Japan's Prime Minister has visited several countries in the Eastern Europe:

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned from an official visit to Romania, wrapping up a five-day tour of three Baltic and three Eastern European countries. Abe toured six countries over five days — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania — seeking to bolster political diplomacy and bilateral business links in the region as well as addressing regional security issues.

About a month earlier, Japan and EU finalized Economic Partnership Agreement

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono announced today the successful conclusion of the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

About one year ago, Trump withdrawn from Trans-Pacific Partnership:

Donald Trump has begun his effort to dismantle Barack Obama’s legacy, formally scrapping a flagship trade deal with 11 countries in the Pacific rim.

Japan's Prime Minister reaction was that TPP without US does not make sense:

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said a TPP without the US - and its market of 250 million consumers - would be "meaningless".

When Shinzo Abe visited Romania, some local analysts argued that this historical visit (first time visit from a Japanese high official in some of the countries) is related to US withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, I could not find any reference to sustain this. It makes sense, since Japan might feel that it has to compensate US boycott of TPP.

Question: Are Japan's Prime Minister visits in Eastern Europe and Economic Partnership Agreement related to US withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership?

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking the visit had a few main objectives:

  • The EU-Japan EPA.
  • Maximizing international pressure over North Korea.
  • Trying to keep up with the increased influence of China over the Eastern European countries.

Answering directly to your question, although the EU-Japan EPA is not related to the recent US administration decisions (it started in 2013), there seems to be some urgency accelerating its implementation, most likely due the US withdrawal from the TTP (emphasis mine).

Tokyo and Brussels began trade talks in 2013, and said in June that they were nearing a deal. Japan trades less with the European Union than it does with the United States or China. But completing a deal with the European Union became a more urgent priority for Tokyo after President Trump’s decision in January to withdraw the United States from another agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Japan has also pushed to revive that deal, even without the United States.

The recent events related to US-Japan relations have not been mentioned but I think the joint statement released by EU-Japan in December - 2017 says enough (emphasis is mine):

Beyond its considerable economic value, the finalisation of EU-Japan EPA is of strategic importance. Amid widening protectionist movements, the finalisation of the negotiations on the EU-Japan EPA demonstrates to the world the firm political will of Japan and the EU to keep the flag of free trade waving high and powerfully advance free trade.

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