Diplomatic relations since 1991
Japan recognized the restored Republic of Lithuania on the 6th of September 1991, and both countries re-established diplomatic relations in the same year, on the 10th of October. There was plenty of evidence that the two sides have mutual interest to cooperate, as it was revealed by regular and frequent visits of both Lithuanian and Japanese representatives, signing of agreements, organizing of events, etc. The most outstanding moment of Japan-Lithuania relations was when Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Lithuania on 26-27th of May 2007.
In the first decades of the re-establishment of relations, we can find at least a few high-level meetings between Japan and Lithuania worthy of mention each year. During these meetings, bilateral relations have been pushed forward, especially in the economic sphere, negotiations on various forms of cooperation have taken place and agreements have been signed. These include the 2000 Visa Waiver Agreement, the 2018 agreement on eliminating double taxation, and the 2019 agreement between the governments on the working holiday scheme.
(G. Nausėda in Gifu Prefecture in 2019; Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
(Muneo Suzuki greeted by Algirdas Saudargas; LCVA, 0-119222)
On the 5-7th of October 1991, Muneo Suzuki, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, visited Lithuania and was welcomed by Algirdas Saudargas, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. On the 16-19th of the same month, Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius visited Japan and met with Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu.
On the 3-10th of March 1992, Vytautas Landsbergis, the Chairman of the Supreme Council, visited Japan, met with Emperor Akihito, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, and former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.
On the 17-22nd of September 1993, Prime Minister Adolfas Šleževičius visited Japan, met with Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, visited Gifu Prefecture, honored the memory of Sugihara, and was welcomed by the former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita.
In October 1995, Justas Paleckis, the current adviser to the President and Ambassador, visited Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
(A. Brazauskas and Akihito; Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
On the 12-15th of May 1997, during a visit to Japan, President Algirdas Brazauskas met with Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.
In June 1998, Jurgis Razma, Chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Relations with Japan, visited Japan.
On the 16-18 of March 1999, Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas visited Japan.
On the 24th of February 2000, an intergovernmental agreement on visa liberalization was signed.
(A. Brazauskas with J. Koizumi; Reuters)
On the 8-13th of April 2001, President Valdas Adamkus visited Japan and met with Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
In March 2004, Artūras Paulauskas, the Speaker of the Seimas, visited Tokyo and met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
On the 3-8th of July 2005, Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas visited Japan and met with Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
(A. Adamkus with Akihito; Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
In May 2006, Taro Aso, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Lithuania.
During a visit to Japan from the 30th of August until the 1st of September 2006, Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
On the 26-27th of May 2007, Akihito, the Emperor of Japan, and Empress Michiko visited Lithuania and met with President Valdas Adamkus.
On the 3-5th of November 2010, Audronius Ažubalis, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Japan.
(A. Kubilius with Y. Noda; Japan Cabinet Public Relations Secretary)
On the 4-10th of October 2011, Irena Degutienė, the Speaker of the Seimas, visited Japan and met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Takahiro Yokomichi.
On the 18-23rd of February 2012, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius visited Japan.
On the 11-15th of March 2014, Linas Linkevičius, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Japan and met with Fumio Kishida, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who later became Prime Minister.
On the 13-16th of July 2014, Masaaki Yamazaki, the Chairman of the House of Councilors, visited Lithuania and met with President Dalia Grybauskaitė.
(D. Grybauskaitė with Sh. Abe; Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
From the 28th of February until the 5th of March 2016, Loreta Graužinienė, the Speaker of the Seimas, visited Japan and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
On the 6-10th of May 2017, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius visited Japan.
On the 13th of July 2017, an intergovernmental double taxation avoidance agreement was signed.
On the 13-14th of January 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Lithuania and was welcomed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.
On the 9-12 of October 2018, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis visited Japan.
On the 21-24th of October 2019, President Gitanas Nauseda visited Japan and attended the inauguration of the new Emperor Naruhito.
(I. Šimonytė with T. Motegi; Office of Prime Minister of Lithuania)
On the 3rd of July 2021, Toshimitsu Motegi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Lithuania.
On the 6–7 of June 2022, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis visited Japan and met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, State Secretary for Foreign Policy Takako Suzuki, and Hirofumi Nakasone, Chairman of the Lithuanian-Japanese Friendship Group in the Japanese Parliament.
On the 25-28 of October 2022, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė visited Japan. During the meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the heads of the government issued joint statement on strategic partnership.
On the 15-17 of May 2023, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis visited Japan and met Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister for Digital Transformation Taro Kono, Chairman of the Lithuanian-Japanese Friendship Group in the Japanese Parliament Hirofumi Nakasone, representatives of JETRO.
On the 11-12 of July 2023, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Lithuania, met President Gitanas Nausėda, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, represented Japan in NATO Summit held in Vilnius.
Inter-parliamentary friendship groups
The Lithuanian-Japanese Friendship Group in the Japanese Parliament was established in July 1996 at the initiative of the Ambassador Takaya Suto. An influential member of the House of Representatives and former Minister of Labor, Masakuni Murakami, became the head of the group, with a total of over 60 parliamentarians among the founders. The Inter-parliamentary Relations Group with Japan was established in the Lithuanian Seimas a little later, in May 1997. It consisted of over 30 parliamentarians, and for the first few years, Jurgis Razma was the head of the group.
(L. Linkevičius with H. Nakasone; Lithuanian Embassy in Japan)
Inter-parliamentary groups usually welcome politicians and members of governments from the host country and maintain active contacts with embassies. The first delegation of the Japanese Parliament visited Lithuania in September 1996. The delegates were received by President Algirdas Brazauskas and Speaker of the Seimas Česlovas Juršėnas. After a year, in July 1997, parliamentarians from Japan led by Masakuni Murakami visited Lithuania one more time. The Speakers of the Seimas and individual members of the Seimas traveled from Lithuania to Japan many times.
since December of 2020 - Arūnas Valinskas;
from November of 2016 to 2020 November - Mindaugas Puidokas
from December of 2012 to the November of 2016 - Dangutė Mikutienė
from January of 2009 to November of 2012 - Vida Marija Čigriejienė
from December of 2004 to November of 2008 - Vilija Vertelienė
from November 2000 to November 2004 - Jonas Jučas
from May 1997 to October 2000 - Jurgis Razma
since 2001 - Hirofumi Nakasone
1996-2001 - Masakuni Murakami
(Japan's embassy in Vilnius; Fotodiena/Žygimantas Gedvila)
(V. Adamkus with M. Akashii; Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
Japan officially opened its embassy in Vilnius on the 11th of February 1997. Its temporary location was at Vivulskio str. 6/8. At the end of 1998, the embassy moved to its current location to M. K. Čiurlionio str. 82. Gabija Čepulionytė, which worked at the Japanese Information Center in Vilnius, significantly contributed to the embassy's establishment in Vilnius.
Before the embassy's establishment in Vilnius and for several years afterwards, the Japanese ambassador to Lithuania resided in Denmark. Until then, Kinji Shinoda (1997–1999), Toyoshi Matsuyama (1999–2001), Eizo Kaneyasu (2001–2005), and Yasuji Odoko (2005–2008) held the positions of chargés d'affaires ad interim in Vilnius. The first Japanese ambassador who was appointed to reside in Vilnius was diplomat Miyako Akashi. She held this position from 2008 to 2012.
List of Japan's ambassadors to Lithuania
- Ambassador Yohifumi Matsuda (1992 – January 1993) resided in Copenhagen. He was the first Japanese ambassador to Lithuania.
- Ambassador Yoshio Karita (March 1993 - March 1995) resided in Copenhagen.
- Ambassador Takaya Suto (April 1995 - August 1997) resided in Copenhagen and visited Lithuania several times during his term of office (in June 1995, in September 1996, etc.).
- Ambassador Masaki Orita (August 1997 - May 2001) resided in Copenhagen. He accompanied the representatives of the Federation of Japanese Economic Organizations (Keidanren), which performed a mission to Lithuania in May 1998.
- Ambassador Shohei Naito (June 2001-November 2003) resided in Copenhagen.
- Ambassador Gotaro Ogawa (December 2003 - August 2006) resided in Copenhagen.
- Ambassador Masaki Okada (September 2006 - June 2008) resided in Copenhagen.
- Ambassador Miyoko Akashi (June 2008 - January 2012) resided in Vilnius. Before her appointment to Lithuania, she worked at the Embassy of Japan in Denmark.
- Ambassador Kazuko Shiraishi (January 2012 - August 2015) resided in Vilnius. After the end of her term of office in Lithuania, she held the position of special ambassador and took care of Japan's interests in the Arctic.
- Ambassador Toyoei Shigeeda (September 2015 - September 2018) resided in Vilnius.
- Ambassador Shiro Yamasaki (October 2018 - October 2021) resided in Vilnius. Before his appointment to Lithuania, he held various positions in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and worked in the Prime Minister's team.
- Ambassador Tetsu Ozaki (since October 2021 until now) resides in Vilnius. Before his appointment to Lithuania, he worked in finance and held senior positions in Nomura Securities Co., Ltd.
(Lithuania's embassy in Tokyo; Wikimedia/Syced)
(the first ambassador A. Kudzys (center) in 2005; Office of Prime Minister of Japan)
The establishment of the Lithuanian Embassy in Tokyo was delayed due to lack of funds. Finally, the first practical steps were taken at the end of 1998, under the care of the chargés d'affaires ad interim Dainius Kamaitis. He held this post for more than three years until the appointment of the first Ambassador, Algirdas Kudzys, on 17 December 2001.
The Lithuanian Embassy was located in the Roppongi district of Tokyo from early 1999 until the spring of 2003, when it moved to the Setagaya ward, before finally settling in a more stable building in the Motoazabu district of Minato ward in July 2007. The latter area is home to the embassies of many other countries, as well as the European Union and other international institutions.
List of Lithuania's ambassadors in Japan
- Chargés d'affaires ad interim Dainius Kamaitis (November 1998 - December 2001) was the first diplomatic representative of Lithuania in Japan.
- Ambassador Algirdas Kudzys (December 2001 - September 2006) was the first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Lithuania to Japan. Born in 1956, an engineer by education. After the end of the term of office, he started a private business.
- Ambassador Dainius Kamaitis (September 2006 - August 2011). Born in 1965, graduated in architecture from the Vilnius Institute of Civil Engineering. Since 1992 has been working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Chargés d'affaires ad interim Albertas Algirdas Dambrauskas (August 2011 - October 2012).
- Ambassador Egidijus Meilūnas (October 2012 - August 2017). Born in 1964, graduated from Vilnius University with a degree in pediatrics and law. He has been working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1991.
- Chargés d'affaires ad interim Violeta Gaižauskaitė (August 2017 – January 2018).
- Ambassador Gediminas Varvuolis (January 2018 – September 2021). Born in 1970, graduated in political science in France. Since 1995 has been working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Chargés d'affaires ad interim Algimantas Misevičius (October 2021 – May 2022).
- Ambassador Aurelijus Zykas (since May 2022). Born in 1978, PhD in political science, japanologist, author of several books about Japan, interpreter. Prior to his appointment, A. Zykas worked at Vytautas Magnus University and managed a private business.
(G. Nausėda with honorary consuls and other Lithuania related representatives in 2019; Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
Honorary consuls are usually exceptional personalities who have ties to the foreign country they represent and help to establish bilateral relations. The history of Lithuanian honorary consuls dates back to the interwar period, to 1935–1940, when an honorary consulate headed by businessman Masaji Yasaka was operating in Tokyo. The institution was re-established in 1992 and, since then, Lithuania has had six such representatives in Japan. Japan, meanwhile, has not appointed honorary consuls for Lithuania.
After the restoration of independence, the first Honorary Consulate of Lithuania in Japan was opened on 5 October 1992 in Tokyo. It was initiated by Jushiro Komiyama, a member of the House of Representatives who after meeting Nijolė Oželytė became interested in the newly-emerged country Lithuania. As Jushiro Komiyama could not formally take up the post of Honorary Consul as a Member of Parliament, his wife Noriko Komiyama took up the position. The efforts of both of them led to an exhibition of Čiurlionis's works in Tokyo in 1992, the establishment of academic links between scholars, and the initiation of business relations. Unfortunately, the Consulate's existence was rather short-lived, as Jushiro Komiyama died suddenly on 21 November 1994, and with his passing, the Consulate's activities faded away.
The second honorary consul in Japan was appointed after almost ten years. Hidekatsu Fujii, the head of a large construction company operating in northern Hokkaido Prefecture, was the appointee to the office. Established in 2004, this Honorary Consulate still runs, though the honorary consul has changed - Masahiro Fujii, his son, took the position over from his father in 2019.
(G. Varvuolis with M. Fujii in 2019; Lithuanian Embassy in Japan)
June Takeo Obayashi, the manager of a large construction company, became the third Honorary Consul in Osaka in 2009.
(T. Obayashi during the visit in Lithuania; VGTU archive)
The Honorary Consulate in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, was established on the 6th of May 2017 and stood out from the others for its activity. On the 23rd of March 2021, it was granted the status of an Honorary Consulate General. Shigehiro Komaru, president of the large logistics company in Fukuyama Transporting, was appointed to the head of this consulate.
(Sh. Komaru in 2017; Lithuanian Embassy in Japan)
The Fifth Honorary Consulate was established on the 14th of May 2018 in the Gifu city, Gifu Prefecture. It is headed by Yukio Murase, president of the regional Juroku bank.
(Lithuanian Embassy in Japan)
The latest Honorary Consul located in Chiba opened its doors in May 2019. It is headed by Takeshi Okawara, CEO of JC Comsa Corporation.
(G. Varvuolis and T. Okawara; Lithuanian Embassy in Japan)
Locations of former and current honorary consulates:
- 1991-ųjų sausis–rugsėjis: nuo SSRS agresijos iki tarptautinio pripažinimo. Vilnius: Valstybės Žinios, 2008
- Lietuvos ambasados Japonijoje informacija
- Lietuvos centrinis valstybės archyvas
- Romualdo Neimanto kolekcija. VDU