Long-standing friendship is an "incentive to cooperate more closely"

Angela Merkel in Japan Long-standing friendship is an "incentive to cooperate more closely"

A new, higher level of Japanese-German relations – that is the outcome of the Chancellor’s two-day visit to Japan. At a meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Chancellor announced that their common commitment to international free trade and multilateralism would be extended, and trade stepped up.

Chancellor Angela Merkel in conversation with Emperor Akihito

Audience with the Emperor. It was the third time that Emperor Akihito had received Angela Merkel.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

The "long-standing friendship, which in 2021 will celebrate 160 years of diplomatic relations" is an incentive to cooperate even more closely, said Chancellor Angela Merkel following her meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. This is particularly true when conditions are difficult at global political level.

New level of friendly relations

German-Japanese relations have been elevated to a new, higher level, declared Shinzo Abe. This is demonstrated by the common will to step up cooperation between the two countries in the interests of achieving stability and prosperity for the international community.

Focus on economic issues

In addition to bilateral relations and global issues, Angela Merkel and Shinzo Abe discussed economic and trade matters.

The Chancellor praised the partnership agreement between the EU and Japan, which has just come into effect, and the readiness of the two sides to work together as partners to achieve a very good win-win situation, "although some multilateral agreements are facing significant difficulties". The two leaders are working for fairness and mutual benefits.

On 1 February 2019 the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, concluded last year, came into force. Customs duties on many European exports to Japan and vice versa have been reduced in stages or completely abolished.

G20 a priority

During their talks they also looked at this year’s Japanese G20 Presidency and the G20 summit which is to be held in Osaka. Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that one major reason for her visit was "to demonstrate that we want to prepare the way for the G20 summit together".

At the G20 summit in June the international community will be addressing Japan’s priority topic "Society 5.0" alongside major economic, trade and climate issues. "Germany and Japan can cooperate very closely here, because we are pushing ahead with things in this area too," declared Angela Merkel.

This year’s G20 summit will take place in Osaka on 28 and 29 June 2019. The Chancellor plans to attend the summit.

Cooperation on artificial intelligence

There is also a high level of interest in German-Japanese cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence and across the entire economy. "I also support the idea of developing the agreement on confidentiality so that we can make progress on cyber cooperation," said the Chancellor.  

Along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel also met with representatives of the Japanese and German business communities. The meeting was attended by the business delegation accompanying the Chancellor, with representatives of the German electric and electronic engineering, IT, chemical, pharmaceutical and health sectors, as well as financial service providers and automobile suppliers.

Agreement on global issues

The Chancellor stressed the numerous areas of cooperation at global level. She and Shinzo Abe, for instance, discussed the common cooperation partners Russia and China, as well as development measures in Africa and Japan’s support for the Berlin process in the Western Balkans. German-Japanese cooperation on the Korean question was also on the agenda.

The two leaders stressed that they intend to cooperate even more closely in future at global level.

Audience with the Emperor

On the second day of her trip, Angela Merkel met with Japanese intellectuals and publishers. At a breakfast meeting they discussed Japan’s domestic- and foreign-policy situation.

Then the Chancellor continued to the Imperial Palace, where Emperor Akihito received her for a bilateral meeting. It was the third time the Chancellor has had an audience with the Emperor – a very special honour. Emperor Akihito will abdicate at the end of April and his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will take his place on the throne. The Crown Prince also met Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks in the early afternoon.

All about science

At Keio University, one of the oldest universities in Japan, Angela Merkel discussed German-Japanese relations and the challenges of the future with students. Then she met students of German at the Goethe Institute. Also on her agenda: a meeting with research scientists from various scientific and technical disciplines.

Invitation to engage in economic cooperation

To wind up her trip, Angela Merkel took part in the final session of the German-Japanese business forum.

In her speech she praised the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. It is "not just some little agreement – it opens up genuinely new opportunities for both sides". She pointed to the European-Japanese area, which "is home to almost 600 million people and accounts for almost 40 per cent of global trade". She hopes that the agreement will result in "an increase in trade in both directions".

Currently 450 German companies are operating in Japan. Angela Merkel invited "all representatives of Japanese companies to feel at home in Germany too". Germany, she told them, offers the open market they need.

Finally, the Chancellor visited the showroom of the company NEC, where she found out more about possible applications of artificial intelligence.