Fumio Kishida Flies to Europe for NATO, EU Talks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, second from right, boards a flight to Europe at Haneda Airport on Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida departed from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Tuesday for a visit to Lithuania and Belgium.

During the four-day trip through Friday, Kishida will attend a summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Vilnius and hold talks with European Union officials in Brussels. He aims to strengthen security ties with member countries, with China and Russia in mind.

Kishida is scheduled to hold talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol during his stay in Lithuania. The prime minister will seek Yoon’s understanding regarding the release into the ocean of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“Based on the recognition that the security of Europe is inseparable from that of the Indo-Pacific region, we will re-confirm the strengthening of NATO and the EU’s involvement in the Indo-Pacific region,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference Monday.

Kishida will participate in a NATO summit for the second consecutive year, spurred by China’s increasingly hegemonic moves. As for Ukraine, which is being invaded by Russia, Kishida has expressed concern that a similar situation may occur in East Asia in the future.

He hopes to expand “a mechanism to enclose China” by sharing that sense of crisis with countries in Europe.

Kishida also intends to announce a new cooperation document, the Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP) between Japan and NATO, together with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The program is expected to cover more than dozen areas of cooperation, including disinformation and outer space.

With the EU, Kishida aims to reach an agreement on launching Japan-EU strategic talks, regular ministerial-level meetings on defense and security that would strengthen coordination between Japan and EU on such issues as maritime security and securing supply chains for important materials.

One of the focal points of Kishida’s visit to Europe is whether he can broaden understanding of the release of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean. Kishida will join a four-nation summit with the heads of three other countries invited to the NATO summit meeting — South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — in addition to the separate meeting with Yoon, and explain to them directly about safety and the management system involved.