Japan-Ireland Relations

February 16, 2022

Overview of the Bilateral Relationship

Japan and Ireland have long maintained a friendly relationship. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1957. The Japanese legation in Ireland was upgraded to an embassy in 1964, while Ireland established its embassy in Tokyo in 1973. The 60th Anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations was celebrated in 2017. As important partners with shared values, the bilateral relationship has enjoyed remarkable developments on various spheres in the recent past.

High-Level Visits

Ireland to Japan
Year Name
2004 Prime Minister Bertie Ahern
2005 President Mary McAleese
2005 Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs Noel Treacy
2006 Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche
2006 Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern
2006 Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin
2007 Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children and Special Envoy of the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Ireland Donogh O'Malley
2007 Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern
2008 Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Mary Coughlan
2008 Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan
2009 Prime Minister Brian Cowen
Accompanied by:
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment John McGuinness
2009 Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keeffe
2010 Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan
2011 Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore
2012 Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
2012 Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Sean Sherlock
2012 Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government Fergus O'Dowd
2013 Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar (March)
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton (July)
Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills with special responsibility for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock (October)
Prime Minister Enda Kenny (December)
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney (December)
2014 Speaker of the Upper House Paddy Burke (February)
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald (March)
2015 Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin (March)
2016 Minister of State for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy (September)
Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan (October)
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchel-O’Connor (November)
2017 Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan (February)
Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform Pascal Donohue (March)
Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald (September)
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed (November)
2018 Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy (March)
2019 Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan (March)
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed (June)
Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen (attended TICAD VII) (August)
Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D’Arcy (September)
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys (October)
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross (October)
Speaker of the Upper House (Cathaorleach) Denis O’Donovan (attended the Enthronement Ceremony of the Emperor Naruhito) (October)
Japan to Ireland
Year Name
2000 Princess Sayako (the present Ms. Sayako Kuroda)
2002 Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs and for Science and Technology Policy Omi
2002 Senior Vice Minister for Finance Taniguchi
2003 Princess Takamado
2004 Senior Vice Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Harada
2005 The Emperor and Empress
2006 Senior Vice Minister for Health, Labour and Welfare Akamatsu
2007 Senior Vice Minister for Finance Tanaka
2007 Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Fukui
2012 Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yamane
2012 Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shimba
2013 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Shimomura (May)
Prime Minister Abe (June)
Chairman of the Standing Committee on Budget, the House of Representatives Yamamoto (July)
2017 Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida (January)
Princess Takamado (July)
2018 State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakane (January)
2020 State Minister of Cabinet Office (in charge of Finance and Economic Financial Policy) Miyashita (February)

Political Relations

In 2013, mutual visits by the political leaders were realised for the first time in the history of bilateral relations; in June, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Dublin and in December Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Tokyo. The two leaders decided to launch a new Japan-Ireland Partnership for Innovation and Growth. In January 2017, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida visited Ireland, followed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Flanagan’s visit to Japan from February to March, on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.

Economic Relations

Trade and investment between the two countries have been in favorable condition in general. The Government of Ireland actively promotes exports as well as inward investment from foreign companies.

The exports from Ireland to Japan were 703.1 billion yen in 2020, while Japan's exports to Ireland were 95 billion yen in the same year. The main import items from Ireland are optical instruments and medicines. As for exports to Ireland, the main items are medicines and cars.

Japan's investment to Ireland is in areas such as ICT, pharmaceutical, life-science and financial services. The number of Japanese companies in Ireland is around 84 as of 2020.

Cultural Exchanges

Many cultural activities, such as Experience Japan, the Japanese Film Festival and the Japanese Language Contest, have been implemented by both governments and other organisations, including the Japan Foundation and the Ireland Japan Association.

Since 1988, almost 1,400 Irish people have taken part in the JET Programme, including the 54 Irish JETs in 2021.

In 2019, the Rugby World Cup in Japan further promoted mutual understanding between the two nations and mutual exchanges between local communities.

Japanese Residents

The number of Japanese residents in Ireland is 2,768 as of October 2020, while that of Irish residents in Japan is 1,128 as of December 2020. Japan-Ireland Working Holiday programme started from January 2007.

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