The Political Economy of Japanese Globalization

By Glenn D. Hook; Hasegawa Harukiyo | Go to book overview

4

Europe in Japan

A growing EU identity

Julie Gilson


Introduction

Japanese government, business and individual networks now extend across the globe. The European continent has received much of the attention of these networks. Notwithstanding, within Japan itself, Europe's presence remains limited: not only does an enduring post-war US impact on Japanese government, business and society concentrate Japanese attention across the Pacific, but also the very nature and identity of the European continent make it difficult to understand what 'Europe' actually signifies. Such historical and institutional realities ensure that ideas of Europe within Japan are built upon different moments of exposure to often ad hoc and uncoordinated efforts by a variety of political and economic representatives within Europe.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, a stream of European official and business delegates passes through Japan each year as part of a multi-faceted economic and political dialogue sustained by Japanese and European counterparts. At the highest official level, the head of state or government of the presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers is accompanied by the president of the European Commission every year, in order to attend the annual summit meeting with the Japanese prime minister. This summit, inaugurated in The Hague in July 1991, rests at the apex of a dialogue which is now replicated at a number of different levels, and which includes a Japan-EU troika foreign ministers' meeting. 1 As a result of these and other non-governmental engagements, recent years have witnessed a greater Japanese willingness to conduct business directly with representatives of the EU in addition to their EU member state counterparts, even in areas of activity for which the EU per se is not fully mandated. This acknowledgement of the EU as an international actor has repercussions for the ways in which it formulates relations with Japan.

This chapter examines how contemporary ideas of Europe within Japan obtain from the culmination of disparate activities on Japanese soil since the 1960s, and assesses how the role of the EC (now EU) has been central to the formation of those ideas during the last two decades in particular. The first section of this chapter examines how the very term 'Europe' has come to be (re)defined in Japanese policy circles and business domains. The second section

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