Japan, Greece Step Up Security Ties as ‘Strategic Partners’

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, is welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida upon his arrival ahead of their meeting at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (Richard A. Brooks/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, agreed on Monday to strengthen their security, defense and economic ties and pledged to cooperate in responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other threats in Europe and Asia.

They said they agreed to upgrade their nations’ relations to a “strategic partnership,” with defense ties covering military equipment and technology.

The leaders said in a joint statement following their talks in Tokyo that they recognized the importance of strengthening NATO engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and of further promoting NATO cooperation with Japan.

The recognition came as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg arrived in Tokyo on Monday after a visit in South Korea, where he called for Seoul to provide direct military support to Ukraine.

Japan, a close ally of the United States, has in recent years expanded its military ties with other Indo-Pacific nations as well as with Britain, Europe and NATO. Japan also issued a new national security strategy stating its determination to build up its military and go beyond its post- World War II principle that limited itself to self-defense.

Kishida and Mitsotakis said they emphasized the importance of the two maritime nations working together to ensure free and safe navigation in open waterways, and agreed that Japanese coast guard training vessels will call in Greece later this year to enhance their communications and cooperation.

The two leaders expressed “strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion that increase tensions and undermine regional stability and international order” anywhere, including the Eastern Mediterranean and the East and South China Seas.

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