Up until the blatant act of Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2022, the West had been gradually shifting its attention towards East Asia, with China seen as the primary challenge of the first half of the 21st century. The new context requires a thorough reassessment of international security architecture by all national stakeholders. This, in turn, offers Estonia and Japan the opportunity to enrich their security perspectives on common strategic threats, as well as on broader geopolitical shifts caused by Russia and China.
This report introduces several aspects of these revolutionary developments, their background, and their potential implications, some of which have already been reflected in the updated strategic documents unveiled by US and Japanese defence communities. Taken together, these documents make a case for an enhanced partnership between Japan, the US, and Europe that would prepare like-minded allies to respond to any security crisis. In the eventuality of a crisis resulting in an actual military confrontation, the report compares China’s missile supremacy and Japan’s long-range standoff maritime firepower strategies by grounding this analysis in the theory of victory.
Charting a more favourable course forward, the report assesses the current state of deterrence in the Baltics by detailing the key developments in regional defence posture and planning, with a clear shift towards forward defence. Centring on emerging cross-border risks posed by hybrid warfare and using Estonia as a case study for vulnerabilities, the report proposes ways to mitigate these risks by advancing the role of deterrence. The report’s recommendations are as follows:
- To establish a cooperative format between NATO and Indo-Pacific nations along the lines of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership and Cooperation Council and open NATO’s liaison office in Japan.
- To create the Baltic-Japan security and defence 1.5 Track dialogue forum.
- To develop ties between the defence intelligence services of Estonia and Japan in order to better understand the threats posed by Russia and China.
- To facilitate networking in the fields of concept development, capability planning, doctrine, and military education to address the challenges of multi-domain operations.
- To explore possibilities for closer defence industrial cooperation and technology sharing between Estonia and Japan in cyber security, artificial intelligence, sensorics, robotics, and electronic warfare.
- To engage Estonia’s knowledge and experience when adopting NATO’s standards and practices in Japan’s future capability development in pursuit of interoperability.
- To hold joint exercises in integrated air and missile defence, coastal defence, critical undersea infrastructure protection, etc.
As Japan seeks to forge closer defence relations with Europe and European nations and enhance their defence ties with the democracies in the Indo-Pacific area, the need to understand better how cooperation between Estonia and Japan contributes to the emerging Euro-Pacific deterrence agenda will persist.
Download and read: Allies Help Those Who Help Themselves: How Estonia and Japan Approach Deterrence (PDF)