Relations with Japan
NATO and Japan are committed to strengthening relations to address shared security challenges. Stabilising Afghanistan has been a key focus of cooperation over the past decade.
- 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 most recently 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, defence 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 that brings Allies together with 24 partners.
- 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, most recently, in the Baltic Sea. Japan has designated a liaison officer to NATO’s Maritime Command.
Support for NATO-led operations and missions
- Japan has provided much-valued 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 generously supports various initiatives, including human security projects at the grass roots level in several regions of Afghanistan. It is supporting international efforts for the sustainment of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces through its contributions to the United Nations Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, and the NATO-run 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.
- Japan has made generous contributions to Trust Fund projects in various partner countries, designed to enhance stockpile management and the physical security of ammunitions 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 through activities in the fields of counter-terrorism and the detection and clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance. Ongoing research and development of multi-year projects involving Japan are aimed, for instance, at advancing procedures and technologies for the safe detection of landmines. Moreover, 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 contributed an expert to work at the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.
- 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 EU HR/VP, 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.