The challenges posed by the Indo-Pacific region, as well as the renewed interest in closer defense ties, have led to a series of strategic cooperation goals between Japan and NATO. The initial phase had already received the green light from both parties, pending an announcement in this regard during Summit of leaders of the Atlantic Alliance to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania.
According to Japanese media reports, Tokyo and Brussels have worked on the Individual Partnership Program (ITPP) covering 16 areas of cooperation with three strategic goals: “…enhance dialogue, improve interoperability and enhance resilience…“ As published by Nikkei Asia Indexbased on European and Japanese sources.
A central aspect of the cooperation was aimed at improving capability development and enhancing interoperability between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and NATO members. “…these measures are aimed at creating a common media knowledge of each other and expanding the range of joint exercises…” Male Nikkei Asia Index.
The Individual Partnership Program aims to have tangible results by 2023-2026 in areas such as maritime security, cyber and hybrid threats, outer space and climate change, and emerging and disruptive technologies (EDT). One of the challenges will be progress in implementing interoperability, with the main focus on equipment and weapons. The Nikkei Asia Index emphasized that this is an ambitious goal, as NATO itself faces serious setbacks in this matter.
The initiative between Japan and NATO is also designed to be implemented in other strategic allies in the region, such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. The three countries, along with NATO, are also working on their respective Individual Partnership Programmes. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Sok Yul, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hepkins will attend the Vilnius Summit, marking the second year in a row that Indo-Pacific Partnership (IP4) leaders have attended the NATO Leaders Meeting.
NATO members are also discussing the opening of a liaison office in Tokyo, which will serve as a focal point for the implementation of individual partnership programs for IP4.
Top photo: US Navy – Media Specialist Seaman Alexander Frotel
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