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Budding Ties? The Impact of Brexit on Europe-Japan Relations

Irina Angelescu (2017 JIIA Visiting Fellow / Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Hitachi Fellow )
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The decision of the UK to leave the European Union (EU) following the Brexit referendum of June 2016 came as a big surprise for Japan. Faced with the prospect of losing access to the Single European Market and a weakened EU and UK, Japan has accelerated its engagement with Europe. Together with the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., the Brexit vote served as a catalyst for a more proactive Japanese involvement in international trade and foreign policy matters. As a result, the country was able to make substantial progress in negotiations with the EU on a series of agreements, and began a parallel set of discussions with the UK. If the high level of political will for closer ties between Japan and Europe remains constant in the next few years, these developments promise to have lasting economic and political consequences for the actors directly involved, the U.S., and the rest of the world.