Despite Europe's record of regional integration having been recently tarnished by Brexit, the Franco-German partnership — a response to the massive numbers of casualties sustained during the world wars — has been pivotal for the process toward that integration. Their shared vision of achieving lasting peace in the region is a key motivation behind their joint effort to promote European integration.

But what about the Asia-Pacific region? It has only a short history of regional integration compared with Europe, but its parallel with the Franco-German relationship is the partnership developed between Japan and Australia, the former war enemies whose relations are now classed as a “Special Strategic Partnership” involving a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) and a defense pact.

Looking back, Japan made moves toward a partnership with Australia in 1967, when Foreign Minister Takeo Miki advocated his abortive “Asia-Pacific Policy,” and in 1979 when Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira proposed the Pacific Rim Cooperation Concept.