This is an excellent article by Michito Tsuruoka from the Japan National Institute of Defence Studies.
The author notes how fast the cooperative relationship has deepened, but how little known it remains outside a small circle of experts. Tsuruoka is concerned that is awareness remains low, both parties stand to lose out on a chance of really substantive gains. To counter this, he sets out some ideas on its potential and areas of mutual benefit. With apologies for shortcomings in my Japanese language comprehension, a summary follows.
Although networks for cooperation have expanded, expectations are limited by the fact that neither side expects Europe to play a direct military role in Asian security. From Japan’s point of view, Defence Diplomacy and Europe’s consistent support for the maintenance of international rules-based order is seen as important, especially in terms of maritime freedom of movement. As well as such relations with European states, Tsuruoka would like to see relations strengthened with EU defence institutions such as the EU Military Committee and the EU Military Staff. He suggests Japan (which shares European values and interests) would be a good partner in extending conflict prevention activity and action to cope with the effects of a military conflict in the region.
Cooperation should also be pursued outside the Asian region, such as in the Middle East and Africa. Other fields like cyber and space and especially joint development of hardware offer a new frontier. Interoperability is key, and the ‘soft’ side is as important as the hard side here, so there’s a need to work more intimately on concepts, terminology and plans in order to make it possible to understand one-other’s decision making processes and ways of working. More joint training is suggested.
Compared to the USA, the scale of capability and the estimate of what is possible are similar between Japan and European nations such as the UK, France and Germany, who have much to learn from one another.