EU-Japan Political Relations

The EU and Japan have many common interests, and cooperate closely with one another

Broadening the partnership

As advanced, industrialised democracies, the EU and Japan have many common interests and cooperate closely with one another in international and multilateral fora such as the UN, WTO, and the G7 and G20. The scope of the overall relationship has broadened in recent years and now goes far beyond the earlier trade-related focus of the 1970s and 1980s. Building on shared fundamental values, the EU established a Strategic Partnership with Japan in 2001, and top leaders meet at the annual EU-Japan Summit since 1991.

The EU and Japan have successfully concluded two major agreements which together promise to mark an important step forward in the bilateral relationship:

  • A Strategic Partnership Agreement, a legally binding pact covering not only political dialogue and policy cooperation, but also cooperation on regional and global challenges, including environment and climate change, development policy and disaster relief, and security policy.
  • An Economic Partnership Agreement  (EPA), an ambitious, comprehensive pact to stimulate growth on both sides.

Alongside these two agreements, the EU and Japan continue to hold regular dialogue meetings on a variety of policy areas such as the environment, information society, cyber-space, science & technology, trade, financial services, and industrial policy. Additionally, the EU and Japan have a regular dialogue on human rights and cooperate in various forums, such as the UN Human Rights Council and in the UN 3rd Committee.

This very practical cooperation across a variety of policy fields helps iron out potential problems and contributes to establishing international norms.

Looking back

The European Union has had a diplomatic office in Japan for 40 years now. In 1974, what was then the European Communities opened the first Delegation in Tokyo, and this has since evolved to become the Delegation of the European Union with the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force in December 2009.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the focus of our bilateral efforts was not only to correct the trade imbalance but also to broaden industrial cooperation and investment. 1987 saw the creation of what is now known as the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation. More exchanges among academics, journalists and researchers were encouraged.

Bilateral ties strengthened in the 1990s after a series of European Treaties made it clear that Europe was heading toward deeper economic and political integration, and policymakers in both Europe and Japan were increasingly aware that a closer partnership between these large economies and like-minded, mature democracies would benefit not only each other but the world as a whole.

The 2009 Lisbon Treaty saw the establishment of the EU’s own diplomatic service, and this has led to an intensification of political dialogue and the first regular consultations on security policy issues.

Signing the EU-JP EPA

EU-Japan Cultural & Public Diplomacy

Europe is a diverse and multi-talented continent

Europe is a diverse and multi-talented continent. The EU's member states' embassies and cultural institutes in Japan support access to a huge range of European creativity, and the Delegation works with them and other local partners to raise awareness of European culture and cultural diversity.

The main cultural event for the Delegation, EU Film Days, is a unique event showcasing the diversity and distinction of filmmaking in Europe. Films from EU member states are shown over several weeks in Tokyo, sometimes with additional screenings in other cities in Japan. First held in 2003, the event has taken place annually, with increasing success. In 2015, over 11,000 people attended screenings in Tokyo and Kyoto.

The Delegation also hosts occasional public events such as film screenings, concerts, workshops and conferences. Information on these events is on the Events page as well as on our social media channels Facebook, Twitter. Our e-mail news bulletin also carries information on various events that we host or support.

Centrally, European culture is supported through the Creative Europe Programme. The programme, which runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of €1.46 billion, supports initiatives including cultural cross-border cooperation and exchange and initiatives in the audio-visual sector. The European Capitals of Culture scheme raises the visibility of European culture, as do awards such as the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage. See here for further information on Creative Europe in Japanese.

A new EU strategy for international cultural work promises to increase the importance of culture in what we do. Early preparations for this are set out in a Preparatory Action on Culture in the EU's External Relations.

EU School Project

'The EU comes to Your School' 2021

EU Delegation and Member States diplomats have visited high schools throughout Japan each year since 2007 to give presentations on the EU and their respective countries under the "EU Comes to you School" project. The objectives are to bring the EU closer to young people in Japan and to raise young Japanese people's curiosity about the EU and the rich and diverse history and cultures of Europe.

Over 1,000 schools and over 462,000 students have participated in the school project.

This year, the project is scheduled to be held on 8 and 9 November.

For details, please see announcement in below attachment.

Announcement (in Japanese only): (PDF)

Thank you very much for your interest in this event.

Registration for 2021 is now closed.

List of schools which took part in the past (2008-2020)

EU-Japan Friendship Week

The EU-Japan Friendship Week first started in 2001 as a programme of events lasting for a number of weeks, focusing on public diplomacy, academic and cultural activities.

Since then it has grown into a comprehensive schedule of such events taking place throughout May, June and part of July, both in Tokyo and in Japan's regions.

The aim of Friendship Week is to give the Japanese public a chance to learn more about the EU, its relations with Japan and Europe's history and diversity.

To that end, the EU Delegation organises selected events and activities and sponsors or encourages many others. Traditionally, Friendship Week kicks off with the celebration of Europe Day on 9 May, with numerous interesting, informative and entertaining activities following in the weeks thereafter.

Read more about Edition 2022.

EU-Japan Friendship Week

EU-Japan Partnership on Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure

In September 2019, the EU and Japan signed a Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure

The EU-Japan Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure represented the EU's first-ever connectivity partnership with a third country and followed the presentation in September 2018 of a Joint Communication of the European Commission and the High Representative on ‘Connecting Europe and Asia – Building Blocks for an EU Strategy', and Council Conclusions of October 2018. The EU’s approach to connectivity and sustainable infrastructure has been at the very heart of successful European integration and is based on clear values and interests, namely that connectivity must be sustainable, comprehensive, and rules-based. This European approach is based on high standards of social and environmental protection and inspired by the EU's internal market, enabling countries to achieve higher levels of quality of life while guaranteeing respect for individual rights. The Connectivity Partnership with Japan confirms our joint ambition to promote connectivity in line with this approach.