Japanese-German Forum

22nd Meeting

October 29–30, 2013

The 22nd Japanese-German Forum was held on October 29–30, 2013, bringing more than three dozen participants from the two countries together in Tokyo at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Mita Conference Hall. On the first day, participants visited Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and attended a reception sponsored by Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida. The discussions the following day focused on three topics: domestic political issues in the context of the global community, sustaining economic growth through fiscal and monetary policy, US-China relations and their influence on Japan and Germany.

         

Deputy Foreign Minister Emily Haber opened the forum with an overview of Japan-German relations, underscoring that Japan and Germany share basic values and can work together to improve the world. She emphasized the need for a framework to tackle the new challenges facing the two countries, such as cyberterrorism and global warming, for cooperation in dealing with emerging nations, and for maintaining peace in Asia.

In Session 1, “Domestic Political Issues in the Context of the Global Community,” Hon. Kenji Kosaka (House of Councillors) and Hon. Koichiro Gemba (House of Representatives) addressed such topics as the shift in political power from the DPJ to the LDP, foreign policy under the Abe administration, the current situation in East Asia, and Japan’s economy. Mario Schmidt (North German Radio) talked about the victory of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party in the September 2013 election and the direction of the coalition government, energy policy, and growing anti-EU sentiment. A lively question and answer session then followed, addressing the political climate in both countries.

In Session 2, “Sustaining Economic Growth Through Fiscal and Monetary Policy,” Izuru Kato, president of Totan Research Company, spoke about Japan’s increasing debt, Abenomics, challenges to economic growth, and issues related to population decline and the aging population (including immigration). Gerhard Wiesheu of Metzler Bank pointed out that debt is a problem that all developed countries are facing. He spoke about the brake mechanism within the German constitution that prevents the government from increasing the national debt by issuing more government bonds, the stress tests being carried out in European banks, and the importance of accepting immigrants. Moreover, he reiterated the importance of education in order to preserve the countries’ competitiveness and productivity in light of the falling childbirth rates and aging of the societies.

In Session 3, “US-China Relations and their Influence on Japan and Germany,” Ryosei Kokubun, president of the National Defense Academy of Japan, discussed China’s domestic and foreign policy, as well as Japan-China relations. He emphasized the influence that China’s foreign policy has on domestic policy, and addressed concerns about both Jiang Zemin’s growing influence and the stability of Xi Jinping’s regime. Sabine Stricker-Kellerer—who is an expert on the business climate for foreign corporations in China—spoke about the increasing confidence of Chinese corporations, and the relationship between politics and business. She also discussed concerns about the growing number of hardliners in China and the rise of exclusionary thinking. On the other hand, while pointing out the necessity of fully understanding China’s present system and issues before trying to build a relationship of trust with them, she noted that there is some room for optimism in terms of the shifting mindset of Chinese intellectuals who have greater knowledge of foreign countries. Participants discussed the importance of using Japan-German cooperation in areas like energy and the environment to put pressure on China, as well as addressing Western values such as democracy and the rule of the law and China’s medium- to long-term goals.

Following the meeting, a joint statement was drafted by the chairperson and submitted to both the Japanese prime minister and the German chancellor. (Available in Japanese)

         

Agenda

Tuesday, October 29

Session I: Domestic Political Issues in the Context of the Global Community

 

Session II: Sustaining Economic Growth Through Fiscal and Monetary Policy

 

Wednesday, October 30

Session III: US-China Relations and their Influence on Japan and Germany