Japan, Germany expand military ties as German warship visits

TOKYO (AP), Nobuo Kishi, Japan's Defense Minister, said Friday that Japan will increase military cooperation with Germany in Indo-Pacific. He welcomed a port-call by the first German warship to Japan in more than 20 years.
After two days of joint exercises in the Pacific Ocean with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Samimaru, the frigate Bayern will be visiting Tokyo. The region is seeing increasing maritime activity from China.

After inspecting the ship with German officials, Kishi stated that the visit was an important turning point in pursuing a free Indo-Pacific and secure one the most important shipping lanes.

He said, "It shows Germany’s strong commitment to actively contributing to peace and stability within the Indo-Pacific."

In August, the frigate left Germany to deploy in the Indo-Pacific. This is part of Germany's recent shift towards the region. It follows similar moves made by other European countries like France, Britain and the Netherlands. These warships participated in joint naval exercises in the East- and South China Seas.

Germany adopted a defense policy last year that focuses on the Indo-Pacific and has since increased its military ties to Japan. In March, the two sides agreed to protect classified information exchanges. They also held their first security talks in June that included defense and foreign ministers.

"The Indo-Pacific is today one the strategically most important areas of the world," General Eberhard Zorn of Germany's Armed Forces stated at a joint news conference. "Here are important decisions about freedom, peace, and wellbeing around the world. Germany is standing up for its common values by deploying our frigate to Indo-Pacific.

China claims the majority of the South China Sea disputed islands and the East China Sea-held Islands. It has asserted its maritime activities and said it is entitled to defend its sovereignty and security.

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Japanese officials claim that Chinese vessels regularly violate Japanese territorial waters around islands in the East China Sea. Sometimes, they threaten fishing boats.

Zorn stated that the Bayern conducted small-scale exercises in cooperation with eight militaries from Germany since its departure and also made port visits at several locations, including Guam and Australia.

The Bayern will monitor and supervise North Korean vessels' maritime activities beginning in November. This includes possible ship-toship transfers of prohibited cargoes in regional waters.


This report was contributed by Hiromi Tanoue and Chisato Tanaka, both Associated Press journalists.