Japanese-German Forum

24th Meeting

October 27–29, 2015

The 24th Japanese-German Forum was held on October 27–29, 2015, in Tokyo at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Mita Conference Hall. Japanese Chair Mogi Yuzaburo and German Chair Matthias Nass led discussions focused on three topics, “Domestic Challenges and Political Response,” “Growth and Well-Being in an Aging Society—Potentials of Social Innovation and Limitations,” and “Foreign and Security Policy, More Active Role of Japan and Germany.”

In Session 1, “Domestic Challenges and Political Responses,” Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ken Saito spoke about the adoption of the new Japan security bill, which allows the use of collective self-defense, and about the importance of the future domestic response to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Hon. Koichiro Gemba (House of Representatives) asserted that Japan’s greatest challenge is its declining birth rate and aging population. He also discussed the new security bill, trends in China and Russia, and the response of the Democratic Party of Japan to the House of Councillors election that is scheduled for next year. Dr. Heinz Riesenhuber (Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union) noted that while the growing influx of Syrian refugees was a major short-term challenge, accepting refuges would benefit Germany in the medium term as a solution to the country’s aging population. He also spoke about Germany’s transition to renewable energy and the Greece debt crisis. After that, Dr. Matthias Bartke (Social Democratic Party) gave an overview of Germany’s history of accepting immigrants and refugees and spoke about its pros and cons. He went on to state that having a positive attitude toward supporting refugees enhances the confidence of the German people. During the Q&A session, participants discussed domestic opinion about Japan’s security bill, Japan’s response to the Syrian refugees, energy problems facing both countries, the evaluation of the progress of Industrie 4.0, and the importance of German-Japan cooperation.

In Session 2, “Growth and Well-Being in an Aging Society–Potentials of Social Innovation and Limitations, ” the president of the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry, Nakajima Atsushi, stated that while both Japan and Germany are facing a declining birth rate and aging population, the problem is more serious in Japan, and so it is essential that greater consideration be given to the acceptance of immigrants.

In Session 3, “Foreign and Security Policy, More Active Role of Japan and Germany,” Hitoshi Tanaka (JCIE Senior Fellow; Chairman, Japan Research International Institute for Strategic Studies) spoke about Japan’s response to the rise of China and Russia, the importance of strengthening Japan’s security capabilities, and its unity with the European Union. Dr. Frithjof Schmidt (90/The Greens) gave a comprehensive analysis of the current international landscape and Germany’s efforts to take a more active role in international politics. The subsequent discussion focused on Japan’s expectations of Germany regarding the situation in East Asia, German-Japan cooperation toward the peaceful resolution of world conflicts, and policies to improve Japan-China and Japan-Korea relations. Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Miki Yamada hosted a reception on the night of the 27th, and Dr. Hans Carl von Werthern, ambassador to Japan, also hosted a reception on the night of the 28th.

The forum ended on the 29th with a courtesy call by the delegation to Prime Minister Abe. During the visit, Abe spoke about the importance of the Japan-German relationship and the important role that the Japanese-German Forum plays in that relationship. The Japanese and German chairmen then outlined the agenda of their meeting and discussed their findings with the prime minister.


Wednesday, October 28

Session I: Domestic Challenges and Political Response


Session II: Growth and Well-being in an Ageing Society-Potentials of Social Innovation and Limitations


Thursday, October 29

Session III: Foreign and Security Policy, More Active Role of Japan and Germany