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Brussels, 27 May 2011

Factsheet on the 20th EU-Japan Summit in Brussels on 28 May 2011

The European Union and Japan are like-minded global partners and major economies sharing common values and principles. The EU has provided Japan with practical support as it deals with the aftermath of the terrible triple disaster of 11 March, and tangible demonstration of the bonds of friendship (or “kizuna”) between the EU and Japan. At the 19th EU-Japan Summit held in Tokyo on 28 April 2010 both sides called for a comprehensive strengthening of all aspects of Japan-EU relations.

The EU will be represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. Karel De Gucht, Commissioner for Trade, will also take part. Japan will be represented by Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan.

The parties are expected to discuss the following issues:

  • • Next steps for the further strengthening of EU-Japan political and economic relations;

  • • In light of the experience of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, working together to promote nuclear safety around the world;

  • • Other major global challenges, including economy, finance and trade issues, climate change and the environment and energy security;

  • • Key regional and international issues, including the latest situation in North Africa/Middle East, North Korea and Iran.

The Summit will be an opportunity to renew EU-Japan relationship, to take it to a higher level and to strengthen cooperation in order to better face common challenges.

A joint press statement is expected to be issued at the end of the Summit.

EU-Japan cooperation

In the 1970s and 1980s, the bilateral relationship between the European Union and Japan was dominated by trade friction. Trade and investment flows continue to be high on the agenda and relations in this field have become more constructive since the 1990s. However, there has been limited progress in dealing with a number of the EU’s long-standing concerns, in particular non-tariff barriers and access to the public procurement market in Japan. Foreign direct investment (including from the EU) is much lower in Japan than in other comparable industrialised economies.

Given the volume of trade between the EU and Japan, economic issues remain high on the agenda. Japan is the EU's sixth largest export market: in 2010 EU exports of goods to Japan were worth €44 billion, 3.2% of total EU exports, and with a 4.3% share of the EU's import market, represented by €65 billion, Japan is the six largest source of imports into the EU. Japan is the EU's 6th trading partner in overall trade volume.

In recent years, the EU-Japan relationship has expanded significantly beyond the economic arena. Both the EU and Japan are global actors and are seeking to cooperate closely on a wide range of political and global issues. They are both strongly committed to multilateralism and are important players on global governance, climate change, development cooperation, etc. The two sides have a close and intensive political dialogue covering the full range of foreign and security policy, covering issues ranging from the rapidly developing Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the situation in East Asia, Pakistan, and Central Asia to questions such as terrorism, maritime piracy or the promotion of human rights.

In terms of concrete cooperation, the EU and Japan are discussing support for institution-building efforts in the Palestinian Occupied Territory. They are also looking to enhance bilateral cooperation and coordination on humanitarian assistance and disaster management.

Background of EU-Japan relationship

  • 1959 Accreditation of Japan's first Representative to the European Communities

  • 1974 Establishment of the Delegation of the European Communities in Tokyo

  • 1984 First EC-Japan ministerial meeting

  • 1991 1st bilateral summit in the Hague

  • Adoption of a Joint Declaration on Relations between the European Community and its Member States and Japan, decision to intensify dialogue and strengthen partnership, including by holding annual summits

  • 2001 10th summit in Brussels

  • Adoption of the EU-Japan Action Plan “Shaping our common future”, including four major objectives i.e. promoting peace and security; strengthening the economic and trade partnership utilising the dynamism of globalisation for the benefit of all; coping with global and societal challenges; and bringing together people and cultures

  • 2006 Agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy

  • 2009 Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation (entered into force 29/3/2011)

  • Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force 2/1/2011)

  • 2010 19th summit in Tokyo on 28 April; decision to set up a High-Level Group to identify options for the comprehensive strengthening of all aspects of Japan-EU relations and defining the framework for implementing it

  • Upgrading of EC Delegation in Tokyo to European Union Delegation in line with Lisbon Treaty

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