Singapore and Japan celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2016. The bilateral relationship has deepened and broadened over the years, building on regular high-level exchanges and strong economic ties, to include multifaceted cooperation in non-traditional areas such as counter‑proliferation, defence, environment, biomedical research, export control and cyber-security. Both sides have further strengthened cooperation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, in areas such as supply chain connectivity, vaccine multilateralism and the resumption of business travel.
A key milestone in bilateral economic ties between Singapore and Japan is the Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for a New-Age Economic Partnership (JSEPA), signed by then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and then-Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2002. The agreement was Japan’s first bilateral economic partnership agreement and Singapore’s first with a major trading partner. In 2019, Japan was Singapore’s 7th largest trading partner. As of end-2018, Japan was Singapore’s 3rd largest investor, while Singapore was Japan’s top Asian and 4th largest foreign direct investor.
Both sides also share many common interests on regional and international issues and collaborate closely under Singapore’s largest and most successful joint training programme with another country – the Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century (JSPP21) – to provide technical assistance to third countries.