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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, ADB, IMF, 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 regular consultations since 1989, alternating the location of the meetings between the two countries. The latest session was held in Tokyo in January 2017 and included discussions of trade policy, regional security, as well as energy issues.

Trade and economic relations between Canada and Japan have been steadily expanding. With a gross domestic product of C$6.5 trillion in 2016, Japan is the world's third-largest national economy, one of Canada's most important economic and commercial partners and Canada’s largest source of bilateral foreign direct investment (FDI) in Asia. FDI stock from Japan into Canada was valued at C$29.1 billion in 2016, coming from approximately 450 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 2016 stood at C$4.3 billion. Japan is also Canada's fourth-largest partner in two-way merchandise trade (second in Asia after China) and eighth in services trade. Canada's exports of goods to Japan totalled C$10.7 billion in 2016 while imports from Japan were C$15.8 billion. Canola, coal, copper ores, pork, lumber, and wheat were Canada's largest exports to Japan, while autos, auto parts, industrial machinery, and information communications technologies were Canada's largest imports from Japan in 2016.

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). Canada and Japan are also engaged in other initiatives to pursue liberalized trade and investment, first as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and now as part of a group of 11 countries currently negotiating the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  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).

Canada and Japan have a long history of diplomatic relations dating back to 1928 when Japan established a diplomatic mission in Ottawa. Canada’s own diplomatic mission to Japan was established in Tokyo on May 21, 1929, formally completing the process of establishing full bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries. 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.  Canada and Japan have reached 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 most recent meeting took place in Tokyo in April 2016. Canada hosted the 15th Peace and Security Cooperation Symposium on December 6 and 7, 2017, which brought academics and policymakers from both countries together to discuss important regional security and bilateral cooperation topics. The Symposium was followed by Political-Military and Military-Military talks between the two countries’ senior bureaucrats and military officials.

Canada and Japan enjoy rich cultural and people-to-people linkages. 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 Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Ron Sexsmith, Matt Dusk and Monkey Majik. There are 24 friendship associations and 73 sister city/sister province relationships between Japanese and Canadian communities. In education, Canada remains a popular destination for Japanese students interested in studying abroad at all levels, with over 20,000 language students from Japan enrolled in 2016. In addition, at any one time, some 500 Canadians participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, teaching English in schools across Japan or working with local governments. Canadians are long-standing supporters of this program, with approximately 9,000 alumni. Our International Experience Canada (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. Whether as part of an exchange program, as a student, a tourist, or for other reasons, approximately 300,000 Japanese and Canadians travel to each other’s countries annually.

January 2018

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