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NATO chief Stoltenberg calls for stronger partnership with Japan | NATO News

The NATO Secretary General said that the security interests of the Western military alliance and Japan are “closely intertwined”.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance will continue to strengthen its partnership with Japan, adding that “our security is closely intertwined” as Russia’s war against Ukraine poses global dangers.

Arriving in Tokyo on Monday from South Korea, where he urged Seoul to increase military support for Ukraine, Stoltenberg said his trip was aimed at strengthening relations between NATO and “our highly valued partner” Japan.

“The war in Ukraine also demonstrates that our security is closely intertwined,” Stoltenberg said on Tuesday during a visit to the Iruma airbase north of Tokyo.

“If the President [Vladimir] Putin will win in Ukraine, it will be a tragedy for Ukrainians, but it will also send a very dangerous signal to authoritarian leaders around the world, because then there will be a message that by using military force they can achieve their goals,” he said. .

“The war in Ukraine matters to all of us, and therefore we are also very grateful for the support that Japan is providing, using also aircraft and cargo capabilities,” Stoltenberg added.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed concern that Russian aggression in Europe could take place in Asia, where fears are growing of escalating tensions between China and Taiwan, as well as threats from North Korea.

Japan, already a close ally of the United States, has expanded its military ties with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years, as well as with the United Kingdom, Europe and NATO. Japan was also quick to join US economic sanctions against Russia, and the country has also provided humanitarian aid and non-combat defense equipment to Ukrainians.

In a decisive break from the post-World War II principle that limited Japan to self-defense, in December Tokyo unveiled a new national security strategy that calls for a significant increase in military capabilities, including the deployment of long-range missiles for preemption. enemy attacks. Japan also hopes to further loosen restrictions on arms exports to bolster the country’s weak defense industry.

Stoltenberg is due to meet with Kishida and hold a joint press conference later on Tuesday.

While in South Korea on Monday, Stoltenberg urged Seoul to provide direct military support to Ukraine. So far, Seoul has provided humanitarian aid and other support, citing a long-standing policy of refusing to supply weapons to countries in conflict.

Stoltenberg discussed with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol a possible NATO role in deterring North Korea from its growing nuclear ambitions following an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests in 2022, Yoon’s office said in a statement. Stoltenberg also cited US intelligence reports accusing North Korea of ​​supplying arms to Russia to support its war in Ukraine.

North Korea has condemned Stoltenberg’s visits to South Korea and Japan, saying NATO is trying to put its “war boots in the region” and is trying to pressure the US’s Asian allies to provide weapons to Kyiv.

Pyongyang has criticized the growing cooperation between NATO and US allies in Asia as a process of creating an “Asian version of NATO”.

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