Edited by Eiji Ogawa, Kolja Raube, Dimitri Vanoverbeke, Jan Wouters and with Camille Van der Vorst
Chapter 4: The dynamics of the EU–Japan relationship and divergent discourses on economic governance
Few years have been more influential in EU - Japan relations than 2018, when the regions concluded both an Economic Partnership Agreement and a Strategic Partnership Agreement. Several shared values constituted the building blocks of these landmark agreements, as they had been referred to as the drivers of EU - Japan cooperation as early as the 1990’s. This chapter takes a historical perspective to analyse the milestones in cooperation between the regions and the role of shared values such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law and trust in a free-market economy. When these values are compared to the underlying incentives that drove the EU and Japan’s rapprochement, it becomes apparent that economic and political interests might have been more important in developing bilateral relations than shared values. Moreover, it is not unthinkable that the values that the EU and Japan so frequently refer to, are in fact interpreted very differently in each region. The present chapter gives a comprehensive overview of the development of the “shared values”-narrative combined with an analysis of the underlying incentives for the EU and Japan to turn from a relation of conflict to one of cooperation.
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