Book: Developing the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership

Andreea Brinza & Andrei Lungu | 30 January 2023

The book Developing the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership: An analysis of European Union member states’ relations with Japan is a RISAP project, implemented with support from Toshiba International Foundation (TIFO) and edited by Andreea Brinza and Andrei Lungu. The project involved 21 European scholars and the book analyzes the relations between 21 European Union member states and Japan, in order to shed light on the complex landscape of EU-Japan relations. 

The book is freely available and can be downloaded below.

Introductory remarks

Relations between the European Union (EU) and Japan have considerably strengthened over the past few years, especially after the signing of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement. These partnerships have further consolidated the EU-Japan relationship as one of the most important in the world, as the two sides have been working to define a common agenda in an increasing number of areas, from climate change to infrastructure building.

Unfortunately, while EU-Japan relations have been carefully analyzed, there has been significantly less emphasis on the bilateral relations between EU member states and Japan, especially in a comparative or holistic manner. As EU foreign policy depends on input and support from national governments, the views of each member state are important to determine the future of EU-Japan relations and how they can be further developed. At the same time, most of the progress in EU-Japan relations in areas such as trade, investment, cultural and academic ties, or security cooperation has been achieved at member states level. How relations between EU member states and Japan evolve will largely decide the future trajectory of EU-Japan relations as well, especially in terms of results and tangible cooperation. It is in this context that it is important to study and understand the state of relations between EU member states and Japan.

The research project Developing the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership: An analysis of European Union member states’ relations with Japan aims to fill this research gap. With support from Toshiba International Foundation (TIFO), the project gathered 21 scholars to analyze the relations between Japan and 21 EU member states, in a variety of areas: political, strategic, economic, cultural and people-to-people relations. The countries involved in this project are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. Each chapter was written by a European researcher specialized on the study of Japan, from the EU member state whose relations with Japan were analyzed.

The authors involved in this project are: Boštjan Bertalanič (Slovenia), George Boghean (Romania), Mariana Boscariol (Portugal), Just Castillo Iglesias (Spain), Giannis Diamantakos (Greece), Erik Isaksson (Sweden), Evgeniy Kandilarov (Bulgaria), Anke Kennis (Belgium), David Kozisek (The Czech Republic), Arvydas Kumpis (Lithuania), Eva Liias (Estonia), Xavier Mellet (France), Lenke Laura Molnar (Austria), Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Kayle van’t Klooster (The Netherlands), Thomas Nektarios Papanastasiou (Cyprus), Marcela Perić (Croatia), Róbert Vancel (Slovakia), Torsten Weber (Germany), Raymond Yamamoto (Denmark), Karol Żakowski (Poland), Marco Zappa (Italy).

This holistic analysis at member states level aims to facilitate a better understanding of EU-Japan relations, their strong suits, their less developed dimensions, and the best way to improve them and to develop the EU-Japan strategic partnership. Thus, this book serves to increase understanding of EU-Japan relations in both Tokyo and European capitals, by taking a bottom-up approach to analyzing EU-Japan relations. By combining a multidimensional analysis of bilateral relations with recommendations to strengthen these relations, the book hopes to contribute to the ongoing process of development of EU-Japan relations, allowing them to achieve their full potential.

The project was implemented between the summer of 2021 and the summer of 2022, with the first drafts of the chapters received in 2021. In order to facilitate the reading and unity of this book, the chapters dedicated to each EU member state follow a similar template, composed of an overview, the history of relations, political relations, security and military relations (where applicable), economic and commercial relations, cultural and people-to-people relations and perceptions of Japan, ending with conclusions and recommendations. The book also includes an overview chapter, structured on the same template, which provides an overview of EU-Japan relations and analyzes and compares the results of the 21 chapters on bilateral relations, while providing EU-wide recommendations based on them.

To facilitate reading for those unfamiliar with Japanese names and for the sake of uniformity among chapters, all Western and Japanese personal names included in the book follow the Name Surname order, regardless of historical era.

The chapters of this book aim to provide a better understanding of the state of relations between the 21 EU member states and Japan. Bringing all these analyses together, with their varieties and particularities, also allows readers to gain better insights about EU-Japan relations, allowing for comparisons and lesson learning among EU member states. We therefore hope this book will be of great use to European, Japanese and international readers, and will help encourage further discussions and debates regarding relations between the EU and its member states and Japan and how to best overcome barriers and strengthen these ties, in this way contributing to a brighter future for EU-Japan relations and cooperation. While EU-Japan relations have significantly progressed over the past years, as the chapters of this book show, there are still many areas in which cooperation can be enhanced and more work is necessary in order for relations between EU member states and Japan to unlock their vast potential. It is our hope that this book and the careful and elaborate work of the many researchers involved in this project can contribute toward this goal.

Developing the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership

An analysis of European Union member states’ relations with Japan

Photo Credits: RISAP/Ena Dumitrascu


Andreea Brinza

Andreea Brinza is a researcher and the Vice President of RISAP. Her interests are related to the geopolitics, geostrategy and geoeconomics of the Asia-Pacific region and especially China. Her research focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Andrei Lungu​

Andrei Lungu is president of RISAP. His research interests include China’s foreign policy and its domestic politics, Sino-American relations and the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific.

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