Germany, Japan Close Ranks on Efforts to Fight Climate Change | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 29.08.2007
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Germany, Japan Close Ranks on Efforts to Fight Climate Change

Kicking off her three-day tour of Japan, German Chancellor Merkel told Prime Minister Abe that Japan must help Germany in combating climate change. The two leaders also discussed their involvement in Afghanistan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (l) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (l) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

During German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit Tokyo, she praised Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for what she called his substantial contributions at the Group of Eight summit of industrialized countries in June in Germany.

A compromise in attempts to reduce greenhouse gases was reached there in which the eight nations -- the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Russia -- agreed to voluntarily halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

However, Merkel also said Tokyo that Germany cannot take on a pioneering role on climate change alone, and Japan has a key role to play in the process.

Japan and Germany have set high goals to reduce emissions blamed for global warming

Japan and Germany have set high goals to reduce emissions blamed for global warming

During a joint press conference following talks, Merkel and Abe pledged to push for a global treaty to slash emissions.

Merkel said Japan would take center stage in that effort as host of next year's G8 summit.

"We still expect difficult negotiations in the time leading up to the next summit hosted by Japan, and we expect the Japanese government to play a very important role," Merkel said at the press conference.

Afghanistan

Economic relations were also an issue during talks, with Japan expressing interest in achieving a free-trade agreement with the European Union.

Abe said "in the future we must think about Europe."

Merkel said she felt that the current focus should be on World Trade Organization negotiations on a new world trade agreement.

More central in the talks between Merkel and Abe was each country's involvement in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Deutschland Bundeswehr Soldaten in Mazar-e-Sharif

Germany has around 3,000 troops in Afghanistan

Merkel voiced hope that Japan would renew support for US-led forces in Afghanistan.

Abe is in the midst of a political battle over extending Japan's naval mission in refueling ships and jets in the Indian Ocean that serve the Afghanistan mission.

"Japan's refueling activity is also important for German vessels," Merkel said at the press conference.

"I find it very important that Japan is contributing to the fight against terror in Afghanistan."

"We are facing some difficulties, but it's all the more important at difficult times that the international community never give in to the threat of terror," the chancellor said.

Course change for pacifist Japan

Japan has been been a pacifist nation since its since defeat in World

War II. However, it deployed ships to the Indian Ocean under special legislation allowing participation in the international "war on terror."

That legislation, which was first passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, expires on November 1.

This is Merkel's first visit to Japan, which comes as Abe faces political trouble at home. The Japanese prime minister has had to reshuffle his cabinet this week to try to win back public support after his coalition lost recent parliamentary elections. Also, his government has been rocked by scandals.

Before arriving in Japan, Merkel visited China, where she discussed the environment, human and intellectual property rights and press freedom with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

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