Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is making arrangements to attend a NATO summit scheduled for July, government sources said Wednesday, as the Asian country has deepened ties with the trans-Atlantic alliance amid global security concerns.
On the sidelines of the summit in Lithuania, Kishida is expected to hold bilateral talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's plan to open a liaison office in Tokyo, the sources said.
Kishida and Stoltenberg are also likely to map out a new Japan-NATO security cooperation document, called the Individually Tailored Partnership Program, to work closely with each other in areas such as space and disinformation response, the sources said.
In 2022, Kishida became the first Japanese prime minister to join a NATO summit, as the security environment has become more complex in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has dragged on for well over a year now, and China's growing military power and assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
At the summit in Spain last year, Kishida expressed eagerness to update a partnership document with NATO to boost cooperation, as the Western military alliance now views Japan as a partner nation.
Kishida's attendance at the NATO gathering in Lithuania, a former part of the now-defunct Soviet Union, would come around two months after he hosted the Group of Seven summit in his constituency of Hiroshima, devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945.
Russia's war on Ukraine is certain to top the upcoming NATO summit's agenda, as the three-day G-7 meeting through Sunday, in which President Volodymyr Zelenskyy participated in person, focused primarily on the crisis.
At the invitation of Stoltenberg, Zelenskyy is also set to take part in the NATO summit. It will be the first time for Lithuania to host the summit since joining the 31-member security alliance in 2004.
In addition to Ukraine's possible accession to NATO, the alliance's leaders are poised to exchange views on the importance of bolstering security cooperation between the Indo-Pacific region and Europe, with China in mind.
In another development, a peace summit that Zelenskyy proposed during the G-7 gathering in Hiroshima may be convened before or after the NATO event somewhere in Europe, the sources said.
A plan to set up an office of the Brussels-based NATO in Tokyo, meanwhile, was unveiled earlier this month by Japan's ambassador to the United States. However, Kishida appears to be carefully exploring the timing in consideration of its neighbors, including China and Russia.
At a parliament session on Wednesday, Kishida said he is unaware whether NATO has made an official decision to open the liaison office, with China saying the move could undermine trust among nations and harm peace and stability in the region.