German soldier holds a Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle at a military training ground near Weisskeissel, GermanyInternationalIndiaAfricaTOKYO (Sputnik) – Japanese and German defense ministers, Yasukazu Hamada and Boris Pistorius, have agreed to cooperate in the military sphere and conduct joint drills, as well as start preparations for the realization of an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA), media reported on Saturday. Hamada and Pistorius discussed the deployment of the German armed forces in the Indo-Pacific region and joint exercises during the first visit of a Japanese defense minister to Germany in 16 years, Japanese news agency reported. Both sides confirmed their readiness to prepare the legal basis for the ACSA agreement between the Japanese and German military. “Right now, when we are facing a difficult situation in ensuring security, international interaction is necessary,” Hamada was quoted by the news agency as saying. Pistorius, in turn, said that Japan was surrounded by “three challenging countries” and expressed the intention to advance defense cooperation and joint drills realization, according to the report. In 2022, the Japanese government approved a draft budget for the next fiscal year worth record 114.38 trillion yen ($862 billion), while also hiking defense budget to 6.8 trillion yen. The growth is connected with the government’s decision to ensure an increase in defense spending to 2% of the country’s gross domestic product by 2027, which is approximately 11 trillion yen per year. In December 2022, the Japanese government also approved three key defense documents, confirming its plans to increase military spending to 2% of GDP by 2027 and to allow preemptive attacks on other countries. Japan further plans to spend 4 trillion yen on military infrastructure upgrades as part of a major defense overhaul in 2023-2027.