All national papers reported on Friday on a summit meeting held at the Kantei on Thursday evening between Prime Minister Kishida and his German counterpart Scholz, during which they exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific. They condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a grave violation of international law that undermines the foundation of the global order, agreeing to ramp up support for Kyiv. They also reportedly agreed for the chancellor’s aircraft to transport on its return flight donations from the Japanese public to the Ukrainian Embassy for the relief of Ukrainian refugees.
With China’s hegemonic ambitions in mind, the two leaders agreed to reject any unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force in the South and East China Seas and shared “deep concern” about civil liberties and human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The two officials forged a consensus on launching a framework for security dialogue by top leaders, with the first session to be convened next year, in which participants will discuss such topics as reducing energy reliance on Russia and creating resilient supply chains. In addition, they agreed to hold a 2+2 foreign and defense ministerial meeting at an early date.
The papers conjectured that Scholz chose Japan as the only destination of his first trip to Asia as chancellor in a bid to dispel the image that Germany has viewed China as its most important Asian partner since the Merkel administration. The Russian aggression against Ukraine, in addition to Beijing’s unabashed hegemonic ambitions, has prompted Merkel’s successor to change course and ally more closely with Japan and other countries that cherish democratic values, the paper wrote. Tokyo was reportedly very pleased with Scholz’s visit, which he described as signaling his country’s and Europe’s resolve to maintain and strengthen their commitment to this part of the region, based on the assessment that new European security and economic engagement with the Indo-Pacific, together with that of the United States, will send a strong message to China.
Meanwhile, Mainichi highlighted a speech delivered by Scholz in the nation’s capital earlier in the day during which he praised Japan for responding resolutely to the Russian aggression in close coordination with the United States and Europe. The German leader also voiced appreciation to Prime Minister Kishida for attending the G7 summit on Ukraine that he hastily arranged in Brussels in late March, underscoring that he has “strongly felt the depth of friendship between Germany and Japan in the past several weeks.”