January 25, 2022

Watch again! Europe’s Strengthening Ties with the Indo-Pacific Region: The Interests of Estonia and Japan

On 25 January 2022, the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (EFPI) at the ICDS hosted a webinar to examine how Japan’s threat assessment has changed over the years and how the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy is developing; how the balance of power is changing in the Indo-Pacific with China’s rapid rise and the emergence of new technologies.

For Europe, even the concept of the Indo-Pacific is fairly new, but Japan has developed the notion of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”—which focuses on stability, rule of law, freedom of navigation and economic development—since 2007.

Estonia’s foreign policy has traditionally focused on the US, Europe and Russia – priorities determined by its geographical location and limited resources. But its interest in Asia has gradually grown and it can learn much from like-minded partners in the region on issues such as how best to resist Chinese economic coercion.


  • Steven Blockmans, Senior Fellow at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute / ICDS
  • Frank Jüris, Research Fellow at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute / ICDS
  • Tetsuo Kotani, Professor of Global Studies at Meikai University
  • Maret Nukke, Associate Professor of School of Humanities at Tallinn University
  • Kazuto Suzuki, Professor of Graduate School of Public Policy at University of Tokyo
  • Nobushige Takamizawa, Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo



Some key takeaways from the webinar:

  • Japan is interested in cooperation with regional and foreign actors to balance China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region. It is a high priority for Japan to ensure the principle peaceful settlement, promote rule of law, human rights, and fundamental principles of democracy. Therefore, Japan welcomes the increased engagement with European partners through various mechanisms.
  • Europe and Japan should send clear message to China that demonstrates unity, determination for protecting universal values and principles. As part of this, Japan should demonstrate its military force in the Baltic and Black seas and send the military to Europe to participate in joint exercises. In addition, Japan should join sanctions against Russia and support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
  • The EU needs to take concrete steps in the Indo-Pacific region to provide clarity for its policy and legal frameworks and institutionalise its cooperation with Japan in the security domain. Japan’s participation in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) might provide technological advantages and better prospects for the implementation of the EU-Japan strategy papers.
  • Japan develops legal frameworks for economic security, which covers strategic autonomy and indispensability. It is crucial to build up capabilities for critical infrastructure and diversify supply chains to reduce dependence on China and avoid pressure from it. The EU-Japan partnership is important for both sides to ensure economic security and improve competitiveness in regard of China.
  • Taiwan has strategic importance for China, and with increased confidence and capabilities China is losing patience in solving the issue by peaceful means. China has raised military pressure on Taiwan by regular airspace violations and naval presence. Technology transfer from Russia has improved China’s capabilities of invading Taiwan, which would increase Russian operation space in Europe. Japan and EU partners should cooperate more closely to monitor these developments and proactively engage with Taiwan to increase the cost of conflict for China.
  • Bilateral relations between Estonia and Japan have been steadily growing and include wide variety of topics from cultural cooperation to academics and ICT. Just recently Estonia and Japan commemorated the 100th anniversary of bilateral relations accompanied with high level political meetings. Estonian strategic planning in regard of Asia and Japan lacks concrete action plan and coordination between different bodies, which has negatively impacted implementation.



Watch the entire discussion:




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