Nato chief wants firmer ties with Japan to defend democracy

TOKYO — North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, in Japan on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, as part of his East Asia tour, said “our security is closely interconnected” and called for stronger ties with Japan as Russia’s war on Ukraine raises global dangers and shows that democracies need stronger partnerships.

Japan has been quick to join the United States-led economic sanctions against Russia’s war on Ukraine and provided humanitarian aid and non-combative defense equipment for the Ukrainians.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has sounded the alarm that Russia’s aggression in Europe could happen in Asia, where concerns are growing over already assertive China and its escalating tension near Taiwan. Japan also has significantly stepped up ties with Nato recently.

“The war in Ukraine also demonstrates that our security is closely interconnected,” Stoltenberg said during his visit at the Iruma Air Base north of Tokyo, where he started his Japan visit Tuesday after arriving late Monday from South Korea.

“If President (Vladimir) Putin wins in Ukraine it will be a tragedy for the Ukrainians, but it will also send a very dangerous message to authoritarian leaders all over the world because then the message will be that when they use military force they can achieve their goals,” he said. “So the war in Ukraine matters for all of us.”

Stoltenberg said his visit to Japan “is a way to further strengthen the partnership between Nato and our highly valued partner Japan.” (AP)