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German Ambassador Von Goetze Explains Strong Ties With Japan; Democratic, Export-Oriented Nations Share Values, Interests

Courtesy of German Embassy in Tokyo
German Ambassador to Japan Clemens von Goetze

On the occasion of the signing of the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement between Japan and Germany, German Ambassador to Japan Clemens von Goetze contributed the following article on his views regarding Germany-Japan ties to The Yomiuri Shimbun.

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On Jan. 29, Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa and I signed the German-Japanese Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). With this step, we raised our two countries’ close and good bilateral relations to a new level, including security policy. The ACSA enables our armed forces to provide each other with uncomplicated support for necessary repairs, spare parts procurement and refueling in the respective partner country. Under international law, it is the basis for even closer cooperation in the security policy of our two countries.

Germany and Japan share the same perspective regarding international security: As pluralistic democracies, we are committed to maintaining and protecting the rules-based global order, which forms the basis for the security, prosperity and social stability of our strongly export-orientated economies.

But it is not just about Germany and Japan. With its generally applicable and transparent rules regarding the interactions between states and trade relations, this rules-based international order — together with the underpinning values and principles enshrined in the U.N. Charter — has allowed the global community to experience decades of stability, security and growing prosperity.

However, the brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, launched by Russia almost two years ago, has shown us how fragile this order is. It must be protected and defended — not by individual states acting alone, but as a joint effort of the global community.

The Indo-Pacific is one of the critical regions when looking at security and prosperity in the 21st century. But here, too, the international order as the basis for peace and prosperity is under increasing pressure. To a large extent, Germany’s prosperity also depends on developments in this region: More than 20% of German trade occurs with Indo-Pacific countries. Therefore, Germany has a strategic interest in stability, security and open sea routes, especially in this region, which is so distant from Germany.

Thus, in 2020, the German Federal government adopted its first policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific. One core element is that Germany will underpin its commitment to security and stability in the region, also with a military presence. Japan, with whom we share fundamental interests and values and work closely together within the Group of Seven, is our natural partner in this endeavor. In terms of implementation, we are strengthening cooperation between the German and Japanese armed forces and our defense industries. A German naval unit last visited Japan at the end of 2021 and, amongst other missions, took part in joint exercises and monitoring the sanctions regime against North Korea. The following year, the German Air Force came to Japan and the region with fighter, transport and tanker aircraft for joint exercises. This January, the army also sent its paratroopers.

This summer, the German Navy will again visit Japan and the region with two units, while the German Air Force plans to exercise together with the air defense forces of our Japanese partners. The ACSA will now significantly simplify mutual military logistics support for such joint activities.

And vice versa: Should the Japan Self-Defense Forces wish to visit current security hotspots in Europe for joint exercises and in-depth cooperation, they would be most welcome at any time.

As close partners, Germany and Japan firmly agree: In the 21st century, we must treat security in the Indo-Pacific region and security in Europe as an inseparable unity. This understanding will guide us in the further deepening of our cooperation.