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A New Era of Japan-Europe Cooperation in a Changing World

A View from Japan

Never have global systems been challenged as they are now. Governments must recognise that trustworthy and transparent cooperation becomes crucial in order to overcome pandemics and economic crises. This is a timely moment to look into Japans relationship to the EU and to see if and how the partnership agreement can and will be of help to deepen ties. Dr. Ueta Takako analyses not only the current state of implementation of the Strategic Partnership agreement and defense collaboration but also she looks into how Japan and the EU will share lessons and insights gained from disease response measures.

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In the midst of changing the constellation of world politics, the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) entered into force on February 1, 2019. It covers about 30% of the world GDP and 40% of the world trade. The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) was applied provisionally on the same day. These agreements are an impressive success, not only for Japan and the EU, but also for free trade and the liberal international order which has been threatened. The rise of China and the United States’ attitudes toward multilateral cooperation has been a factor of this risk. Looking back on history, on August 14, 1945, the Imperial Government of Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration, it was the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender. The unconditional surrender of Japan was agreed by the heads of states of the United States, the United Kingdom and the USSR at the Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam. Almost all the cities in Japan had been burnt out by airstrikes and the atomic bombs; the Japanese people had to work hard in order to reconstruct their ruined country. Experience of the war results in the deeply rooted pacifism that is seen in Japan, and since the Second World War Japan has never used forces and even hesitates to send Self-Defense Forces for the peaceful operations. It was in 1991, after the Gulf War, for the first time, the Maritime Self-Defense Forces were sent to the Persian Gulf for minesweeping operations. In 1936, the IOC decided to hold the 1940 Summer Olympics (Games of the XII Olympiad) in Tokyo. Yet in July 1937, Japan decided not to host the Games for various reasons, including the armed conflicts in China. Twenty-four years later, in October 1964, for the first time Japan welcomed the Olympic Games. Japan built not only stadiums, but also all the related infrastructure, including highspeed train and expressways as well as hotels. It triggered the booming economy and celebrated Japan’s progress. Even before the opening of the games, Japan had become a member of the OECD in April 1964, demonstrating that Japan had become an advanced country once again. After the Olympic Games, in 1968, Japan exceeded West Germany in terms of GDP, and became the secondlargest economy in the world. During the Cold War and until 1989, except for the G7 set-up, no significant political cooperation was organized with European Institutions and European countries. This article traces the development of Japan-Europe relations, in particular security cooperation, since the end of the Cold War in Europe. This article refers to mainly the EC/EU, but also includes NATO and the CSCE/OSCE.[1]

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Naoki Takiguchi

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