California and Japan: An Overview

Basic Information

(July 2017, US Census Population Estimates)
145,932 mi2
163,695 mi2
GDP (2015)
$4.6 trillion
(3rd largest in the world)
$2.5 trillion
(6th largest in the world)


  • The first official Japanese delegation to US arrived in San Francisco (Mar. 17, 1860)
  • One of the earliest known Japanese settlements in North America was located in Gold Hill (Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Firm Colony, Jun. 8, 1869)
  • The first Japanese foreign mission in the world was established in San Francisco (Aug. 25, 1870)
  • The Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed in the San Francisco Opera House (Sep. 8, 1951)
  • The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan was signed in Presidio Golden Gate Club, San Francisco (Sep. 8, 1951)

Japanese Community in California

  1. Japanese Citizens
    132,511 (as of Oct. 1, 2017)
    Northern California- 41,417; Southern California- 91,094

  2. Japanese Americans
    Within this Consulate's jurisdiction-184,040
    SF City and County- 10,121; Santa Clara County- 25,075; Sacramento County- 10,708 (2010-2013)
    California has the last three Japantowns in the US (SF, San Jose, LA)
    A number of Japanese American communities are very active. The Japanese American Citizens League has their headquarters in SF, as well as in Washington DC. 90 out of 113 national chapters are in California.

    Educational Exchange

    1. Exchange Students
      Over 5,000 Japanese students are studying in California (2015).
      110 at UC Berkeley, 95 at San Francisco State Univ. and 60 at Stanford University (2016)
      Total number of Japanese students in US is 19,064 (1.4% drop from 2014; 2% of total international students, 8th largest group by country of origin) (2014/2015)

    2. JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program
      Since 1987, about 200 Californians have come to Japan each year to teach and promote international exchange on a local level between Japan and other nations.
      Over 2,900 alumni are registered in the JET Alumni Association of Northern California, which is the largest JET alumni group in the world.

    3. Exchange Student Invitation Programs Hosted by the Government of Japan
      The Japanese Government has hosted its Exchange Student Invitation Program since 1954.
      5-6 students on average are sent to Japan every year.

    4. California-Japan Scholars Program
      The Program commenced in 1997 and is dictated by California Education Code 48054 and AB 2902.
      Mutual exchanges are undertaken on a biennial basis between Elk Grove School District and Osaka Prefecture. (The program between Martinez School District and Shizuoka Prefecture is not currently running.) Approximately 850 students in California and Osaka Prefecture have participated.

    5. California Offices of Japanese Universities
      Japanese university institutions have active offices in California, including Osaka University, Kyushu University, Kagoshima University, Fukuoka Institute of Technology, Waseda University, and Okayama University.

    Intergovernmental Exchange

    1. Legislative Exchange Program
      The California State Senate has ran a Legislative Exchange Program since 1996 and has sent a total of 43 legislators in 17 delegations to Japan (Jan. 2016).

    2. Sister State and Sister City Relationships
      California has a sister state relationship with Osaka Prefecture (signed by Governors Wilson and Nakagawa on November 15, 1994).
      California has 105 sister city relationships with Japan. San Jose-Okayama and San Francisco-Osaka are among the oldest sister city relationships in California (1957). Crescent City/Del Norte County-Rikuzentakata is the newest relationship (April 16, 2018).

    3. Japan-California Parliamentary Friendship League
      The Japan-California Parliamentary Friendship League, established in 2014 by members of the Upper House of the Japanese Diet, have made multiple trips to California to meet with state legislators, Governor Brown, and other government representatives.

    4. Memorandum of Cooperation
      A Memorandum of Cooperation on climate change was signed between California and Japan, which includes areas such as zero-emission vehicles and high-speed rail (2014).

    5. Prime Minister’s Visit to California
      In late April 2015, Prime Minister Abe visited the Bay Area to meet and exchange opinions with Silicon Valley leaders and Governor Brown. He continued his tour by visiting Los Angeles for an economic forum and meeting with the local Japanese American community.
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