The history of Japan-Quebec relations dates back more than 100 years. In fact, 1998 marked the 100th anniversary of their beginning. Quebec was the first Canadian province to establish permanent contact with Japan and celebrated in 2002 the 30th anniversary of the Délégation générale du Québec à Tokyo.
Missionaries from Quebec were the first from the province to establish permanent residency in Japan. Sister Hélène Paradis, from Charlesbourg, a hamlet of Quebec City, was the first to arrive in Japan on October 2nd, 1898. She had come to the land of the rising sun to aid Japanese patients at the Kumamoto leprosy hospital, West of the main island, and would later join her French compatriots in founding the Franciscan Missionaires-de-Marie. Having sacrificed 62 years of her life helping destitute Japanese families, she would spend her last days in Japan, passing away in 1960. Inspired by Sister Paradis’ selfless vocation, hundreds of Quebec residents have followed her path, establishing religious missions and founding schools in Japan.
If in 1941, there were but 48 Canadians of Japanese origin in Quebec, the 2001 census estimated that they are now 2830 in the province, of which 2295 live in Montreal. Although considered a small ethnic community in comparison with other ethnic groups in Quebec, the Japanese community in Montreal remains exceptionally active and visible. With the support of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal (JCCCM), which aims to maintain and promote the many aspects of traditional Japanese culture in Montreal, a continuing friendship has developed between the people of Japan and Quebec.
As for economic relations, exchanges between Japan and Quebec have become extremely dynamic and diversified in the past few years. Natural resources, manufactured products, services and advanced technology account for the majority of these exchanges. Business partnerships and alliances between Japan and Quebec have proven extremely profitable for both national economies and have had as a result the creation of a wealth of employment opportunities. In 2004, Japan was Quebec’s 4th trading partner with more than 3,8 billion dollars (CDN) in exchange, a tremendous increase if compared with numbers of 1996 when Japan was Quebec's 5th trading partner with 2,2 billion dollars in exchange.
Within the framework of the 30th anniversary of the General Delegation of Quebec at Tokyo, Quebec sent two business missions to Japan, during which missions many contracts and agreements were signed both between Japan and Quebec businesses.