Bilateral Relations

The cradle of the bilateral relations between Japan and Rwanda can be traced back in 1965, when Mr. Masaya Hattori of the Bank of Japan arrived in Rwanda as the second governor of the Banque Nationale du Rwanda under the sponsorship of International Monetary Fund (IMF). He has contributed to the establishment and development of the current Rwandan financial system. His achievements have been highly appreciated in Rwanda. Later in the mid 1990s, Dr. Sadako Ogata, who was President of JICA from 2003 to 2012 and High Commissioner of the UNHCR from 1991 to 2000, engaged in providing assistance to Rwandan refugees and internally displaced people. Japanese Self Defense Forces was also dispatched to Rwanda for the relief of Rwandan refugees.

Japan and Rwanda have successfully established a good friendship which is still growing. H.E. President Paul Kagame has already visited Japan four times, most recently in June 2013 for the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) which was held in Yokohama. In 2009, Ms. Seiko Hashimoto, the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs visited Rwanda with a delegation from public and private tourism sector, and discussed about development of tourism sector, bilateral relationship and regional affairs. In this context, the number of Japanese tourists who visited Rwanda increased to 1,500 in 2009. Even if this number decreased somehow after the Great East Japan Earthquake, more Japanese tourists are expected to visit Rwanda which has the lure of gorilla trekking tour and so on.

Regarding the economic relationship, Rwanda exports especially coffee and artistic crafts, on the other hand Japan exports mainly automobile. There is an excess of imports on Rwandan side and more attractive merchandises development by Rwandan side is desirable.

As for the economic cooperation, JICA Rwanda Office was established in 2005 and it promotes economic cooperation for Rwanda in several fields including agriculture, education, water and infrastructures. Around 35 JICA volunteers are vigorously engaged in different development activities across the country.
Up to the end of 2009, bilateral relations between Japan and Rwanda were channeled through the Embassy of Japan in Kenya. The opening of the Embassy of Japan in Rwanda in January 2010 is a testimony to Japan’s willingness to further strengthen diplomatic relations. Since then, the Embassy has been making efforts to deepen the relations between Japan and Rwanda.