Students Staff

Our Project

Latest research

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Read our latest cutting-edge research papers in the Essex Research Repository.

Security threats are increasing both within and outside the European Union (EU), and allies are being sought to respond.

As one of the top trading partners of the EU, Japan also supports democratic values, and is committed to pursuing international peace and stability and effective multilateralism. It shares concerns with the EU over the North Korean nuclear programme, the assertive Chinese posture in the East and South China Sea, and the conflict in Syria, together with the wider Sunni-Shiite confrontation.

As a result, the EU and Japan have decided to strengthen their strategic partnership. We'll examine whether the EU is able to cooperate with Japan on a number of security areas and explore why cooperation may exist in some security sectors (e.g. non-nuclear proliferation and cyber security) and not in others (e.g. regional security and climate change).

Research aims

Using a mapping exercise, we'll explore the extent to which there's alignment or disalignment in the area of EU-Japan security cooperation, the reasons for either occurrence, and the prospects for further collaborative development.

Findings will help to:

  • enhance scholarly interest in the effectiveness of EU external security policy
  • open new research prospects for young academics
  • contribute to greater knowledge and debate in the policy-making community, alike the European External Action Service (EEAS)
  • raise awareness among civil society organisations and the public in both the EU and Japan.

Publishing our findings

Our findings will be published in an article for a leading international journal and we have produced an edited book for academics, students and policy makers on Security Relations between Japan and the European Union. This book undertakes a systematic and comprehensive treatment of ten security sectors and assess the subject of EU-Japan security cooperation more broadly. The book, entitled EU-Japan Security Cooperation: Trends and Prospects and edited by Emil Kirchner and Han Dorussen, will be published in the Routledge series “Military, Strategic and Security Studies” towards the end of 2018. Book launch events are being planned for Autumn 2018.


Intial findings

We held our first workshop in Berlin which addressed security threat perception and response in each of the ten security areas from either the EU or the Japanese perspective.

Our second workshop was held at Kobe University in Japan. Discussions centred on how the EU and Japan relate to the nuclear threat by North Korea, the assertive maritime posture of China in the South China Sea, the rise of international terrorism, the threat of cyber-attacks and cyber warfare, the fall-out from Paris accord on climate change, natural disasters and pandemics, and the America First policy of President Trump.

Our final conference was hosted by the Royal Institute of International Affairs of Belgium and held in Brussels, in March. Findings of the research project were presented which came shortly after the agreement of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement. The conference was addressed on these topics by the Japanese Ambassador to the EU and by the EU’s External Action Service Desk Officer for Japan.

Project design

Ten security dimensions we'll consider:

  • military security
  • regional security
  • nuclear non-proliferation
  • counter-terrorism and organised crime
  • climate change and energy security
  • human security
  • civil protection
  • cyber security
  • economic security
  • migration/immigration security

These dimensions combine traditional and non-traditional security aspects.

Our method was derived from theories, concepts and methods from international relations, including realism, liberalism and constructivism, exploring reasons for security cooperation between states or international institutions and ways to assess levels of threat perceptions and degrees of cooperation. It also draws on insights from EU external relations analysis.

Methodological characteristics we'll adopt


The selection of manageable and meaningful dimensions of the EU-Japan security dialogue (e.g. terrorism, arms proliferation, human security), will give the research a distinct focus. Hence, rather than dealing with the general notion of EU-Japan security relations, a range of ten specific security dimensions will be applied, which will give scope for the assessment of similarities or differences (success or failings) among these dimensions.

Common framework

The project will adopt a common framework in the empirical investigation of the ten security sectors, and subsequent chapters, consisting of the following elements:

  • levels of threat perceptions by the EU and Japan
  • domestic response to threats by the EU and Japan
  • degree of EU-Japan bilateral cooperation
  • degree of EU-Japan multilateral cooperation

This framework was applied in a previous book - Emil J. Kirchner, Han Dorussen and Thomas Christiansen (Eds) Security Relations between China and the European Union, Cambridge University Press, 2016.


The project will establish assessment scales in order provide a systematic account of the levels or degrees converging or diverging positions of the EU and Japan on threat perceptions and joint cooperation with regard to the ten security dimensions.


The project will involve pairing of European and Japanese scholars.

The basis for investigating and assessing the respective ten security dimensions will be relevant official documents of the EU and the Government of Japan and other relevant documents and secondary sources. A number of interviews with officials from the EEAS and with Foreign Office officials of the Japanese government are also envisaged.

The project also involves EU and Japanese scholars from political science, international relations, law and economics.


  • 5 June 2018: EU-Japan Security Cooperation in Context, The University of Essex.
  • 7 March 2018: EU-Japan Security Relations, Brussels.
  • June 2017: Levels of EU-Japan Security Cooperation workshop, Japan.
  • 9 - 10 February 2017: Workshop on Comparing Threat Perceptions and Responses between the EU and Japan, hosted and co-funded by the Japanese-German Centre Berlin. Policy papers on different security dimensions from the Japanese or EU perspective will be published online after the workshop.
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The project is jointly funded by the University of Essex and by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.