Compared to relations with the United States, Japan’s ties with Europe have been weak and lopsided. Awareness of the need to promote mutual understanding and regular contact between Europeans and Japanese prompted JCIE to launch in 1975 a series of nongovernmental exchange meetings known as the Europe-Japan Conferences, which were nicknamed the “Hakone Conferences” after the venue of the first meeting.

Organized in close collaboration with major research institutions in Europe, the conferences provided a forum for high-level discussions on policy-related issues pertinent to the European-Japanese relationship. The network of personal and working relationships among the participants developed both qualitatively and quantitatively with each successive conference, earning the forum a reputation as a unique, substantive, private-level dialogue between Europeans and Japanese.

The last conference was held in May 1999 in Trier, Germany, in cooperation with the University of Trier’s Center for East Asia Pacific Studies. The gathering brought together some 25 Japanese and European leaders from the fields of business, politics, journalism, and academia. Topics of discussion included “The Crisis in Asia: Regional and Global Implications,” “Reforming the International Financial and Currency Systems,” and “Recasting International Order: Implications for European-Japanese Relations.”

1993 Hakone Conference