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 attributable to each historic disagreements between the 2 nations and its inconvenient geographical location, is turning into certainly one 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 an alternative of using extra assets in the direction of its quickly deteriorating relationship with the Individuals’s Republic of China (PRC). Canada, as an alternative of using assets in the direction of its relationship with the PRC, is making an attempt to re-enter negotiations with different Pacific nations to ensure it a place within the quickest rising financial area of the world and due to this fact achieve each stronger buying and selling and navy alliances. With Japan having the world’s third largest financial 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 gentle 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 the US of America (US) for commerce and navy safety (ibid., 3).

Tender energy, first coined by Joseph Nye, happens when a state achieves its worldwide aims “as a result of different states wish to comply with it or have agreed to a scenario that produces such results” (Nye 1990, 166). States thus implement gentle energy to keep away from the specter of navy power and to as an alternative, co-opt others to comply with their needs. States even have used gentle energy extra often because of the 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, attributable to its lack of laborious energy, or navy power, has more and more gravitated in the direction of a gentle energy oriented diplomatic coverage, leading to its concern in the direction of the latest downfall of the US as the worldwide hegemon and the inherent lower within the current globally ‘shared group.’ The dearth of a multilateral international order prompts the query in the direction of whether or not the RBIO is underneath menace and if the downfall of the US is the principle perpetrator, or if its seeming deterioration on the world stage can also be partially attributable to China’s international ascendance to energy. Stephanie Martel, specifically, views the Chinese language menace to the RBIO as one of many essential causes that Canada seeks to change into extra concerned within the Pacific area (Martel 2018, 9). She secondly acknowledges that, though economics play an necessary position in influencing a rustic’s determination to hunt out new allies, China’s menace to the present worldwide order could be very severe and requires some much-needed consideration by surrounding nations, corresponding to Japan and Canada (ibid.).

Usually, 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 infrequently, students corresponding to James break up Canada’s engagement into 3 essential classes (James 2014, 1). Firstly, attributable to obligations with the United Nations, Canada fought within the Korean battle from 1950-1953, however retreated from Asia throughout 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 the direction of Asia to take action, however attributable to India’s rising involvement with nuclear weapons within the Nineteen 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 an alternative of representing a extra concerted effort at growing stronger relations within the area (James 2014, 3). After 2000, Canada as an alternative turned extra conscious of its must diversify its buying and selling companions, however nonetheless moved in the direction of utterly dismantling its navy’s presence within the area (Martel 2019, 11). Thus, attributable to historic developments and the latest shift in international alliances, Canada ought to take a multifaceted method with its new ‘re-engagement’ in Asia that can each re-establish a navy presence within the area, but additionally broaden its buying and selling companions to extend its personal financial potential in an try and shift its dependence away from the US.

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 robust 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 better 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). As compared, Canada exported $332.3 billion USD to the US in 2017 and imported $340.7 billion USD (Workplace of the US Commerce Consultant, 2017). Canada, not like 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 the direction of signing an FTA, Canada can cut back its dependence on the US for commerce whereas additionally inadvertently increasing its buying and selling capability abroad. At the moment, over 70% of all Canadian exports and 98% of Canada’s vitality merchandise go solely to the US, due to this fact demonstrating an overt dependence on the American market to gasoline the Canadian financial 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 probably adverse results that American instability and volatility poses to Canada’s financial system sooner or later. Subsequently, Canada and Japan are aligning along with the aim of signing a FTA to not solely enhance stability and accessibility for merchandise, however to additionally lower Canada’s dependence upon the US (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 go away a spot within the provide of low cost but dependable technological merchandise that Japanese items can fill (Cecco 2019; Nossal 2019). As 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 finest curiosity to slowly shift away its imports from Saudi Arabia and transfer its demand for crude in the direction of Canada. Though geography limits the accessibility of commerce, each Japan and Canada have equally helpful merchandise that, if commerce elevated, could be very useful for each nations and is thus one more reason in the direction of why Canada and Japan are trying to strengthen their relations.

As a result of Canada’s withdraw from the Pacific area earlier than 2000, it has been unable to enter into many Asian financial organizations that will drastically alter its monetary prospects and thus, enable it to change into much less depending on the US for commerce (Martel 2018, 11). With the US’ 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 attractive Canada to enter right into a partnership that will additionally remedy a lot of its financial and stability issues (James 2014, 6). However, to be able 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 also 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 getting into into extra Pacific buying and selling organizations but additionally the chance to achieve extra financial buying and selling companions, thus increasing its gentle energy within the area.

With each Canada and Japan drastically involved over the fragility of the worldwide market due to the political instability of each the US and China, Canada additionally desires to change into extra concerned in multilateral boards in Asia to assist stabilize China’s place within the area and as soon as once more, exert its gentle energy affect. World Struggle II noticed the creation of the European Union in an effort to higher combine many European nation’s economies collectively to lower the probability {that a} battle 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 making an attempt 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 drastically involved over their navy capability within the area attributable to China’s rising volatility, Japan and Canada are wanting in the direction of integrating China into the “East Asian safety order as a accountable Nice Energy” to higher tie it financially to the nations surrounding it, thus limiting the probability China will go to battle (Goh 2011, 888). In 2001 after a terrific effort by Japan, China entered the World Commerce Group – representing its official emergence onto the world stage but additionally 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 change into 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 better 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 nearly independently pushed for China’s inclusion in these boards which shows that at present, not sufficient nations perceive the necessity for China to change into 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 also be a member of a plethora of organizations, such because the G7, principally attributable to its excessive want 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 could be a second advocate for better Chinese language integration and in addition an ally for China on an more and more threatening international stage (ibid.).

Though financial integration is a high precedence for the Canadian state, it additionally appears to be like in the 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 spot 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’ll enable each nations entry to one another’s tools (Miller 2018, 2). Japan thus warrants Canada the chance to broaden its navy capability within the space with out drastically rising its monetary obligation (Miller 2018, 2). Secondly, Canada depends drastically on the US for defense within the Pacific however because of the enhance in the US’ unipolar rhetoric and instability, Canada must align with Japan to achieve 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 will even assist differentiate Canada’s allies and reduce its dependence on the US 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 an alternative ought to particularly concentrate on fixing its relationship with China. James additionally argues that “it could be inadvisable for Canada to completely decide to any standing safety technique to take care of the rise of China’s navy energy” as a result of Canada lacks dedication and assets that will 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 an alternative, work to higher combine itself in the entire area of Asia (2019). By increasing Canada’s relations within the area, it’ll higher stabilize its financial system and enhance its alliances, which can inadvertently lower Canada’s dependency upon the US whereas additionally increasing its relationship with China (ibid.). Thus, by aligning with Japan, Canada may 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 the US because of the elevated volatility of the Trump administration. By signing a free commerce settlement and rising commerce relations with Japan, Canada good points better entry to the Asian market that might then assist broaden its financial system. Secondly, Canada is wanting in the direction of getting into multilateral organizations in Asia to boost each its buying and selling companions and its gentle energy within the area. By aligning with Japan, Canada has a strong ally who might help facilitate its entrance into the numerous Asian financial organizations which can in flip, strengthen Canada’s financial 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 growing a navy alliance with Japan to maneuver away from each American safety and financial dependence. Subsequently, 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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