November 13, 2023

Japan Chair Launch

The International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) launched its newly established Japan Chair by organising a panel discussion on “Japan, Europe and the Indivisibility of Security” on 9 November.

The event opened with introductory remarks by Indrek Kannik, director of the ICDS, and H.E. Mr Yukihiko Matsumura, Ambassador of Japan to Estonia, and a keynote speech by Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna.

The panel moderated by Dr Elena Atanassova-Cornelis, the Japan Chair, saw a lively and informative exchange of ideas by the distinguished panellists: Professor Tetsuo Kotani (Meikai University), Dr Iro Särkkä (the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, FIIA), and Raimond Kaljulaid (Member of the Estonian Parliament).

This discussion examined how Japan and European countries, including the Baltic states, perceive and respond to security threats in their respective regions against the background of an increasingly indivisible and rapidly changing global security environment. The panellists debated why it is of vital interest for Japan and the Baltic countries to have a deeper understanding of each other’s regional security concerns. They further delved into how the regional countries can grow their collective efforts needed to jointly address the current security challenges.

While the global strategic environment is in flux, the geographically distant regions are becoming ever more interconnected when the issues of security are at play. Russia’s full-scale military invasion and the ongoing war in Ukraine have reverberated in the Indo-Pacific region. Japan, among others, has emphasised the serious challenges to the rules-based international order posed by Russian behaviour. It has voiced concerns about the possibility that a similar situation might emerge in the Indo-Pacific in the future. Fears of Russian aggression spreading farther into the European continent – especially in the Baltic region – dominate the thinking of European strategists. At the same time, there are mounting concerns in Europe about China’s assertive approach towards the territorial disputes with its Asian neighbours, as well as Beijing’s escalating military pressure on Taiwan.

Both Japan and European nations are wary of the heightened security tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, instability in the maritime trade routes, and global supply chain disruptions. Contemporaneously, Japan and European countries, including the Baltic states, have been witnessing the rise of low-intensity, or “grey zone,” conflicts in their respective regions. These include cyber-attacks, attacks on critical infrastructure, economic coercion policies, information warfare, and disruptive technologies.

Photos from the event are available at: Flickr

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