Today, Canada and Japan are partners in numerous international groups and organizations including the G8, G20, APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the OECD. Both Canada and Japan are strongly committed to ensuring continued economic vitality, cooperative political relations, and development in the Asia-Pacific region. Regular exchanges between Canadian and Japanese parliamentarians are another important pillar of the Canada-Japan relationship. The Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group, established by Parliament in 1989, and its Japanese counterpart, the Japan-Canada Diet Friendship League, have held annual consultations since 1989, alternating the location of the meetings between the two countries. The latest session was held in Tokyo in May 2012 and included discussions of trade and economic policy, fiscal and administrative reform, energy and environmental issues, and regional security.
Trade and economic relations between Canada and Japan have been steadily expanding. With a gross domestic product of C$5.8 trillion, Japan is the world's third largest national economy and one of Canada's most important economic and commercial partners. Japan is by far Canada's largest bilateral foreign direct investment (FDI) partner in Asia. Japan's FDI in Canada totalled C$12.8 billion in 2011, coming from approximately 330 Japanese subsidiaries and affiliate companies operating in Canada and employing tens of thousands of Canadians. Canadian investment in Japan is also significant and diverse with about 90 companies that have a permanent Japanese presence, primarily in the automotive, ICT, financial services, and forestry sectors. The stock of Canadian direct investment in Japan in 2011 stood at C$8.4 billion. Japan is also Canada's fifth-largest partner in two-way merchandise trade (second in Asia after China). Canada's exports of goods to Japan totalled C$10.7 billion in 2011 while imports from Japan were C$13 billion. Mineral fuels and oils (mainly coking coal) were Canada's largest exports to Japan, while vehicles and vehicle parts, nuclear machinery, and electrical machinery and equipment were Canada's largest imports from Japan in 2011.
Canada and Japan enjoy rich cultural and people-to-people linkages at many levels. Popular culture exposes Canadians and Japanese to each other's music, films, arts and sports. Japanese "manga" comics have a huge youth following worldwide and have become Japan's main cultural export, while a number of Canadian musicians enjoy a large fan base in Japan. On the academic front, the ties between the two countries are strong and diverse. The Japanese Association for Canadian Studies has for many years played an important role in informing Japanese students about Canada. In addition, the Japan-Canada Academic Consortium, formed in 2006 by a group of prominent universities in both countries, has helped to improve academic exchanges by offering more mobility options for students. Canada is a popular destination for Japanese students interested in studying abroad at all levels of education. Japanese scholars, well respected in Canada, often receive academic awards supporting their education or research at Canadian institutions. Several Canadian universities are home to centres or programmes for the study of Japan. There are also diverse associations in Canada which promote more informal Japanese language and cultural studies.
Finally, a number of programs exist to facilitate people-to-people exchanges. There are 76 sister city/sister province relationships between Japanese and Canadian communities. In addition, some 500 Canadians are currently enrolled in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, teaching English in schools across Japan. The Working Holiday Program is also very popular, allowing thousands of Japanese and Canadian youths to enjoy short-term travel and work opportunities in each other's country.