Presentation

Political relations

France and Japan maintain regular political dialogue on all major current international affairs. There are frequent political contacts in the margins of major multilateral meetings. France supports Japan’s goal of assuming new political responsibilities on the international stage.

At bilateral level, the relationship is part of the 2013-2018 Roadmap adopted during the French President’s State visit to Japan in June 2013, aimed at strengthening the French-Japanese “exceptional partnership” in all areas. Exchanges at the highest level were strengthened by holding an annual Summit between the two countries. In 2018, France and Japan will commemorate the 160ᵗʰ anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

Visits

The French President visited Japan on 26-27 May 2016 for the G7 Summit in Ise-Shima, and received Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on 20 March 2017.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, also visited Japan to participate in a meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers in Hiroshima (10-11 April 2016) and make a bilateral visit.

The Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Shinzo Abe has visited France twice in as many years (2 May 2016 and 20 March 2017), as has his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Kishida (20 March 2016 and 6 January 2017).

The sixth session of the strategic dialogue, raised to Foreign Minister level in 2012, was held in Paris on 6 January 2017, before the third session of the political and military dialogue at Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister level (“2+2”), established in 2014.

The French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Mr André Vallini, took part in the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV, in Nairobi, 27-28 August 2016) during which a declaration of intent was signed in a joint event between the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Côte d’Ivoire on sustainable cities cooperation, as well as agreements between French and Japanese companies.

The President of the French Republic, Mr Emmanuel Macron, met with the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Shinzo Abe, in the margins of the G7 Summit in Taormina on 26 May 2017.

Economic relations

Japan became France’s eleventh-largest supplier in 2016, one place higher than in 2015. The rise in Japanese exports to France is half explained by increased exports of transport equipment and vehicles in particular. France’s trade deficit with Japan grew in 2016 to €3.14 billion. This increase results above all from the major rise in French imports from Japan (+11.2% compared to 2015) while exports to Japan shrunk very slightly over the same period (-0.6%). Japan remains France’s second-largest trading partner in Asia, behind China. French exports to Japan continue the fall that has been observed since 2013, although more slowly in 2016 (-0.6%, compared to 7.8% in 2015). This contraction comes in a context of a general fall in French exports of -0.9% in 2016. On the investment side, France has a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock of €28 billion in Japan as of the end of 2016, making Japan the tenth-largest destination for our FDI and the leading Asian destination. Meanwhile, Japan is the world’s second-largest source of FDI in terms of flow and has a stock in France of €14.5 billion, making France its 18ᵗʰ-largest destination. Japan is the ninth-largest foreign investor and the leading Asian investor in France.

Civilian nuclear energy is a key area of cooperation. The strong similarity between French and Japanese nuclear programmes fosters industrial partnerships in many areas. Nuclear cooperation focuses on the areas of nuclear safety, managing the consequences of the Fukushima accident, reprocessing and recycling spent fuel, research and development (particularly for fourth-generation reactors: ASTRID demonstrator reactor), and development of a combined offer aimed at third countries (ATMEA reactor). Japan is, moreover, a major customer of AREVA for the supply of uranium and enrichment services. A declaration of intent on France-Japan cooperation in the area of civilian nuclear energy was signed on 20 March 2017 during the visit to France of the Japanese Prime Minister so as to strengthen this cooperation.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our academic and scientific cooperation is organized around 250 inter-university agreements concluded between French higher education institutions and research organizations and Japanese partners.

Scientific and technological cooperation is central to partnerships with Japan, a country which spends 3.7% of its GDP on research. Bringing French competitiveness centres and Japanese clusters closer together is a priority for both countries.

In 2014, the 90ᵗʰ anniversary of the France-Japan House in Tokyo underlined the strength of French-Japanese cultural cooperation, which relies largely on the sponsorship of large companies.

On 24 November 2016, the Japanese Prime Minister announced that a series of cultural events would be organized in France on the theme of “Japonism 2018: souls in harmony”, which coincides with the 160ᵗʰ anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and Japan in 2018. This large-scale event, organized by the Japan Foundation from June 2018 to February 2019, will showcase traditional and contemporary Japanese culture through large exhibitions and artistic events.

Website of the Institut français (French Institute)

Decentralized cooperation

Almost 75 decentralized cooperation projects now bring together French and Japanese local governments, most often by way of twinning programmes. They address concrete issues of common interest, such as transport, the environment and urban planning.

The fifth Franco-Japanese Meetings on Decentralized Cooperation were held in Tours on 5-6 October 2016 and focused on the theme of innovation.

Updated: 23 June 2017

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