Europe and Japan: A Relationship in Search of Roles

Hanns W. Maull

The author, a lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of Munich, looks at the postwar relationship between Europe and Japan, “civilian” superpowers in a trilateral alliance with the United States. Using a triangle metaphor, Maull notes trade relations in the 1950s and the 1960s along the European-Japanese side expanded slower than on the US-Europe and US-Japan sides. But Japan changed this situation by the 1970s, creating “asymmetries” in trade and security.
After detailing the obstacles to closer European-Japanese security cooperation, notably the two nations’ economic competitiveness, regional perspectives, and Japan’s “three pillars” of defense—security arrangements with the United States, restrictions on the Self-Defense Forces’ international intervention, and a preference for diplomacy—Maull identifies areas for cooperation as the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, ensuring oil supply from the Middle East, and negotiations with the Soviet Union. With concerted European-Japanese efforts, Maull writes, trilateral relations can become “more partnership, less patronism, more genuine two-way communication and less willingness to take [US] leadership for granted.”


  1. The Postwar Context of European-Japanese Relations
  2. The Postwar Period: Trouble with Trade
  3. The Future of Trade Frictions: Business as Usual?
  4. Towards Broader Trilateral Co-operation: The Record of the 1970s
  5. Security: A New Dimension of European-Japanese Relations
  6. Security Asymmetries and Their New Salience
  7. European-Japanese Security Co-operation: The Obstacles and Achievements
  8. European-Japanese Security Co-operation: Future Potential
  9. Towards an Overhauled Trilateral Alliance System
Copyright © 1996 Japan Center for International Exchange. All Rights Reserved.
66 pages; paper