Diplomatic relations between the Maldives and Japan was established in 1967. Over the past four decades, relations of friendship and understanding between the two countries have grown from strength to strength. Since the mid 1980s, Japan has been one of the biggest bilateral development partners of the Maldives. From human resources development to environmental protection, sustainable fisheries to communication and humanitarian, and reconstruction assistance in the aftermath of the tsunami in 2004, Japanese assistance has now virtually reached all corners of the Maldivian archipelago. It could very well be that there isn’t a single Maldivian who has not, either directly or indirectly, benefited from the assistance provided by Japan.
The relations between the two countries reached new heights in April 2014 with the official visit of H.E. Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Maldives, to Japan. This was the first time for a Maldivian Head of State to make an official visit to Japan on the invitation of the Government of Japan. The visit took place from 14 to 17 April 2014. During the visit the two countries agreed to expand and accelerate cooperation based on over forty years of friendship and trust.
Over the past two years, two significant developments took place in the history of relations between the two countries which are worth mentioning. First, was the Official Visit of H.E. Mr. Yoshitaka Shindo, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, to the Maldives, from 29 June to 2 July 2013. Minister Shindo was the first Cabinet Minister and the highest ranking Japanese official to visit the Maldives during the past 47 years of relations between the two countries. Second, was the signing of the agreement under Japan’s Bilateral Offset Credit Mechanism (BOCM) aimed at achieving low carbon growth between Japan and the Maldives. The agreement was signed on 29 June 2013, in Okinawa, by H.E. Dr. Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Environment and Energy of Maldives and H.E. Mr. Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Environment of Japan, on behalf of their respective countries. Under the agreement, both countries, in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will work to achieve low carbon growth through promotion of investments, deployment of low carbon technologies, products, systems, services, infrastructure and capacity building in the Maldives.
The Maldives and Japan have also been working closely on important international issues of mutual interest such as peace and security, climate change, human security and promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world. The Maldives has also publicly announced its unreserved support for Japan’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
People to people contact as well as trade and commercial relations between the Maldives and Japan have been growing steadily over the years. Nearly 40 thousand Japanese tourists visit the Maldives annually. Several Japanese companies have invested in the Maldives in various sectors including in the fishing industry.