Strategic thinkers have proposed closer cooperation between Japan and NATO for more than a decade. The circumstances are now such that this could become a reality.
Japan has surprised many by weakening its post-World War II pacifist posture, increasing defense spending and investing in fifth-generation warplane technology. These reforms are an invitation to NATO to engage more seriously.
Part of the work is being done for it. Japan’s security pivot brings the island nation in closer alignment with the United States. This, in turn, brings Japan closer to NATO.
Japan’s reinterpretation of its constitutional self-defense clause could be a stepping stone to collective self-defense. It has already taken part in multinational military exercises and contributes to peace and stability missions around the world. Its security doctrine is well in line with NATO’s. Both sides are committed to upholding democracy and the rule of law and advancing the cause of international security.
Areas of cooperation could include counterterrorism, cybersecurity and peacekeeping. Both sides would benefit from an open exchange of experiences, ideas and technologies in these regards.
Japan also holds a wealth of experience when it comes to responding to and managing human crises, like natural disasters. NATO’s civil response capacities, in turn, can serve as an example for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the two can be mutually reinforcing. Read more “Time Looks Ripe for Japan-NATO Cooperation”