Government consultations: Cabinet trip to Tokyo |

Status: 03/17/2023 02:55 am

Chancellor Scholz is traveling to Tokyo with six cabinet members for government consultations in the afternoon. A business delegation is also traveling with us. The effort shows the growing importance of Japan as a partner in Asia.

By Martin Ganslmeier, ARD Capital Studio

Is it worth it? A chancellor who travels to the other end of the world to Japan with half his government cabinet? Even if Scholz and his government team will be on the plane longer than in Tokyo, Michael Müller is convinced that Japan has become an important travel destination since the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

The SPD foreign policy expert and chairman of the German-Japanese parliamentary group was himself recently in Japan with several members of the Bundestag: “Because we’ve noticed that we’re reaching our limits with China. In Asia, in the Indo-Pacific region, it’s now a question of seeing which value partners we can jointly shape politics, especially foreign and security policy, in the years to come. And Japan is an indispensable partner there.”

Scholz sends clear signals to Beijing

Olaf Scholz had already set an example with his first visit to Tokyo last April. He had consciously traveled to Japan first and not to China. Unlike China, Japan condemned the Russian war of aggression and joined in sanctions against Russia. Japan is an important value partner for Germany, emphasized the Federal Chancellor in Tokyo.

Germany and Japan stand side by side in defending the rules-based international order, in upholding the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and in our commitment to universal human rights.

Scholz and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed on the first German-Japanese intergovernmental consultations this year. A format that Germany only offers to close partners and that Japan has never known before.

In addition to Ukraine, raw materials and energy policy are also important topics

Scholz is bringing six ministers with him to Tokyo: Economics Minister Habeck, Foreign Minister Baerbock, Finance Minister Lindner, Transport Minister Wissing, Interior Minister Faeser and Defense Minister Pistorius. First there are bilateral talks with the Japanese counterparts, followed by a joint exchange in the plenary session.

In addition to the war in Ukraine, the main concern is economic security, i.e. a forward-looking raw materials and energy policy. The federal government sees Japan as a pioneer here – which is why a delegation from German business is traveling to Tokyo. The common interest: diversification of China and “friendshoring”, i.e. more business contacts with reliable partners, according to SPD foreign policymaker Michael Müller. “Through China’s actions, Japan is also looking for new partners, including new trading partners. And of course Germany plays a major role as a reliable partner.”

Japan increases defense spending as a precaution

Both countries are also pursuing similar goals in defense policy. Despite its pacifist constitution, Japan decided to increase its defense spending from one to two percent of gross domestic product over the next five years. The turning point is also being felt in Japan, says the chairman of the German-Japanese parliamentary group:

Of course, Japan is watching this Russian attack on Ukraine that there could possibly be an attack on Taiwan as well, or at least tensions around Taiwan. And of course Japan sees parallels there: that a larger one attacks a small one.

Defense Minister Pistorius will therefore remain in Tokyo longer. Both countries also want to cooperate more closely in the armaments sector and carry out joint military maneuvers.

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