This blog grew out of a conclusion I reached after writing the Euro Asia Security Forum blog for about two years, that the partnership that is developing between the UK and Japan is looking more and more like the main salient feature in Euro-Asian security relations.
The title of the blog refers to an alliance that began and ended long ago but the focus of this blog is not principally historical. Rather, the point is to test the assertion made by Japan’s ambassador to the UK in a speech he gave in Portsmouth on 23 July 2013:
“By mentioning the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, I am not seeking merely to dwell on past glories. Surely we had the tragedy of another war which we fought against each other and have always to squarely face. However, we are now nurturing a new partnership in the defence and security areas, which perhaps we can call a new type of alliance”.
Personally, I found this short paragraph quite stimulating. It suggested three points on which to structure (initially, at least) the reflections of this blog –
1) There is the obvious link between the earlier alliance and recent developments between Japan and the UK over the past few years. This is highly significant in the context of both the US and European pivots to Asia, as well as the question of how the UK and Japan identify their place in the 21st century world order.
2) I also find interesting the idea that Japan and the UK ‘have always to squarely face‘ the ‘tragedy of another war which we fought against each other‘, because I feel that we don’t do much of this and that we would be wiser if we did. I’d like to use this blog to think not just about our periods as allies, but also what we did to each-other in between. It is perhaps one of the privileges of my generation to do so with less baggage than those who have gone before.
3) Finally, there is this idea of a new type of alliance. The alliance agreed between Great Britain and Japan in 1902 (and renewed thereafter until the 1920s), was made by two entities that were very different from the Japan and Britain of today. But this phrase made me wonder – what type of alliance is possible or valuable for the Japan and the UK of today, and tomorrow? What is the nature of ‘alliance’ in the 21st century? How does it compare with ‘partnership’ – a word we hear more and more often?
Since that speech in Porsmouth the range, intensity and significance of the Anglo-Japan ‘quasi alliance’ has increased beyond what I would have imagined possible. In this blog I will try to chart its progress, raise awareness about it, and offer whatever encouragement I can.
I welcome comments and suggestions at this address: