Japan is one of Switzerland's most important trade partners in Asia. The two countries have strong trade ties and a long history of close economic, political and multilateral cooperation. Relations are excellent and are maintained at the highest level.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Japan
Key Aspects of Diplomatic Relations
Switzerland and Japan enjoy excellent, close relations. Japan is one of the eight priority countries of Swiss foreign policy for the period 2020–23. In April 2022, the then President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis made a presidential visit to Japan accompanied by a delegation of business leaders and academics.
Since 2009, Switzerland and Japan have been engaged in a political dialogue aimed at promoting bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries.
Switzerland and Japan tend to adopt similar positions in multilateral forums, particularly on issues relating to international cooperation, peace policy and nuclear disarmament. Both Switzerland and Japan are serving as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council in 2023 and 2024.
Economic relations between Japan and Switzerland are very close. Japan is a priority country for the promotion of Swiss exports and Switzerland's third largest trading partner in Asia after China (including Hong Kong) and India.
The Agreement on Free Trade and Economic Partnership between the Swiss Confederation and Japan, which entered into force on 1 September 2009, was the first free trade agreement signed by Japan with a European country.
The two countries engage in regular dialogue on financial matters in order to coordinate financial policy positions. Tourism and image promotion are two other important aspects of Switzerland's economic relations with Japan.
The Swiss Business Hub in Tokyo promotes Switzerland as a location for business.
Cooperation in Education, Research and Innovation
Japan is a major partner in Asia for Swiss education, research and innovation actors.
To boost these links, Switzerland and Japan signed an agreement on cooperation in science and technology in 2007, following which a bilateral programme. A joint committee meets regularly to discuss topics of common interest.
The science section of the Swiss embassy in Tokyo actively supports Swiss actors in education, research and innovation in their activities and in contacts with Japanese partners. In addition, on 30 September 2023 the inauguration of the new site of the Consulate in Switzerland, Swissnex in Japan was held in Osaka. Positioned as the first science consulate in Japan and the sixth main location within the global Swissnex Network, it will contribute significantly to promoting collaborations among universities, research institutions, and startups from both nations.
The Swiss embassy is particularly active in promoting cultural exchanges.
As part of the celebrations marking 160 years of diplomatic relations in 2024, the two countries will present various joint cultural projects.
In 2025, Switzerland will participate in the world expo in Osaka with a pavilion themed 'Innovative Switzerland'. At the initiative of Switzerland's representations in Japan, the public diplomacy programme "Vitality.Swiss" offers a platform for dialogue and participation on the road to the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2025.
Swiss Nationals in Japan
At the end of 2021, there were 1,800 Swiss nationals living in Japan.
History of Bilateral Relations
Switzerland has a long history of interest in Japan. The first trade delegation, led by watch industry representative Aimé Humbert, visited Japan in 1863. This visit resulted in the conclusion of a trade and friendship agreement the following year.
In 1906 Switzerland opened a representation in Tokyo. During the Second World War Switzerland represented the interests in Japan of many countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. Following an interruption in the 1945–52 period diplomatic relations were resumed in 1952, and in 1957 the embassy was reopened.