The EU-Japan partnership in the Indo-Pacific: opportunities and challenges

The EU-Japan partnership in the Indo-Pacific: opportunities and challenges”, Analysis of Elcano Royal Institute, March 2021


This paper analyses the common and divergent interests of Japan and the EU in the Indo-Pacific and identifies the most promising areas for cooperation.


In recent years, the EU-Japan partnership has been flourishing. Europe has reassessed the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific area for its interests, hence deepening its convergence of views with Japan, which champions a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. Both the EU and Japanindeed share an interest in acting as responsible stakeholders in an area where the future of the world order is likely to be determined. While the objectives of the EU and Japan in the Indo-Pacific are quite similar, their priorities are not the same. The respective relations of Tokyo and Brussels with Washington and Beijing induce different type of behaviours, complicating a potential coordination. A sobering assessment of convergences and divergences, priorities and capabilities should prevent expectation gaps. Efforts should be made in a limited number of areas –maritime security, connectivity, the rule of law and governance of the commons– to harvest low-hanging fruits in terms of cooperation.