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France and Japan

Bilateral relations

In 2018, France and Japan are celebrating the 160th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. The two countries are bound together by an “exceptional partnership” promoting security, growth, innovation and culture.

Both countries promote the same values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the international stage, and they are both committed to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. The two countries see one another as key partners within international institutions and crucial stakeholders both in their respective regions and within the international community. As Pacific nations, France and Japan are committed to peace and stability in the region. In October 2015, France and Japan adopted a Franco-Japanese Plan for sustainable development, health and security in Africa.

The partnership between the two countries has strengthened constantly in recent years under the 2013-2018 joint roadmap, particularly supported by an annual summit between the two countries.

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, as well as on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly on 20 September 2017.

The strategic dialogue held at regular intervals alternately in France and Japan was raised to Foreign Minister-level in January 2012. Its sixth session was held in January 2017. Political and military dialogue between Foreign and Defence Ministers (“2+2”) was established in 2014 and a third session was held in January 2017. The intergovernmental agreement on the transfer of defence equipment and technology, signed during the second session, entered into force on 2 December 2016.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Taro Kono, last visited France for the One Planet Summit on financing the fight against climate change, held in Paris on 12 December 2017.

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, visited Japan between 26 and 29 January 2018 for the “2+2” political and military dialogue and the strategic dialogue. The sessions of the two dialogues, held during this visit, included all the major international issues: strengthening multilateralism, counter-terrorism, settling regional crises, protecting an international maritime order based on law, combating climate change, international development cooperation, and combating all forms of protectionism.

Japan is France’s second-largest trading partner in Asia and the region’s leading investor in France. Bilateral trade stood at €15.6 billion in 2016, with a deficit of €3.14 billion for France. The latest session of the economic and financial dialogue at Economy and Finance Minister level was held in Paris on 29 July 2016.

The two countries are developing their long-standing civil nuclear energy partnership. As advanced knowledge economies, France and Japan are deepening their cooperation in the field of innovation.

Our academic and scientific cooperation is organized around 250 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.

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.

There are more than 13,000 French citizens living in Japan, and some 30,000 Japanese residents in France.

Updated: 14 June 2018