Blogging German ambassador is heading home

In Other News - September 30th, 2013

Germany’s ambassador to Japan will soon return to his country after a four-year assignment in Tokyo, taking with him his well-known blog that has offered a glimpse of the diplomat’s everyday life and perceptions.

Volker Stanzel, who is fluent in spoken and written Japanese, started blogging about Japan in 2011 just after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast.

He has written about varying topics every day since, from a vacation in Mongolia to climbing Mt. Fuji and strolling through the back streets of Tokyo.

In his final news conference at the Japan National Press Club, the 65-year-old career diplomat responded to familiar questions, such as the long-standing animosity between Japan and South Korea.

“Japan and Korea are very similar—both are middle-power countries with common values and similar concerns. Overcoming past problems shouldn’t be too difficult,” he said in Japanese.

“Resolving today’s global problems is much more important than bickering over past problems.”

He said he believed the two Asian neighbors can become close partners despite their strained ties.

Japan and Germany, both as middle-power nations, face relatively similar challenges, he added.

“Germany will stay consumber by the crisis in Europe and security challenges in the Middle East, while Japan will have to deal with China and North Korea. Germany and Japan also have the problem of an aging population,” he said.

The biggest challenge for Japan, however is dealing with China, said Stanzel, who previously served as ambassador to Beijing.

But its partnership with Southeast Asia will counterbalance China.

“It’s natural for Japan to seek cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It’s also one of the easiest things Japan can do,” according to Stanzel.

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image of Stanzel (left) in Nanjing in 2005: BASF – The Chemical Company/Flickr