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.
The European Union Centre in Singapore has published a new background paper that offers a nice summary of the EU’s advance into Asia as security partner, with a provocative title:
The European Union and global security: is the EU becoming the indispensable partner?
Author: Dr. Cesare Onestini, EU Visiting Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy National University of Singapore
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.
What does the present crisis in Ukraine have to do with Asian security?
Here (link) is an article that provides some ideas: Ukraine’s Lessons for Asia.
For me the main point to take away is that China’s choice not to condemn Russia’s action reveals that its rhetoric about standing up for the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign nations is tactical and expedient, rather than a genuinely held ideological position. Bonnie Glaser at CSIS thinks Beijing is agonizing about this, but so far their actions speak louder than words. It is therefore reasonable to assume that China will not be constrained by this principle against taking action similar to that currently under way in Crimea. Russia may, ironically, be among those to suffer the consequences.
Lessons so far:
1. China’s support for non-interference principle is a tactical rather than a genuinely ideological position.
2. UN Security Council members and the international community are not willing to uphold UN Charter principles to defend sovereignty where the interests of a militarily powerful and/or nuclear armed state are at stake.
3. NATO, US and EU are war-wary and cannot be relied on to back up talk with action on the ground in support of a partner or just cause.
4. Putin’s Russia is a gambler emboldened by success. Fuse of over-reach is lit and burning down.
5. Ethnic solidarity is the stratcom successor to the ‘humanitarian intervention’ trope. Beware passport diplomacy and ‘protection of nationals’ narratives.
France’s foreign minister Laurant Fabius sits across some flags from the ASEAN Secretary General, H.E. Le Luong Minh.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius visited Jakarta from July 31 to August 2 in an effort to build a bilateral strategic partnership with Indonesia. Fabius also visited the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where he met with Secretary-General (pictured above).
Fabius is the first French Minister of Foreign Affairs to visit Indonesia in 17 years, and the speech he gave about French Policy towards Asia during his visit to the ASEAN Secretariat is worth a read. He began with a bit of history (early diplomatic contacts in the 16th century), and culture (art, bread and spring rolls, etc.) before getting down to the geopolitics: Continue reading
It’s that bear again. Big exercises in Asia, and now this: Russia’s Pacific Fleet to Receive New Warships in 2014
Russia the double-headed eagle – It’s European, it’s Asian. Makes you think, doesn’t it? French built warship, Russian flag and soon to sail the Pacific. These are the first ships added to their Pacific fleet since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Continue reading
NATO and Japan explore opportunities to cooperate on emerging security challenges – “such as cyber defence, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation. Opportunities for collaborating on responses to such challenges through science and innovation were a particular focus of the visit” (link)
David Cameron met with Japan’s PM Abe just prior to the G8 meetings to talk security. According to this Japanese media report from NHK (Japan’s equivalent of the BBC), they (i) formally agreed on the promotion of joint development of military equipment; (ii) agreed to speed up joint research on chemical (weapons) protective clothing; (iii) agreed to finalize a mechanism for sharing confidential information on security issues such as counter-terrorism. Reference was made to the close cooperation during the January 2013 ‘Amenas’ hostage crisis.
Much of this is just putting the formal seal on what was already agreed. However, it is another reminder that the UK is keeping up the drum-beat on security cooperation with Asian nations (see here, here for more on this theme).
A new report from the EU ISS, “Look East, Act East: transatlantic agendas in the Asia Pacific” is certainly worth a read. In it Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange argue that:
“It is essential that the US and its NATO allies do not simply pursue a ‘division of labour’ scenario in which the US handles the Alliance’s Asia-Pacific duties while EU members essentially concentrate resources in regions closer to home. In fact, from an EU perspective it may be desirable to develop a more direct presence in the Asia Pacific to help ensure that the US remains committed to the Alliance’s security interests in other regions that are traditionally perceived as more vital to European security.”
In the same report, Daniel Keohane proposes that Europe should be ‘a partner not a power’ in Asian security Continue reading
The EU has just requested, and, for the second time, been refused membership of the East Asia Summit (EAS). When you think of it from the perspective of the Asian nations, this is understandable. Not having much about it that is geographically Asian, it has to earn a place at the table. It seems to be trying. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Cathy Ashton has talked about this as her ‘Asian Semester‘, and has been making more trips to the region. Since early in 2012, there has been increasing talk of a European Pivot.
So while the EU gets points for trying, it may not be trying hard enough to be taken seriously as a player in the region. I suggest this has something to do with being absent on security issues, and soft on geo-strategic integrity. If the current ambition is to make a real breakthrough in terms of being taken seriously and invited to the top table, the EU may have to consider creative ways to work around a few fundemental problems: Continue reading