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Canada-Japan relations 

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Bilateral relations

Canada-Japan relations are underpinned by political, economic and cultural ties, which are bolstered by common values and shared interests. Canada and Japan have a long history of diplomatic relations dating back to 1928, when Japan opened a diplomatic mission in Ottawa. Canada inaugurated its diplomatic mission to Japan in Tokyo on May 21, 1929, formalizing full bilateral diplomatic relations. 

Canada and Japan work together to promote the rules-based international order and are committed to deepening their bilateral partnership. In May 2021, the Foreign Ministers of Canada and Japan agreed on six shared priorities contributing to a free and open Indo-Pacific region: 1) the rule of law; 2) peacekeeping operations, peacebuilding, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; 3) health security and responding to COVID-19; 4) energy security; 5) free trade promotion and trade agreement implementation; and 6) the environment and climate change. In October 2022, Foreign Ministers Joly and Hayashi released an Action Plan with concrete commitments to implement the six shared priorities. These priorities are closely aligned with the objectives of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Canada and Japan are strong allies in supporting the rules-based multilateral system. Both countries are key partners in ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) reform efforts, including in the Canada-led Ottawa Group on WTO reform. Canada and Japan also work closely within international organisations and multilateral forums, such as the UN, G7 and G20, to coordinate responses to global challenges, such as COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Regular exchanges between Canadian and Japanese parliamentarians are another important pillar of the Canada-Japan relationship. The Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group (CAJP) and its Japanese counterpart, the Japan-Canada Diet Friendship League, have held regular consultations since 1989.

Canada and Japan enjoy rich cultural ties and people to-people linkages. There are over 129,425 people of Japanese origin residing in Canada (2021 census). Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 600,000 Japanese and Canadians travelled annually between the two countries. Japanese manga and anime have many fans in Canada, and Canadian artists have an active following in Japan. People to-people networks include 25 friendship associations and 71 sister city/province relationships, as well as ties developed through sports diplomacy during Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Canada’s participation in Expo 2025 Osaka will be another opportunity to strengthen economic, cultural and people to-people ties, showcased through a public presentation, trade and promotional events, and cultural performances.

Academic relations

Canada is committed to student mobility, and academic and research partnerships that build understanding among peoples, develop global citizens and leaders, and contribute to the development of nations. 

Canada remains a popular destination for Japanese students interested in studying abroad at all levels. Japan is among the largest source countries for international language students in Canada. In addition, at any one time, more than 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 10,000 alumni. International Experience Canada (Working Holiday) programs are also very popular, allowing thousands of Japanese and Canadians to enjoy short-term travel and work opportunities in each other’s country.

Several scholarships are available to Japanese students and postdoctoral researchers wishing to pursue studies in Canada, as well as for Canadians interested in pursuing studies or research in Japan.

See International Scholarships (EduCanada) for more information.

Trade relations

Trade and economic relations between Canada and Japan have been steadily expanding. With a gross domestic product of $5.7 trillion (2023), Japan is the world’s fourth-largest national economy and one of Canada’s most important economic and commercial partners. The FDI stock from Japan into Canada is valued at $49.3 billion (2023), making Japan Canada’s largest source of FDI from the Indo-Pacific and third largest overall. Japanese subsidiaries and affiliate companies operating in Canada employ thousands of Canadians and support numerous communities.

The presence of Canadian business in Japan is significant and diverse, notably in the automotive, information and communications technologies, financial services, and forestry sectors. The stock of Canadian direct investment in Japan was valued at $4.1 billion in 2023. Japan is Canada’s fourth largest trade partner in terms of bilateral merchandise trade (2023).

Canada’s exports of merchandise to Japan totalled $15.8 billion in 2023, while imports from Japan were $20.7 billion. Mineral fuels and oils (notably, coal and liquefied propane gas), minerals (copper, iron ores and nickel), agricultural products (notably, canola seed, wheat, pork, beef and soybeans), pharmaceutical and forest products were among Canada’s largest exports to Japan, while vehicles, machinery and equipment, and scientific and precision instruments (mainly for medical use) were Canada’s largest imports from Japan in 2023.

Canada and Japan collaborate closely in the implementation and expansion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). 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. Both countries also work closely together at the WTO to defend and promote an effective, open, inclusive, and rules-based trading system.

Related links

Canada-Japan Joint Economic Committee

The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) was established in 1976, and is Canada and Japan’s highest-level regular economic dialogue, held annually at the deputy-minister level. In 2016, the Prime Ministers of Canada and Japan agreed to revitalize the JEC as the primary vehicle to oversee bilateral economic ties. They agreed on five ‘Priority Areas of Cooperation’ (PACs): energy; infrastructure; tourism and youth exchange; science and technology; and the business environment and investment promotion.

With the aim to further expand bilateral cooperation and trade, new priority areas have been added from time to time. At the JEC meeting in 2020, “innovation” was included under the science and technology PAC, and “agriculture” was added as a new PAC in 2021.

Latest meetings

Defence and security cooperation

Canada and Japan enjoy strong and growing security and defence ties, anchored in a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Building on previous cooperation, leaders of both countries articulated the security partnership in the 2010 Joint Declaration on Political, Peace and Security Cooperation. Regular high-level meetings ensure continued momentum on peace and security issues.

Canada and Japan work closely to maintain and promote the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region, including by opposing unilateral actions that undermine regional stability and the rules-based international order. A key element of this cooperation is both countries’ participation in the Pacific Security Maritime Exchange (PSMX), a multinational initiative to counter North Korea’s maritime sanctions evasion. Canada contributes to this effort by deploying assets and personnel to the region through the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)’s Operation NEON. The CAF also regularly participate in joint and multilateral exercises with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Canada and Japan signed an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), which entered into force in 2019. The agreement allows both countries to make efficient use of each other’s military equipment and supplies during operations and exercises. Canada has also identified opportunities to enhance cooperation with Japan on cybersecurity issues, including deterrence, capacity building and advancing the UN framework for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.

Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, released in November 2022, highlights Canada’s commitment to further strengthen ties with Japan, particularly in areas of security and defence. This includes the negotiation of a bilateral General Security of Information Agreement. Japan’s updated National Security Strategy, adopted in December 2022, outlines Japan’s intent to enhance security cooperation with several countries, including Canada. Both countries are committed to implementing the defence and security components of the Canada-Japan Six Shared Priorities Action Plan.

Partnerships and organizations

To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Japan work closely in multilateral fora, such as:

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