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German ambassador believes in face-to-face diplomacy

  • December 3, 2018
  • , Asahi , p. 27
  • JMH Translation

German Ambassador to Japan Hans Carl von Werthern, 65, the chief of the German Embassy in Japan, spends more time out of his office. He travels back to Germany on business every few months and delivers a speech in and outside Japan almost every week. “What is important is to trust the Embassy staff with their jobs. That enables me to have time to meet many people,” he says.


Von Werthern believes that meeting face-to-face with people by acting as a bridge between Japan and Germany is the core of diplomacy. He welcomes 5,000 to 6,000 guests every year at the ambassador’s official residence located in the premises of the embassy. Further, he has traveled to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures to meet local people.


As a diplomat, von Werthern has been assigned to Vietnam and China. He has also served as the German foreign ministry’s East Asia Director. He calls Japan “Germany’s closest Asian friend” because he thinks Japan and Germany “are natural partners” who share such fundamentals as democracy and open markets.


On the other hand, he sees differences between the two countries. He says: “We have different answers for such common issues as climate change, an aging society with fewer children, an exaggerated belief in efficiency, and populism. That’s exactly why we can learn from each other.”


He says his belief comes from the experiences of Germany and France. The two countries, which fought each other in two world wars, are now the most important partners that support the EU. Von Werthern says: “Germany and France always had difficult problems and it took a long time for them to reach consensus. But their efforts to overcome different opinions have been giving the EU strength.”


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