intensify their cooperation with joint exercises and possibly also with armaments cooperation. "The opportunity is obvious. The Japanese will double their defense budget in the next five years," said Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. Germany has the special fund of 100 billion euros. This would open up new possibilities for cooperation on armaments issues.
In the coming year, the Bundeswehr wants to send another warship 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. There are several territorial conflicts in the South China Sea between China and countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Added to this is the conflict between China and Taiwan, which sees itself as independent, which the government in Beijing does not accept.
Government consultations also with China and India
The Chancellor (SPD) traveled to Tokyo with six of his most important ministers. In addition to Pistorius, 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) there.
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.
Scholz is back in Japan in May
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 meets in Hiroshima in May. Scholz will then travel to Japan again.
German-Japanese government consultations