History of Relations | Diplomatic Representation | Travel Info | Health Requirements | Climate Info | Currency Info | Trade Info | Visits and Meetings | Agreements | Interest Groups/ Organisations

History of Relations


South Africa established a Consulate General in November 1962 at the Imperial Hotel (Tokyo). Consular relations were upgraded to full diplomatic relations on 13 January 1992. During this period, Japan's relations with South Africa remained limited, including supporting UN sanctions. Full diplomatic relations were only established after 1994. Former President Nelson Mandela, visited Japan in July 1995. Mr Mandela paid tribute to those who had contributed to the struggle against apartheid and stated that with the ending of apartheid, South Africa's relations with Japan could only grow from strength to strength.

Subsequent to Mr Mandela's visit, Deputy President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki held a successful working visit to Tokyo, in April 1998 which contributed to the strengthening of relations between South Africa and Japan. Whilst acknowledging that South Africa and Japan were important partners in their pursuit of a common world order based on peace, democracy, justice and equality, the then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and Deputy President Mbeki resolved to deepen, strengthen and diversify this bilateral relationship (Partnership between South Africa and Japan for the 21st Century). In October 1998, Deputy President Mbeki attended the Second Tokyo International Conference on Development (TICAD II) in support of the importance that South Africa attached to its bilateral relationship with Japan, as well as to address the conference on the African Renaissance.

President, Mr Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki and his wife Mrs Zanele Mbeki paid a State Visit to Japan from 1 to 3 October 2001, at the invitation of the Government of Japan. President Mbeki was accompanied by Six Ministers (Dr Dlamini Zuma: Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr BS Ngubane: Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology; Mr A Erwin: Minister of Trade and Industry; Mr V Moosa: Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; Ms AT Didiza: Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs; and Dr ME Tshabala-Msimang: Minister of Health. During the State Visit, President Mbeki renewed an invitation to Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress to visit South Africa. An invitation was also extended to Prime Minister Koizumi to visit South Africa.

Prime Minister Koizumi re-affirmed Japan's policy statement on Africa, made by the then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori during his visit to South Africa in January 2001. A variety of bilateral and multilateral issues were discussed between President Mbeki and PM Mori during his visit to South Africa. In his keynote address, PM Mori emphasised Japan's contribution to global peace and prosperity, and Japan's wish to synchronise the TICAD process with NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development).

During the State Visit, both countries confirmed their common views on many issues facing the international community in the twenty-first century and expressed their determination to strengthen the cooperative relationship between North and South towards the achievement of international peace and prosperity. Japan commended South Africa for its leadership as the chair of various international fora including the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and the Commonwealth, and its contributions to such international conferences as the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). Both countries decided to intensify cooperation towards the successful conclusion of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. They also reaffirmed the need to strengthen cooperation on other global environmental issues, including global warming and fresh water resources in fora such as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP7), Oct-Nov 2001 and the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto in March 2003.

Through its Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) programme, Japan has been very supportive of South Africa, to assist in its nation building in 1994 and in 1999. The ODA commitment was mainly intended for the previously disadvantaged in South Africa. Japan has also supported SA's human resource development project under the auspices of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Many South Africans have participated in these very important and advantageous training programmes in Japan. In 2001, South Africa and Japan signed an agreement for the dispatch of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) who have been deployed in South Africa and have provided assistance in the educational, health and agricultural sectors.

This year will mark the Seventh Japan-South African Partnership Forum, which will take place in Tokyo. This is a high-level interaction of senior government officials (from both countries) where various bilateral and multilateral issues are discussed between the government of Japan and the government of South Africa. This forum has witnessed the successful conclusion of a Science and Technology Agreement between the government of Japan and South African in August 2003.


Bilateral trade between Japan and South Africa had been expanding since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1992. Companies such as the Toyota Motor Corp had entered South Africa in 1962 and investment by Japanese companies continued during this period.

South Africa exports mainly primary products (base metals, agricultural products, etc) to Japan whilst importing technology-intensive goods from Japan. An interesting and significant change in the nature of exports to Japan can be discerned with South Africa becoming the second largest exporter of motor vehicles to Japan in 2003.

There has been over Yen 100-billion in Japanese investments to South Africa since 1994. Japanese investments into South Africa are mostly in the automotive, metals and chemicals sectors.

The first "Japan-South Africa Business Forum" between business organisations was launched in Tokyo on 3 October 2001, during the State Visit by President Mbeki and has become an important mechanism which facilitates business relations between South Africa and Japan.

South African Japan Parliamentary Friendship League

The Japan-South Africa Parliamentary Friendship League will be ten years old. The main aim of this forum is to further mutual cooperation and promote friendship between Diet members in Japan and their South African counterparts.

TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development)

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was launched in 1993 to provide assistance to Africa. TICAD II was held in October 1998 in Tokyo. The "African Development Towards the 21st Century: the Tokyo Agenda for Action" was adopted at TICAD II with the aim of ensuring policy implementation. The Tokyo Agenda for Action expressed the commitment of African countries to the agreed goals in social development, economic development, increased cooperation between Asia and Africa and the foundations of development, namely, good governance, conflict prevention, etc.

A high level delegation led by President Mbeki participated at the TICAD III from 29 September to 1 October 2003. The Government of Japan has sought to keep the issue of African development on the global agenda through the TICAD process. It is through this TICAD process that Japan seeks to support the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) in various projects including infrastructure, agriculture, ICT, education, health and capacity building. In May 2003, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stated that "Japan's basic policy on cooperation with Africa will be to support NEPAD through the TICAD process, and to expand partnership for that purpose ..... and maintain solidarity between NEPAD and G8, and cooperation with international organisations at the centre of our partnership".

At the TICAD III, President Mbeki expressed appreciation to the government for Japan for its commitment to the TICAD process and for championing the cause of African development. President Mbeki also placed emphasis on the role that Japan can play in realising the objectives of NEPAD in priority areas such as: agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, capacity building, expertise and resources of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), trade and investment, and informing the Japanese private sector of the new opportunities which exist in Africa.

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in Japan

Mr L S Ngonyama
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy

Japanese Representation in South Africa

H E Mr Mr N Maruyama
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of Japan

Travel Info

Visa Requirements for South Africans

For more information contact the Embassy of Japan in Pretoria.

Health Requirements

No immunisation before departure from South Africa is necessary. Malaria is not a problem in Japan. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from an infected area.

For further information go to Travelers' Health.


Tokyo is hot and humid during the summer months of June, July and August and cold and dry in winter. Please note that July is known as the rainy season and that September is the monsoon season. Temperatures from June to August can go up to 38 degrees C with a humidity level of 70 - 90% or more.

For up-to-date weather information click here.


The monetary unit is the Yen. The Japanese make use of both Yen coins and Yen bank notes. The smallest note is a 1000 Yen note and the smallest coin is the one Yen coin. The currency is often referred to as the "en", and abbreviated to Y. The symbol for Yen is "Y. The currency is freely convertible. Japan is a cash based society. Even though credit cards are used freely in Japan, it is still recommended that travellers be in possession of Yen at all times.

For current exchange rates click here.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

No Information

Bilateral Agreements

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at 012 351 1000.

Trade Info

South Africa's exports to Japan consist mainly of mineral products, base metals and agricultural produce, including: precious stones and metals, iron and steel, ores, aluminium, wood, mineral fuel and oil, salt, sulphur, earth, stone, inorganic chemicals, sugars, preserved food, fish and seafood.

For current information on trade statistics between South Africa and Japan, visit the website the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa.

Interest Groups and Information

South Africa-Japan Parliamentary Friendship League,

South African Trade Association (SATA): contact person is Mr Toshio Makiura at tel: 8144 954 5620 and Fax 8144 954 5621,

Springbok Club, contact person is Mr Toshio Makiura at tel: 8144 954 8991


Do all Japanese people speak English?

Unfortunately not many Japanese speak English. For assistance in English you may contact either a police office or English speaking personnel at any of the International Hotels. Travellers are advised to purchase a phrase book before visiting Japan.

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