(Sankei: March 10, 2015 – p.2)
In their talks German Chancellor Merkel and PM Abe agreed to play an active role toward Ukraine’s peace and stability, as well as to further strengthen cooperation for measures to counter international terrorism.
Regarding the Ukraine situation, the two leaders affirmed that Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula by armed force is absolutely unacceptable, as it is a change of the status quo by force.
It is significant that the two leaders called for Russia to play a “constructive” role toward solving the issue and suggested that Russia should completely honor the ceasefire agreement.
It was Chancellor Merkel of the European Union (EU) who has taken a leadership role in diplomacy toward Russia and worked hard to realize the ceasefire agreement.
In step with the West, Japan decided to impose sanctions against Russia and has provided Ukraine with economic and humanitarian aid. If Japan and Germany enhance bilateral cooperation on the Ukraine issue, it will add more pressures on Russia.
Chancellor Merkel will be the chairperson of this year’s summit of the major powers, and Japan will chair next year’s summit. In a press conference after a meeting with Chancellor Merkel, PM Abe said regarding Russia’s return to the G-8 summit, “The environment is not yet ready for meaningful discussions,” indicating a cautious stance.
It is significant that the two host countries for this year’s and the next year’s summits share a common understanding about Russia.
As for measures to counter ISIL, known as “Islamic State,” not only cooperation between Japan and Germany but also multinational cooperation including the U.S. and the Britain will be needed. The two leaders should seek concrete measures for realizing such multinational cooperation.
Although Chancellor Merkel has visited China over and over, she is said to have little interest in Japan.
Seen from Europe, Asian waters are distant. In the meeting this time, PM Abe explained the threat on Japan’s periphery posed by China’s maritime push, but it will be necessary hereafter to gain understanding not only from Germany but also from European countries.
As for the economy, the two leaders confirmed their nations will aim at the early conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Japan and the EU. They should expedite concrete measures toward that conclusion.
Germany, as the EU’s largest economic power, has a strong say in the union’s policy decisions. Chancellor’s Merkel is entering her third term and 10th year in office.
Japan and Germany are important partners that share such common values as democracy and the rule of law. There are many fields in which bilateral cooperation can contribute to peace and prosperity. It is expected that the two countries will further strengthen their bilateral relationship.