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Visit to Ireland of Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr. Fumio Kishida

Sake Barrel Opening Ceremony

Visit to Ireland of Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr. Fumio Kishida

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr. Fumio Kishida, visited Ireland on 9-10 January as part of a trip to Europe. It was the first visit by a sitting Japanese Foreign Minister in more than 25 years.

Opening Ceremony

The visit coincided with the Opening Ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan in 2017, hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Mr. Charles Flanagan. Minister Kishida attended the event as guest of honour.

“60 years is a very significant landmark in the Japanese calendar, denoting the completion of one cycle of life and the starting of another. This Japanese tradition offers the perfect opportunity to take stock of the excellent relations we have enjoyed over the past 60 years, and to look ahead to the next 60. This anniversary is an occasion to celebrate our strong friendship based on shared values. Foreign Minister Kishida and I had a very useful discussion and together we agreed to strengthen and deepen our ties in the coming years.” Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Mr. Charles Flanagan

Taiko drumming

At the Opening Ceremony guests enjoyed an exhibition of taiko drumming by the Experience Japan Taiko Team, accompanied by Irish dancing and performances on the shinobue and shakuhachi flutes - a wonderful example of cross-cultural artistic expression.

Daruma Doll

During the Ceremony, Minister Kishida presented Minister Flanagan with a gift of a Japanese Daruma doll, symbolising a wish for the success of a project, in this case the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Minister Kishida also awarded three Commendations and one Letter of Appreciation to recognise outstanding contribution to the deepening of the Ireland-Japan relationship by selected individuals or groups. The winner of the logo contest launched to find a commemorative logo for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations was awarded a return air flight between Dublin and Tokyo, sponsored by Japan Airlines.

The occasion also saw the launch of a study by the Institute of International and European Affairs, commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, which maps the bilateral relationship between Ireland and Japan. It makes for essential reading for anyone interested in the Ireland Japan bilateral relationship, and will serve as a useful guide for those seeking to increase their engagement with Japan. It is available online here:

Sake Barrel Opening Ceremony

The Ceremony ended with the Japanese Kagamibiraki or Sake Barrel Opening ceremony and a toast. It is a tradition in Japan to break open a barrel of sake with a wooden mallet on special occasions. Opening the lid is said to bring harmony and good fortune. The Barrel was opened by Minister Flanagan, Minister Kishida, along with the Irish Ambassador to Japan, Anne Barrington, and the Japanese Ambassador to Ireland, Ms. Mari Miyoshi.


Minister Flanagan held a bilateral meeting with Minister Kishida, in which they discussed a wide range of issues including the bilateral relationship, Brexit, co-operation at the international level, and regional affairs in Asia. Both Ministers agreed to work towards strengthening the bilateral relationship further, and committed to work together in the period ahead with a view to renewing the Joint Declaration entitled A Partnership for Innovation and Growth, agreed by Prime Minister Abe and the Taoiseach in December 2013. They also had a very constructive discussion on Brexit, and Minister Kishida affirmed that Japan would like to cooperate with Ireland to ensure the smooth business operations of private companies in the UK and the EU in the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Minister Kishida paid a courtesy call on the Taoiseach

Minister Kishida also paid a courtesy call on the Taoiseach, and the issues of Brexit and Ireland-Japan relations were discussed.

Minister Flanagan intends to visit Japan within the coming months of this anniversary year, at the invitation of Minister Kishida.

View the full programme of events for the Anniversary programme

Japan-Ireland 60 Years of Diplomatic Relations