In 2018, France and Japan commemorated the 160ᵗʰ anniversary of their diplomatic relations. The two countries are bound together by an “exceptional partnership” promoting security, growth, innovation and culture.
Japan and France 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 grown constantly in recent years, particularly supported by an annual summit between the two countries and meetings on the sidelines of international summits, such as the G7 or the G20.
The strategic dialogue held at regular intervals alternately in France and Japan was raised to Foreign Minister-level in January 2012. The eighth session took place in Paris in January 2019. Since 2014, it has been centred on political and military dialogue at the level of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence (“2+2”), the fifth session of which was held in Brest in January 2019.
There are more than 14,000 French citizens living in Japan, and some 30,000 Japanese residents in France.
The President of the Republic, Mr Emmanuel Macron, travelled to Japan from 26 to 29 June 2019, for a bilateral visit (26 and 27 June) and for the 14th G20 summit organized in Osaka (28 and 29 June). A new joint roadmap was adopted there, for the years 2019 to 2024. President Macron received the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Shinzo Abe, on 17 October 2018 and 23 April 2019, and the two met on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz on 24 August 2019. The Crown Prince of Japan visited France from 7 to 14 September 2018.
The previous Minister of Foreign Affairs and new Minister of Defence, Mr Taro Kono, visited France from 12 to 14 July 2018, for the launch of the series of cultural events that Japan organized in France from July 2018 to February 2019, entitled “Japonismes 2018”. He also attended the parade on 14 July, at which Japan was one of the guest of honour countries. A mutual logistics support agreement between France and Japan was signed during this visit.
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 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.
In 2019, the bilateral trade deficit dropped by almost €1 billion to €2.6 billion, mainly due to a two-fold increase in aviation exports, which are now equivalent to a quarter of French exports to Japan. Results in the agri-food industry are encouraging (exports up 7%), which is boosted by the entry into force of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Japan. Overall, French exports to Japan increased by 17% in 2019 to €7.7 billion. The sectoral structure of French imports, which amount to €10.3 billion, remains unchanged with a significant proportion of imports of equipment and intermediary goods.
In terms of direct cross-investment, France invests more in Japan (€1.4 billion in flows, €21 billion in stock in 2019, according to the Banque de France) than Japan invests in France (€0.9 billion in flows, €12.7 billion in stock in 2019). France is Japan’s second-largest investor, but comes 20th among countries in which Japan invests, according to the JETRO. Nonetheless, Japan continues to be the leading Asian investor in France. French direct investment in Japan is mainly focused on the manufacturing industry, in particular the automobile sector, and in finance and insurance (more than half and one third, respectively). Japanese investments in France, meanwhile, are focused on the manufacturing sector and vehicle trade.
The latest session of the economic and financial dialogue at Economy and Finance Minister level was held in Tokyo on 10 June 2019.
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.
Updated: 31 July 2020