Close collaboration between Germany and Japan

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  • Olaf Scholz

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First German-Japanese intergovernmental consultations Close collaboration between Germany and Japan

Germany and Japan want to learn from each other and take joint action for the protection of critical infrastructure, the safeguarding of trade routes in a rules-based global order, and energy supply security. Federal Chancellor Scholz travelled to the first German-Japanese intergovernmental consultations along with six cabinet members, and a business delegation.

Family photo taken during the German-Japanese intergovernmental consultations.

Federal Chancellor Scholz and Federal Ministers of Germany with the Japanese Government: "We want to reduce dependencies and increase the resilience of our economies," the Federal Chancellor said.

Photo: Federal Government/Steins

Relations between Germany and Japan are close and amicable. Commenting after the first German-Japanese intergovernmental consultations in Tokyo, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Japan is a key value partner for Germany. "We may be 9,000 kilometres apart but we are united by democratic principles, a commitment to international law and order, and an interest in free and secure trade routes," said Scholz. Based on this, Germany and Japan intend to intensify their political and economic collaboration and to engage in more regular discussions.

Focus on economic security

Federal Chancellor Scholz travelled to Japan together with six Federal Government ministers and a business delegation. Being highly innovative industrialised countries with an international outlook, both Germany and Japan rely on robust global economic and trade relations and depend on imports of raw materials, which is why the talks centred on economic security.

According to Federal Chancellor Scholz, both the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic before it had painfully demonstrated the difficulties that can arise from too many economic dependencies in critical areas. "This requires a response from us," he said: "We are working with Japan and our other partners to draw the right conclusions from this experience."

This issue will also play an important role at the next G7 summit, which will take place under the Japanese Presidency in Hiroshima this May. The Federal Chancellor pointed out the importance of expanding collaboration with close partners as well as attracting new partners and diversifying in all areas. "We want to reduce dependencies and increase the resilience of our economies," he said.

Japan is Germany's second largest Asian trading partner with a bilateral trade volume of 45.7 billion euros. The two countries' trade goods include machinery, vehicles and their components, electronics as well as electrical and chemical products. In addition, both sides are connected through strong dependence on raw material and energy imports. The EU and Japan have had a free trade agreement in place since 2019.

Plenary session of both cabinets

The Federal Chancellor initially met with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for talks in Tokyo on Saturday when the six federal German ministers also held discussions with their Japanese counterparts. This was followed by a joint plenary session, which was chaired by the two government leaders.

The Federal Chancellor highlighted three particular issues in which Germany and Japan want to collaborate more closely:

  • The protection of critical infrastructure: Japan and Germany, he said, could learn from one another to better protect sensitive areas, for example by setting targets for increased cyber security or by monitoring disruptions so that they could be identified and remedied more quickly. 
  • Safeguarding supply chains and trade routes: Germany and Japan both support a rules-based international order. Central pillars of the collaboration between the EU and Japan are the global trade order and the free trade agreement. The same applies to maritime law and the freedom of the seas. Japan's JOGMEC and the German Federal Agency for Geosciences and Natural Resources will collaborate more closely in future to secure supply chains.
  • The security of energy supply going forward: Germany is delighted to partner with Japan in the development of a global hydrogen economy. To ensure a clean and, above all, secure energy supply, it is also important to push ahead with the expansion of on- and offshore wind power and solar energy.

Increasing safety and security in the Indo-Pacific region

Greater security is also needed in the Indo-Pacific region. Germany and Japan agreed to increase their collaboration in this area, too. As Scholz said, the German Armed Forces will again travel to the Indo-Pacific region next year to show a presence in the region and will also call at a Japanese port "to demonstrate our commitment to the freedom of the seas."

Regular exchange of information on cyber security

Germany and Japan also want to hold regular talks on cyber security in order to discuss current challenges and to increase our protection against cyber attacks. The goal is a free, open, and secure global network.

Continuity within the G7

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Kishida, Federal Chancellor Scholz also stated that: "We both agree that Russia must end its brutal offensive against Ukraine immediately and withdraw its troops." He was pleased, he said, that the Japanese government was so committed to continuing the course set by the G7 under the German Presidency.

The Federal Chancellor was accompanied by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck, Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock, Federal Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius, Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser, and Minister of Digital Affairs and Transport Volker Wissing. A top-level business delegation also took part in the consultations and met for talks with the Federal Chancellor and the Japanese Prime Minister.