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.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, left, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, second left, join hands with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, seond right, and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani during a Japan-France two-plus-two meeting in Tokyo, Friday, March 13, 2015. Japan and France signed an arms transfer agreement Friday, paving the way for developing drones and other unmanned equipment together as Japan seeks to play a greater military role internationally. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara,pool) The Associated Press
Japan, Britain to sign cross-servicing pact
Details are emerging of what Abe’s visit to Europe has in store for the ‘new type’ of alliance relationship.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in association with the Institute for European Studies (IES), is organizing a conference on Europe, Japan and Asian Security, which will take place at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel on 8 April 2014. This joint initiative aims at promoting European-Japanese dialogue on security issues.
Participation is free of charge, but registration is required. Please register here.
An article of interest by Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Frans-Paul van der Putten in the Europe’s World site –
The EU should stay its independent course in East Asia
Maaike and Frans-Paul look at recent EU moves and observe that “the EU is not afraid to criticise the major Asian powers when it perceives their actions to be harmful to East Asia’s regional stability… [and] the EU is not taking sides with Japan against China or vice versa”.
Gradually and without attracting much attention the European Union is building a strategy on East Asian security affairs that is more focused and ambitious than it has ever been. Even without a military presence in the region the EU can make a difference. The challenge now is for Brussels to keep up its engagement, develop an independent voice and to uphold a long-term commitment to strengthening stability in the region. Asian governments have not hidden their disappointment with the EU about its rather half-hearted approach in the past decades, but may well be willing to give the EU a second chance – one that should not be wasted.
China plays war memory card to enlist UK in territorial dispute against Japan
China’s Ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming
Sibling blog anglojapanalliance.com draws attention to a letter from China’s Ambassador in London to the Telegraph newspaper, which links China’s dispute with Japan in the East China Sea to the theme of Japan’s war record and PM Abe’s position on WWII and recent visit to Yasukuni shrine. Interesting to watch if and how London reacts.
Good blog post out by TPL:
There is Nothing Soft About Power
Sir Humphrey describes the practical challenges facing a European Navy in the disaster relief role in Asia, specifically the current situation in the Philippines. The UK’s Royal Navy happened to have a ship in the area (HMS Daring), and is sending another (Helicopter Carrier HMS Illustrious).
One difficulty facing the far flung fleet is sustainment – getting the re-supply at sea of fuel, spares, food, etc. that you need to keep doing the job, rather than having to head back to port to stock up (also known as RAS or Replenishment at Sea). The auxiliary ships that normally do this job take longer to steam around the other side of the world. And you don’t just learn RAS overnight. It requires some technique and practice, making commercial services a second-best option.
So what? So why don’t we leverage our ‘new type of alliance‘ with Japan, our Defence relations with other Asian nations (Australia, Vietnam, etc.) and organize a joint re-supply plan for such events? A re-supply ship sailing from Yokohama would be there sooner, and after all that experience in the Indian Ocean (last time Mr. Abe was in power), interoperability should be no problem. Time to use that ‘hotline‘?
Here is an interesting article written by James Brady on Open Asia about European attitudes towards the Japan/China contest over those islands:
Subtle but supportive: Reading Europe’s response to Japan’s Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute with China
James recons that:
“in the court of public opinion (at least, as far as it is reflected in the mainstream media), sympathy seems to lie largely with Japan”
What is interesting is that this is coming less from any legal or normative position on the dispute itself, and much more from a comparison of the domestic treatment of the issue in China and Japan. The violence seen in the public response in China has generated sympathy for Japan.