Germany and Japan: Bilateral relations

08.10.2021 - Article

Germany’s bilateral relations with 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. 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).

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).

While the volume of trade between Germany and Japan had increased slightly in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (2019: 44.7 billion euro), the pandemic triggered a drop to 38.8 billion euro in 2020. In this period, German exports to Japan amounted to 21.2 billion euro (-16.8%), while Germany imported goods valued at 17.6 billion euro (-14.9%) from Japan. The Economic Partnership Agreement between Japan and the EU, which entered into force on 1 February 2019, has further improved market access for both sides. Japan had become increasingly important for German companies prior to the crisis, including in terms of business with third countries in Asia.

Germany and Japan are also linked by a wide range of cultural, academic and scientific contacts. On 24 January 2021, the two countries celebrated the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. A total of 58 Japanese-German societies in Japan, some 50 German-Japanese societies in Germany, over 800 bilateral higher education partnerships and currently 50 town twinning arrangements, as well as the branch offices of the Goethe-Institut in Japan, the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) and the German East Asia Society in Tokyo, form a dense cultural and academic network. Furthermore, an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in science and technology has been in place since 1974, with the focus above all on high-tech research. On the basis of the 1957 cultural agreement between Germany and Japan, meanwhile, bilateral meetings of young people and youth workers have been taking place for over 60 years.

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