Official bilateral relations between Chile and Japan can be traced back over a century, beginning with the signing of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation in 1897. Previously, in 1890, Chile had already established its first Consulate General in Japan.
The political relationship between the two countries began promisingly with the Chilean Government’s gesture to transfer to Japan the warship Esmeralda in the late 19th century. This ship – renamed Izumi – fought and had an outstanding participation in the naval battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese war in 1905.
At a political level, contacts were maintained until the suspension of diplomatic relations in 1943, which were restored in the early fifties. Since then, bilateral ties have been strengthened at the highest level through the visits paid to Chile by Japanese Prime Ministers Nobosuke Kishi (1959), Ryutaro Hashimoto (1996) and Junichiro Koizumi (APEC 2004), as well as the visits to Japan made by Chilean Presidents Patricio Aylwin (1992), Eduardo Frei (1994, APEC 1995 and 1997), Michelle Bachelet (2007) and Sebastián Piñera (APEC 2010, 2012).
Legislative ties were strengthened with Japan’s creation of the Japan-Chile Parliamentary Friendship League in 1984, in order to foster ties between both countries and their Congresses. For the same purpose, Chile created the Chile-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group in 1992. Both groups are made up of senators and deputies, who have carried out an extensive visiting schedule and joint activities.
In the economic and trade fields, although shipping lines had been established in the 20’s and saltpeter had already been sold since 1905, relations flourished rapidly after World War II. One of the major milestones in this field was reached in 2007 with the signing of the Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries, the first to be signed between Japan and a South American country.
In the private sector noteworthy is the Chile-Japan Business Committee, a mechanism composed of businesspeople from both countries who meet regularly to discuss the main aspects of the mutual trade and economic relationship.
Chile has an active, diverse and high-level bilateral relationship with Japan, with which it also shares core values such as democracy and the respect for human rights. Its privileged location on the shores of the Pacific Ocean; its political, cultural and social stability, as well as its strong economy have turned it into a recipient of major Japanese investment, being the prospects of this relationship optimum.