Canada-Japan at 95: Strong and Forward-Looking; Ambassador Highlights Nations’ Multifaceted Ties

Courtesy of the Embassy of Canada to Japan
Ian McKay, Ambassador of Canada to Japan

Canada and Japan have been deepening ties as strategic partners, with the shared aim of countering challenges to the rules-based international order. To mark the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the two nations’ diplomatic relations, Canadian Ambassador to Japan Ian McKay contributed the following piece to The Japan News.


While our ties go back much further, it was 95 years ago this week – on May 21, 1929 – that Canada opened its official mission in Japan, formalizing full bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries. Today our relationship is thriving across multiple fields, including politics, defense, trade and investment, science and technology, and people-to-people connections.

In the 95 years since Canada-Japan diplomatic ties were initiated, the relationship is more important than ever. The Canada-Japan Action Plan commits our two countries to cooperate on initiatives that promote the rule of law, economic growth, energy security, biodiversity, and climate change action, and Japan stands at the core of Canada’s broader Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Canada’s increased defense presence in the Indo-Pacific is creating new opportunities to work alongside Japan, including with the visit of three Royal Canadian Navy frigates to Japan last year and more deployments in 2024. There is also a larger regional presence for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Army, and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. Cooperation and information-sharing in areas such as cyber, space, and Women, Peace and Security continue to grow. Canada has also expanded its efforts to uphold international fisheries agreements and to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the North Pacific.

Thanks to our complementary economies, the Canada-Japan commercial relationship is flourishing. As founding members, Canada and Japan work together in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Canada chairs in 2024. Canada is partnering with Japan to establish resilient, secure, and sustainable supply chains, including in critical technologies and minerals, supported by a well-functioning rules-based multilateral trading system.

As we celebrate Canada-Japan at 95 and look forward, the relationship is rapidly expanding with many new opportunities to collaborate. Numerous Canadian delegations visit Japan to discuss security, trade, science, environment, education and culture, and we are preparing to showcase the very best of Canada as we work with Japan to deliver an unforgettable Canada Pavilion for Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai.

Strengthened Canada-Japan cooperation is taking place in an increasingly difficult geopolitical, economic, and environmental context, but our solid foundation is a source of strength. In their meetings last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reaffirmed their determination to address global challenges together, notably by cooperating in the context of Canada’s 2025 Group of Seven (G7) presidency and beyond – pledging to protect our democracies, promote human rights, and maintain the rules-based international order.

Canada and Japan are natural partners. Our frameworks for cooperation underscore our common values and priorities, and our shared vision for the future. As we celebrate all that we have achieved together since 1929, I am excited by the enormous potential of the Canada-Japan relationship and all we can accomplish in the next 95 years.