The evolution of the EU-Japan relationship: Towards a 'normative partnership'?

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The year 2011 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Hague Declaration of 1991 between Japan and the European Community. This declaration was originally intended to enhance the bilateral relationship between Japan and Europe, but the reality was little more than a reluctant promotion of several insignificant programs. Meanwhile, although the EU has significantly developed its partnership with China, it has become ambivalent about the future of EU-Asia relations. While endeavouring to expand its economic ties with China, the EU also attempts to be a 'normative power', but, because of the limited nature of the EU's influence in East Asia, it needs normative partners in this region. This article argues that the EU-Japan relationship is becoming more vital because of the increasing importance of norms due to the rise of China. In the last decade, the Japanese government has increasingly emphasized the importance of values and norms in its diplomacy. At the same time, both the EU and Japan have been leading advocates of international law and multilateralism, while striving to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Thus, the Cold War 'trilateralism', which was the core of the Western Alliance, has been transformed into the post-Cold War 'normative partnership'. It is argued that the importance of EU-Japan relations can be appropriately understood in this light.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-337
Number of pages21
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept 1


  • EU
  • EU-Japan relationship
  • Japanese diplomacy
  • normative partnership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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