Germany’s bilateral relations with Japan are characterised by frequent political visits and close international cooperation. As liberal and pluralist democracies, Germany and Japan share fundamental values and have many different ties whether political, economic or social. Alongside the G7 and the G20, the principal multilateral forums for German cooperation with Japan are the United Nations, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the OSCE and NATO (in which Japan is a cooperation partner). In addition, the European Union is a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in which issues relating to security policy in Asia are discussed.
The Japanese-German Center Berlin (JGCB) plays a special role in fostering relations between the two countries. Since 1985, the 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).
Bilateral trade between Germany and Japan increased slightly in the years before the COVID-19 pandemic, totalling 44.7 billion euro in 2019. This means Japan ranked 15th among Germany’s trading partners. German exports to Japan amounted to 20.7 billion euro, while Germany imported goods valued at 24 billion euro from Japan that year. The Economic Partnership Agreement between Japan and the EU, which was signed on 17 July 2018 and entered into force on 1 February 2019, is improving market access for both sides. Japan is becoming more important for German businesses, also when it comes to business with third countries in Asia.
Cultural exchange between Germany and Japan is intensive and diverse. The close-knit cultural network – including 55 Japanese-German societies in Japan, some 50 German-Japanese societies in Germany, over 800 bilateral higher education partnerships, currently 50 town twinning arrangements and the branch offices of the Goethe-Institut and the German East Asia Society in Tokyo – forms the basis for a wide range of events. Furthermore, an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in science and technology has been in place since 1974 and the focus is above all on high-tech research.