Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2014

NATO and Japan as Multifaceted Partners

Michito Tsuruoka

April 2013

NATO Defense College


Japan and NATO are now partners on the international security scene, but they used to live in different worlds with little interaction between the two. The Cold War, as seen from Washington and Moscow, was undoubtedly a global conflict. Yet, in many respects, it was still regional in nature: United States allies in Europe and Asia faced different sets of threats and challenges which, more often than not, evolved separately. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that relations between Japan and NATO did not develop during the Cold War, though both were US allies, sharing fundamental values and facing the Soviet Union as a common threat. Indeed, during the Cold War period NATO as an alliance had no substantial relationships with non-members, nor did it see the need for partnerships. This was largely because there was no reason for it to seek external help in achieving its core mission of defending the Allies.