Home News An Unlikely Alliance? Canada-Japan Relations within the Justin Trudeau Years

An Unlikely Alliance? Canada-Japan Relations within the Justin Trudeau Years


After Justin Trudeau’s ascendance to energy in Canada following the 2015 federal election, he declared that ‘Canada is again’ and is able to take its formal place on the worldwide stage – foreshadowing his later try at increasing Canada’s financial and navy partnerships across the globe (Welch 2018, 4). Japan, an unlikely ally resulting from each historic disagreements between the 2 nations and its inconvenient geographical location, is turning into one in every of Canada’s strongest companions within the Pacific. But, their unlikely relationship has confused many students, corresponding to Patrick James, as to why Canada is selecting to align with Japan as a substitute of using extra assets in direction of its quickly deteriorating relationship with the Folks’s Republic of China (PRC). Canada, as a substitute of using assets in direction of its relationship with the PRC, is trying to re-enter negotiations with different Pacific nations to ensure it a place within the quickest rising financial area of the world and subsequently achieve each stronger buying and selling and navy alliances. With Japan having the world’s third largest economic system and an more and more stronger navy presence within the Asia-Pacific area, Canada is aligning with Japan to reposition itself within the Pacific to broaden its smooth energy, facilitate Canada’s entrance into buying and selling partnerships within the area, assist diffuse tensions over China’s renewed militarization, and to assist lower its dependency on america of America (US) for commerce and navy safety (ibid., 3).

Smooth energy, first coined by Joseph Nye, happens when a state achieves its worldwide aims “as a result of different states need to comply with it or have agreed to a scenario that produces such results” (Nye 1990, 166). States thus implement smooth energy to keep away from the specter of navy drive and to as a substitute, co-opt others to comply with their needs. States even have used smooth energy extra ceaselessly as a result of emergence of the ‘guidelines primarily based worldwide order’ (RBIO), or a “shared group by all nations to conduct their actions in accordance with agreed guidelines that evolve over time, corresponding to worldwide regulation…” (United Nations Affiliation of Australia 2016, 3).

Canada, resulting from its lack of onerous energy, or navy drive, has more and more gravitated in direction of a smooth energy oriented diplomatic coverage, leading to its concern in direction of the latest downfall of america as the worldwide hegemon and the inherent lower within the present globally ‘shared group.’ The dearth of a multilateral world order prompts the query in direction of whether or not the RBIO is underneath menace and if the downfall of america is the principle perpetrator, or if its seeming deterioration on the world stage can be partially resulting from China’s world ascendance to energy. Stephanie Martel, particularly, views the Chinese language menace to the RBIO as one of many foremost causes that Canada seeks to turn out to be extra concerned within the Pacific area (Martel 2018, 9). She secondly acknowledges that, though economics play an essential position in influencing a rustic’s determination to hunt out new allies, China’s menace to the present worldwide order may be very severe and requires some much-needed consideration by surrounding nations, corresponding to Japan and Canada (ibid.).

Typically, the latest historical past of Canadian-Japanese relations falls into two sections: earlier than 2000 and after 2000. Earlier than 2000, Canada’s involvement in Asia was “sporadic and inconsistent” and sometimes, students corresponding to James cut up Canada’s engagement into 3 foremost classes (James 2014, 1). Firstly, resulting from obligations with the United Nations, Canada fought within the Korean conflict from 1950-1953, however retreated from Asia through the Vietnam battle (ibid., 2). Secondly, underneath the management of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada tried to distinguish its overseas coverage directives and regarded in direction of Asia to take action, however resulting from India’s rising involvement with nuclear weapons within the Seventies, Canada lower ties with the area (ibid., 3). Lastly, Canada turned concerned in a humanitarian mission in East Timor from 1999-2001, however as soon as once more, retreated as soon as the scenario lessened in severity (Veterans Affairs Canada 2019). Thus, Canadian engagement in Asia previous to 2000 was merely a “response to crises” as a substitute of representing a extra concerted effort at creating stronger relations within the area (James 2014, 3). After 2000, Canada as a substitute turned extra conscious of its must diversify its buying and selling companions, however nonetheless moved in direction of utterly dismantling its navy’s presence within the area (Martel 2019, 11). Thus, resulting from historic developments and the latest shift in world alliances, Canada ought to take a multifaceted method with its new ‘re-engagement’ in Asia that may each re-establish a navy presence within the area, but in addition broaden its buying and selling companions to extend its personal financial potential in an try and shift its dependence away from america.

Japan and Canada are very comparable nations. They each have excessive revenue and training ranges, have extremely developed industries, are each liberal democracies and lastly, are sturdy supporters of the ‘rules-based’ worldwide order (Welch Lecture 2019). But, Japan and Canada are at present not buying and selling with one another in larger portions, and thus, each nations look to alter this. In 2017, Canada exported a mere $11.8 billion CAD to Japan and imported $17.5 billion CAD from Japan (Authorities of Canada). Compared, Canada exported $332.3 billion USD to america in 2017 and imported $340.7 billion USD (Workplace of america Commerce Consultant, 2017). Canada, in contrast to its American counterpart, has but to signal a free commerce settlement (FTA) with Japan, and is thus one of many largest causes that commerce has not elevated (Wallace 2019). By aligning with Japan and shifting in direction of signing an FTA, Canada can scale back its dependence on america for commerce whereas additionally inadvertently increasing its buying and selling capability abroad. Presently, over 70% of all Canadian exports and 98% of Canada’s vitality merchandise go solely to america, subsequently demonstrating an overt dependence on the American market to gas the Canadian economic system (Houlden 2019). Secondly, by signing a free commerce settlement with Japan and importing extra technological merchandise, Canada can differentiate its buying and selling portfolio and restrict doubtlessly unfavourable results that American instability and volatility poses to Canada’s economic system sooner or later. Due to this fact, Canada and Japan are aligning along with the objective of signing a FTA to not solely improve stability and accessibility for merchandise, however to additionally lower Canada’s dependence upon america (Daly and Sekine 1990, 67).

Secondly, with the present diplomatic disruption between Canada and China and the seemingly inherent elimination of all Huawei merchandise from the Canadian market, Huawei will depart a spot within the provide of low cost but dependable technological merchandise that Japanese items can fill (Cecco 2019; Nossal 2019). Compared, Japan consumes a big amount of crude oil merchandise that it’s at present importing from Saudi Arabia (Observatory of Financial Complexity 2017). Because of the relative instability of Saudi Arabia, it’s in Japan’s greatest curiosity to slowly shift away its imports from Saudi Arabia and transfer its demand for crude in direction of Canada. Though geography limits the accessibility of commerce, each Japan and Canada have equally helpful merchandise that, if commerce elevated, can be very useful for each nations and is thus one more reason in direction of why Canada and Japan are trying to strengthen their relations.

As a consequence of Canada’s withdraw from the Pacific area earlier than 2000, it has been unable to enter into many Asian financial organizations that may drastically alter its monetary prospects and thus, enable it to turn out to be much less depending on america for commerce (Martel 2018, 11). With america’ increasing volatility underneath the brand new Trump administration, Canada is starting to look elsewhere for allies – which the Pacific area gives. Canada has lately tried to enter the East Asian Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Discussion board (ARF), has obtained observer standing in ASEAN (Affiliation of Southeast Asian Nations) and is sending its protection minister to the upcoming ADMM+ (ASEAN Protection Ministers’ Assembly Plus) (James 2014, 6) As soon as in these organizations, Canada can drastically broaden its buying and selling companions to present Canadian merchandise extra market consideration whereas shifting away from its dependence on the American client base. Patrick James has argued that “a symbiotic relationship has emerged between Asia and the remainder of the world,” thus engaging Canada to enter right into a partnership that may additionally remedy lots of its financial and stability considerations (James 2014, 6). However, so as to enter into these organizations, Canada wants an ally to advocate for its entrance. Japan is a key member of the entire aforementioned organizations however can be a rustic who boasts one of many largest economies within the area. By enhancing its ties with Japan, Canada inadvertently will increase each its likelihood of coming into into extra Pacific buying and selling organizations but in addition the chance to realize extra financial buying and selling companions, thus increasing its smooth energy within the area.

With each Canada and Japan vastly involved over the fragility of the worldwide market due to the political instability of each america and China, Canada additionally desires to turn out to be extra concerned in multilateral boards in Asia to assist stabilize China’s place within the area and as soon as once more, exert its smooth energy affect. World Warfare II noticed the creation of the European Union in an effort to raised combine many European nation’s economies collectively to lower the probability {that a} conflict between them would happen once more. Thus, Canada wants to assist Asia do the identical factor. Each China and North Korea have been steadily rising their navy capability and though Canada has been trying to broaden its navy presence within the area, it merely can not compete with China militarily or economically and should flip to different types of persuasion. With each Japan and Canada vastly involved over their navy capability within the area resulting from China’s rising volatility, Japan and Canada are wanting in direction of integrating China into the “East Asian safety order as a accountable Nice Energy” to raised tie it financially to the nations surrounding it, thus limiting the probability China will go to conflict (Goh 2011, 888). In 2001 after a fantastic effort by Japan, China entered the World Commerce Group – representing its official emergence onto the world stage but in addition its change from extra socialist financial insurance policies to that of capitalist, laissez-faire insurance policies (Goh 2011, 894). China has since entered the World Well being Group (WHO), the Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Discussion board (ARF) and ASEAN 3+ (Affiliation of South-East Asian Nations) however has not turn out to be a key participant in any of the organizations as of but (Goh 2011, 894).

In an try to spice up China’s involvement within the area, Japan is lastly advocating for a CAFTA, or a China and ASEAN free commerce settlement, which Japan proposed in 2000 however has but to come back to fruition (Goh 2011, 894) Multilateralism, or larger involvement in worldwide boards whereas pursuing alliances with a subset of nations, will solely strengthen China’s ties within the area and make it much less probably that China will pursue additional isolationist commerce insurance policies and proceed to construct up militarily (Ford 2018, 59). As of latest, Japan has virtually independently pushed for China’s inclusion in these boards which shows that at present, not sufficient nations perceive the necessity for China to turn out to be higher related within the Pacific area. Canada, like Japan, is an overt advocate of multilateralism and believes strongly in sustaining the principles primarily based worldwide order – which China at present threatens (Ford 2018, 59). Canada can be a member of a plethora of organizations, such because the G7, largely resulting from its excessive need to have a big presence on the worldwide stage no matter its financial capability (Welch 2018). If Canada was allowed to enter into ASEAN 3+ or comparable financial organizations within the Asia-Pacific, it will be a second advocate for larger Chinese language integration and likewise an ally for China on an more and more threatening world stage (ibid.).

Though financial integration is a high precedence for the Canadian state, it additionally appears in direction of Japan as a possible navy ally to supply it a stronger safety presence within the Asia-Pacific area. Because of the present weak point of Canada’s Pacific fleet, Canada must develop higher safety alliances within the area in case multilateralism with China fails and the Chinese language proceed escalating their navy capability (Wallace 2019). Most lately, Canada and Japan signed the Acquisition and Cross Servicing (ACSA) settlement which can “strengthen cooperation between the Canadian and Japanese navy forces” however, most significantly for Canada, it’s going to enable each nations entry to one another’s gear (Miller 2018, 2). Japan thus warrants Canada the chance to broaden its navy capability within the space with out vastly rising its monetary obligation (Miller 2018, 2). Secondly, Canada depends vastly on america for cover within the Pacific however as a result of improve in america’ unipolar rhetoric and instability, Canada must align with Japan to realize one other ally within the area in case of an escalation of tensions with China. Thus, the navy alternatives offered to Canada will assist develop a navy dialogue and partnership that can even assist differentiate Canada’s allies and reduce its dependence on america for safety. 

Differing Opinions

Patrick James, a widely known scholar who research Indo-Pacific relations and Canadian worldwide relations, believes the direct reverse of what we’ve been arguing all through this paper, which is that Canada shouldn’t be focusing increasing its relationship with Japan and as a substitute ought to particularly concentrate on fixing its relationship with China. James additionally argues that “it will be inadvisable for Canada to completely decide to any standing safety technique to cope with the rise of China’s navy energy” as a result of Canada lacks dedication and assets that may be essential to be even minutely profitable within the area (James 2014, 1). Though Canadian-Chinese language relations do presently pose a priority to Canada’s financial and safety relations within the Asian-Pacific area, Canada, as pointed to by Kim Nossal, must have the foresight to look past China, and as a substitute, work to raised combine itself in the entire area of Asia (2019). By increasing Canada’s relations within the area, it’s going to higher stabilize its economic system and improve its alliances, which can inadvertently lower Canada’s dependency upon america whereas additionally increasing its relationship with China (ibid.). Thus, via aligning with Japan, Canada may also work to strengthen its relationship with China whereas additionally enhancing its relations with different nations within the Asia Pacific area.

All through this paper, we’ve addressed the multitude of causes that showcase why Canada is deciding to align itself with Japan. Firstly, Canada is seeking to differentiate its buying and selling companions to lower its dependence on america as a result of elevated volatility of the Trump administration. By signing a free commerce settlement and rising commerce relations with Japan, Canada positive aspects larger entry to the Asian market that might then assist broaden its economic system. Secondly, Canada is wanting in direction of coming into multilateral organizations in Asia to boost each its buying and selling companions and its smooth energy within the area. By aligning with Japan, Canada has a robust ally who may help facilitate its entrance into the numerous Asian financial organizations which can in flip, strengthen Canada’s economic system and buying and selling relations within the area. Thirdly, each Canada and Japan are more and more involved over China’s latest navy build-up. Thus, Canada goals to each combine China into extra multilateral financial partnerships within the area whereas additionally creating a navy alliance with Japan to maneuver away from each American safety and financial dependence. Due to this fact, though Japan appeared an unlikely ally to proceed to develop relations with, Japan gives Canada entry to the Asian market in addition to safety from the rising ‘China menace’ within the area which can improve Canada’s financial and safety prospects sooner or later.


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