The cosultations are a sign of Germany’s stronger engagement in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Today’s foreign and security policy consultations between Japan and Germany are a new form of cooperation between the two countries: Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi participated on the Japanese side, and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on the German side. The Federal Foreign Office was the virtual host of the joint video teleconference.
The 2+2 Japan-Germany consultations, as they are called, are a tangible result of the German Government’s Policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific, which it adopted in the autumn of 2020. In these, Germany declared its intention to play a stronger and more active role in the Indo-Pacific region, which stretches from the eastern coast of Africa to the western coast of the Americas. A key part of this strategy is to diversify and deepen Germany’s relations with countries in the region.
The global significance of the Indo-Pacific
The Indo-Pacific region is the fastest-growing economic region in the world. Viet Nam and China are among the small number of countries in the world that recorded economic growth in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indo-Pacific accounts for a large share of international trade. However, the region is also seeing an increasing amount of conflict and geopolitical rivalry. Global challenges, such as facing down the pandemic, tackling climate change and the equitable shaping of globalisation, cannot be tackled without the countries of the Indo-Pacific.
Quote from Foreign Minister Maas:
So that Germany and Europe can continue to help actively shape the world of tomorrow, we must strengthen our engagement in Asia in particular, where important global decisions for the future will be made during this century. If we do not become more proactive, others will write the rulebook of the future – not only in economic, but also in political and security policy terms. We want to prevent both hegemony and the formation of blocs; instead, we advocate a rules-based, transparent and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific region. Cooperation with Japan plays an important role in this regard, because Japan is a key partner of Germany in efforts, based on shared values, to promote multilateralism, the rule of law and human rights.
Japan and Germany – partners with shared values
Japan is among Germany’s oldest and closest partners. This year, the two countries are celebrating their 160th anniversary of bilateral relations. Japan is the oldest democracy in East Asia and, like Germany, is an export-oriented, high-tech country. We therefore have a number of things in common: We share fundamental values, face similar challenges and have the same interests in many areas.
This becomes apparent, for example, in our two countries’ cooperation in multilateral fora. In the United Nations, we are both campaigning for the long-overdue reform of the UN Security Council. In the G7 and G20, we advocate for a rules-based, open and inclusive international order. Japan was one of the first countries in Asia to conclude a free trade agreement with the European Union. It entered into force in early 2019. That same year, the EU concluded a Connectivity Partnership with Japan, based on which the EU and Japan coordinate their activities in future markets in the spheres of infrastructure, energy and the digital transformation, with the aim of promoting trade, investment, and common values and standards.
This March, Germany signed an agreement on the protection of classified information with Japan. Germany and Japan can thereby work together more closely in sensitive, high-tech areas such as multilateral police and military operations, or the fight against terrorism. The 2+2 consultations are another step towards further intensifying our bilateral cooperation.