Jan. 31 (UPI) — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, where they presented a unified front while talking up stronger ties between the two.
The men discussed several topics during the visit, including China and North Korea as well as Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
“No NATO partner is closer or more capable than Japan,” Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference.
“Beijing is watching closely, and learning lessons that may influence its future decisions,” he said, referencing Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, which is entering its second year.
“China is substantially building up its military forces including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbors and threatening Taiwan, trying to control critical infrastructure and spreading misinformation about NATO and the war in Ukraine. China is not our adversary, but we must understand the scale of the challenge and work together to address it.”
Both men also agreed the Ukraine-Russia conflict is more than just a European problem.
Stoltenberg also applauded Japan’s increased commitment to military spending.
Last month, Japan released its new national security strategy that will see it build up its military capabilities for the first time in decades. The country also plans to deploy long-range missiles, after primarily limiting itself to self-defense following the end of World War II.
The long-range missiles would be capable of preempting possible attacks, able to hit enemy bases and command centers.
“I’ve been very impressed by the different capabilities that have been presented to me,” Soltenberg said Tuesday, after touring Japan’s Iruma Air Base, where cargo aircraft depart to and return from Ukraine on supply missions.