Germany Seeks Japan Alliance to Counter Trump's America First

(Bloomberg) -- Germany and Japan should join forces as the “nucleus of a multilateralist alliance” to defend the geopolitical system against disruptive forces like U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia and China, according to Germany’s foreign minister.

U.S. trade protectionism and Trump’s “America First” doctrine are a challenge for both Germany and Japan, Heiko Maas said in a speech in Tokyo on Wednesday. He accused the U.S. president of stoking global uncertainty through his habit of “questioning alliances built up over decades.”

“In this geopolitical situation we need Germany and Japan to close ranks,” Maas said. “Alone, it will be tough for us to be a ‘rule maker’ in this multipolar world. When we combine our powers, we can perhaps become something like a ‘rule shaper’ -- designers and motors of the international order.”

A deeper German-Japanese alliance could help offset “the U.S. withdrawal from some parts of the world stage,” said Maas, praising the trade agreement signed this month by Japan and the European Union.

‘Forced Transfer’

Japan and the EU should fight China’s “unfair trade practices,” like limiting access to its market and “forced technology transfer,” he added.

“It’s therefore right to continue to push, wherever possible, for trilateral cooperation between Japan, the EU and the U.S. -- to strengthen the international trading system and keep the U.S. on board.”

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