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Germany and Japan: Bilateral relations

04.10.2022 - 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 as well as the OSCE and NATO (Japan is a cooperation partner of both organisations).

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).

After the pandemic triggered a drop in the volume of trade between Germany and Japan in 2020 (-10.4% in imports, -15.8% in exports), 2021 saw a recovery. Germany imported goods valued at 23.5 billion euro (+9.5%) in 2021, while German exports amounted to 18.42 billion euro (+4.8%). The most important trade goods were 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.

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. 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 and currently 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 in 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. Finally, bilateral meetings of young people and youth workers have been taking place for over 60 years on the basis of the 1957 cultural agreement between Germany and Japan.

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