Japanese and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials have agreed to step up military cooperation and joint exercises in the face of a deteriorating security environment in Europe and Asia caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said after the meeting with NATO Military Committee Chief Rob Bauer that Japan hopes to strengthen its ties with European countries and welcomes the Atlantic alliance’s increased involvement in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The security of Europe and Asia are closely linked, especially now that the international community faces serious challenges,” Kishi said.
The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force participates in NATO naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea.
Japan has strengthened its military capabilities and cooperation with Europe, in addition to its alliance with the United States and partnership with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond to confront China’s rise.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is invited to the NATO summit in the coming weeks, and if he accepts the invitation, he would be the first Japanese head of government to do so.
In May, Japanese Chief of Staff Koji Yamazaki attended a meeting of his NATO counterparts in Brussels for the first time.
Bauer praised their growing involvement in confronting “shared security challenges.”
Japan quickly joined the sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe and the United States and gave support to Ukraine. She said the crisis not only affects Europe, but could encourage China to increase its presence in the Indo-Pacific.