Finland and Japan Celebrate 100 Years of Friendship and Cooperation

Finland’s history of trade with Japan spans longer than a hundred years ago, when the two countries formally established diplomatic relations.

President of the Republic Sauli Niinisto and Jenni Haukio hosted Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko at Kultaranta on July 3.  |  © Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

According to H.E. Takashi Murata, Ambassador of Japan to Finland, “The Finnish and Japanese have many similar characteristics and share common values represented by 3 P’s, that is Punctuality, Patience, and Prudence.”

“The Finnish life philosophy of Sisu correlates to the Japanese Bushidō, a code for living a life of honor, self-discipline, bravery, and simplicity,” he adds.

These shared values and ethics have brought Finland and Japan closer, with the latter being Finland’s third-largest trade partner outside Europe.

Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Ville Skinnari, shares that Finland’s exports to Japan are growing in double digits.

“Apart from our well-known and continuously strengthening cooperation with Japan in the forest industry, our ties are becoming more comprehensive through the exchange of consumer products, innovations, creative ideas, and tourism,” explains Skinnari.

Over 40 direct flights from Japan to Helsinki connect directly to over 60 other destinations every week, making Finland an important hub for Japanese businessmen and travellers.

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which entered into force earlier this year, opens up new opportunities for Finnish and Japanese businesses to cooperate and grow together.

Juha Pitkänen, chairman of Finnish-Japanese Chamber of Commerce says that the agreement is changing the perception of Finnish companies about the challenges of doing business in Japan.

“It signals that the Japanese economy is opening up and is enticing more companies to look into growth opportunities in Japan, even in niche markets,” explains Pitkänen.

“Forecasts show that the agreement could invigorate, for example, exports of agricultural and technological products from Finland to Japan, as well as automotive and white goods exports from Japan to Finland,” adds Timo Vuori, executive vice president for international affairs at Finland Chamber of Commerce.

Moving forward, Mikael Pentikäinen, CEO of The Federation of Finnish Enterprises shares, “I encourage more Finnish companies to do business with Japan and to explore the Japanese market while at the same time I hope to see more Japanese companies doing business in Finland. We are great partners who share the same values and can build a strong alliance of freedom.”

Leaders share insights with Synergy Media Specialists on the strengthening of relations between Finland and Japan

Takashi Murata, Ambassador of Japan to Finland: “The number of Japanese companies in Finland has more than doubled in the last five years from 82 to 212.

Business cooperation between Japan and Finland has been diversified. Recently, the cooperation in the field of Research and Development and others is in progress while in the past business collaboration and acquisition in wood, metal and machinery industries was mainly focused.”

Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Finland: “Tourism, particularly well-being and nature-related tourism is forecasted to grow. Flight connections between our countries continue to increase, not only to the Tokyo Haneda airport but to other destinations such as Hokkaido and Sapporo.”

“We are happy to see more and more Japanese coming to Finland and exploring new sites apart from Helsinki and Lapland. Finnish tourists to Japan are also discovering alternatives to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto such as Hokkaido, Okinawa, and Kyushu.”

Juha Pitkänen, Chairman of Finnish-Japanese Chamber of Commerce: “Japanese investors interested in opportunities in Finland should look out for Finnish start-ups with cutting-edge technologies. Our strong education system and research and development community have brought forth many successful start-ups that have created game-changing technological innovations.”

Risto Elomaa, President, International Sauna Association:  “Saunas are very popular for the Japanese, as sauna culture is very similar to the traditions built around Japan’s onsens. The Finnish sauna experience attracts many Japanese travelers to Finland where there are more than 3. million saunas for a population of 5.5 million.”

“To honor, the 100 year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and Japan, 100 saunas are participating in a two-year campaign that caters to Japanese tourists.”

Tina Ropo, CEO, Business Japan: “Doing business in Japan is relationship-driven. A strong network of personal contacts is vital and it takes time to establish and nurture these relations. An experienced partner not only helps you to open doors and build relationships, but also minimize chances of misunderstanding and miscommunication. It is the same from Japanese companies’ perspective when they are interested in entering the Finnish market or into growing their business in the EU through Finland.”

Timo Vuori, Executive Vice President, International Affairs, Finland Chamber of Commerce: “Finland is an engineering-driven society and we have always admired Japan’s technological leadership across various industries.”

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