Japanese defense minister visits Estonia for first time

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (IRL) and Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera in Tallinn on Sunday. May 6, 2018.
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (IRL) and Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera in Tallinn on Sunday. May 6, 2018. Source: Ministry of Defence

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (IRL) met with Japanese colleague Itsunori Onodera in Tallinn on Sunday to discuss bilateral defense relations as well as the global security situation. Onodera's visit marked the first by a Japanese defense minister to Estonia.

The meeting focused on cyber cooperation between Estonia and Japan, the ministry said in a press release.

"Estonia and Japan's views on security are similar because, despite the great distance between the two countries, our security-related problems are similar," Luik said.

The two ministers agreed that both countries understand the importance of cyberdefense and that cooperation in this field needs to be increased both bilaterally as well as in NATO. "Thanks to both countries' high level in information technology and cyberdefense, we can be equal partners to one another," Luik added.

The Estonian minister invited Japan to use Estonia's cyber training field as well as develop cooperation through training exercises. Last fall, Japan also applied to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn, which Onodera had the chance to visit in person.

The two ministers likewise discussed security-related issues in connection with North Korea, Russia and China as well as cooperation between Japan and NATO.

"The North Korean nuclear program is a global problem, and finding a permanent and controllable solution to it is vital for Estonia as well," Luik assured his colleague.

The Estonian minister also recognized Japan's close cooperation with NATO, highlighting Japan's significant contributions to supporting the armed forces of Afghanistan.

"Japan has also joined sanctions against Russia and has supported the Ukrainian government," he added.

On Saturday, Onodera visited Ämari Air Base, where he was given an overview of the Estonian Air Force as well as the large-scale military exercise Siil, which is currently underway. He was likewise acquainted with the activity of the French contingent currently serving NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission out of Ämari.

The Japanese defense minister recognized the Estonian Defence Force and Estonian volunteers' desire to contribute to the security of their country.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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