Diplomatic Bluebook 2015

Chapter 2

Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map

Section 4 Europe


Importance of Europe

Europe has considerable influence on international public opinion, underpinned by such factors as languages, cultural and artistic activities, and the powerful voice of major media, think tanks, and other institutions. From an economic perspective, the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) combined have a powerful presence, with their GDP altogether accounting for 24% of the world’s total. As members of key bodies of international frameworks, such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Group of Seven (G7), major European countries play an important role in international politics and the establishment of norms in the international community. Furthermore, Japan and Europe, sharing fundamental values and principles such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, play a leading role in striving for peace and prosperity of the international community.

Europe is critical for Japan’s implementation of foreign policy that “Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map.” In addition to maintaining bilateral relations with each European country, it is important that Japan further broadens Japan-Europe relations by strengthening cooperation with European regional institutions such as the EU, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and promoting collaboration with European regional frameworks, such as the Visegrad Group plus Japan (V4+​Japan) and the Nordic-Baltic Eight plus Japan (NB8+Japan).

Diplomatic Relations with Europe

Based on this recognition, from the end of April to May 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the six countries of Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, France, and Belgium, and held talks with the leaders of each country, the EU, and NATO, among others. The Prime Minister also visited Europe on the occasions of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January, the Nuclear Security Summit in March, the G7 Summit in June, and the 10th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM10) in October. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visited Spain and France in the beginning of the year and Germany in September, and held talks with the foreign ministers of European countries on various occasions. In January 2015, Foreign Minister Kishida visited France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, and held talks with their foreign ministers, the new EU leadership, and the new NATO Secretary General. As these examples demonstrate, mutual visits at the leader’s and foreign minister’s levels took place very actively between Japan and European countries and institutions. These visits not only strengthened the relations between Japan and each country and institution, but also build relationships of trust at the Summit and foreign minister’s level. Through these opportunities, understanding on Japan’s stance and efforts was enhanced on a broad range of issues, including security, economic, and global issues. Furthermore, Japan and Europe advanced concrete cooperation. For instance, on the security front, since September, Japan and NATO, and Japan and the EU have carried out multiple joint counter-piracy exercises off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. In addition, security cooperation has been strengthened with the United Kingdom and France. On the economic front, five rounds of negotiations on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) were held in 2014. At the Japan-EU Summit Meeting in November, the two leaders concurred on the acceleration of the negotiations, aiming to reach agreement in principle on the EPA during 2015. Japan pursued a broad array of cooperative activities with the EU and countries throughout Europe in such fields as education, culture, and science and technology. Japan is striving to maintain a multi-layered and close relationship through communication of Japan’s attractiveness and promotion of mutual understanding.

Situation in Ukraine

Japan has dealt with the crisis in Ukraine since February 2014 by placing a significance on the solidarity of the G7, based on Japan’s position that it respects the rule of law, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine and never accepts unilateral attempts to change the status quo through force. Taking such opportunities as the Japan-Ukraine summit meetings in October and the Japan-Russia summit meeting in October and November, Prime Minister Abe directly called upon the leaders of both countries to fulfill the ceasefire agreement, among other measures. In connection with the situation in Ukraine, Japan introduced measures five times till the end of 2014, including suspension of the issuance of entry visas and the assets freeze to designated individuals. At the same time, based on the importance of (1) improving the economic situation, (2) restoring democracy, and (3) promoting national dialogue and integration, Japan has extended assistance to encourage Ukraine’s efforts towards reforms. Japan will continue to place importance on solidarity of the G7 and play a proactive role towards a peaceful resolution of the situation.