Maritime Security

New Trends in Maritime Security: Perspectives from Turkey and Japan


Project Background

In past years, Japan-Turkey Dialogue on Global Affairs has provided an important platform for academics and strategic thinkers from the two countries to discuss issues of common concern from regional and global perspectives. For 2020-2021 academic term, the scholars from Turkey and Japan will continue to undertake cutting-edge research on how COVID-19 is shaping international relations and the emerging challenges and existing strategic issues interact with each other.

International strategic agenda has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last year. This development has contributed to the fragility and fluidity of the global strategic environment, which had seen the emergence of myriad security challenges. Today, one of the most debated topics in international security concerns the implications of the COVID-19 related developments for global politics and the changes in our understanding of the way nations define their strategic priorities and conduct their foreign policy.

In the wake of the pandemic, major world economies are already contemplating a redesign of global supply chains, which will eventually force a reconsideration of global transportation routes. The sea-born transportation is likely to receive renewed attention, raising the maritime security issues in the strategically important seas and passages. Considering the already immense interest maritime security had received due to a myriad of factors such as China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, worldwide interest in offshore exploration of energy reserves, or global human mobility (especially in terms of illegal immigration) through sea-lines, in the post-COVID-19 era as well, it will dominate the strategic discussion. Since Turkey has been critically located in maritime routes, and it has also featured heavily in terms of the redesign of global supply routes, it will be a key actor in the discussions pertaining to the maritime security issues. Japan has been also forced to reconsider the global supply chains and bolster maritime security.

Comparative Perspectives on Maritime Security

As part of the changes in the global strategic environment, maritime security issues have gained prominence. NATO, the leading collective defense and security organization, has come to include maritime security into its area of responsibility. Today, NATO’s activities encompass collective defense, crisis management, cooperative security and maritime security, as well as a wide array of other security challenges, including cyber security. As a member of NATO, Turkey has been actively participating into various types of missions the Alliance has undertaken, including peace enforcement and peace support missions, stabilization operations, and increasingly maritime activities. Recently, NATO, with Turkey’s active participation, has been executing Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean, as part of its response to the refugee and migrant crisis in the Aegean Sea for almost a decade. Moreover, Turkey has been part of some other multinational efforts to secure international trade by patrolling off the coast of Somalia against piracy. Furthermore, Turkey has been tackling with some sovereign issues in its territorial waters, namely at the Aegean Sea and at the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as in the Black Sea. Subsequently, maritime security issues have come to dominate a major part of Turkey’s security and defense policy agenda, as well as its international relations. Turkey’s maritime activities have been carried out in peaceful manner traditionally, which presented different examples of preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution on the one hand, and the responses to humanitarian emergencies on the other. However, as part of the growing reliance on hard power in its foreign policy, Turkey has also employed naval military capabilities in recent years.

As a maritime nation, too, Japan has sought to improve global maritime safety and security as an element of its foreign policy for the last fifty years. As part of its Free and Open Indo-Pacific policy, Japan seeks to ensure the interconnectivity across continents. Realizing the various security challenges including but not limited to piracy, terrorism, proliferation of WMDs, the third pillar of the FOIP is underscores the “commitment for peace and stability” which also includes capacity building on maritime law enforcement. More specifically, in 2018, Japan approved a new ocean policy that highlights maritime security, amid perceived growing threats in its region. As part of its principle of Proactive Contribution to Peace, Japan recognizes that a stable and lasting peace can be accomplished if these principles have a wider acceptance. Based on this perspective, the leadership of Japan has sought to disseminate these principles to the rest of the world, with a special interest in emerging countries such as Turkey.

Given this background, Turkey-Japan joint research project will aspire to focus on the issues of maritime security from a comparative perspective in the 2020-2021 academic year. As these two littoral countries have accumulated enormous experience in their respective regions in terms of dealing with the myriad maritime challenges, there will be fruitful exchanges between experts from both sides, and potentials for sharing the lessons learned. Turkey’s experience in terms of participating into multi-national missions as part of NATO and other international fora will yield important perspectives. Considering Japan’s efforts to spread its principle and policies of proactive contribution to peace and the establishment of a rule and law-based world order, the project will provide an important platform to communicate these ideas to the Turkish counterparts, and the international academic platforms. Furthermore, the project will also look at the differences in the maritime security challenges the two countries face, given the unique issues, disputes, risks and practices in their respective regional settings. The project will also seek to gain a comparative perspective, by bringing in contributions from other countries.

This web site is developed as part of an ongoing project, entitled Turkey-Japan Dialogue on Global Affairs.
Söğütözü Caddesi No:43, Söğütözü,
Ankara, 06560 Türkiye


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