Japanese-German Forum

21st Meeting

November 6–7, 2012

The 21st Japanese-German Forum was held on November 6–7, 2012, bringing 37 participants from the two countries together in Berlin. At this year's dialogue, the discussions focused on the new agenda and policies in each country in the context of their respective shifting political environments, pressing issues and potential areas for Japan-Germany cooperation in regard to energy security and the environment, and the new challenges presented by a growing East Asia.

On November 6, the Japanese-German Forum was held for the first time within the Bundestag, and in the evening, participants met with Chancellor Angela Merkel. The following day's sessions were held at the Japanese-German Center Berlin, and Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Shuji Kira was among the speakers.

In the first session on "New Agendas and Policies of Germany and Japan in the Changing Political Environments," the German participants explained that they remain committed to the EU as the basis for peace and prosperity in Europe, and despite the Greek crisis and other circumstances, they have been working to keep a check on German nationalism and support the EU. In terms of the relationship with Japan, some voiced the opinion that greater efforts should be made to promote exchanges of young people in the two countries in order to develop the next generation of exchange leaders. The Japanese participants touched on issues such as weak political leadership and populism, the financial crisis, and other issues occurring in the context of Japan's current political instability, and at the same time discussed smart communities and other growth areas for the future. Participants from both countries expressed their awareness that, as advanced countries, Japan and Germany need to spell out their visions for future growth in order to counterbalance the growth of newly emerging countries, and they discussed ways in which the countries could cooperate in that regard.

In the second session, "Emergent Issues on Energy Security and Environment and Possible German-Japanese Cooperation," the Japanese side offered a detailed explanation of the changes that have occurred in Japan's nuclear power and overall energy policies in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and while the German side noted that they had already been moving away from nuclear power prior to "Fukushima," the Japanese accident had a significant impact on Germany's political situation and its energy policy, and they reported a rapid shift toward the total abolition of nuclear energy in Germany. Discussions were also held on the importance of having industrialized countries be able to offer newly emerging countries a model (e.g., in terms of CO2 reductions) that balances economic growth with environmental protection. In addition, the participants discussed the importance of German-Japanese cooperation in fields such as new energy and batteries.

The third session focused on "New Challenges of Growing East Asia: German and Japanese Views and their Collaboration." The German participants noted that in the postwar era, Europe came together under the EU to produce conditions that allowed them to enjoy peace, and they questioned why, more than 60 years after the war, conflicts persist in East Asia. They also voiced concerns about a perceived Japanese shift toward the right. The Japanese side raised a number of issues, including the elements of instability within Chinese society, such as the widening income disparity in that country; conflicting elements within China; and the emergence of nationalism. In terms of how to deal with China in the future, participants discussed the need for multilateral rather than one-on-one approaches and the need to create stable relations between China and the West by pointing out ways in which China can resolve the contradictions and issues it is facing.

At this year's forum, participants had an opportunity to speak with Chancellor Merkel for nearly an hour. Merkel spoke about Germany and the EU and her country's relations with the various European nations, and during discussions of China, she again noted the importance of a multilateral approach.

After the forum concluded, the chairmen prepared a joint statement to be presented to Chancellor Merkel and Japan's Prime Minister.


Tuesday, November 6

Session I: New Agendas and Policies of Germany and Japan in the Changing Political Environments


Session II: Emergent Issues on Energy Security and Environment and Possible German-Japanese Cooperation


Reception hosted by Ambassador Takeshi Nakane, Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany

Wednesday, November 7

Session III: New Challenges of Growing East Asia: German and Japanese Views and their Collaboration