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Germany will “fight side by side” with Japan and learn from Japan.
German Foreign Minister Burke paid his first visit to Japan since taking office. The two-day trip was full, but when she left Tokyo on the 11th, only these two words really entered the vision of the international media.
As expected, discussing how to cooperate to deal with China has become the theme of the German and Japanese foreign ministers’ talks. It is precisely because he claims to maintain the so-called “rule-based order” in the “Indo Pacific”, Burke has thrown out such a sentence to emulate Japan at the level of economic security.
How should Germany learn from Japan? Will economic security really become a strategic option for Germany, the European leader? Even the German media are speculating.
In particular, considering that born into the green party, Burke has always stressed that values, human rights and other issues should guide Germany’s foreign policy, her statement in Tokyo clearly once again aroused the concern of German and even European diplomatic pragmatists.
Another worry of international public opinion about “Germany learning from Japan” is also obvious: the two defeated countries in World War II vied to loosen themselves and even expand their troops to prepare for war by taking advantage of the international changes caused by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
What does this mean for the future international pattern?
The German Foreign Minister’s first trip to Japan ended on the 11th. The two-day trip was full. Burke expressed his condolences to Abe, visited Nagasaki, the victim of the nuclear explosion, and also visited a Japanese naval base. He went to the seventh fleet base in Yokosuka to hold talks with Commander Carl Thomas.
However, when she left Tokyo, the German domestic and even international media focused on two main points:
Playing up China as a “global challenge”, he said that Germany would follow Japan in terms of economic security.
German news agency said that during the meeting with the Japanese foreign minister, Burke expressed his gratitude to Japan for supporting European sanctions against Russia. Since she was in East Asia, especially Japan, she quickly turned the focus to the “China topic”, falsely claiming that China’s attitude on the issues of Taiwan, the East China Sea and the South China Sea “is a challenge to the world peace order”.
You don’t have to think about it to know what belburke said. It’s nothing more than accusing China of being “tough” and not abiding by the “rules”, thus undermining the so-called “rule-based international order” that Washington and its followers talk about. She also mentioned the new “strategic concept” document adopted by NATO not long ago, saying that although Russia was first regarded as the main security threat, “China may become the biggest threat in the future”.
Then, Burke emphasized that the stability of “Indo Pacific” was crucial to Germany, so he made the transition to Germany to pay more attention to the region and “fight side by side with” 100% reliable “Japan to maintain the common values and rule-based order of both sides”.
Not only did Germany “fight side by side”, but also Germany should learn from Japan.
The German foreign minister said that economic security will be the core issue in the future. “The most special challenge of the 21st century is that future attacks will be carried out not only through tanks and bombs, but also especially through economic means.”
Under the background that the “economic security Promotion Act” was regarded as one of the most important political achievements since the Japanese government came to power, Burke said that Germany would follow Japan in this regard.
To this end, she also specially met with Japanese Minister of economy and security Yingzhi Kobayashi to discuss semiconductor production and how to ensure the safety of communication infrastructure.
This trip to East Asia, especially Japan, can be regarded as the most visible appearance of Burke as German foreign minister in the Asia Pacific. Her statements on “Indo Pacific” and direct involvement in China during this trip also made East Asia “close” feel the rigidity of her so-called “values diplomacy”.
As early as before and after taking office in early December last year, Burke from the German Green Party threatened to promote a “foreign policy based on values” and draw a clear line with the pragmatic diplomacy of the Merkel era and China, which has aroused public concern in Germany and even Europe. The Swiss newspaper New Zurich even said bluntly, “Burke wants to lead Germany astray”.
Since taking office, Burke has advocated a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics as German foreign minister under the cautious attitude of the leaders of major European countries such as French President macron and German Chancellor Scholz. Before the European Union formed a common position, it announced that it would not go to the Beijing Winter Olympics. At that time, Burke’s practice also attracted criticism from the mainstream media in Germany.
Today’s world “has changed dramatically”. Some European media pointed out that “the space left for values diplomacy and the western concept of human rights and the rule of law has been greatly reduced”, but the newly appointed foreign minister of Germany actually wants to engage in “the policy of the old world”, “the Green Party is the last group of people who still adhere to the concept of a liberalized world order, aiming to jointly promote democracy and market economy with values and weapons”.
It is still a mystery to what extent belburke’s diplomatic philosophy is consistent with that of prime minister Scholz.
Although great changes have taken place in Germany’s national defense and foreign policy recently in the context of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Scholz and his social democratic party are still considered as “obviously willing to contact Russia and unwilling to damage the operation of the German economy in the Chinese market”.
The Green Party has always been strongly critical of the relevant positions of the Social Democratic Party.
In the 16 year Merkel era, Germany has a “tradition” of the chancellor restraining and diluting the foreign minister or defense minister and other intense words and deeds related to China with a pragmatic attitude. A European scholar pointed out that it remains to be seen whether Germany’s relatively loose “traffic light” ruling coalition can continue pragmatic diplomacy without being seriously biased by the remarks of Green Party politicians.
“Historic turning point”
Just four days after the outbreak of the Russian Ukrainian conflict, German Chancellor Scholz described the “significance” of the Russian Ukrainian war to Germany in the government statement of the special session of the Federal Parliament on the Russian Ukrainian crisis.
Such a turning point is energy policy, diplomacy, security and defense… But more importantly, the country’s identity, or development path.
For a long time, Berlin has refused to provide weapons to any conflict area. At the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Germany only provided helmets, field hospitals and other auxiliary equipment, but then turned 180 degrees to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons.
Because of the close economic and trade ties, the German Russian relations have been limited by the political environment. Otherwise, there will be no continuous promotion of the “beixi-2” project. However, now, Berlin has also decided to stop relying on Russia and announced that it will completely abandon Russian energy imports in stages.
What arouses the vigilance of western countries, especially other European countries, is Berlin’s action in defense.
On June 3, the German Bundestag passed a constitutional amendment on the special defense fund. This fund is mainly used to purchase large-scale armaments.
As a result, Germany has become the third largest military expenditure country in the world after the United States and China. Trump repeatedly pressured NATO members to achieve the goal of P2% of GDP in military spending, which was pushed back by Merkel. Who ever thought that with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Berlin automatically completed the proportion of 2%.
In Scholz’s words, this fund has made a “quantum leap” in Germany’s arms spending.
More importantly, such a leap does not end there.
On June 11, eight days later, Berlin decided to set up a 100 billion euro fund to help update and supplement the equipment of the German army, which had been neglected for many years after the end of the cold war.
Scholz believed that “Germany will soon have the largest conventional army in Europe”.
It’s not just Germany.
On the adjacent June 10, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida just reiterated at the Shangri La dialogue that Japan will significantly increase its defense spending in the next five years.
On June 7, the Japanese cabinet approved the economic and financial management reform plan, saying that Japan’s defense budget would be increased to 2% of GDP, the same as Germany.
The Japanese government will also formulate a new national security strategy by the end of this year and “significantly strengthen” its military capabilities in the next five years.
The problem is that Japan’s military strength has never been bad, and it has never stopped developing its military strength.
Many analysts have pointed out that although the Japanese Self Defense Force has no military name, it has the real military. It can even be said that the comprehensive strength of the Japanese self defense force exceeds the formal military of many countries.
It seems that the number alone is not enough to fear: there are only 240000 active servicemen in Japan. However, in the ranking of “global firepower”, the world’s authoritative military institution, Japan’s overall military strength ranks fifth in the world.
In some specific military fields, Japan can also break into the top three. For example, anti submarine.
A report of the Carnegie Endowment for international peace once revealed that some Japanese defense officials believed that Chinese submarines could not penetrate the Pacific Ocean through the Bashi Strait without being detected by the U.S. and Japanese anti submarine systems.
Japan has always kept a low profile, doing nothing but talking. The same is true this time.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine in Japan is also almost a “historic turning point”. By citing the suffering of Ukraine, the Japanese government and mainstream media seem to find a way to turn sympathy into action, arouse the public’s sense of crisis, and get the public’s support for the development of military power.
As a result, Tokyo took the opportunity to get rid of the past “trot” in security, and talked about the so-called “counterattack ability” without disguise.
Although it has not been stated clearly, Tokyo is already saying goodbye to the peaceful development path of post-war defense with practical actions.
Both Germany and Japan were forced to pursue a pacifist foreign policy after World War II.
Over the years, these two countries have never stopped their efforts to get rid of post-war constraints and become “normal countries”. In translation, the so-called “normal” refers to the “Warring States” that can use force externally.
Nowadays, in addition to the Russian Ukrainian conflict, which is believed to bring an opportunity for Germany and Japan to make great strides in defense development, there is another point that has been ignored by many people, that is, the last batch of World War II perpetrators and victims are dying one after another, and the departure of these German and Japanese crime witnesses is accelerating the cutting between Germany and Japan and that period of history.
The United States, which once “scared” Germany and Japan, has also changed its attitude and adopted a seemingly tacit and encouraging attitude towards their military development.
A scholar said that the United States is a little selfish and wants to engage in offshore balance. It uses Germany to restrict Russia and Japan to balance China.
This is a very dangerous game.
Take Japan for example, it has never forgotten the pain given by the United States.
On December 7 last year, 99 Japanese parliamentarians paid a collective visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. On this day 80 years ago, the Pacific War broke out when Japan secretly attacked Pearl Harbor.