Relations with Japan

  • Last updated: 10 Feb. 2023 13:57

NATO and Japan are committed to strengthening relations to address shared security challenges. The practical cooperation includes areas such as maritime security, cyber defence and non-proliferation.


  • NATO and Japan have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation since initial contacts in the early 1990s. Japan is one of a number of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area – often referred to as “partners across the globe” – with which NATO is developing relations.
  • NATO and Japan signalled their commitment to strengthening cooperation in a joint political declaration signed in April 2013.
  • Since 2014, work has been taken forward through an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme. This was renewed in June 2020.
  • Practical cooperation is being developed in a wide range of areas, including cyber defence, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, non-proliferation, science and technology, human security, and Women, Peace and Security.


Key areas of cooperation

Japan’s cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:

Building capabilities and interoperability

  • Since 2014, under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, Japan has been participating in the Interoperability Platform, which brings Allies together with selected partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations.
  • Japan is particularly interested in training and developing interoperability in the area of maritime security. Its Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force training squadron has, for example, trained with NATO ships off the coast of Spain and in the Baltic Sea. Japan has designated a liaison officer to NATO’s Maritime Command.

Support for NATO-led operations and missions

  • Japan provided support for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and for wider reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan. It helped to mobilise international support for Afghanistan by organising the Tokyo Conference in July 2012 and pledging USD 5 billion to this end over a five-year period (2009-2013). Earlier, Japan supported efforts to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate former combatants, and to reintegrate insurgents under the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme. It also supported various initiatives, including human security projects at the grass roots level in several regions of Afghanistan, and contributed to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund.
  • In the 1990s, Japan played a role in stabilising the Balkans, where NATO has led several peace-support operations since the mid-1990s. As a major donor nation, it has contributed to the successful recovery of the Balkans region and its reintegration into the European mainstream.

Wider cooperation

  • Japan has made generous contributions to Trust Fund projects in various partner countries. These were designed to enhance stockpile management and the physical security of ammunition in Afghanistan and Tajikistan; destroy dangerous stocks of pesticides in the Republic of Moldova; and clear an ammunition depot in Georgia, as well as contaminated land in Azerbaijan. Most recently, Japan contributed to NATO’s Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) Trust Fund.
  • Japan is currently engaged in the framework of the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, particularly in activities in the fields of counter-terrorism and the detection and clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance. Ongoing research and multi-year projects with Japan are aimed, for instance, at advancing procedures and technologies for the safe detection of landmines. Expanding on the results of previous cooperation, Japanese scientists are researching a semiconductor-based sensing device that will facilitate the identification of explosive chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials or special nuclear material at ports and border crossings.
  • Reflecting Japan’s interest in developing cooperation in cyber defence, it has designated an expert to work at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • For the first time, in December 2020, Japan participated in a NATO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, together with Australia, Finland, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Sweden and the European Union High Representative/ Vice President of the European Commission, to discuss the shift in the global balance of power and the rise of China. This was only one of the latest and more visible political exchanges that NATO has had with Japan at various levels in recent years. At the NATO Brussels Summit in June 2021, Allies agreed to increase dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and existing partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including Japan.
  • On 24 March 2022, Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Fumio Kishida, met with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO Headquarters in Brussels in the context of the meeting of the G7 Heads of State and Government. The meeting of the G7 followed an extraordinary NATO Summit, which was held at NATO HQ earlier the same day in response to Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of Ukraine.