The EU and Japan – both reliant on the United States (US) in their security – have been focusing on different geopolitical drivers. The EU is concerned about issues such as fighting terrorism and addressing the migration crisis. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine have prompted a stalemate in the bilateral political dialogue with Moscow, together with the adoption of sanctions, and have also led to concern in the Baltic States. The EU has, on the contrary, tried to engage with China, while dealing with US President Donald Trump has been more complicated. Japan, for its part, has been engaging with Moscow in order to reach a negotiated solution to the issue of the Northern Territories / South Kuril Islands, unresolved since the end of the Second World War. Territorial disputes, along with historical legacies, have also strained relations with China and South Korea: Beijing, with its maritime ambitions and territorial claims in the East and South China Seas, along with its growing nuclear and conventional capability, represent a major challenge for Tokyo. On top of that, the North Korean crisis and the repeated threats of Pyongyang against Japan have led it to increase its response capacities. Meanwhile Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe, has tried to build a good personal relationship with President Trump (as he has also done with Russian President, Vladimir Putin).
Japan, its neighbours and territorial disputes
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