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Message on Canada Day 

I am delighted to convey my best wishes on this, our 151st Canada Day. 

This year and next mark an important milestone for Canada-Japan ties: the 90th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, with Japan and Canada first opening diplomatic missions in the other’s capital in 1928 and 1929 respectively.  The relationship has since flourished, and is grounded in shared values, including respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and a commitment to open markets and sustainable development. At a time when the rules-based international order is facing mounting threats, it is more important than ever for Canada, Japan and other like-minded countries to work together to strengthen the values and institutions that have underpinned post-war prosperity and stability.  We are striving to do just that.

With our Presidency of the G7 in 2018, Canada has put forward a substantive, progressive agenda reflecting our values and ambitions.  We are working with our partners, including Japan, to fight gender and other inequalities, to promote inclusive economic growth, to protect the environment including our oceans, and to address major threats to global security.

We were pleased to welcome Prime Minister Abe for the Charlevoix Summit in June, as well as Japan’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance who visited earlier in the year.  High-level visits from Canada to Japan also continue apace, recently including our Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Agriculture, and numerous parliamentary delegations, provincial premiers and others.  These inject momentum and energy into the relationship, and the pace will continue next year as Japan assumes the G-20 Presidency.

Our two countries are making significant strides in security cooperation. Over the past year, two Royal Canadian Navy frigates were deployed here to engage in joint exercises, and the subsequent deployment of a Canadian submarine marked a first in nearly 50 years.  Canada has also been making major contributions to joint surveillance efforts to deter sanctions evasion by North Korea, and we have now signed an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement with Japan to further strengthen collaboration on security issues.

Commercial ties are strong and growing, with Japan our 4th largest trading partner, largest Asian source of investment, and increasingly important innovation partner in areas such as AI, quantum computing and clean energy.  The potential for expansion is enormous, and we are well-positioned now with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership signed and moving towards ratification.  We hope to see the CPTPP enter into force quickly, given its promise to be a game changer for our trade and economic relationship.  We applaud Japan’s leadership on this initiative, which is a powerful illustration of how countries can come together to advance open markets and rules-based trading systems.

Our people-to-people ties meanwhile continue to blossom. More than 300,000 tourists now travel in each direction annually, aided by expanding air links such as Air Canada’s new Montreal-Narita service, and last year over 20,000 Japanese youth chose Canada as a study destination.  It was also a banner year on the cultural front, with all manner of Canadian talent on display across Japan, from top tier jazz and classical artists to Canada’s iconic Cirque du Soleil performers and superstars like Celine Dion, who thrilled spectators at Tokyo Dome last week.  More excitement lies ahead, including pop sensations Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara, both on tap to perform at Summer Sonic next month.

It is an honour for me to represent Canada in this extraordinary country, and I look forward to deepening engagement with Japan across all fields in the period ahead. 

Happy Canada Day!

Ian Burney
Ambassador of Canada to Japan


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