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).
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, facilitates market access in both directions and once the decline triggered by the pandemic is over the Agreement is expected to boost the recovery. Prior to the crisis, Japan had become more important for German businesses, also in terms of business with third countries in Asia.
Cultural exchange between Germany and Japan is intensive and diverse. On 24 January 2021, the two countries celebrated the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. As a result, many different events are planned throughout 2021 in both Germany and Japan. Whether or not they can take place will depend on the corona situation. 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 form a dense cultural network. 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