Just recently, a group of Japanese academics and think tankers visited NATO and try to see beyond Afghanistan for ways to sustain Japan’s relationship with NATO. Issues arising included emerging non-traditional threats, Civil emergency planning, ‘Smart defence’ and Missile Defence.
But do these routine and low profile contacts belie a carefully calibrated, more substantial relationship?
Contrary to what one might guess, this relationship goes back to the Cold War era, when, as Dr. Nishihara Musashi records:
Japanese defense ministers visited NATO headquarters in 1979, 1981 and 1984, respectively. But, it was not until after the Cold War ended that NATO’s Secretaries General Manfred Worner, Javier Solana and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer returned the visit to Tokyo in 1991, 1997 and 2005, respectively. Continue reading