Cooperation in the Midst of Crisis: Trilateral Approaches to Shared International Challenges
Amidst Europe’s worst crisis in decades, European-Japanese relations might at first glance seem unimportant. However, there has never been a more crucial time to look beyond the European continent to the possibilities for enhanced cooperation with Asia’s oldest democracy, one that shares common realities and values.
U.S.-Europe-Japan trilateral relations are set to enter a new era. Since the end of World War II, the U.S.-led international order has rested on European and Japanese alliances that have traditionally stayed within their own geographic zones. However, recent geopolitical events are increasingly consigning established geographical boundaries to irrelevance. Global jihad now transcends such physical obstacles through cyber propaganda campaigns targeting marginalized elements in the West, giving rise to tragic terrorist attacks in Paris last year and Brussels this year. At the same time, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and subsequent isolation from the international community have driven Moscow to try to strengthen its strategic partnership with Beijing.
The globalization of European problems necessitates greater international cooperation among the United States, Europe, and Japan. The success of a U.S. presidential candidate who questions long-standing transatlantic and transpacific alliances only underscores the importance of European and Japanese engagement. In contrast, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unusually stable tenure is making Japan a more willing partner than at any time before. Europe should capitalize on this and strengthen its cooperation with Japan in the trilateral context, in particular regarding the global seas, in Eurasia, and in strengthening commercial ties.