Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Japan on Thursday and attended a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.
Scholz pointed out that Germany wants to strengthen ties with Asian countries that share democratic values and stressed “it is no coincidence that my first trip as Chancellor to this region has led today here, to Tokyo,” Reuters reports.
“My trip is a clear political signal that Germany and the EU will continue and intensify their engagement in the Indo-Pacific region,” he noted.
Kishida noted that Germany and Japan condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and warned that similar attempts to move borders by force are possible in Asia.
The war in Ukraine brought to the fore Germany’s dependence on Russian energy imports and prompted Berlin to look for alternative suppliers and strengthen ties with its allies.
While Scholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel visited communist-run China first among Asian countries, he opted for Japan rather than Germany’s main trading partner.
A member of Scholz’s business delegation stressed that the Chancellor’s decision not to visit China should be seen in the context of severe COVID-19 restrictions imposed in the country.
Germany, Japan seek alternatives
Scholz and Kishida pointed out that the two countries are looking for ways to lower their dependence on import of fossil fuels from Russia.
Scholz stated that Germany started preparing for the possibility that Russia could stop gas deliveries to Europe before the conflict in Ukraine broke out and added that it is difficult to predict Moscow’s moves.
He criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin for insisting on a “forced peace” in Ukraine, stressing that the plan would not work.
Kishida warned about Chinese territorial disputes and pointed out that “change in the status quo by force is something that must be avoided not just in Europe but also in the Indo-Pacific, especially in East Asia.”
The two expressed “serious concerns” about human rights in Xinjiang region and the situation in Hong Kong.
Scholz stressed that rising protectionism and deglobalisation were “not an option, especially not for open, free trade nations like Germany and Japan.”
“What we need instead is a different globalisation, a cleverer globalisation,” he concluded.