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Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Tuesday expressed his strong support for Germany’s plan to send a warship to the Indo-Pacific region.

In an online meeting with his German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Kishi expressed hopes for the vessel’s possible navigation in the South China Sea, where China is increasing its territorial claims, and joint drills with the Self-Defense Forces.

Kishi stressed that China is “strengthening its attempts to unilaterally change the status quo with force in the background.”

Japan is the oldest partner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization outside Europe and the United States, Kramp-Karrenbauer said, expressing her intention to expand defense cooperation between the two countries. He said he welcomes Germany’s efforts to strengthen its maritime presence and contribute to maintaining order.

She said Germany is working on a plan to send a warship to the Indo-Pacific region next year. But she was not clear on whether the vessel will sail in the South China Sea.

The German minister initially planned to visit Japan as her country is strengthening its involvement in the Indo-Pacific. But she switched to an online format due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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