Germany and Japan: 150 years of friendship
“There shall be eternal peace and constant friendship between Their Majesties the King of Prussia and the Tycoon of Japan, as well as between their heirs and successors,” reads the first paragraph of the Prussian-Japanese trade and friendship treaty concluded in 1861. This statement has held true – today Germany and Japan still enjoy close and friendly relations.
150 years ago, in the autumn of 1860, the Prussian expedition to East Asia led by Count Eulenburg docked in the Bay of Edo, known today as Tokyo. The two countries concluded the treaty three months later on 24 January 1861. To celebrate this anniversary, Germany and Japan are planning a series of events in the respective partner country themed “150 Years of Friendship Between Germany and Japan”. Federal President Christian Wulff and Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito are serving as patrons of the programme.
A partnership of values
Minister of State Hoyer and the Japanese State Secretary
Japanese State Secretary Yutaka Banno came to Berlin on 19 January to celebrate the opening festivities of the anniversary year. Minister of State Werner Hoyer met with Banno for talks focused on disarmament, reform of the United Nations, climate protection, cooperation on projects in Afghanistan and economic relations between the EU and Japan.
“Japan is our partner in Asia who shares our values,” Hoyer highlighted. For example, he said, the two countries had enjoyed success in jointly founding the group of friends of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and had also helped advance the reform of the UN Security Council. Hoyer went on to say that Germany and Japan as nations of free trade had a shared interest in improving conditions for trade and investment.
Germany and Japan cooperate closely as partners in global responsibility. Federal Minister Westerwelle visited Japan most recently in January 2010. After China, Japan is Germany’s most important economic partner in Asia. Germany and Japan have established a rich cultural and educational network that encompasses 56 Japanese-German associations, 127 university partnerships and 66 city twinning arrangements. The Goethe-Institut has three branches in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
Launching the programme of events
The programme of Japanese events in honour of the anniversary began on 19 January with a Nô theatre performance in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) in Berlin. Speaking at the event, Minister of State Cornelia Pieper emphasized that Japan and Germany wished to “strengthen existing networks and inspire new enthusiasm for the partner country among young people” not only in the arts but also in the fields of science and technology.
Initial highlights of the programme included the theatre performance as well as a ceremony in the Japanese residence, at which Federal President Christian Wulff, patron of the programme, officially opened the anniversary festivities.
Minister of State Pieper and her Japanese counterpart Banno opened the Japanese anniversary festivities on 16 October with a major celebration with 8000 guests at the German School Tokyo-Yokohama.
Highlights of the anniversary year
Hokusai’s “View of Mount Fuji”
© picture - alliance / dpa
Highlights in Japan will include the celebrations on 24 January 2011 marking the anniversary of the signing of the Prussian-Japanese Treaty, a “summit meeting” of the Japanese-German and the German-Japanese associations on 24 April 2011 in Nara, the music festival “Germany rocks Japan” and the official opening of the German-Japanese artists residence in Kyoto.
The event programme will culminate in a major “Germany festival” in the autumn of 2011.
The exhibition of work by the renowned Japanese artist Hokusai in Berlin in September and October will offer another high point in the Japanese series of events in Germany. Along with many other events featuring music and dance, a Japan Week in Düsseldorf is planned for May 2011.
Winning young Japanese hearts and minds for Germany
The aim is to maintain long-standing ties and create new ones, make the bond between the two nations even stronger and, most importantly, win over young Japanese hearts and minds for Germany.
The event series offers the young generation the opportunity to make new contacts, exchange views and become familiar with a different culture. New media are being used to target precisely this group, for instance with a mobile phone-friendly website. A music festival and the German-Japanese Youth Summit planned for the summer of 2011 are intended to inspire curiosity about and interest in both countries. In December, the first performance by the German band Tokio Hotel in their namesake city, Tokyo, offered a fitting prelude.
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Last updated 20.01.2011