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Canada-Japan Relations

Japan: Fact SheetJapan* (pdf version, 68 KB)

Canada's Partner in the Pacific

Canada-Japan relations are underpinned by political, economic and cultural ties which are bolstered by common values and mutual positive perceptions. Today, Canada and Japan are partners in numerous international groups and organizations including the G7, G20, APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the OECD. Both Canada and Japan are strongly committed to ensuring continued economic vitality, cooperative political relations, and development in the Asia-Pacific region.

Regular exchanges between Canadian and Japanese parliamentarians are another important pillar of the Canada-Japan relationship. The Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group, established by Parliament in 1989, and its Japanese counterpart, the Japan-Canada Diet Friendship League, have held annual consultations since 1989, alternating the location of the meetings between the two countries. The latest session was held in Ottawa in April 2015 and included discussions of trade policy, fiscal and administrative reform, as well as energy issues.

Trade and economic relations between Canada and Japan have been steadily expanding. With a gross domestic product of C$5.1 trillion, Japan is the world's third-largest national economy, one of Canada's most important economic and commercial partners and one of Canada’s largest bilateral foreign direct investment (FDI) partners in Asia. Japan's FDI in Canada totalled C$17.3 billion in 2014, coming from approximately 330 Japanese subsidiaries and affiliate companies operating in Canada and employing tens of thousands of Canadians. Canadian investment in Japan is also significant and diverse with over 100 companies that have a permanent Japanese presence, primarily in the automotive, ICT, financial services, and forestry sectors. The stock of Canadian direct investment in Japan in 2014 stood at C$4.7 billion. Japan is also Canada's fifth-largest partner in two-way merchandise trade (second in Asia after China) and tenth in services trade. Canada's exports of goods to Japan totalled C$10.7 billion in 2014 while imports from Japan were C$13 billion. Oilseeds, ores and mineral fuels and oils (mainly coking coal) were Canada's largest exports to Japan, while motor vehicles and vehicle parts, and electrical machinery and equipment were Canada's largest imports from Japan in 2014.

Canada is committed to pursuing new opportunities to deepen trade and economic cooperation with Japan. In 2012, Canada and Japan launched negotiations toward a bilateral free trade agreement (also known as an economic partnership agreement or EPA). This historic announcement followed the March 7, 2012, release of the "Report of the Joint Study on the Possibility of a Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement". The study summarizes the significant economic gains to be achieved for Canada and Japan through free trade. Estimated GDP gains would be between US$4.4 billion and US$4.9 billion for Japan and between US$3.8 billion and US$9.0 billion for Canada (based on 2010 GDP data). Canada and Japan are members of the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. This comprehensive agreement will increase economic opportunities for the benefit of all members. In addition to discussions about free trade, Canadian and Japanese senior officials meet for regular consultations in the context of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC). One of the basic documents that lays the groundwork for bilateral cooperation on economic and trade policy is the "Canada-Japan Economic Framework" signed in 2005.

Canada and Japan have long shared strong political ties, but in recent years these relations have spread into new areas and become more substantive. One important area of growth is peace and security cooperation. In September 2013, Canada and Japan were pleased to welcome an agreement on substance towards the conclusion of an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). Such an agreement will facilitate cooperation between Canadian and Japanese forces, notably during joint training exercises and UN peacekeeping missions.

The basis for deepening the partnership between Canada and Japan on regional and global security issues is the 2010 Canada-Japan Joint Declaration on Political, Peace and Security Cooperation. The declaration's centrepiece is the creation of the Political, Peace and Security Subcabinet "2+2" Dialogue, which commits Canada and Japan to undertake regular bilateral meetings between Deputy Minister-level officials responsible for Foreign Affairs and Defence. The first such meeting took place in Tokyo on August 29, 2011, and resulted in agreement to work together on peacekeeping, non-proliferation, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, as well as to increase cooperation between the Canadian Forces and the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Bilateral cooperation on disaster response has taken on particular relevance following the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. The Government of Canada responded to that event by offering its full support to Japan, providing blankets, dosimeters and portable radiation survey meters, while individual Canadians, Canadian companies, and Provincial Governments donated over C$40 million. This support has continued through the recovery period and into the reconstruction phase through initiatives such as the Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Project, Hope for Youth, and Canada-Japan Leadership Fund: Tohoku Project scholarship programs.

Canada and Japan enjoy rich cultural and people-to-people linkages. Canada remains a popular destination for Japanese students interested in studying abroad at all levels, and welcomed more than approximately 20,000 language students from Japan in 2014. There is also significant student and faculty mobility between Canada and Japan, facilitated by more than 550 links between our academic institutions. Our countries also enjoy close cultural ties:  Japanese manga and anime have many fans in Canada, and Canadian musicians of all genres have an active following in Japan, due in part to the legacies of Oscar Peterson, Glenn Gould and other international artists such as Céline Dion, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.

Finally, a number of programs exist to facilitate people-to-people exchanges. There are 75 sister city/sister province relationships between Japanese and Canadian communities. In addition, some 500 Canadians are currently enrolled in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, teaching English in schools across Japan. Canadians are long-standing supporters of this program, with over 8,400 alumni. Our IEC/Working Holiday Programs are also very popular, allowing thousands of Japanese and Canadian youths to enjoy short-term travel and work opportunities in each other's country.

December 2015

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