Foreign relations of Japan

The foreign relations of Japan (日本の国際関係, Nihon no kokusai kankei) are handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

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Japan maintains diplomatic relations with every United Nations member state except for North Korea, in addition to UN observer states Holy See, as well as the Kosovo, Cook Islands and Niue.

Japanese foreign relations had earliest beginnings in 14th century and after their opening to the world in 1854 with the Convention of Kanagawa. Japan rapidly modernized and built a strong military. It was imperialistic seeking control of nearby areas --with major wars against China and Russia. It gained control of parts of China and Manchuria, as well as Korea and islands such as Taiwan and Okinawa. It lost in World War II and was stripped of all of its foreign conquests and possessions. See History of Japanese foreign relations. American general Douglas MacArthur, acting for the Allied powers, supervised occupied Japan 1945–51. Since occupation ended diplomatic policy has been based on close partnership with the United States and seeking trade agreements, In the Cold War, Japan was demilitarized but it allied with the U.S. in the confrontation with the Soviet Union. It played a major support role in the Korean War (1950-1953). In the rapid economic developments in the 1960s and 1970s, Japan became the second largest economy and was one of the major economic powers in the world. Memories of Japanese atrocities continue to sour relations with China, South Korea and others.[1]

By the 1990s Japan participated in the Peacekeeping operations by the UN, and sent troops to Cambodia, Mozambique, Golan Heights and the East Timor.[2] After the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, Japanese naval vessels have been assigned to resupply duties in the Indian Ocean to the present date. The Ground Self-Defense Force also dispatched their troops to Southern Iraq for the restoration of basic infrastructures.

Beyond its immediate neighbors, Japan has pursued a more active foreign policy in recent years, recognizing the responsibility which accompanies its economic strength. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda stressed a changing direction in a policy speech to the National Diet: "Japan aspires to become a hub of human resource development as well as for research and intellectual contribution to further promote cooperation in the field of peace-building."[3] This follows the modest success of a Japanese-conceived peace plan which became the foundation for nationwide elections in Cambodia in 1998.



Japan is increasingly active in Africa. In May 2008, the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize will be awarded at Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV),[4] which signals a changing emphasis in bilateral relations.

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Algeria1962See Algeria–Japan relations
 Angola1976-09See Angola–Japan relations

Angola–Japan relations were established in September 1976, shortly after Angola received formal sovereignty. As of 2007, economic relations played "a fundamental role in the bilateral relations between the two governments".[5] News World Centers[6]

 Benin1 August 1960See Foreign relations of Benin
 Botswana1966-09See Foreign relations of Botswana
 Burkina Faso1 July 1962See Foreign relations of Burkina Faso
 Burundi1 July 1962See Foreign relations of Burundi
 Cameroon1 January 1960See Foreign relations of Cameroon
 Cape Verde11 July 1975See Foreign relations of Cape Verde
 Central African Republic13 August 1960See Foreign relations of Central African Republic
 Chad11 August 1960See Foreign relations of Chad
 Comoros14 November 1977See Foreign relations of Comoros
 Republic of the Congo1960See Foreign relations of Republic of the Congo
 Côte d'Ivoire7 August 1960See Foreign relations of Côte d'Ivoire
 Democratic Republic of the Congo18 August 1960See Foreign relations of Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Djibouti27 June 1977See Djibouti–Japan relations
 Egypt1922See Egypt–Japan relations

Japan considers Egypt to be a key player in the Middle East and, as such, sees Egypt as a vital part of its diplomacy in the region.[7] The two heads of government have been known to support each other on issues pertaining to the peace process in the Middle East.[8]

Additionally, the two countries claim to share a common vision for world peace.[9] The two countries maintain a "Joint Committee" dedicated to exploring developments in areas of mutual interest to the two countries.[10]

 Equatorial Guinea12 November 1968See Foreign relations of Equatorial Guinea
 Eritrea1993-09See Foreign relations of Eritrea
 Eswatini1971-05See Eswatini–Japan relations
 Ethiopia1927-06See Ethiopia–Japan relations
  • Ethiopia has an embassy in Tokyo.
  • Japan has an embassy in Addis Ababa.
 Gabon17 August 1960See Foreign relations of Gabon
 Gambia18 February 1965See Foreign relations of the Gambia
 Ghana6 March 1957See Foreign relations of Ghana

Japan and Ghana maintain a special relationship and Ghana has an embassy in Tokyo, and Japan has an embassy in Accra.

 Guinea22 April 1960See Foreign relations of Guinea
 Guinea-Bissau1 August 1974See Foreign relations of Guinea
 Kenya1963See Japan–Kenya relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Nairobi.
  • Kenya has an embassy in Tokyo.
 Lesotho1971-07See Foreign relations of Lesotho
 Liberia27 September 1961See Foreign relations of Liberia
 Libya1957See Foreign relations of Libya
 Madagascar5 July 1960See Foreign relations of Madagascar
  • Japan has an embassy in Antananarivo.
  • Madagascar has an embassy in Tokyo.
 Malawi1967-11See Foreign relations of Malawi
 Mali4 October 1959See Foreign relations of Mali
 Mauritania29 November 1960See Foreign relations of Mauritania
 Mauritius12 March 1968See Foreign relations of Mauritius
 Morocco1956See Foreign relations of Morocco
 Mozambique1977-01See Foreign relations of Mozambique
 Namibia22 March 1990See Japan–Namibia relations
 Niger3 August 1960See Foreign relations of Niger
 Nigeria1 October 1960See Foreign relations of Nigeria

Japan and Nigeria engage in strong economic and political cooperation. Both countries established diplomatic relations on 1 October 1960.[11]

 Rwanda1 July 1962See Foreign relations of Rwanda
 São Tomé and Príncipe22 July 1975See Foreign relations of São Tomé and Príncipe
 Senegal4 October 1960See Foreign relations of Senegal
 Seychelles29 June 1976See Foreign relations of Seychelles
 Sierra Leone27 April 1961See Foreign relations of Sierra Leone
 Somalia1960-07See Japan–Somalia relations
 South Africa1910See Japan–South Africa relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Pretoria.
  • South Africa has an embassy in Tokyo.
 South Sudan9 July 2011See Foreign relations of South Sudan
 Sudan6 January 1956See Foreign relations of Sudan
 Tanzania1964See Foreign relations of Tanzania
 Togo27 April 1960See Foreign relations of Togo
 Tunisia1956-06See Foreign relations of Tunisia

Japan and Tunisia have a mutual free visa agreement.

 Uganda9 October 1962See Foreign relations of Uganda
 Zambia1964-10See Foreign relations of Zambia
 Zimbabwe18 April 1980See Foreign relations of Zimbabwe


Japan has continued to extend significant support to development and technical assistance projects in Latin America.[14]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Antigua and Barbuda1982-10-04See Foreign relations of Antigua and Barbuda
 Argentina1898-02-03 See Argentina–Japan relations

Argentina maintains an embassy in Tokyo and Japan maintains an embassy in Buenos Aires. Diplomatic relations were restored by the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952. Argentine president Arturo Frondizi visited Japan in 1960, and subsequently bilateral trade and Japanese investment into Argentina have increased in importance. Japanese imports were primarily foodstuffs and raw materials, while exports were mostly machinery and finished products.

Members of the Imperial Family of Japan have visited Argentina on a number of occasions, including Prince and Princess Takamado in 1991, Emperor and Empress Akihito in 1997 and Prince and Princess Akishino in 1998. Argentine President Raúl Alfonsín visit Japan in 1986, as did President Carlos Menem in 1990, 1993 and 1998.

 Bahamas1975-03-11See Foreign relations of the Bahamas
 Barbados29 August 1967[15]See Barbados–Japan relations

Japan was accredited to Barbados from its embassy in Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) and an honorary consulate in Bridgetown. Since January 2016, Japan opened a new embassy directly in Bridgetown, Barbados. Barbados is represented towards Japan through a non-resident ambassador in Bridgetown.

 Belize1982-11-03See Foreign relations of Belize
 Bolivia1914-04-03See Bolivia–Japan relations
 Brazil1895See Brazil–Japan relations
 Canada1928-01-21[15]See Canada–Japan relations

Diplomatic relations between both countries officially began in 1950 with the opening of the Japanese consulate in Ottawa. In 1929, Canada opened its Tokyo legation, the first in Asia;[20] and in that same year, Japan its Ottawa consulate to legation form.[21]

Some Canadian–Japanese contacts predate the mutual establishment of permanent legations. The first known Japanese immigrant to Canada, Manzo Nagano, landed in New Westminster, British Columbia in 1877.[22] Japan's consulate in Vancouver was established in 1889, 40 years before its embassy was opened in Ottawa in 1929.[23]

Canadians G. G. Cochran helped in founding Doshisha University in Kyoto, and Davidson McDonald helped in establishing Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.[21]

In the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, a Canadian steamship, the RMS Empress of Australia and her captain, Samuel Robinson achieved international acclaim for stalwart rescue efforts during the immediate aftermath of that disaster.[24]

Canadian military attaché Herbert Cyril Thacker served in the field with Japanese forces in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), for which the Japanese government awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Third Class[25] and the Japanese War medal for service during that campaign.[26]

Canada and Japan have had diplomatic relations since 1928. Both countries are characterized by their active role in the Asia-Pacific community, as well as a relationship consisting of important economic, political, and socio-cultural ties. As major international donors, both Canada and Japan are strongly committed to promoting human rights, sustainable development and peace initiatives.

Canada–Japan relations are underpinned by their partnership in multilateral institutions: the G-7/8; the United Nations; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Quad (Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States), and by their common interest in the Pacific community, including participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Canada in 2009.[27]

 Chile25 September 1897See Chile–Japan relations
  • During World War II, relations between both countries were severed. In 1943, President Juan Antonio Ríos suspended relations with Japan and in February 1945, he declared a "state of belligerancy". Finally, on 12 April 1945, Chile declared war against Japan. Relations were re-established by the signing of San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952.
  • Japan has an embassy in Santiago de Chile
  • Chile has an embassy and a consulate-general in Tokyo and three honorary consulates in Osaka, Sapporo and Nagasaki.
 Colombia1908-05-25See Colombia–Japan relations

The relationship was officially established in 1908, only interrupted between 1942 and 1954 with the surge of World War II. Relations are mostly based on commercial trade that has favored Japan interests such as Colombian coffee (which Japan imports a lot), cultural exchanges and technological and philanthropic aid to Colombia.[28]

 Costa Rica1935-02See Foreign relations of Costa Rica
 Cuba1929-12-21See Foreign relations of Cuba
 Dominica1978-12-11See Foreign relations of Dominica
 Dominican Republic1934-11See Foreign relations of the Dominican Republic
 Ecuador 1918-08-26See Ecuador–Japan relations
 El Salvador1935-02See Foreign relations of El Salvador
 Grenada1975-04-11See Grenada–Japan relations
 Guatemala1935-02See Foreign relations of Guatemala
 Guyana1967-05-02See Foreign relations of Guyana
 Haiti1931See Foreign relations of Haiti
 Honduras1935-02See Foreign relations of Honduras
 Jamaica1964-03-17See Jamaica–Japan relations
 Mexico1888[15]See Japan–Mexico relations

The Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation concluded in 1888 between Japan and Mexico was the nation's first "equal" treaty with any country;[29] which overshadows Tokugawa Ieyasu's pre-Edo period initiatives which sought to establish official relations with the New Spain in Mexico.[30]

In 1897, the 35 members of the so-called Enomoto Colonization Party settle in the Mexican state of Chiapas. This was the first organized emigration from Japan to Latin America.[29]

President Álvaro Obregón was awarded Japan's Order of the Chrysanthemum at a special ceremony in Mexico City. On 27 November 1924, Baron Shigetsuma Furuya, Special Ambassador from Japan to Mexico, conferred the honor on Obregón. It was reported that this had been the first time that the Order had been conferred outside the Imperial family.[31]

In 1952, Mexico becomes the second country to ratify the San Francisco Peace Treaty, preceded only by the United Kingdom.[29]

Mexico and Japan on 17 September 2004, signed the "Agreement Between Japan and The United Mexican States for the Strengthening of The Economic Partnership." This was the among many historic steps led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to strengthen global economic stability.

 Nicaragua1935-02See Foreign relations of Nicaragua
 Panama1904-01-07See Foreign relations of Panama
  • The Japan has an embassy in Panama City and Panama has an embassy in Tokyo
  • The Japan and Panama have a strong bilateral relationship.
 Paraguay1919-11-17 See Japan–Paraguay relations
 Peru1873-08-21See Japan–Peru relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Lima.[35]
  • Peru has an embassy in Tokyo and a consulate-general in Nagoya.[36]
 Saint Kitts and Nevis1985-01-14See Foreign relations of Saint Kitts and Nevis
 Saint Lucia1980-01-11See Foreign relations of Saint Lucia
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1980-04-15See Foreign relations of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Suriname1975-12-06See Foreign relations of Suriname
 Trinidad and Tobago1964-05See Japan–Trinidad and Tobago relations
 United States1846[15]See Japan–United States relations

The United States is Japan's closest ally, and Japan relies on the U.S. for its national security to a high degree. As two of the world's top three economic powers, both countries also rely on close economic ties for their wealth, despite ongoing and occasionally acrimonious trade frictions.

Although its constitution and government policy preclude an offensive military role for Japan in international affairs, Japanese cooperation with the United States through the 1960 U.S.–Japan Security Treaty has been important to the peace and stability of East Asia. Currently, there are domestic discussions about possible reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. All postwar Japanese governments have relied on a close relationship with the United States as the foundation of their foreign policy and have depended on the mutual security treaty for strategic protection.

The relationship probably hit a post-war nadir around the early 1990s, when Japan's "economic rise" was seen as a threat to American power. Japan was the primary financier of the Gulf War, yet received major criticism in some US circles for its refusal to commit actual military support. Following the collapse of the so-called Bubble economy and the 1990s boom in the US, the Japanese economy was perceived as less of a threat to US interests. Some observers still feel that Japan's willingness to deploy troops in support of current US operations in Iraq, as spearheaded by Koizumi and the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, reflects a vow not to be excluded from the group of countries the US considers friends. This decision may reflect a realpolitik understanding of the threat Japan faces from a rapidly modernizing China, which from its continued and indeed growing pattern of anti-Japanese demonstrations reveals the belief that old historical scores remain unsettled. A 25 May 2019 State Visit to Japan is planned by President Donald Trump and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump.

 Uruguay1921-09-24 See Japan–Uruguay relations
 Venezuela1938-08-19See Japan–Venezuela relations

Formal diplomatic relations between the countries were established in August 1938.[38] Venezuela broke off diplomatic ties with Japan (and the other Axis Powers) in December 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.[39]

In 1999, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made a three-day trip to Japan. He made another two-day trip in 2009, during which he met Prime Minister Taro Aso.


Southeast Asia

By 1990 Japan's interaction with the vast majority of Asia-Pacific countries, especially its burgeoning economic exchanges, was multifaceted and increasingly important to the recipient countries. The developing countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regarded Japan as critical to their development. Japan's aid to the ASEAN countries totaled US$1.9 billion in Japanese fiscal year (FY) 1988 versus about US$333 million for the United States during U.S. FY 1988. Japan was the number one foreign investor in the ASEAN countries, with cumulative investment as of March 1989 of about US$14.5 billion, more than twice that of the United States. Japan's share of total foreign investment in ASEAN countries in the same period ranged from 70 to 80 percent in Thailand to 20 percent in Indonesia.

In the late 1980s, the Japanese government was making a concerted effort to enhance its diplomatic stature, especially in Asia. Toshiki Kaifu's much publicized spring 1991 tour of five Southeast Asian nations—Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines—culminated in a 3 May major foreign policy address in Singapore, in which he called for a new partnership with the ASEAN and pledged that Japan would go beyond the purely economic sphere to seek an "appropriate role in the political sphere as a nation of peace." As evidence of this new role, Japan took an active part in promoting negotiations to resolve the Cambodian conflict.

In 1997, the ASEAN member nations and the People's Republic of China, South Korea and Japan agreed to hold yearly talks to further strengthen regional cooperation, the ASEAN Plus Three meetings. In 2005 the ASEAN plus Three countries together with India, Australia and New Zealand held the inaugural East Asia Summit (EAS).

South Asia

In South Asia, Japan's role is mainly that of an aid donor. Japan's aid to seven South Asian countries totaled US$1.1 billion in 1988 and 1989, dropping to just under US$900 million in 1990. Except for Pakistan, which received heavy inputs of aid from the United States, all other South Asian countries receive most of their aid from Japan. Four South Asian nations—India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka—are in the top ten list of Tokyo's aid recipients worldwide. A point to note is that Indian Government has a no receive aid policy since the tsunami that struck India but Indian registered NGOs look to Japan for much investment in their projects

Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu signaled a broadening of Japan's interest in South Asia with his swing through the region in April 1990. In an address to the Indian parliament, Kaifu stressed the role of free markets and democracy in bringing about "a new international order," and he emphasized the need for a settlement of the Kashmir territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and for economic liberalization to attract foreign investment and promote dynamic growth. To India, which was very short of hard currency, Kaifu pledged a new concessional loan of ¥100 billion (about US$650 million) for the coming year.

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Afghanistan1930-11-19[15]See Afghanistan–Japan relations

Afghan–Japanese relations have existed as far back as World War II, and have been mainly positive. The Japanese government in 1974 started feasibility study under grant aid to develop and built television in Afghanistan.

 Azerbaijan1992-01-27See Foreign relations of Azerbaijan#Asia
 Bahrain1974-05-15See Bahrain–Japan relations
 Bangladesh1972-02[15]See Bangladesh–Japan relations

Bangladeshi–Japanese relations were established in February 1972.[40] Japan is Bangladesh's 11th-largest export market; imports from Bangladesh make up 26% of all Japanese imports from the least developed countries, second only to those from Cambodia. Common imports from Bangladesh to Japan include leather goods, ready-made garments, and shrimp.[41] By 2004, Japan had become Bangladesh's fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment, behind the United States, United Kingdom, and Malaysia. Japan's political goals in its relationship with Bangladesh include gaining support for their bid to join the United Nations Security Council, and securing markets for their finished goods. Japan is a significant source of development aid to Bangladesh.[42]

 Bhutan1986-03-28[15]See Bhutan–Japan relations
 Brunei1984-04-02[15]See Brunei–Japan relations

Brunei has an embassy in Tokyo, and Japan has an embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan.[43] Relations has been established since 2 April 1984.[43]

 Burma1954-12-01[15]Foreign relations of Burma
 Cambodia1953[15]See Cambodia–Japan relations

Japan has an embassy in Phnom Penh. Trade is sizable between the two countries:

  • Japan to Cambodia: 14.0 billion yen (2006)
  • Cambodia to Japan: 9.5 billion yen (2006)

Japanese investment in Cambodia includes Phnom Penh Commercial Bank, a joint venture of Hyundai Switzerland and Japanese SBI Group, opened in 2008. Japan remains Cambodia's top donor country providing some US$1.2 billion in total overseas development assistance (ODA) during the period since 1992.[44] In 2006, Japanese and Cambodian governments signed an agreement outlining a new Japanese aid program worth US$59 million.[45]

The Japanese Government has provided significant assistance for demining and education.[46][47]

 China1972[15]See China–Japan relations

During the Meiji Era, China was one of the first countries to experience the effects of Japanese Imperialism. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, relations with Japan changed from hostility and an absence of contact to cordiality and extremely close cooperation in many fields. During the 1960s the two countries resumed trade for the first time since World War II under the Liao–Takasaki Agreement. On 29 September 1972, Japan and China signed a treaty establishing diplomatic relations between the states. The 1990s led to an enormous growth in China's economic welfare. Trade between Japan and China was one of the many reasons China was able to grow in the double-digit rates during the 1980s and 1990s. Japan was in the forefront among leading industrialized nations in restoring closer economic and political relations with China. Resumption of Japan's multibillion-dollar investments to China and increased visits to China by Japanese officials, culminating in the October 1992 visit of Emperor Akihito, gave a clear indication that Japan considered closer ties with China in its economic and strategic interest. Despite a 1995 apology regarding World War II by Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, tensions still remain, mostly because many Chinese feel there is a lack of true remorse for wartime crimes committed by Imperial Japanese forces. This has been reinforced by numerous visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese Prime Ministers, attempts to revise textbooks by Japanese nationalists, the continued dispute over Japan's atrocities in the Nanking Massacre, and the resurgence of nationalism and militarism in Japan.

 East Timor2002-05-20[15]See East Timor–Japan relations
 India1952-04-28[15]See India–Japan relations

Throughout history, bilateral foreign relations between Japan and India have generally been friendly and strong. In December 2006, Prime Minister Singh's visit to Japan culminated in the signing of the "Joint Statement Towards Japan–India Strategic and Global Partnership".

According to Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's arc of freedom theory, it is in Japan's interests to develop closer ties with India, world's most populous democracy, while its relations with China remain chilly. To this end, Japan has funded many infrastructure projects in India, most notably in New Delhi's metro subway system and Maruti.India and Japan have signed a deal to build high speed trains in India[49]

Indian applicants have been welcomed in 2006–07 to the JET Programme, starting with just one slot available in 2006 and 41 in 2007.

India and Japan signed a security cooperation agreement in which both will hold military exercises, police the Indian Ocean and conduct military-to-military exchanges on fighting terrorism, making India one of only three countries, the others being the United States and Australia, with which Japan has such a security pact.[48] There are 25,000 Indians in Japan as of 2008.

 Indonesia1958-04[15]See Indonesia–Japan relations
 Iran1878See Iran–Japan relations

Japan's foreign policy towards and investments in Iran have historically been dominated by the desire to secure reliable energy supplies; Iran is Japan's third-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.[50] Iran and Japan signed a visa-free travel arrangement in 1974, but it was terminated in April 1992 due to large-scale illegal Iranian migration to Japan.[51] Iran and Japan also cooperate on regional foreign policy issues in the Middle East, such as the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[52] Since 2004, Japan has been working on developing Iran's largest on-shore oil field, located at Azadegan.[53]

 Iraq1939-11See Foreign relations of Iraq
 Israel1952-05-15 See Israel–Japan relations

The Japanese government refrained from appointing a Minister Plenipotentiary to Israel until 1955. Relations between the two states were distant at first, but after 1958, as demand no break occurred. This had been at the same time that OPEC had imposed an oil embargo against several countries, including Japan.

 Jordan1954See Foreign relations of Jordan
 Kuwait1961See Foreign relations of Kuwait
 Laos1955-03-05[15]See Japan-Laos relations
 Malaysia1957-08-31[15]See Japan–Malaysia relations

Japan has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and consulates in George Town and Kota Kinabalu. Malaysia maintains an embassy in Tokyo. The Japanese and Malaysian governments had visited each other on multiple occasions. Notable visits include the King of Malaysia visiting Japan in 2005 while in 2006, the Emperor and Empress of Japan visited Malaysia.

 Maldives1967-11-06[15]See Japan–Maldives relations
 Mongolia1972[15]See Mongolia–Japan relations
   Nepal1956-07-28[15]See Japan–Nepal relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Kathmandu.
  • Nepal has an embassy in Tokyo.
 North Korea[15]See Japan–North Korea relations

Japan strongly supports the U.S. in its efforts to encourage North Korea to abide by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Despite 31 August 1998 North Korean missile test which overflew the Home Islands, Japan has maintained its support for the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO) and the Agreed Framework, which seeks to freeze the North Korean nuclear program. The U.S., Japan, and South Korea closely coordinate and consult trilaterally on policy toward North Korea, at least on a government level. Japan has limited economic and commercial ties with North Korea. Japanese normalization talks halted when North Korea refused to discuss a number of issues with Japan.

 Pakistan1952-04-28[15]See Japan–Pakistan relations
  • There has been a regular exchange of high level visits between the two countries.
  • The 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, jointly celebrated by the two countries in 2002, was a significant landmark in the history of this friendship.
  • There are at least 10,000 Pakistanis residing in Japan.
 Philippines1956-07[15]See Japan-Philippines relations

Relations between Japan and the Philippines were generally very strong since the end of World War II. It span a period from before the 16th century to the present. The Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946. Diplomatic relations were re-established in 1956, when a war reparations agreement was concluded. By the end of the 1950s, Japanese companies and individual investors had begun to return to the Philippines and in 1975, Japan displaced the United States as the main source of investment in the Philippines.

 Qatar1972See Japan–Qatar relations
 Russia1855-02-07See Japan–Russia relations

Japan's relations with Russia are hampered by the two sides' inability to resolve their territorial dispute over the four islands that make up the Northern Territories (Kuriles), which the Soviet Union seized towards the end of World War II. The stalemate has prevented conclusion of a peace treaty formally ending the war. The dispute over the Kuril Islands exacerbated the Japan–Russo relations when the Japanese government published a new guideline for school textbooks on 16 July 2008 to teach Japanese children that their country has sovereignty over the Kuril Islands. The Russian public was outraged by the action the Foreign Minister of Russia criticized the action while reaffirming its sovereignty over the islands.[57][58]

 Saudi Arabia1955-06See Japan–Saudi Arabia relations

Saudi Arabian – Japan relations were established during the past half a century. Saudi–Japanese relations are based on mutual respect and common interests in all areas.

 Singapore1966-04-26[15]See Japan–Singapore relations
 South Korea1965-12[15]See Japan–South Korea relations

Japan and South Korea have had many disputes. Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun rejected a conference with the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi following his visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Other long-running issues between the two countries include The Sea of Japan naming dispute, territorial disputes over the Liancourt Rocks and disagreement about whether or not the matter of World War II-era forced prostitution has been resolved.

 Sri Lanka1952[15]See Japan–Sri Lanka relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Colombo.[59]
  • Sri Lanka has an embassy in Tokyo[60]
  • Japan has an embassy in Damascus
  • Syria has an Embassy of Syria in Tokyo.
 Taiwan1952[15]See Japan–Taiwan relations

Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895 and was a major Japanese prefecture in World War II. Following the unconditional surrender of Japan to Allied Powers after World War II, Taiwan was relinquished by Japan as a stolen territory from China (like Manchukuo) by the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951. Current relations are guided by the 1972 Japan–PRC Joint Communique. Since the joint Communique, Japan has maintained non-governmental, working-level relations with Taiwan. Japan refers to the Republic of China on Taiwan with the neutral name "Taiwan."

 Tajikistan1992-01-26[15]See Foreign relations of Tajikistan
 Thailand1887-09-26[15]See Japan–Thailand relations

Japan–Thailand relations span a period from the 17th century to the present. Contacts had an early start with Japanese trade on Red seal ships and the installation of Japanese communities on Siamese soil, only to be broken off with Japan's period of seclusion. Contacts resumed in the 19th century and developed to the point where Japan is today one of Thailand's foremost economic partners. Thailand and Japan share the distinction of never having lost sovereignty during the Colonial period.

 Turkmenistan1992-01-26[15]See Foreign relations of Turkmenistan
 United Arab Emirates1972-05Foreign relations of United Arab Emirates
 Uzbekistan1992-01-26[15]See Foreign relations of Uzbekistan
 Vietnam1973-09-21[15]See Japan–Vietnam relations

Vietnamese–Japanese relations stretch back to the at least the 16th century, when the two countries engaged in friendly trade. Modern relations between the two countries are based on Vietnam's developing economy and Japan's role as an investor and foreign aid donor.

 Yemen1970 North Yemen; 1974 South Yemen


In what became known as the Tenshō embassy, the first ambassadors from Japan to European powers reached Lisbon, Portugal in August 1584. From Lisbon, the ambassadors left for the Vatican in Rome, which was the main goal of their journey. The embassy returned to Japan in 1590, after which time the four nobleman ambassadors were ordained by Alessandro Valignano as the first Japanese Jesuit fathers.

A second embassy, headed by Hasekura Tsunenaga and sponsored by Date Masamune, was also a diplomatic mission to the Vatican. The embassy left 28 October 1613 from Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, in the northern Tōhoku region of Japan, where Date was daimyō. It traveled to Europe by way of New Spain, arriving in Acapulco on 25 January 1614, Mexico City in March, Havana in July, and finally Seville on 23 October 1614. After a short stop-over in France, the embassy reached Rome in November 1615, where it was received by Pope Paul V. After return travel by way of New Spain and the Philippines, the embassy reached the harbor of Nagasaki in August 1620. While the embassy was gone, Japan had undergone significant change, starting with the 1614 Osaka Rebellion, leading to a 1616 decree from the Tokugawa shogunate that all interaction with non-Chinese foreigners was confined to Hirado and Nagasaki. In fact, the only western country that was allowed to trade with Japan was the Dutch Republic. This was the beginning of "sakoku", where Japan was essentially closed to the western world until 1854.

Modern era

The cultural and non-economic ties with Western Europe grew significantly during the 1980s, although the economic nexus remained by far the most important element of Japanese – West European relations throughout the decade. Events in West European relations, as well as political, economic, or even military matters, were topics of concern to most Japanese commentators because of the immediate implications for Japan. The major issues centred on the effect of the coming West European economic unification on Japan's trade, investment, and other opportunities in Western Europe. Some West European leaders were anxious to restrict Japanese access to the newly integrated European Union, but others appeared open to Japanese trade and investment. In partial response to the strengthening economic ties among nations in Western Europe and to the United States–Canada–Mexico North American Free Trade Agreement, Japan and other countries along the Asia-Pacific rim began moving in the late 1980s toward greater economic cooperation.

On 18 July 1991, after several months of difficult negotiations, Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu signed a joint statement with the Dutch prime minister and head of the European Community Council, Ruud Lubbers, and with the European Commission president, Jacques Delors, pledging closer Japanese – European Community consultations on foreign relations, scientific and technological cooperation, assistance to developing countries, and efforts to reduce trade conflicts. Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials hoped that this agreement would help to broaden Japanese – European Community political links and raise them above the narrow confines of trade disputes.

Country Formal relations began Notes
 Albania1922-04;re-established in 1981 See Albania–Japan relations

Albania and Japan resumed established diplomatic relations in March 1981.[61]

  • Albania has an embassy in Tokyo.
 Armenia1992-09-07 See Armenia–Japan relations
 Austria1869-10-18See Austria–Japan relations
 Belgium1866-08-01See Belgium–Japan relations
 Bulgaria1890sSee Bulgaria–Japan relations
 Croatia1992-03-05See Croatia–Japan relations
 Cyprus1960-08-16See Foreign relations of Cyprus
 Czech Republic1920-1-12See Czech Republic–Japan relations[64]
 Denmark1867See Denmark–Japan relations
 Estonia1921-01-26See Foreign relations of Estonia#Relations by country
 European Union1959See Japan–European Union relations
 Finland1919-09-06See Foreign relations of Finland#Asia
 France1858-10-09See France–Japan relations

The history of Franco–Japanese relations (日仏関係, Nichi-Futsu kankei) goes back to the early 17th century, when a Japanese samurai and ambassador on his way to Rome landed for a few days in Southern France, creating a sensation. France and Japan have enjoyed a very robust and progressive relationship spanning centuries through various contacts in each other's countries by senior representatives, strategic efforts, and cultural exchanges.

 Georgia1992-08-03See Georgia–Japan relations
 Germany24 January 1861See Germany–Japan relations

Regular meetings between the two countries have led to several cooperations. In 2004 German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi agreed upon cooperations in the assistance for reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan,[65][66] the promotion of economic exchange activities,[67] youth and sports exchanges[68] as well as exchanges and cooperation in science, technology and academic fields.[69]

 Greece1899-06See Greece–Japan relations

There has been a Greek embassy in Tokyo since 1960, and a Japanese embassy in Athens since the same year, when it was decided to upgrade the Japanese Consulate which had opened in 1956. Since then the two countries have enjoyed excellent relations in all fields, and cooperate closely.[70]

  Holy SeeMarch 1942See Holy See–Japan relations

The first Papal visit to Japan took place in 1981. the present Apostolic Nuncio to Japan is Joseph Chennoth (since 2011) Japan first sent an ambassador, Ken Harada, to the Vatican during World War II.

 Hungary1921See Hungary–Japan relations
 Iceland8 December 1956See Iceland–Japan relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in Tokyo.
  • Japan has an embassy in Reykjavík.
 IrelandMarch 1957See Ireland–Japan relations
  • Ireland has an embassy in Tokyo.
  • Japan has an embassy in Dublin.
 Italy1867-03-31See Italy–Japan relations
  • Italy has an embassy in Tokyo.
  • Japan has an embassy in Rome.
 Kosovo2009-02-25See Japan–Kosovo relations

Japan recognised it on 18 March 2008.[73] The first Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Kosovo is Akio Tanaka. He is subordinate to the Japanese Embassy in Vienna, Austria[74]

 Lithuania1919;1991-10-10See Japan–Lithuania relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Vilnius, established in 1997.[75]
  • In 1998, Lithuania has an embassy in Tokyo.[76]
  • Ambassador to Lithuania is Miyoko Akashi, ambassador to Japan is Dainius Kamaitis.
  • In 2007 the Emperor and Empress of Japan Akihito and Michiko paid an official visit in Lithuania.
 MaltaSee Japan–Malta relations
  • Malta has a consulate in Tokyo.
  • Japan has a consulate in Valletta.
 Montenegro24 July 2006See Japan–Montenegro relations

Japan recognised Montenegro on 16 June 2006 and established diplomatic relations on 24 July 2006. Montenegro had declared war on Japan in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War and never signed a peace treaty until 2006, shortly before the opening of diplomatic relations. The war lasted for 101 years. Trade, mostly related to electronics, exports from Japan to Montenegro (163 million yen per annum) outweigh Japan's imports (2 million yen per annum).

  • Japan is accredited to Montenegro from its embassy in Belgrade, Serbia.
  • Montenegro is accredited to Japan from its embassy in Beijing, China.
 Netherlands1609See Japan–Netherlands relations

The relations between Japan and the Netherlands after 1945 have been a triangular relationship. The invasion and Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies during World War II brought about the destruction of the colonial state in Indonesia, as the Japanese removed as much of the Dutch government as they could, weakening the post-war grip the Netherlands had over the territory. Under pressure from the United States, the Netherlands recognised Indonesian sovereignty in 1949 (see United States of Indonesia).

  • Japan has an embassy in The Hague.
  • Netherlands has an embassy in Tokyo.
 North Macedonia1994-03[15]

Both countries established diplomatic relations in March 1994.[77]

 Norway1905–11See Foreign relations of Norway
  • Japan has an embassy in Oslo.
  • Norway has an embassy in Tokyo.
 Poland1919-03See Japan–Poland relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Warsaw.
  • Poland has an embassy in Tokyo
 Portugal1860-08-03See Japan–Portugal relations
 Romania1902-06-18See Foreign relations of Romania#Asia: East Asia
 Serbiareestablished in 1952See Japan–Serbia relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Belgrade.
  • Serbia has an embassy in Tokyo and an honorary consulate in Osaka.
 SpainFirst contact in 1584, officialized in 1868. Relations were broken on 11 April 1945 and reestablished in 1952 See Japan–Spain relations
 Sweden1868[15]See Japan–Sweden relations
  • Japan has an embassy in Stockholm.
  • Sweden has an embassy in Tokyo.
  Switzerland6 February 1864
 Turkey1890sSee Japan–Turkey relations
 Ukraine1992-01-26See Japan–Ukraine relations
  • Japan extended diplomatic recognition to the Ukrainian state on 28 December 1991, immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union
  • Ukraine maintains an embassy in Tokyo.[86]
  • Japan maintains an embassy in Kiev.[87]
 United Kingdom1854-10-14See Japan–United Kingdom relations

The relationship between the United Kingdom and Japan began in 1600 with the arrival of William Adams (Adams the Pilot, Miura Anjin) on the shores of Kyūshū at Usuki in Ōita Prefecture. During the Sakoku period (1641–1853) there were no relations, but the treaty of 1854 saw the resumption of ties which, despite the hiatus of the Second World War, remain very strong in the present day. Today, the United Kingdom views Japan as its closest ally in the Asia Pacific region, while Japan views the UK as its closest ally in Europe.


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Australia1947[15]See Australia–Japan relations

Australia–Japan relations have generally warm as well as acknowledged mutuality of strong interests, beliefs and friendship, and has since continued to grow strongly over the years. However, memories of World War II linger among the older members of the Australian public, as does a contemporary fear of Japanese economic domination over countries, particularly Australia, although such fears have fallen off in response to Japan's economic stagnation in the 1990s. At the same time, government and business leaders see Japan as a vital export market and an essential element in Australia's strong future growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia is also a major source of food and raw materials for Japan. In 1990 Australia accounted for 5.3 percent of total Japanese imports, a share that held relatively steady in the late 1980s. Due to its ability to export raw materials, Australia had a trade surplus with Japan. Australia was the largest single supplier of coal, iron ore, wool, and sugar to Japan in 1990. Australia is also a supplier of uranium. Japanese investment by 1988 made Australia the single largest source of Japanese regional imports. Resource development projects in Australia attracted Japanese capital, as did trade protectionism by necessitating local production for the Australian market. Investments in Australia totaled US$8.1 billion in 1988, accounting for 4.4 percent of Japanese direct investment abroad. There is some tension regarding the issue of whaling.

 Cook Islands2011-03-25[15]See Foreign relations of Cook Islands
 Fiji1970-10-01[15]See Foreign relations of Fiji
 Kiribati1980-03[15]See Foreign relations of Kiribati
 Marshall Islands1988-12-09[15]See Foreign relations of Marshall Islands
 Federated States of Micronesia1988-08-05[15]See Foreign relations of Federated States of Micronesia
 Nauru1968-01-31[15]See Foreign relations of Nauru
 New Zealand1952[15]See Japan–New Zealand relations

Japan–New Zealand relations have had generally cordial relations since the post-World War II period, with Japan being a major trading partner with New Zealand. These relations have held together despite policy disputes over whaling and the International Whaling Commission.

In March 2011, New Zealand sent an urban search and rescue team, which had spent time the previous three weeks searching buildings after the last month's devastating earthquake in Christchurch, and 15 tonnes of rescue equipment to assist Japan following the Tōhoku earthquake and the subsequent of tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster.[88] New Zealand Parliament sends condolences to the people of Japan, and the government donated $2 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society to support relief efforts.[89][90]

 Niue2015-08-04[15]See Foreign relations of Niue
 Palau1994-11-02[15]See Japan–Palau relations
 Papua New Guinea1975-09[15]See Foreign relations of Papua New Guinea
 Samoa1971[15]See Foreign relations of Samoa
 Solomon Islands1978-09[15]See Foreign relations of Solomon Islands
 Tonga1970[15]See Japan–Tonga relations

Japan and the Kingdom of Tonga have maintained official diplomatic relations since July 1970.[91] Japan is Tonga's leading donor in the field of technical aid.[91] The Japanese government describes its relations with Tonga as "excellent", and states that "the Imperial family of Japan and the Royal family of Tonga have developed a cordial and personal relationship over the years".[91]

 Tuvalu1979-04[15]See Foreign relations of Tuvalu
 Vanuatu1981-01[15]See Foreign relations of Vanuatu

Debates and frictions

Japan has formally issued apologies for its military occupations before and during World War II, but that has done little in helping to improve its relations with its neighbors, especially China, North Korea and South Korea. They still insist that Japan has yet to formally express remorse for its wrongdoings in the 20th century, despite some formal statements of regret from Prime Ministers Hosokawa Morihiro and Murayama Tomiichi. Japan's official stance claims that all war-related reparation claims have been resolved (except with North Korea). Unofficial visits to the controversial Yasukuni Jinja by past Prime Ministers belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party and the exclusion or generalization of some elements of Japan's military history in a number school textbooks have also clouded the issue. In 2004, China and the two Koreas criticized Japan for sending its Ground Self Defence Forces to Iraq, which was seen as signalling a return to militarism. The government of Japan claimed that its forces would only participate in reconstruction and humanitarian aid missions.

As a result, there is a strong anti-Japanese sentiment in China and the two Koreas, although Antagonism is not inevitable. Both Japan and South Korea successfully hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup, bridging a physical and political gap between the two countries. Additionally, the great popularity in Japan of Bae Yong-joon, a South Korean actor, has also been seen as a sign that the two countries have moved closer together.

Disputed territories

Japan has several territorial disputes with its neighbors concerning the control of certain outlying islands.

Japan contests Russia's control of the Southern Kuril Islands (including Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group) which were occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945.[92] South Korea's assertions concerning Liancourt Rocks (Japanese: "Takeshima", Korean: "Dokdo") are acknowledged, but not accepted by Japan.[93] Japan has strained relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) over the Senkaku Islands;[94] and with the People's Republic of China over the status of Okinotorishima.

These disputes are in part about irredentism; and they are also about the control of marine and natural resources, such as possible reserves of crude oil and natural gas.

See also


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 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website

Further reading

  • Barnhart, Michael A. Japan and the World since 1868 (1995) excerpt
  • Buckley, Roger. US-Japan Alliance Diplomacy 1945–1990 (1992)
  • Duus, Peter, ed. The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6: The Twentieth Century (1989).
  • Hook, Glenn D. et al. Japan's international relations: Politics, economics and security (3rd ed. 2011), covers 1945–2010.
  • Kibata, Y. and I. Nish, eds. The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600–2000: Volume I: The Political-Diplomatic Dimension, 1600–1930 (2000) excerpt, first of five topical volumes also covering social, economic and military relations between Japan and Great Britain.
  • Inoguchi, Takashi. Japan's Foreign Policy in an Era of Global Change (2013).
  • Iriye, Akira. Japan and the wider world: from the mid-nineteenth century to the present (1997)
  • Lafeber, Walter. The Clash: A History of U.S.-Japan Relations (1997), a standard scholarly history
  • Malafaia, Thiago Corrêa. "Japanese International Relations: an assessment of the 1971–2011 period." Brazilian Political Science Review 10.1 (2016). online in English
  • Scalapino, Robert A. The Foreign Policy of Modern Japan (1977) online
  • Shimamoto, Mayako, Koji Ito and Yoneyuki Sugita, eds. Historical Dictionary of Japanese Foreign Policy (2015) excerpt
  • Togo, Kazuhiko. Japan's Foreign Policy 1945–2003 (Brill, 2005) online
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