Asia - Pacific

German warship docks in Japan for 1st time in 20 years

Frigate’s voyage is ‘of great significance’ in showing Germany’s commitment to peace, stability in region, says Japanese minister

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 05.11.2021
German warship docks in Japan for 1st time in 20 years

ISTANBUL

Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi Friday toured a German warship which is on a seven-month voyage to the South China Sea and surrounding countries.

A statement by Japan’s Defense Ministry said the Germany navy frigate FGS Bayern will “conduct surveillance activities against illicit maritime activities,” including North Korean vessels engaged in ship-to-ship transfers, which is prohibited by the UN Security Council resolution.

“This port call to Japan is a proof of Germany strengthening its commitment to the Indo-Pacific and further developing defense cooperation with Japan,” the statement added.

The FGS Bayern frigate reached Tokyo on Thursday. It is for the first time in about 20 years that a German navy ship visited Japan.

After touring the port, Kishi told a news conference: “It is of great significance in showing Germany’s commitment to contributing to peace and stability in this region actively.”

The two countries have been “deepening their defense cooperation in response to China’s military buildup and assertive territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific,” Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported.

The Bayern is conducting joint exercises with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Pacific Ocean.

Earlier in August, it conducted training with the Japanese forces in the Gulf of Aden.

The frigate will sail through South China Sea to pay a visit to South Korea. Bayern will also visit Vietnam and Singapore.

German Ambassador to Japan Clemens von Goetze told the news conference: “the Bayern's passage through the South China Sea will demonstrate that Germany and Japan are both committed to international law and freedom of navigation.”

He added: “The Bayern will conduct a mission for the first time later this month to monitor whether there are ship-to-ship transfers of goods by North Korea in violation of UN sanctions for its nuclear and missile development.”

The Japanese minister emphasized the importance of Japan-Germany bilateral ties, saying: “In the East China Sea and the South China Sea, we see unilateral attempts to change the status quo based on force, and these problems are a common concern not only in Asia but also in the rest of the world, including Europe.”

The South China Sea is claimed by China and several other regional countries, and the continuing US naval operations in the Taiwan Strait, part of the disputed sea, have angered Beijing.

China’s assertions are based on its “nine-dash line” – purple dashes on official Chinese maps that denote Beijing’s historical claims in the South China Sea.

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