Chancellor Scholz and six ministers visit Japan
Dhe flight will have lasted longer than the stay. On Sunday afternoon, after less than 24 hours in Tokyo, the Chancellor will be back in Berlin. He then spent more than 26 hours in the air. But perhaps that is also part of the clear signal that Olaf Scholz wanted to send out: Japan is so important to us that we don’t shy away from this hardship.
When the Chancellor sat with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and a small delegation early on Saturday afternoon, he called the government consultations, for which he had traveled to Tokyo with part of the cabinet, a “sure sign of good cooperation” between the two countries. Later, at a press conference with Kishida, Scholz referred Japan as a “key value partner” for Germany.
The fact that the visit took place was ultimately more important than the specific content. Although a 25-point final declaration was adopted, it essentially contained declarations of intent for cooperation. The focus was on economic security, an issue that has become even more important for the two countries that are poor in raw materials and dependent on exports with Russia’s war against Ukraine.
It’s about economic security
Economic security was the focus of many discussions. The range of topics was wide, from securing access to rare minerals and raw materials to securing supply chains and protecting companies and institutions from cyber attacks. “In a world in upheaval, it’s about making economic policy safer,” said Economics Minister Robert Habeck before his dialogue with his counterpart Yasutoshi Nishimura.
Japan offers a lot of illustrative material. When it comes to economic security, the state is pursuing a broad strategy that ranges from general economic issues such as energy security to specific instructions for companies on how to protect data and information systems. But it did not seem as if concrete agreements were reached at this point in addition to the in-depth and future exchange of information.
Habeck had hoped for advances in raw material security with the idea of Germany and Japan cooperating to reduce dependence on Chinese supplies. Before the conversation with Nishimura, he spoke about the joint exploration and development of new wells, deposits and mines and about the fact that “perhaps concrete progress can be made there”.
Scholz later announced that the German Federal Agency for Geosciences and Natural Resources and its Japanese counterpart, Jogmec, which is assigned to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, should cooperate more closely. With regard to the joint exploration, however, Scholz only spoke of a “common view and perspective”.
foreign minister Annalena Bärbock announced before meeting her Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi that a direct encrypted phone line would be installed between their offices. “This is the deepest technical signal of friendship and mutual trust,” Baerbock said.