How would you describe the current relationship between Japan and France in terms of culture, business and trade?
Japan and France have an ‘exceptional partnership’, cooperating in the Indo-Pacific region, and sharing common challenges such as fighting climate change and making the transition to a digital society.
Their good relations are based on common fundamental values, like the Rule of law or the protection of Human Rights, as well as people-to-people exchanges in culture, business and commerce. Recently, France’s growing interest in Japan is outstanding and widely spread across different fields.
In both trade and commerce, France and Japan are important and close partners, which are developing dynamic economic activities. Among the Asian countries, Japan has the largest cumulative investment in France with more than 850 Japanese companies providing more than 91,000 employment. It is encouraging to see Japanese business activities in France contributing to strengthening the economic ties between both countries.
What role is the Embassy playing in terms of strengthening the relationship between the two countries?
The Embassy of Japan plays, in several areas, vital roles in making the France-Japan friendship more successful. At the local level, the Embassy is striving for building a tight connection with French local communities, collaborating closely with the Japanese Consulates in Marseille, Strasbourg and Lyon and French honorary consuls in major cities, thanks to Japanese Government agencies like the CLAIR (Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relations) and various Japanese cultural friendship associations in many places in France.
The Embassy staff, including myself, is actively meeting with local leaders and partners throughout the country and exchanging opinions with them.
With France and Japan recovering from the pandemic, what are your hopes for the future of the relationship?
It is unfortunate that there have been little opportunities for both countries to meet together so far due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they have been consistently further deepening their wide-ranging relations despite the sanitary constraints.
Regarding the infectious diseases, we have established a fruitful collaboration through the COVAX Facility to provide COVID-19 vaccine doses to developing countries.
Besides the Indo-Pacific issues, France and Japan have been tackling together common global challenges since before the COVID-19 virus prevailed. For a better future after the pandemic, it is hoped that our two nations will be working together still dynamically on other global issues, such as international public health, climate change and biodiversity or the digitalization of society. At the same time, supporting startups and emerging talents is also important to foster innovation.
What message do you have for our readers regarding your time in Paris?
As a major European country playing a crucial part in the EU, France is expected to assume a more active role after the Brexit and during its Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2022. As for Japan in Asia, I believe it should be a key player in foreign policy, economy, science and technology. Europe and Asia together account for more than 60% of the World’s population and GDP, and France and Japan are main political and economic actors in their respective regions.
This is why their teamwork is essential. Japan would also like to enhance its cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region with France, the only and real “Indo-Pacific State” in Europe with its overseas territories located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. I hope that you will look forward to the further development of the ‘exceptional partnership’ between France and Japan.