Japan-Denmark Relations

2021/9/17

History of the Bilateral Relationship



1. Early years – Edo period (from “History of Japan and Denmark cultural exchanges” by Professor NAGASHIMA Yoichi)

(1)  Japan and Denmark exchanged diplomatic missions on a reciprocal basis after conclusion of the "Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Denmark " in 1867.

(2)  About 200 years before that, in 1674, Denmark tried to deliver a letter from His Majesty King Christian V to Shogunate of Japan, requesting the commencement of marine transportation and trade.  The letter did not reach Japan.  
   In 1739, Mr. Spanbear, a deputy to Mr. Berling, who disovered Berling Strait, encountered with Japanese fishermen as the first Danish off the coast of Sendai, Japan. 

(3)  During summer in 1803, four Japanese nationals stayed in Copenhagen.  After ten years in Russia where they had been drifted due to the storm, they were finally on their way back to Japan with the Russian mission led by Mr. Nikolai REZANOV. 

(4)  In August 1846, Deputy Admiral Steen BILLE on board of “Galathea” arrived off the coast of Uraga in his search of opening the Japanese ports.  Mr. BILLE met Mr HASHIMOTO Fukami from Kawagoe.  The meeting was short but the first negotiation between Japan and Denmark recorded in writing. 

(5)  In June 1862, during the stay of the mission from Japan led by Mr. TAKEUCHI Yasunori in Hague, Danish Ambassador BILLE-BRAHE in Netherland delivered the request in person to Mr. TAKEUCHI to commence a negotiation for a friendship and commerce treaty.  However, the Japanese mission replied that Japan would not plan to conclude further treaties. (*In 1858, Japan concluded the friendship and commerce treaties with the US, the UK, Russia, France and Netherland and in 1960 with Portugal and Prussia.) 

(6)  In March 1864, Mr ENOMOTO Takeaki and AKAMATSU Noriyoshi, who were sent by Edo Shogunate to study in Netherland, visited Copenhagen and saw the Danish naval turret ironclad “Rolf Krake” and went to observe the front line of the battle between Denmark and Prussia as military officers. 

(7)   In 1865, Mr. D. de Graeff van POLSBROECK, Minister at Dutch Embassy in Japan requested for an early conclusion of friendship and commerce treaty to the Edo Shogunate.  In August 1866, a letter from His Majesty King Christian IV arrived.  Minister POLSBROECK met Mr. EZURE Kaga-no-kami Takanori.  A series of exchanges of letters and meetings followed and then in January 1867, the treaty for friendship, commerce, and navigation was concluded. 

 
2. Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) periods
 
(1) Exchanges between Imperial family and Royal family
 
-1886 (the 19th year of Meiji) His Imperial Highness, Prince Fushiminomiya Sadanaru visited Denmark.
-1887 (the 20th year of Meiji) His Imperial Highness Prince Komatsunomiya Akihito visited Denmark.
-1900 (the 33rd year of Meiji) His Royal Highness, Prince Valdemar
 
(2) Diplomatic relations
 
  In April 1873, the Mission led by Mr. IWAKURA Tomomi visited Copenhagen.  His Majesty King Christian IX gave an audience.  

3.  Showa period (1926-1989)

(1) Exchanges between Imperial family and Royal family

  The Imperial family of Japan and the Royal family of Denmark, the oldest one in Europe continued to maintain cordial relations. 

- In March 1930 (the 5th year of Showa), Their Royal Highnesses, Crown Prince Frederik (later on, His Majesty, King Frederik IX),  Prince Axel, and Knud visited Japan. 
- In 1952 (the 27th year of Showa), His Royal Highness Prince Axel visited Japan.
- In August 1953 (the 28th year of Showa), His Imperial Highness, Crown Prince visited Denmark. 
- In February 1957 (the 32nd year of Showa), His Royal Highness, Prince Axel visited Japan. 
- In May 1958 (the 33rd year of Showa), His Royal Highness Prince Axel visited Japan.
- In December 1963 (the 38th year of Showa), Her Royal Highness, Princess Margrethe visited Japan. 
- In November 1964 (the 39th year of Showa), Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Knud visited Japan. 
- In October 1965 (the 40th year of Showa), Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Masahito visited Denmark for friendship exchanges. 
- In 1968 (the 43rd year of Showa), His Imperial Highness Prince Tomohito visited Denmark during his study in the UK. 
- In April 1970 (the 45th year of Showa), Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and His Royal Highness Prince Consort Henrik visited Japan.  
- In September 1971 (the 46th year of Showa), Their Majesties Emperor and Empress visited Denmark. 
- In April 1981 (the 56th year of Showa), Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and His Royal Highness Prince Consort Henrik visited Japan as State Guest. 
- In May 1983 (the 58th year of Showa), Their Imperial Highnesses, Prince and Princess Masahito visited Denmark to honor the opening of the Japan Expo. 
- In May 1984 (the 59th year of Showa), His Royal Highness, Prince Consort Henrik visited Japan. 
- In May 1985 (the 60th year of Showa), Her Royal Highness, Princess Benedikte, Her Majesty’s sister visited Japan.
- In June 1985 (the 60th year of Showa), Their Imperial Highnesses, Crown Prince and Princess visited Denmark for friendship exchanges. 
- In November 1987 (the 62nd year of Showa), His Royal Highness, Prince Frederik visited Japan.
 
(2) Diplomatic relations (from Diplomatic Blue Books since 1957 (the 32nd year of Showa) 

- In 1957 (the 32nd year of Showa), air flights between Tokyo and Copenhagen started.  By that year, the visa treaty and the commerce and navigation treaty were concluded.  In September, Japan participated in the Danish international hobby exhibition in Copenhagen and in October, joined international chrysanthemum exhibition.  
- In 1959 (the 34th year of Showa), the convention on taxation was effectuated.  Agreement on resolution of compensation claim for the damages inflicted by the Japanese military actions during the war was signed. (Payment amounted to 423 million yen.)
- In 1962 (the 37th year of Showa), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan donated 107 books in English which introduced culture to Copenhagen municipal library. 
- In August and September 1963 (the 38th year of Showa), Foreign Minister OHIRA visited Denmark.  FM OHIRA was given audience to His Majesty, King Frederik IX and met Prime Minister Krag and Foreign Minister Hækkerup.  To Aarhus University, 220 books in English to introduce culture from international cultural exchanges association and 37 books from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan were donated. 
- In January 1964 (the 39th year of Showa), Foreign Minister Hækkerup visited Japan for the first time as Danish Foreign Minister.  FM was given audience by Their Majesties, Emperor and Empress and met Prime Minister IKEDA and Foreign Minister OHIRA.   
- In 1967 (the 42nd year of Showa), air talk with three Scandinavian countries commenced. 
- In 1968 (the 43rd year of Showa), the revised convention on taxation was signed. 
- In June 1969 (the 44th year of Showa), Foreign Minister Hartling visited Japan as Official Guest. 
- In January 1970 (the 45th year of Showa), the import system of Denmark was revised, abolishing the licensing scheme to Japan.  Direct import from Japan except for certain items was liberalized.  Commerce Minister Thomsen visited Japan to see Expo. 
- From November to December in 1971 (the 46th year of Showa), Fishery Minister Thomsen led the trade delegation to Japan. 
- In 1973 (the 48th year of Showa), Denmark acceded to the EC. 
- In November 1975 (the 50th year of Showa), Foreign Minister Andersen visited Japan as the guest of Foreign Ministry. 
- In December 1977 (the 52nd year of Showa), Prime Minister Jørgensen visited Japan to participate in Socialism International summit meeting. 
- In April 1978 (the 53rd year of Showa), External Economic Minister USHIBA visited Denmark.  In July after G7 Bonn Summit, Prime Minister FUKUDA, Foreign Minister SONODA and Finance Minister MURAYAMA stopped by Denmark. 
- In December 1979 (the 54th year of Showa), Foreign Minister Olesen visited Japan as the guest of Foreign Ministry. 
- In April 1981 (the 56th year of Showa), Foreign Minister Olesen accompanied Her Majesty, Queen Margrethe II’s visit to Japan as State Guest.  Prime Minister Jørgensen visited Japan in October. 
- In September 1982 (the 57th year of Showa), Foreign Minister SAKURAUCHI visited Denmark during her presidency of EC. 
- In June 1983 (the 58th year of Showa), Foreign Minister ABE visited Denmark.  Prime Minister Schluter visited Japan from July to August.  In August, Speaker of Folketing Jacobsen visited Japan. 
- In March 1984 (the 59th year of Showa), Finance Minister Christophersen visited Japan.  In May, Fishery Minister Kofoed visited Japan.  In October, Head of Technology Agency Kling visited Japan.  In December, Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen visited Japan. 
- In June 1985 (the 60th year of Showa), Foreign Minister ABE visited Denmark. 
- In August and September 1986 (the 61st year of Showa), Agriculture Minister Holberg visited Japan. 
- In August and September 1988 (the 63rd year of Showa), Premier Home Rule Government Greenland Motzfeldt visited Japan.  In September, Social Affairs Minister Olesen visited Japan.  In October, Agriculture Minister Tørnæs visited Japan. 

 
4. Heisei period (1989-2019)

(1)   Exchanges between Imperial family and Royal family

- In 1991 (the 3rd year of Heisei), Their Imperial Highnesses, Prince and Princess Masahito visited Denmark to honor the opening of Japan Traditional Craft Exhibition and Japan Contemporary Print Exhibition. 
- In September 1996 (the 8th year of 1996), Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Norihito travelled to Denmark.
- In May and June 1998 (the 10th year of Heisei), Their Majesties Emperor and Empress visited Denmark for friendship exchanges. 
- In July 2001 (the 13th year of Heisei), Her Royal Highness, Princess Elizabeth visited Japan. 
- In 2004 (the 16th year of Heisei), His  Imperial Highness, Crown Prince visited Denmark to attend the royal wedding of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Princess.  In November, Her Majesty, the Queen Margarethe II and His Royal Highness Prince Consort Henrik visited Japan as State Guests. 
- In April 2005 (the 17th year of Heisei), Their Royal Highnesses t Crown Prince and Crown Princess visited Japan to attend Aichi Expo.
- In June 2011 (the 23rd year of Heisei), after the Great East Japan Earthquake, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik visited Higashimatsushima city in Miyagi prefecture.  His Royal Highness Crown Prince cheered the affected people by joining soccer game with children, while visiting a nursery school repaired by supports from Danish companies, an elementary school and so on.  
- In October, His Royal Highness, Prince Joachim and Her Royal Highness, Princess Marie visited Japan on the occasion of the art work exhibition of Her Majesty, the Queen Margarethe II.  Their Royal Highnesses had an audience with Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress, and also met children invited to the workshop. 
- In March 2015 (the 27th year of Heisei), Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Princess visited Japan for Greenland Promotion, which was hosted by the home rule government of Greenland to introduce Greenlandic culture, fishery and other products, resources, tourism among others. 
- In June 2017 (the 29th year of Heisei), on the occasion of 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations, His Imperial Highness, Crown Prince visited Denmark and attended luncheon with Her Majesty, the Queen Margarethe II and Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Princess.  His Imperial Highness, Crown Prince also gave an audience to Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. 
  In October, Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Princess visited Japan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Samuelsen, Culture and Ecclesiastical Affairs Minister Bock, Environment and Food Minister Larsen, Health Minister Nørby and business delegation.  Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Princess attended luncheon hosted by Their Majesties Emperor and Empress and dinner hosted by Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Princess. 

(2) Diplomatic relations

  While the traditional friendship exchanges between Imperial family and Royal family proceeded through Heisei period, the bilateral relations between Japan and Denmark developed steadfastly.  In view of leaders’ diplomacy, firstly, in 2002 (the 14th year of Heisei), during the EU Presidency of Denmark, mutual visits between Prime Minister KOIUMI and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen took place.  Secondly, in 2009 (the 21st year of Heisei), around the occasion of UN Climate Change Framework Convention COP 15, mutual visits between Prime Minister HATOYAMA and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen were realized.  Thirdly, in 2014 (the 26th year of Heisei), during the visit by Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt to Japan, “Strategic Partnership” document was agreed with Prime Minister ABE.  Fourthly, in 2017 (the 29th year of Heisei), on the occasion of 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations Prime Minister ABE and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen visited each other. 

A) 11th Japan EU Regular Summit Meeting and 4th ASEM Leaders Meeting in 2002 

  In July 2002 (the 14th year of Heisei), Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Japan to attend the 11th Japan EU Regular Summit Meeting and met Prime Minister KOIZUMI. 
  In September, Prime Minister visited Copenhagen to attend the ASEM Leaders’ Meeting and shared his account on his latest visit to North Korea.  Under close communication between Japan and Denmark, “ASEM Copenhagen political declaration for the peace of Korean peninsula” was adopted and so on.  In December, at the end of the EU Presidency of Denmark, the fifth enlargement of EU was decided which led to accession of 10 new members from east Europe etc.
All in all, the Japanese and Danish relations contributed to the development of Japan-EU relationship as well.  

B) UN-FCCC COP15 in 2009

  In October 2009 (the 21st year of Heisei), Prime Minister HATOYAMA visited Denmark and had the bilateral summit with Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, exchanging the views on a candidature of Tokyo for 2016 Olympic Game, cooperation between Japan and Denmark for a success of COP 15.  In December, Prime Minister HATOYAMA revisited Denmark to attend COP 15 and met Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.  In 2010, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen also visited Japan. 

C) Agreement of “Strategic Partnership” in 2014 

  In March 2014 (the 26th year of Heisei), Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt visited Japan and met Prime Minister ABE.  Both leaders issued the joint statement to establish “Strategic Partnership”. (*see the document at https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000029492.pdf)  Following the leaders’ meeting, from the end of April to early May, Foreign Minister KISHIDA visited Denmark officially for the first time in 29 years as a Japanese Foreign Minister and met Foreign Minister Lidegaard, Trade and Development Minister Jensen, Prime Minister of home rule government of Greenland Hammond, and so on.
  
D) The 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2017

  Japan and Denmark commemorated the 150th anniversary.  His Imperial Highness, Crown Prince and His Royal Highness, Prince Frederik assumed the position of honorable chairs of each other’s projects for the anniversary.   On 18 January, at the National Museum in Denmark, the opening ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary was held and State Minister for Foreign Affairs KISHI participated.  Through the year 2017, various anniversary events took place both in Denmark and Japan. 
  In July, Prime Minister ABE visited Denmark and met Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.  Both leaders shared the recognition to further promote the strategic partnership in various areas.  Foreign Minister KONO and Foreign Minister Samuelsen discussed and share the recognition for further development of “Strategic Partnership” in 2014, collaboration on Arctic and so on.  In 2018, Foreign Minister KONO visited Denmark to attend the “P4G Copenhagen Summit” and met Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Samuelsen to reaffirm that both sides will continue to further cooperate for strategic partnership.

5. Reiwa period (2019-) 

(1) Exchanges between Imperial family and Royal family 

  In October 2019 (the first year of Reiwa), Their Royal Highnesses, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary visited Japan to participate in the Enthronement Ceremony.  

(2) Diplomatic relations

  In October 2019 (the first year of Reiwa), Defense Minister KONO and Defense Minister Bramsen had a telephone conference. 
  In August 2020 (the second year of Reiwa), Foreign Minister MOTEGI and Foreign Minister Kofod had a telephone conference.   
  Bilateral dialogues at various levels are taking place to revise and update the “Japan-Denmark Strategic Partnership” on which two leaders agreed in 2014 and to enhance the bilateral relations, taking into account the further development of trade and investment relations following the effectuation of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement in February 2019, collaboration on climate change with Japan’s target to decarbonize the society by 2050 and Denmark’s objective to reduce the greenhouse gases for 70% by 2030, further digitalization in the wake of COVID-19, possible cooperation over Free and Open Indo Pacific and so on. In June 2021, Development Cooperation Minister Mortensen participated in the COVAX AMC Summit cohosted by Japan and Gavi to secure vaccine for developing countries.   

(3) Economic relations 

  Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, preventive measures of infection on travelling have impacted negatively on trade and investment. However, between Denmark and Japan, there has been some increase of mutual investment, for example, in pharmaceutical area. In 2021, Danish economy is recovering thanks to re-opening of the society and vaccination programs. Japanese economy is expected to show movements of picking up, supported by the effects of policies and improvement in overseas economies, while socio-economic activities will be resumed with measures to prevent the spread of infectious disease and to accelerate vaccinations. Efforts are being made to end the pandemic and revitalize the mutual trade and investment. In August 2021, Food, Agriculture and Fishery Minister Prehn visited Japan, on behalf of Cultural (Sports) Minister, to attend the Tokyo Olympic Games and met Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Minister Nogami.

(4) Cultural, sports and people to people exchanges

  The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed due to COVID-19. The Games were safely held from July to September in 2021. Following the visit of Minister Prehn, Cultural (Sports) Minister Halsboe-Jørgensen visited Japan to participate in the Paralympic Games. She met Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hagiuda. Denmark got 3 Gold(badminton, bicycle and sailing), 4 Silver and 4 Bronze medals for the Olympic Games and 3 Gold (equestrian and taekwondo), 1 Silver and 1 Bronze for the Paralympic Games.

Recent High-Level Visits between Japan and Denmark

From Japan to Denmark

  • 1993 Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Minister Mr. TANABE
  • 1998 Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress
  • 2002 Finance Minister, Mr. SHIOKAWA
  • 2002 Prime Minister Mr. KOIZUMI
  • 2003 Minister of Environment Ms. KOIKE
  • 2004 His Imperial Highness Crown Prince
  • 2009 Prime Minister Mr. HATOYAMA (in October and December)2009 Minister of Environment Mr. OZAWA
  • 2013 Minister for Reconstruction, Mr. NEMOTO
  • 2013 Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Mr. AMARI
  • 2013 Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Mr. SHINDO
  • 2014 Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. KISHIDA
  • 2017 Minister of State Mr. KATO
  • 2017 His Imperial Highness Crown Prince
  • 2017 Prime Minister Mr. ABE
  • 2018 Foreign Minister Mr. KONO

From Denmark to Japan

  • 1989 Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Ellemann-Jensen
  • 1989 Minister for Industry and Trade Mr. Wilhjelm
  • 1989 Minister for Environment Ms. Dybkjær
  • 1989 Minister for Education Mr. Haarder
  • 1991Her Royal Highness, Queen’s Mother Ingrid
  • 1991 Prime Minister Mr. Schluter
  • 1992 Minister for Finance Mr. Dyremose
  • 1992Minister for Industry Mr. Lundholt
  • 1992 Minister for Housing Mr. Hoffman
  • 1993 Minister for Economic Affairs Ms. Jelved
  • 1993 Minister for Development Cooperation, Ms. Degn
  • 1993 Minister for Finance Mr. Lykketoft
  • 1993 Minister for Industry Mr. Trøjborg
  • 1993 Minister for Agriculture and Fishery Mr. Westh
  • 1994 Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Petersen
  • 2001 Minister for Economic Affairs Ms. Jelved
  • 2001 Speaker of the Folketinget Mr. Hansen
  • 2001 Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth
  • 2001 Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs Mrs. Færgo
  • 2002 Prime Minister Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen
  • 2003 Minister of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs Mr. Haarder
  • 2003 Minister for the Environment Mr. Schmidt
  • 2004 Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Consort
  • 2004 Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Møller
  • 2005 Their Royal Highness The Crown Prince and The Crown Princess
  • 2005 Minister of Economic and Business Affairs Mr Bendtsen
  • 2006 Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
  • 2008 President of Supreme Court Mr Melchior
  • 2009 Minister for Climate Change Ms. Hedegaard
  • 2010 Prime Minster Lars Løkke Rasmussen
  • 2010 Minister for the Environment Ms. Ellemann
  • 2011 His Royal Highness Crown Prince
  • 2011 Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Joachim
  • 2012 Minister for Trade and Investment Ms. Dyhr
  • 2012 Minister for Development Cooperation Mr. Bach
  • 2012 Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Søvndal
  • 2012 Minister for Climate, Energy and Building Mr. Lidegaard
  • 2013 Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Ms. Hækkerup
  • 2014 Minister for Transportation Ms. Dyhr
  • 2014 Prime Minister Ms. Thorning-Schmidt
  • 2015 Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess
  • 2015 Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Mr. Jørgensen
  • 2015 Premier of Greenland Mr. Kielsen
  • 2016 Speaker of Danish Parliament, Ms. Kjærsgaard
  • 2017 Minister for Environment and Food Mr. Larsen
  • 2017 Minister for Industry Mr. Mikkelsen
  • 2017 Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess
  • 2017 Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Samuelsen
  • 2017 Minister for Culture and Ecclesiastical Affairs Ms. Bock
  • 2017 Minister for Health, Ms. Nørby
  • 2017 Minister for Senior Citizens, Ms. Frank
  • 2018 Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Faroe Islands Mr. Michelsen
  • 2018 Minister for Science and Higher Education Mr. Pind
  • 2018 Minister for Employment Mr. Poulsen
  • 2018 Minister for Environment and Food Mr. Ellemann-Jensen
  • 2019 Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess
  • 2021 Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fishery Mr. Prehn
  • 2021 Minister for Culture (Sports) Ms. Halsboe-Jørgensen