Japan invites German warship for naval drill to counter China's growing regional influence

WION Web Team
Tokyo, JapanUpdated: Dec 25, 2020, 09:26 PM IST
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A file photo of Japan PM Suga. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Japanese Defence Minister stressed told Germany that China is 'strengthening its attempts to unilaterally change the status quo with force in the background'

Japan on Friday invited Germany's warship for a naval drill to counter China's growing regional influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

In talks between Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi and his German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Kishi hoped that a German warship would hold joint exercises with Japan`s Self-Defense Forces in 2021.

Kishi suggested that such an act would also ensure the right of passage through the South China Sea (SCS), most of which is now claimed by China. Over years, Japan has voiced for a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), as a large volume of trade goes through the region, particularly energy supplies.

Japanese Defence Minister stressed told Germany that China is "strengthening its attempts to unilaterally change the status quo with force in the background." He also welcomed Germany`s efforts to strengthen its maritime presence and contribute to maintaining order in the region.

The defence ministers of the two nations met at a time when Germany had expressed interest over sending its navy to patrol the Indian Ocean trade routes. Addressing Australian and German think tanks, Kramp-Karrenbauer had recently said that her country would also like to have closer defence cooperation with Australia.

With an eye on China's claims on the disputed islands in the South China Sea, several smaller nations like Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei, as well as Taiwan are joining hands with the United States to fend off a common enemy.

The communist giant has also taken over islands and reefs, often violating the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) by sending fishing trawlers, research and exploration vessels and even Coast Guard ships.

Owing to Chinese belligerence in the strategic region, a number of European nations have espoused interest in protecting the trade routes in the Indo-Pacific. Nations like France, the Netherlands and Germany have already revised their foreign policies towards China and the Indo-Pacific region, which means that the European Union (EU) too will follow suit in the near future.

The UK too is in the process of upgrading its Indo-Pacific outlook. It has already indicated that its aircraft carrier strike group Queen Elizabeth is likely to visit the region in January 2021.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been reaching out to ASEAN countries like Vietnam and Indonesia specifically to strengthen economic cooperation and also to garner support for the FOIP, an issue which is close to the Japanese. Japan is active in the four-member Quad comprising India, US, Japan and Australia, whose navies held the Malabar maritime drills in November in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

Japan has been proactive in strengthening relations with like-minded countries, seeking to build alternative supply chains, strengthening defence cooperation and building alliances for rule of law, freedom of navigation and keeping the shipping lanes free and open.