Trilateralism and issues of cooperation between the United States, Japan and western Europe

Anastasia I. Pechalova – Ph.D. student at MGIMO University, Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, Senior Specialist at the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service. 105066, Moscow, A. Lukyanova street, 4, building 1. E-mail:
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DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2017-5-56-81-90 (Read the article in PDF)

The article deals the phenomenon of trilateralism – the term used to describe relations between the United States of America, Japan and Western Europe. The article presents an overview of factors that encourage closer ties between the regions as well as an analysis of trends that may potentially cause the collapse of the trilateral format.

The factors that have initially created trilateralism include common political approaches, a shared economic demand and a strong need for energy security. Though these components remain an important part of trilateral relations; the range of factors that affect trilateralism is much wider today than four decades ago.

Risks that may lead to the disruption of trilateralism are identified. Firstly, trilateral relations are strikingly asymmetrical: ties between the US, Japan and Western Europedevelop at different ratesand an evident disproportion exists in sharing responsibilities. Namely, bilateral relations between the US and Japan and the US and Western Europe are closer than the cooperation between Japan and Western Europe.

Secondly, there is a divergence in foreign policy priorities of the countries. With European priorities lying within the European Union, further integration and relations with the neighbors and Japan actively monitoring the developments in the Asia-Pacific, the US has yet to articulate its foreign policy.

Thirdly, economic issues that used to bethe core of relations between the three sides during the Cold Warare gradually disappearing from the trilateral agenda. An analysis oftask force reports to Trilateral Commission – an expert format that embodies trilateral relations – demonstrates the tendencies mentioned above.

The author comes to the conclusion that trilateralism is on the verge of change. Its future mainly depends on the choice of issues for further cooperation and on the effectiveness of the format in dealing with global problems as they arise.

Keywords: United States of America, Japan, Western Europe, energy security, European Union, Trilateral Commission, expert community, globalization, trilateralism, new challenges and threats.

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