The Decade of Japan-Europe Cooperation: Part I
John de Boer (University of Tokyo & GLOCOM Platform)
On 19 July 2000, Japan and the European Union announced that they were about to enter into a new stage of comprehensive cooperation by declaring that the next ten years, beginning in 2001, would be The Decade of Japan-Europe Cooperation. The fundamental rationale behind this decision was based on the understanding that a coordinated global strategy was needed in order to promote stability and prosperity in the world, particularly in Asia and Europe. The world could no longer be divided into "communist" and "capitalist" boxes and neither could all problems be resolved by the application of American power, stated Chris Patten (The European Commissioner for External Relations). This was why Japan and the European Union had to be actively engaged in the pursuit of peace and development.
This decade of cooperation officially began on 8 December 2001 when an Action Plan was approved and the decision to implement it was taken. The Action Plan outlined four main areas of cooperation where Japan and the EU would take concrete measures and concerted action. These were: (1) Promoting Peace and Security; (2) Strengthening the Economic and Trade Partnership Utilizing the Dynamism of Globalization for the Benefit of All; (3) Coping with Global and Societal Challenges; and (4) Bringing Together People and Cultures. Combined, these four areas of cooperation guide Japan and Europe towards their ultimate objective of promoting human security for the benefit of all.
In order to gain a better understanding of this Action Plan, the EU Report will consider each area of cooperation over the next four articles. Each article will explain the priority issues identified by Japan and the EU for concerted action and will further analyze the level of progress made on those fronts.
Promoting Peace and Security:
As was indicated in the Action Plan, Japan and the EU are particularly keen on developing their relations in the political sphere in order to make their positions heard and interests met. The positions and interests that the EU and Japan specifically want the world to hear have been defined in the Action Plan as common values and objectives. They include the strengthening of the UN, continued cooperation designed to achieve the elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the promotion and protection of human rights. According to the Action Plan, the two have committed themselves to coordinating statements and policies in order to promote these common values in all multilateral and bilateral forums.
United Nations Reforms:
Japan and the EU have reaffirmed their commitment to the strengthening and enhancement in the effectiveness of the United Nations through a series of reforms. Of particular concern to both relates to the comprehensive reform of the Security Council to which they are seeking increased representation. Japan and Germany have long sought permanent membership to the Security Council and the intensification of their efforts to achieve reforms in the Security Council are clearly motivated by the desire to increase their influence in the international body.
Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation:
In this area, Japan and the EU have come up with two concrete objectives. The first is to eliminate all Weapons of Mass Destruction and the second is to control the spread of small arms.
Under the first objective, the Action Plan states that Japan and the EU will work together to promote the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty; make efforts to establish an Ad Hoc Committee in the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty with the aim of producing a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons within five years; strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention; and promote the universal ratification of and adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention. These are important initiatives, which if achieved would represent a significant step towards the elimination of most Weapons of Mass Destruction. Unfortunately, there are areas where the EU and Japan are working against these stated commitments. The EU continues to process weapons grade fissile material for Japan and there has not been any commitment made on the part of EU members states, specifically France and the UK, to rid themselves of their nuclear arsenals and other Weapons of Mass Destruction.
In terms of small weapons, the two have expressed their intent to work together to address the problem of the illicit trade, uncontrolled spread and excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons throughout the world. Towards this end they have made important gains in addressing this problem in relation to Cambodia through a "Weapons for Development" program and in the Western Balkans. Both have also reaffirmed their commitment to the total elimination of anti-personnel landmines and are actively working to enforce the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines. Their de-mining efforts in Cambodia and other parts of the world have also been impressive.
While these efforts are important and welcome, it is unfortunate that no commitment has been made to curb the amount of small arms that are "legally" sold by Japanese and European countries to conflict zones. In addition, it is disappointing that no mention was made of the intention to decrease the level of trade in major conventional weapons, which are the preferred means of warfare and which have caused the most death and destruction.
Human Rights, Stability and Democracy:
In this area of cooperation, the Action Plan agreed that the EU and Japan would coordinate their strategies to promote human rights by holding joint meetings before each annual session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Immediate co-operation was also pledged in relation to efforts against the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Also significant was their pledge to continue working towards the establishment and operation of the International Criminal Court. The strengthening of democracy, good governance and action against child labor practices were also highlighted as priority areas.
Both Japan and Europe have made much progress in the area of human rights. They have succeeded in securing a sufficient number of signatory members necessary for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. This is a major achievement for the protection of human rights, one which Japan and the EU should be proud of. The two must continue to strive until the court is fully operational in order to ensure that future perpetrators of crimes against humanity are brought to justice. Recent achievements made in the area of preventing the commercial sexual exploitation of children by the EU and Japan has also been commendable. However, considering that most violations continue to take place in Japan and the EU much work remains to be done. In particular, more emphasis needs to be directed against the trafficking in women. Finally, it is regrettable that no mention was made in the Action Plan in relation to torture. Crimes of torture, particularly those committed by state run institutions, constitute a grave violation of human rights. Documentation provided by a multitude of human rights organizations and international bodies indicates that crimes of torture take place in Japan and the EU with relative frequency. It is more than desirable that concerted action be taken to eliminate this crime.
Under the category of Promoting Peace and Security, the EU and Japan have also identified specific regional issues in which they will coordinate their policies. These include working towards peace on the Korean Peninsula and the Balkans. In terms of the Korean Peninsula, both the EU and Japan are committed to constructive engagement towards the goal of reducing tension and achieving peace in the region. In the Balkans the major area of focus has been identified as promoting security, democracy and economic development. In essence, their efforts are aimed at creating a sense of normalcy and hope in the region. Other areas of concern included the Middle East Peace Process, co-operation with China in order to secure an open-policy and development and peace initiatives in Africa.
In terms of Promoting Peace and Security, the Action Plan is truly a global strategy, which has much potential to change the current reality that we find ourselves in. It is certainly, an important first step towards the goal of achieving human security for the benefit of all. However, as has been described in this article, a number of critical initiatives have been left out. It has only been just over four months since the Action Plan was implemented, as such many positive outcomes can no doubt be expected. Nevertheless, I urge both Japan and the EU to consider and incorporate the issues highlighted above into the Action Plan as they meet to review their coordinated strategy on a periodic basis.