SJCC Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce
News / 2024

World Economic Forum in Davos: 160 years of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Japan

January 19, 2024

SJCC reception at the House of Switzerland

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin paid tribute to the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Japan.

Acting as a catalyst for civil society, the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce actively promotes robust economic relations between the two countries. Using the House of Switzerland as a focal point at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, the Chamber provides a platform for dialogue to enhance synergies and explore economic opportunities between Switzerland and Japan. In pursuit of this goal, the Chamber of Commerce hosted an anniversary reception on the 16th of January to mark the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In his address, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, in the presence of political and business leaders, underlined the excellent long-standing relations between the two countries and the continuous development of bilateral cooperation. In this context, Federal Councillor Parmelin emphasized the opportunity to update the existing free trade agreement between the two countries in order to further intensify economic cooperation.

Minister Masahiro Nakata from the Embassy of Japan in Switzerland underlined the good bilateral relations between the countries. He remembered the victims of the devastating earthquake occurred at the beginning of the year.

At the event, member of the Swiss parliament Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter also expressed her confidence that economic collaboration between Switzerland and Japan could be further expanded. She referred to the Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, who has been in office since September. In a guest article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Foreign Minister described the anniversary year as an opportunity to take bilateral economic relations with Switzerland to a new level.

Christoph Mäder, President of the business association Economiesuisse, acknowledged the fruitful relations between Switzerland and Japan, which have long gone beyond economic cooperation. He recalled Japan’s historic commitment in 1887 as the first Asian country to join the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was founded in Switzerland. Mäder described the successful introduction of the Free Trade Agreement in 2009 as a milestone, while noting the need to modernise the agreement in view of its untapped economic potential.

As the only Asian member of the G7, Japan plays a pivotal role in global affairs. Given the current geopolitical landscape, the country is therefore of particular importance to Switzerland, especially in terms of shared understanding of democratic values. In this regard, Martin Herb, President of the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the enduring stability of relations and the mutual respect for the rule of law in both countries, as well as the key role of the Chamber of Commerce as a hub for successful economic cooperation.