Japan, Germany to enhance cooperation against China

Courtesy of Foreign Ministry
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, right, and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock attend a two-plus-two meeting in person on Thursday in Munster, Germany, along with two other ministers attending virtually.

MUNSTER – Japan and Germany confirmed Thursday that the two countries will deepen security and defense cooperation in consideration of China’s increasingly hegemonic moves.

The two governments held a two-plus-two meeting Thursday in Munster, western Germany, where the foreign and defense ministers of the two nations agreed to arrange the start of negotiations on an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement. The agreement is intended to allow the sharing of food, fuel and other supplies for the smooth execution of joint exercises and disaster rescue operations.

The latest meeting was the two countries’ second two-plus-two meeting after the first was held online in April 2021. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock attended the meeting in person while Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht participated online. The ministers also decided to make arrangements to hold two-plus-two meetings regularly, at a pace of one a year.

“Faced with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a reckless move that shakes the foundation of the international order, countries that share basic values, like Japan and Germany, must demonstrate unity,” Hayashi emphasized. Japan and Germany plan to continue strong sanctions against Russia and their support for Ukraine.

The ministers also condemned North Korea for a series of missile launches and agreed to cooperate in resolving the issue of abductions by North Korea. In security cooperation, they will consider expanding joint exercises and increasing opportunities for the German military to visit Japan, while promoting cooperation in defense equipment and technologies.

They also reaffirmed that the two countries would enhance cooperation to realize of a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” while sharing serious concerns about China’s aggressive expansion into the East and South China Seas and agreeing to oppose any unilateral attempt to change the status quo.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who took office in December last year, chose Japan for his first official Asia visit in April. In September, he sent German Air Force Eurofighter jets to Japan for the first time, following a dispatch of one of the country’s naval vessels to Japan last year.

Scholz has been reviewing his country’s relations with China, where Germany is seen as having taken a conciliatory stance, including under the leadership of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and is increasingly involved in the Indo-Pacific region. At the same time, he is hoping to avoid any excessive provocation of China, given that Germany’s economy is more dependent on China than those of other major European countries. Scholz is scheduled to make his first visit to China on Friday, accompanying a group of representatives from German companies. He will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks that will be carefully watched.