New Zealand Prime Minister John Key met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda yesterday in Tokyo, where the talks focused on Japan’s interest in joining the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. In an email interview, Yoichiro Sato, an expert in Japan’s foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific at the College of Asia Pacific Studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, discussed Japan-New Zealand relations.
WPR: What is the extent of diplomatic and economic ties between Japan and New Zealand?
Yoichiro Sato: Economic ties are asymmetrical, due to the difference in the two countries’ sizes. Japan is a major trade partner for New Zealand, but New Zealand cannot be one for Japan. However, the two economies are highly compatible, as Japan’s strength in manufactured goods exports does not compete against New Zealand’s strength in primary products exports. New Zealand’s significance in Japan’s diplomatic relations lies in their shared values, which can be promoted at the level of broader regional governance in the Asia-Pacific through multilateral institutions. Despite its light economic and military weights, New Zealand is a major diplomatic player based on its intellectual power to lead the formation of regional norms.