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Canada-Japan Relations

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

Canada-Japan relations are underpinned by political, economic and cultural ties, which are bolstered by common values and shared interests.

Canada’s partner in the Pacific

Canada and Japan share many common values, such as promoting the rules-based international order. Canada and Japan have committed to deepening the bilateral partnership. In May 2021, the Foreign Ministers of Canada and Japan agreed on six areas of bilateral cooperation that will advance common interests in the Indo-Pacific region. These six areas are the rule of law; peacekeeping operations, peacebuilding and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; energy security; health security and responding to COVID-19; free trade promotion and trade agreement implementation; and the environment and climate change.

Both Canada and Japan are members of the G7, G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada and Japan are strong allies in supporting the rules-based multilateral system and are key partners in ongoing WTO reform efforts, including through the Ottawa Group. Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada and Japan have worked closely in multilateral forums, including the G7 and G20, in order to coordinate responses to the pandemic.

Trade and economic relations between Canada and Japan have been steadily expanding. With a gross domestic product of $6.8 trillion in 2020, 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 $33.8 billion in 2020, with more than 500 Japanese subsidiaries and affiliate companies operating in Canada and employing tens of thousands of Canadians.

Canadian investment in Japan is significant and diverse with over 100 companies that have a permanent Japanese presence, primarily in the automotive, information and communications technologies, financial services, and forestry sectors. The stock of Canadian direct investment in Japan in 2020 stood at $8.8 billion. Japan is also Canada’s fifth-largest partner in two-way merchandise trade (second in Asia after China).

Canada’s exports of merchandise to Japan totalled $12.4 billion in 2020, while imports from Japan were $13.5 billion. Coal, canola seeds, copper ores, pork, and pharmaceutical products were Canada’s largest exports to Japan, while autos, auto parts, industrial machinery, and electrical machinery and equipment were Canada’s largest imports from Japan in 2020.

Canada and Japan are partners in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP entered into force for the first six countries to ratify the Agreement – Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore - on December 30, 2018, and for Vietnam on January 14, 2019. Once fully implemented, the CPTPP will form a trading bloc representing over 500 million people and 13.5% of global GDP, providing Canada with preferential access to key markets in the Asia-Pacific. The CPTPP eliminates or reduces tariffs on most key Canadian exports to Japan, including for agriculture and agri-food, seafood, forestry, and metals and mineral products. The CPTPP is a demonstration of Canada and Japan’s shared commitment to furthering the principles of an effective, open, inclusive, and rules-based trading system. Canada is working closely with Japan in its year as CPTPP Commission Chair.

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. In July 2019, the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, which facilitates cooperation between Canadian and Japanese forces entered into force. Canada regularly conducts joint and multilateral exercises with Japan and other partners.

The 2010 Canada-Japan Joint Declaration on Political, Peace and Security Cooperation served as the basis for deepening the partnership between Canada and Japan on regional and global security issues. The declaration’s centrepiece was 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 December 2018. Japan also hosted the 16th Canada-Japan Symposium on Peace and Security Cooperation, on December 11 and 12, 2018, which brought academics and policy-makers from both countries together to discuss important regional security and bilateral cooperation topics. The Director-General level Canada-Japan Political-Military/Military-Military talks were last held in December 2019.

Canada and Japan are working closely together on promoting security and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Japan participated in the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula, co-hosted by Canada and the United States, on January 16, 2018. Since then, including under Operation NEON, Canada has been a committed partner, alongside Japan, in a multilateral initiative to counter North Korea’s maritime sanctions evasion. This has included multiple deployments to Japan of a maritime surveillance aircraft as well as several vessels of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Regular exchanges between Canadian and Japanese parliamentarians are another important pillar of the Canada-Japan relationship. The Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group and its Japanese counterpart, the Japan-Canada Diet Friendship League, have held regular consultations since 1989, alternating the location of their meetings between the two countries. The latest session was held virtually in December 2020. It included discussions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, regional security, trade policy, and climate change.

Canada and Japan enjoy rich cultural and people-to-people linkages. There are over 120,000 people of Japanese origin residing in Canada. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 300,000 Japanese and Canadians travelled to each other’s country annually. 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 26 friendship associations and 72 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. As of December 31, 2020, a total of 5,350 Japanese nationals had a study permit valid for six months or more (8,485 in 2019). Japan has regularly been the second largest source country for international language students in Canada. In 2019: 20,590 Japanese students were enrolled in Languages Canada schools. In 2020, however, due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, Japan came in third place with 5,566 students.  In addition, at any one time, some 500 Canadians participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, teaching English in schools across Japan or working with local governments. Canadians are long-standing supporters of this program, with approximately 10,000 alumni. 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.

Academic relations: University and research links and exchanges

Canada is committed to participation in international study and research partnerships that build understanding among peoples, develop global citizens and leaders, and contribute to the development of nations.

The International Scholarships Program (ISP) of Global Affairs Canada funds, manages and promotes international scholarship opportunities for Canadian and international students and researchers. Several programs are available to Japanese students and postdoctoral researchers wishing to pursue studies in Canada. These awards are offered by various Canadian federal granting agencies, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as well as Export Development Canada. There are also mobility opportunities for Canadian students and researchers looking to pursue graduate-level studies and research in Japan.

Japan is a key partner with Canada in the academic world and shares diverse links and strengths in science and innovation. Numerous international exchange agreements are in place between Canadian and Japanese universities, spanning all faculties and regions. Through these academic relationships, each country benefits from access to the centres of innovation and creativity found at Canadian institutions, more collaboration among top-level researchers and an engaged international student body committed to furthering their education in each other’s country.

International scholarships

Academic networks and organizations

Useful links


Public Affairs (Academic Relations)
Embassy of Canada


October 2021

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