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Japan–European Union relations


Japan–European Union relations

Euro-Japanese relations
Map indicating locations of European Union and Japan

European Union


Japan and the European Union (EU) date back to 1959. They share common values and have a strong trade relationship, particularly in investment flows.[1][2]


  • History 1
  • Political relations and agreements 2
  • Trade 3
  • Investment 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 1959, the Japanese ambassador in Belgium was accredited as Japan's first Representative to the European Communities (what would later become the EU in 1993). However the establishment of a European delegation in Tokyo would take until 1974. In 1984 the first ministerial meeting between the two sides took place (the first summit would be in 1991).[3]

Although cultural and noneconomic ties with Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu signed a joint statement with the Dutch prime minister and head of the European Council, Ruud Lubbers, and with the European Commission president, Jacques Delors, pledging closer Japanese-European Community consultations on foreign relations, scientific and technological cooperation, assistance to developing countries, and efforts to reduce trade conflicts. Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials hoped that this agreement would help to broaden Japanese-European Community political links and raise them above the narrow confines of trade disputes.

Political relations and agreements

The EU and Japan share values of democracy, human rights and market economics. Both are global actors and cooperate in international fora. They also cooperate in each other's regions: Japan contributes to the reconstruction of the western Balkans and the EU supports international efforts to maintain peace in Korea and the rest of Asia.[1]

The EU Japanese relationship is anchored on two documents: the Joint Declaration of 1991 and the Action Plan for EU-Japan Cooperation of 2001. There are also a range of fora between the two, including an annual summit of leaders and an inter-parliamentary body.[1] Both sides have now agreed to work towards a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement. Four agreements thus far have been signed by the two sides;[2]

  • The EU-Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement (entered force on 1 January 2002)
  • An Agreement on Co-operation on Anti-competitive Activities (adopted 16 June 2003)
  • A Science and Technology Agreement between the EU and Japan (signed 30 November 2009)
  • The Agreement on Co-operation and Mutual Administrative Assistance (entered force on 1 February 2008)


Japan is the EU's 6th largest export market (3.2% in 2010 with a value of €44 billion). EU exports are primarily in machinery and transport equipment (31.3%), chemical products (14.1%) and agricultural products (11.0%). Despite a global growth in EU exports, since 2006 EU exports to Japan have been declining slightly. In 2009, due to the global financial crisis, exports saw a 14.7% drop; however in 2010 they recovered again by 21.3% and in 2012 reached a peak of over €55 billion. Japan is also the 6th largest source of imports to the EU (4.3% in 2010 with a value of €65 billion). Japanese exports to Europe are primarily machinery and transport equipment (66.7%). The EU is Japan's 3rd largest trading partner (11.1% of imports, 13.3% exports).

The trend in the goods trade since 2000 has been characterised by a significant reduction in the EU27 trade deficit with Japan due to a marked drop in latter's share in total EU imports from 9,3% in 2000 to 3,6% in 2012. For details, see the table below:[4]

Direction of trade 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
EU to Japan €45.5 billion €45.5 billion €43.5 billion €41.0 billion €43.4 billion €43.7 billion €44.7 billion €43.7 billion €42.3 billion €35.9 billion €43.9 billion €49.0 billion €55.5 billion
Japan to EU €92.1 billion €81.1 billion €73.7 billion €72.4 billion €74.7 billion €74.1 billion €78.2 billion €78.9 billion €76.2 billion €58.2 billion €67.3 billion €69.2 billion €63.8 billion
Balance -€46.6 billion -€35.6 billion -€30.2 billion -€31.4 billion -€31.3 billion -€30.4 billion -€33.5 billion -€35.3 billion -€33.9 billion -€22.3 billion -€23.3 billion -€20.2 billion -€8.3 billion

Between 2009 and 2011 the trade in commercial services between the two partners increased with the EU maintaining a stable surplus and Japan's share in total EU imports also remaining stable at just over 3%.[4]

Direction of trade 2009 2010 2011
EU to Japan €18.6 billion €19.8 billion €21.8 billion
Japan to EU €13.4 billion €15.2 billion €15.9 billion
Balance €5.2 billion €4.6 billion €5.9 billion


Recently foreign direct investment (FDI) flows have switched from an EU to Japanese[5] centred flow to one from Japan to the EU.[6] In 2006 the EU invested 16.2 billion euro and Japan disinvested 1.6 billion euro. By the end of 2009, 5.0% of the EU inward FDI stock came from Japan and 2.3% of EU outward FDI stock was in Japan.[2] The EU has been attracting the largest portion of Japanese investment: €78 billion in investment stocks.[1] For details, see the table below:[4]

Direction 2008 2009 2010 2011
EU FDI to Japan €1.726 billion €1.301 billion -€1.785 billion €2.360 billion
Japan FDI to EU €2.324 billion €2.607 billion €2.952 billion €12.068 billion

Doing business and investing in Japan can be difficult for European countries and there have been some trade disputes between the two parties. However the slowdown in the Japanese economy encouraged it to open up more to EU business and investment.[2] While working on reducing trade barriers, the main focus is on opening up investment flows.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e EU-Japan: overall relationship, European External Action Service
  2. ^ a b c d Bilateral relations Japan, European Commission Directorate General for Trade
  3. ^ Chronology of EU-Japan Relations, Delegation of the EU in Japan
  4. ^ a b c EU - Japan Trade, Eurostat
  5. ^ EU to Japan direct investment,
  6. ^ Japan to EU direct investment,

External links

  • Delegation of the EU to Japan
  • The Mission of Japan to the EU
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