Eu-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (Spa)

First, the agreement aims for deep and sustainable cooperation, based on common values and principles, rather than focusing, in a short period of time, on more specific outcomes in certain areas. The OSG clearly cites democracy, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms as common core values. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his September 2019 speech to the EU-Asia Liaison Forum that „our SPA has made us the guardians of universal values,” he added. „We take responsibility for looking carefully and then putting into practice the types of governance that are desirable, and if we want to establish rules, the type we should define.” There has been an inevitable change in political priority to deal with the global pandemic, including measures to address the ongoing pressure on health systems and economic recovery measures that will continue well after the worst epidemic in their respective countries. However, as noted in the introduction, there is no indication to date that either party has withdrawn with respect to certain aspects of the GSB. Nevertheless, it remains a challenge if each party can motivate the agreement beyond its original priority. Second, the agreement provides not only for the handling of bilateral issues, but also for the management of global issues through cooperative actions within the international community. The agreement emphasizes the promotion of common values and principles in international for a or in third countries and, beyond that, a proactive contribution to international peace and stability, including the peaceful settlement of disputes. Each side must make enormous efforts to take coordinated action to address pressing global issues such as the current pandemic, climate change, cybersecurity and peace-building measures. These efforts would have an impact on international decision-making. The final piece of the puzzle is the STRATEGIC partnership agreement BETWEEN the EU and Japan (SPA).

While the G.S.O. will not enter into force until the agreement has been ratified or approved by all EU Member States, parts of the agreement have been applied on an interim basis since 1 February. The G.S.O. is based on common values and principles such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The peculiarity of the agreement is the legally binding nature that separates it from the sea of rhetorical „strategic partnerships” that the EU maintains with other important countries. The G.O.O. is setting up a joint EU-Japan committee to coordinate the implementation of the partnership and resolve disputes. This trifecta of agreements significantly improves relations between the EU and Japan and has global implications.

While geography has divided them, common values and principles have brought the EU and Japan closer together and defended these values together. Nevertheless, the definition and decision on a small number of political priorities does not guarantee that Brussels and Tokyo will go beyond the faster adoption phase of policies. In fact, the past has shown that Brussels and Tokyo are not acting quickly. However, this issue should be clarified when common declarations and policies come out of the new EU-Japan Joint Committee, the forum at which Brussels and Tokyo discuss twice a year and decide what should be launched next. The last second joint committee was held in Brussels on 31 January 2020, one year after the provisional application of the SGT on 1 February 2019. It should be noted that the G.S.O. is only applied on an interim basis, as it has not yet been definitively approved.