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International relations

Japan and Germany to sign intel-sharing pact in coming weeks

Two sides to share notes on deployment plans and defense equipment

German frigate Baden-Wuerttemberg is pictured during a media presentation of the naval forces in Wilhelmshaven, Germany in 2019.

TOKYO -- Japan and Germany are set to sign an agreement on sharing defense-related information as early as this month, as the two countries pursue closer defense cooperation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

The agreement on the security of information would make it easier for Tokyo and Berlin to let each other access sensitive information on troop deployment plans, defense equipment and terrorist activities. Both countries would need to enact tight controls on handling classified intelligence.

Talks toward a pact have been ongoing since February 2019, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reached a basic agreement in principle.

Germany has been paying closer attention to the Indo-Pacific as China's influence expands. Berlin drew up guidelines for diplomacy in the region last year and is expected to dispatch a frigate as early as summer.

Last December, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi in a virtual meeting that Germany has a security interest in the region and intends to increase its presence there.

Dispatching German liaison officers to multilateral organizations, participating in military exercises and conducting port visits of navy units are some of the measures Berlin is considering, she said.

Kramp-Karrenbauer explained that the German government intends to intensify cooperation with partners in the Indo-Pacific region within the framework of NATO. 

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