The German government as part of its new focus on the Indo-Pacific, is considering sending a naval frigate to Japan.
As early as the summer, the ship will sail from Germany, with probable port calls, including South Korea and Australia, reports Nikkei Asia.
The step is being considered rare for Berlin, which, unlike the UK and France, does not have its own Indo-Pacific territories. The plan to sail through the disputed South China Sea is also in the planning.
The German Cabinet approved the new Indo-Pacific Guidelines last fall, stressing the importance of the rule of law and fostering open markets in the region. A first step in the realization of the new strategy would be the frigate deployment.
Thomas Silberhorn, parliamentary state secretary for the Defense Ministry, told Nikkei: "We hope to set sail this summer. We have not decided on the details yet, but we are looking at Japan" as a possible port of call. "We want to deepen our ties with our partners in the democratic camp," he said.
Although Silberhorn stressed that the strategy is "not aimed at anyone," it seems that Chinese expansionism is obviously in mind in Berlin.
In line with similar policy changes in the UK, France and the Netherlands, the latest Indo-Pacific orientation has stepped up its presence in this geopolitically sensitive region of the globe.
Germany's increased attention to the rule of law and open markets in the Indo-Pacific signals that its long-held stance on China -- decoupling politics and economics as it deepens economic engagement while avoiding political issues -- is coming to an end.
With the human-rights-focused Greens expected to join the next German government, "cherry-picking" policies on China was no longer sustainable.
According to sources in the German government and the ruling party, a frigate with a home port in northern Germany will stay in the Indo-Pacific region for a while, with stops in Japan, Australia, South Korea and elsewhere. The frigate is expected to receive supplies and participate in joint exercises in French territories in the region.
Back in 2002, a German naval vessel made a port call in Japan during a training voyage. But tensions are much higher in East Asian waters today, and Europe has grown increasingly concerned about North Korea and China.
"They cannot be allowed to impose their own order through their power," Silberhorn said.
Another ruling party source said: "We will show solidarity with our democratic partners. Australia and Japan have asked us to send troops, and we will comply with their requests."
The UK, meanwhile, is preparing to deploy the HMS Queen Elizabeth to Asia. A British navy spokesperson told Nikkei that the aircraft carrier is expected to depart sometime between April and June. This will be a symbolic move in Europe's policy toward Asia as the region rapidly becomes wary of China.
France has 8,000 troops in such locations as Reunion. Paris is increasingly aware of Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific.
Silberhorn said Europe needs to take more responsibility for its own security and not be overly dependent on the U.S. military.
Germany is portraying the naval voyage as aimed at strengthening cooperation with Asian democracies rather than as a military operation requiring parliamentary deliberations.
But with economic and security issues increasingly linked, keeping them separate might no longer be possible.
European countries "have a lot of diplomatic experience with Russia, but we lack this with Asia," a European Union diplomat told Nikkei. "We need more experience, and adjust as we go."