Germany is seeking closer ties with countries that share democratic values in the Asia-Pacific region, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday as he visited Japan, rather than top trading partner China, for his first official trip to the region.

"It is no coincidence that my first trip as chancellor to this region has led today here, to Tokyo," he said. "My trip is a clear political signal that Germany and the EU will continue and intensify their engagement in the Indo-Pacific region."

In a joint news conference, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcomed Germany's greater interest and involvement in the Indo-Pacific region and said the two countries will work together closely to deal with various challenges, including their response to China.