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International relations

Japan woos Germany on Indo-Pacific with first '2-plus-2' talks

Countries pursue greater security cooperation with eye on China

A member of the German Navy guards a frigate as he takes part in the exercise "Northern Coast", in the Baltic Sea. Berlin is expanding the reach of its maritime forces.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan and Germany will hold the first meeting of their foreign and defense ministers in mid-April to discuss joint efforts toward ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, in response to China's growing presence in the region.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi will meet with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer via teleconference.

Japan already holds "2-plus-2" dialogues, used to foster high-level cooperation on security issues, with France and the U.K. It hopes to bolster its efforts to counter China's growing presence in the East and South China seas by establishing the same framework with the European Union's largest economy.

Japan and Germany in March also signed an intelligence-sharing pact, which allows the countries to exchange confidential information on troop movements, terrorist threats and other issues.

Though Germany has historically developed a land-based power, it has recently shown an increasing interest in the Indo-Pacific region. It adopted its first-ever policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific in September, saying the region is "where the shape of the international rules-based order of tomorrow will be decided."

The guidelines also expressed concerns over China's involvement in the region, including through its Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative. "It is important to facilitate fair competition, to avoid overindebtedness on the part of the recipient countries and to ensure transparency and sustainability," the policy recommendations said.

Germany plans to send a naval frigate to Asia as early as this summer. Japan and Germany will discuss a possible port call by the vessel in Japan in their upcoming 2-plus-2 talks.

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