Japan and NATO
In 2007, The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, made an epoch-making visit to NATO headquarters, paving the way for regular cooperation with the NATO countries. This was the first time a Japanese prime minister was at the meeting of NATO in Europe. “As a strategic partner, Japan intends to strengthen its cooperation with NATO,” announced Shinzo Abe, proposing regular meetings with NATO. Japan and NATO countries are facing the same threats and security cannot be considered only on a regional level. The threats and challenges are global in nature.
Japan has close relationships with European countries and the US so it is natural that people as a question such as “Is Japan in NATO?” Actually Japan is not a member country of NATO. Japan, however, has a close relationship with NATO>
Japanese Prime Minister’s visit reinforced NATO’s ambition to establish strong relationships with countries in the region of Asia Pacific, and allies of the United States. It is also likely to contribute to its peacekeeping operations, outside the area of influence of the NATO. The US wants to turn the Alliance into a “global organization” bringing together all the democratic countries and regions of Asia and the Pacific including Japan, New Zealand and Australia, in order to increase its military capacity and its political role.
Japan’s offer of cooperation to NATO:
France was opposed to the idea of this project, which was buried at the Riga summit, but it should not prevent NATO from establishing closer contacts with countries that are ready to contribute to its military operations. After Shinzo Abe, New Zealand’s foreign minister visited the Atlantic Alliance headquarters.
Japan’s first offer of cooperation to NATO was related to Afghanistan, where NATO had deployed 32,000 troops for the most difficult mission in its history. Because of its constitution it is not possible for Japan to send combat troops, however, Japan promised to significantly increase its financial and humanitarian aid, without excluding participation in the civilian and military reconstruction teams led by the NATO.
After withdrawing its soldiers from Iraq, the Japanese played a very limited role in Afghanistan, providing only fuel supplies to Allies. Japan, however, promised to become more involved. NATO’s Secretary General visited Japan to discuss the possibilities of Japanese participation in NATO.
While strictly adhering to its Constitution, Japan would not hesitate to send its Self-Defense Force to other countries of the world for international peace and security, Shinzo Abe said while at the meeting of NATO. The Japanese prime minister wanted to change the country’s pacifist constitution to increase its military and political capabilities on the international stage. The Alliance offered him an ideal springboard for this project, while reinforcing American global ambitions for NATO.
Japan is above all a strategic ally of the United States, on which it depends for its security against China and North Korea and Russia. Over the years the US has been encouraging Japan to forge closer ties with NATO, Australia and New Zealand in order to strengthen its security of Asia-Pacific. In exchange for Japan’s offer in Afghanistan, the NATO expressed their support for Japan in the North Korean nuclear crisis, promising high-level diplomatic support. They also promised to help resolve the issue of Japanese abductees in North Korea in the 1970s. NATO clarified that the partnership with Japan does not mean that NATO would intervene militarily in the Pacific.