As Japan readies itself to contribute more proactively to regional and global security across areas of common concern in Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa and amidst the on-going preparation of the world’s largest free trade agreement between the European Union and Japan, it is clear that Europe and Japan stand to benefit immensely from a closer relationship with each other.
Despite this reality, Europe does not seem to invest enough human resources in understanding Japan. The image of Japan should remain central to European policy-making about Asia. Democracy, values, market economy, commitments to global public commons, have the same echo in Europe and Japan, even with the occasional differing interpretations or interests. For several reasons – size, rebirth of a pro-active Japanese diplomacy, stakeholding in the European economy and in third countries – Japan tops this list of Asian partners. In order to unleash the potential of cooperation between Japan and Europe it is essential to address the misperceptions currently held between the two regions.
In order to do this ECFR and the Japanese Foreign Ministry have initiated a project that will assess Japan’s contemporary image across Europe and result in concrete policy recommendations to improve Europe’s knowledge of Japan.
This project is kindly supported by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
Japan appears far away from an Austrian foreign politics that is very much focused on regional issues
Under Hollande, France is reviving ties with Japan while following a policy of balancing China and Japan
Greater political stability under Abe is encouraging interest from German officials
China's rise means that Japan's relationship with its giant neighbour will be key for Italy
Portuguese interest in developing exports to Japan drives its strong interest in the EU-Japan free trade agreement
Despite perceptions of decling importance, Sweden can relate to Japan's attempts to stand up against a re-emerging superpower
Despite shared interests and values, Spain is under-resourcing its relationship with Japan
The perception of Japan as "Asia's Switzerland" - affluent, old, but somewhat insular - still retains force in the UK