The significance of the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan in International Order, Yumiko Nakanishi

Given the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and South Korea and Japan, Japanese industries with South Korean competitors, particularly want an FTA with the EU. The 20th EU-Japan Summit took place in Brussels on 28 May 2011, shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011. The joint press statement from the summit referred to the Year of Solidarity and “Kizuna” (the bonds of friendship) in light of the earthquake and identified the next steps for stronger EU-Japan relations. That statement indicated the leaders’ agreement to begin parallel negotiations for an FTA and a binding agreement, which cover political, global, and multisectoral cooperation.

In the beginning, Japan only wanted an FTA, while the EU requested for a political framework agreement. Parallel negotiations began in April 2013 and both parties signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) on 17 July 2018. The EPA entered into force on 1 February 2019. The first year of the EPA’s implementation resulted in an increase in EU exports to Japan by 6.6% compared to the same period a year before wherein Japanese exports to Europe grew by 6.3%. On the other hand, the SPA has not yet entered into force because it not only needs ratification by the EU and Japan, but also by the Member States of the EU. However, majority of the SPA has already been provisionally applied.

This paper focuses on the Japan-EU SPA and seeks to illustrate how the EU’s strategy is embedded in it as well as clarify how it rules the relationship between the EU and Japan.

To read more download The paper


Yumiko Nakanishi is Professor of European Union Law at Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo. Visiting scholar of University of Münster, Germany and Max Planck Institute Luxembourg (2019-2021). Master of Law (Hitotsubashi University and University of Münster, Germany) and Doctor of law (University of Münster). She is the chief editor of Review of European Law (『EU法研究』EU ho kenkyu) (信山社Shinzansha). She is a Member of the Board of Directors of the EUSA-Japan. Relevant recent works: “Environmental Democracy in the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan”, in Serena Baldin and Sara De Vido (ed.), Environmental Sustainability in the European Union, Edizioni Universita a Trieste, 2020; Yumiko Nakanishi (ed.), Contemporary Issues in Human Rights Law: Europe and Asia, Springer, 2018; ders (ed.), Contemporary Issues in Environmental Law, Springer, 2016.

Dont’miss Thursday 14 May at 8:30 a.m. ( GMT+1), next paper « Some Reflections on the Human Rights Discourse in the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement »,  by Edoardo Stopioni

Remind that this e-conference consists in the publication of new papers on Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. (GMT+1)  Please subscribe to blogdroiteuropeen so you don’t miss a publication.

This e-conference was organised by Yumiko Nakanishi, Professor of European Union Law at the Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, and Dr. Olivia Tambou, Associate Professor at the University of Paris-Dauphine, Editor of Blogdroiteuropeen. Special thanks to both Dr. Edoardo Stopionni and Dr. Alessandra Donati, senior research fellows at the Max Planck Institute of Luxembourg and members of the blogdroiteuropeen team, for their contribution to the organisation of the e-conference.

For more information on the context of this e-conference and the other papers see HERE


2 réflexions sur “The significance of the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan in International Order, Yumiko Nakanishi

  1. Karl-Friedrich Lenz here.

    One question relating to the SPA may be what happens with the European Green Deal, mentioned in the article. This is clearly an issue requiring cooperation under Article 24. What form could that take?

    Obviously solar electricity generated in Germany will not be delivered to Japan, since that would require a world wide electric grid, which does not exist.

    But maybe Japan and the EU could go ahead and create a feed-in tariff for green hydrogen. Take the lesson from the very successful German 2000 law and pay whatever it takes to make green hydrogen profitably. If you do that, hydrogen from the EU could be shipped to Japan, as well as the other way around, enhancing energy security and displacing fossil fuel use at the same time.

    I hear that the EU wants to invest massively in the European Green Deal. I also hear that they plan to invest massively in starting the economy again after the corona crisis, and Japan also will be investing substantial funds for that purpose. How about having a common Green Hydrogen feed-in tariff policy as part of those efforts under Article 24?


    1. Thank you for your questions and comments. The Strategic Partnership Agreement, as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan, lay down several provisions regarding environmental protection.
      Both agreements give opportunities and legal basis for the achievement of environmental protection. However, it is necessary for the EU and Japan to have the will to make use of those provisions. Because, in particular, the provisions of the SPA oblige the parties to encourage cooperation between the EU and Japan, not concrete actions.

      The European Green Deal of the EU attracts drawing attention in Japan, too. As you mention to the hydrogen, it is considered as one of the most important solutions in tackling with the climate change in Japan. The importance of the hydrogen is emphasised in several Japanese government documents. (see )

      Pr. Yumiko Nakanishi


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