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EU seeks deeper ties with Japan amid Russia, China tensions



Top EU officials will be in Tokyo on Thursday to meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in hopes of deepening ties with Japan, a strategic ally and neighbour to both Russia and China.

European Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel aimed to bolster the bloc’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region, against the backdrop of EU tensions with China and war in Ukraine.

Japan is one of five countries in the Indo-Pacific region that adopted sanctions on Russia,  following the invasion of Ukraine.

As a member of the G7, Japan agreed on Sunday to phase out Russian oil imports, among other new punitive measures beyond what EU member states had  agreed.

This decision demonstrated  the strong common interests between Japan and the EU, a senior EU official said ahead of the meeting.

It also highlighted  the common threats faced.

“What happens now in Europe can happen tomorrow in the Indo-Pacific space,” another EU official said, referring to China’s claim over Taiwan and greater struggles in the Indo-Pacific region.

The EU is aiming to counter China’s economic influence in the region with infrastructure projects, an initiative that is on the agenda of the Tokyo meeting.

Aside from geopolitics, the leaders were set to formally launch a digital partnership to develop cybersecurity, mobile technology, data flows, artificial intelligence and semiconductors.

Thursday’s summit meeting came one year after Japan and the EU sealed the so-called Green Alliance, an agreement to make climate neutrality by 2050 a shared goal.

EU officials and Japanese leaders would  also discuss how they could  strengthen their cooperation on trade, energy, economic and environmental issues.