Japan-EU relations after World War II and strategic partnership

  • Yuko HosoiEmail author
Original Paper


Japan and the EU formally agreed on the outline of The Japan-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on 7 July 2017 and finalized on 17 July 2018. Despite such major shifts in the relationship between Japan and Europe, it is unfortunately true that Japanese society does not have a high level of interest in establishing a cooperative relationship or negotiating agreements such as the SPA with the EU, in fields other than economics. However, this low level of interest does not mean that strengthening a political relationship with the EU is unimportant. Rather, confirming that Japan and the EU share the basic values promoted by the SPA is even more important now than it was in 2011, when both leaders decided to initiate SPA and EPA negotiations. The international order—based on values such as liberty, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, the market economy, and free trade—which has been built up by Western countries, including Japan, since the end of the Second World War, is being challenged not only by emerging countries such as China but also by the Trump Administration in the United States. Japan-Europe relations after World War II have historically been dominated by economic friction, especially in the 1960s–1980s. But the experiences involved in resolving the economic friction enabled the relations to evolve from economic interests to the other area. There was a qualitative transformation of the relationship between Japan and Europe in the 1990s. This paper assesses the importance of cooperation with the EU for Japan in the twenty-first century.


Japan-EU relations SPA EPA Civilian power Normative partnership 



  1. de Prado C (2014) Prospects for the EU-Japan strategic partnership: a global multi-level and Swot analysis. EU-Japan Centre for Industrial CooperationGoogle Scholar
  2. Donnet P-A (1991) Le Japon anchéte le monde, Éditions du SeuilGoogle Scholar
  3. European Commission (1991) Joint declaration on relations between the European Community and its member states and Japan, The Hague, 18 July 1991, Available at: Accessed 14 Oct 2017
  4. Fallows J (1989) Containing Japan. Atl MonAtlantic Monthly. Available at: Accessed 25 Aug 2017
  5. Gilson J (2000) Japan and the European Union. Macmillan Press Ltd, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ibayashi T (1976) ‘Kibishii tai-nichi boh-eki imbalance hihan’, Sekai Shuho, 23 November 1976 (Ibayashi, Tsuguo, ‘severe Criticism toward the trade imbalance with Japan’, Sekai Shuho, 23 November 1976)Google Scholar
  7. Ishihara S (1991) The Japan that can say no: why Japan will be first among equals. Simon & SchusterGoogle Scholar
  8. Iwaki S (2007) ‘Nihon・EU kankei no shinten to kadai’, Kokuritsu kokkai toshokan chosa rippo kousakyoku ed. reference, no. 682, 2007.11 (Iwaki, Shigeyuki, ‘The progress and agenda in the Japan-EU relations’, National Diet Library Research and Legislative Research Bureau ed., Reference, no 682, 2007.11) Available at: Accessed 15 Oct 2017
  9. Johnson C (1982) MITI and the Japanese miracle. Stanford University PressGoogle Scholar
  10. Kamiyo T (2002) ‘Nihon ha naze EU to te wo kumunoka’, Gaiko Fotum, July 2002, p. 58 (Kamiyo, Takahiro, ‘Why does Japan cooperate with EU’, Gaiko Fotum, July 2002)Google Scholar
  11. Keizai kikakucho (1955) Keizai hakusho, 1955, Economic Planning Agency of Japan, White Paper on EconomyGoogle Scholar
  12. Manners I (2002) Normative power Europe: a contradiction in terms? J Common Mark Stud 40(2):235–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Nuttall S (1998) Europe and Japan. In: Maull H, Segal G, Wanandi J (eds) Europe and the Asia Pacific. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Owada H (2001) The Japan-EU joint declaration and its significance toward the future. Studia Diplomatica 54(1–2)Google Scholar
  15. Owada H, Yamamuro H (1996) Gaiko to ha nanika. NHK Publishing, Tokyo (Yamamuro, Hideo and Hisashi Owada, What is Diplomacy? Tokyo: NHK Publishing)Google Scholar
  16. Rothacher A (1983) Economic diplomacy between the European Community and Japan 1959–1981. Gower, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  17. Tanaka T (2013) EU-Japan relations. In: Kirchner E, Murray P (eds) Thomas Christiansen, The Palgrave handbook of EU-Asia relations. Palgrave Macmillan, pp 509–520Google Scholar
  18. Togo K (2005) Japan’s foreign policy, 1945–2003. Brill, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  19. Tsuruoka M (2006a) EU to Nihon-Partnership no Kouzu (EU and Japan-the composition of the partnership). In: Tanaka T, Shoji K (eds) EU Tougou no Kiseki to Vector (The trajectory and vector of the EU integration). Keio University PressGoogle Scholar
  20. Tsuruoka M (2006b) ‘The idea of trilateralism and Japan-Europe relations: a historical view’. Gaiko Forum, English Edition, SummerGoogle Scholar
  21. Tsuruoka M (2008) ‘Expectations deficit’ in EU-Japan relations: why the relationship cannot flourish. Curr Polit Econ Asia 17:1Google Scholar
  22. Ueta T (2001) Japan and the European security institutions. Studia Diplomatica 54(1–2)Google Scholar
  23. Van Wolferen KG (1986/87) The Japan problem. Foreign Affairs, WinterGoogle Scholar


  1. European Council (2018) EU-Japan trade agreement will enter into force on 1 February 2019. Press releases 21 December 2018 Accessed 19 Feb 2019


  1. BBC (2017) G20 Hamburg: leaders fail to bridge Trump climate chasm, 8 July 2017. Available at: Accessed 14 Oct 2017
  2. Koya J, Takeuchi Y (2017) Japan, EU want trade pact in force in 2019, NIKKEI Asian Review, 7 July 2017. Available at: Accessed 14 Oct 2017
  3. Reuters (2017a) ‘Merkel, Macron call for tougher EU sanctions against North Korea’ 3 September 2017. Available at: Accessed 14 Oct 2017
  4. Reuters (2017b) ‘EU's Tusk says ready to ramp up sanctions against North Korea’ 4 September 2017, Available at: Accessed 14 Oct 2017
  5. The New York Times (1990) Poll detects erosion of positive attitudes toward Japan among Americans. 6 February 1990Google Scholar
  6. Togo K (2010) Japan’s Foreign Policy 1945–2009. Brill, Leiden, p 263Google Scholar
  7. Ueta T (2017) Jyuseki ninau Doitsu・Nippon(Germany and Japan, bearing heavy responsibility). Mainichi Shimbun, 7 July 2017Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Takushoku UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for EU Studies at Keio UniversityTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations