Germany’s Scholz goes to Japan



The Manila Times

Foreign Business

BERLIN: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel on Friday with six ministers to Tokyo where they will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet under the joint government consultations format for the first time. Addressing parliament on Thursday, Scholz underlined that economic security will feature prominently in talks. “In the area of raw material security, we are seeking exchanges with partners worldwide. And this topic will be at the top of the agenda when I travel to Japan tomorrow for government consultations,” he added. Bitten by its reliance on Russian energy, Germany has been battling to pivot away from other economic dependencies, in particular on China, in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It has also been ramping its overtures to other Asian nations, including Indonesia and India, as it seeks to diversify its supplies and exports alike. Japan, a senior German official said, is “a trailblazer” in the issue of economic security. The official pointed in particular at Japan’s economic security promotion act enacted last year. This is aimed at shielding supply chains from disruption by either ensuring that supplies are sourced from within the country or by relying on allies or partners rather than on China. Beyond the Ukraine war, the coronavirus pandemic had also brought to light the dangers of relying on a single trading partner for key supplies. The government source underlined that while the tensions surrounding Taiwan would “not explicitly be part of the consultations,” the ministers will discuss military cooperation. On weapons technology, Japan has “much to offer,” noted another senior German government official. The German government holds such regular talks with the Cabinets of several countries from its closest allies such as France to economic partners like China. Scholz will be accompanied by key figures from his Cabinet including Economy Minister Robert Habeck, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Finance Minister Christian Lindner. A German economic delegation will also be traveling separately to Tokyo, but the government did not provide details on the participants.