The article uses Strategic Narrative Theory to explain how NATO has successfully communicated narratives of “natural partnership” and cooperative security to Japan. Japan strongly perceives NATO to be an embodiment and guarantor of global norms and international law. NATO and Japanese security commentators make a clear and consistent linkage between Russian and Chinese threats to international law respectively, as part of an extended deterrence strategy. We refer to this approach as one of “strategic parallelism.” Less positive dimensions of Japan–NATO relations are also considered: a significant majority of Japanese elite interviewees are critical of NATO’s handling of Russia and believe that this will have implications for the defense of the rule of law in the East and South China Seas. Japan has also reached out diplomatically to Russia, seeking a rapprochement that further undermines joint commitment to strategic parallelism.
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