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Germany and Japan: Bilateral relations

04.10.2023 - Article

Bilateral relations between Germany and Japan are characterised by close political dialogue and international cooperation. As liberal and pluralist democracies, the two countries share fundamental values and have many different political, economic and social ties. Bilateral intergovernmental consultations were held for the first time in March 2023. Alongside the G7 and the G20, the principal multilateral forums for German cooperation with Japan are the United Nations as well as the OSCE and NATO (Japan is a cooperation partner of both organisations). As the G4, Japan and Germany, together with India and Brazil, are campaigning for reform of the UN Security Council.

In 2022, German-Japanese bilateral trade overcame the trading downturn caused by the pandemic. German imports from Japan totalled €25.2 billion (+7.2%); exports to Japan were worth €20.5 billion (+12.6%).

The most important trade goods are machinery, vehicles and vehicle parts, electronic and electrical goods as well as chemical products. Japan is thus Germany’s second-largest trading partner in Asia.

Since 1985, the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JGCB) has been working to promote exchange in the fields of politics, business, culture and academia. It also serves as the German secretariat of the annual German-Japanese Forum (GJF).

Germany and Japan are also linked by a wide range of cultural, academic and scientific contacts. In 2021, the two countries celebrated the 160th anniversary of the conclusion of a treaty on amity, commerce and navigation between Japan and Prussia in 1861. A cultural agreement was signed in 1957. There is a dense cultural and academic network made up of a total of 58 Japanese-German societies in Japan, some 50 German-Japanese societies in Germany, over 800 bilateral higher education partnerships, 50 town twinning arrangements, as well as the offices of the Goethe-Institut and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Japan, the German School of Tokyo Yokohama (DSTY), the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) and the German East Asia Society in Tokyo. Furthermore, an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in science and technology has been in place since 1974, with the focus primarily on high-tech research. There is a long tradition of meetings between young people and youth workers from the two countries.

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