Masoud Rezaei is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran.
A gradual shift in Iran’s foreign policy has been underway since President Hassan Rouhani came to office in 2013. There is no question that over the last four years and especially after the agreement with the P5+1+EU on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s regional position has strengthened. But one of Iran’s foreign policy problems is a lack of proper attention to the countries of East Asia.
Japan is one of the major economic poles in the modern world whose political influence and defense power have been a focus of constant attention for military and academic circles for a number of years. The reality, however, is that we know very little about position of this country in global equations. For example, we do not yet know much about Japan’s approach to Iran. Most analysts admit that relations between Iran and China are actually tripartite, given the influence the United States exerts; the same is true on an even greater scale for Iran’s relations with Japan, a U.S. ally. However, recent uncertainty in Japan over continued U.S. commitment to the alliance could pave the way for Tokyo to adopt a more independent foreign policy.
This uncertainty could be taken advantage of to extend relations between Iran and Japan to areas beyond energy and trade. Without a doubt, one area of interest to Iran is defense technology and cooperation. However, there is also no doubt that further expansion and strengthening of political and defense ties between Iran and Japan is generally a function of a favorable international atmosphere and the role played by the United States...
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