Bilateral Agreements

Agreement for Science and Technology Cooperation

JSPS-NRF Partnership

JST-NRF Partnership

Official diplomatic relations between Japan and South Africa date back to 1910 when an Honorary Consul for Japan was appointed. In 1918 Japan opened a Consular Office in Cape Town, its first on the African continent. After the end of apartheid, diplomatic relations were re-established, setting the stage for the intensification of political, economic, and cultural interaction. 

There have been more than 20 years of collaboration between research institutions in South Africa and Japan under the bilateral Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement. The relationship is underpinned by Japan’s position as one of the world’s largest research powers by global scientific production. South Africa is currently the continent’s second-largest source of research cooperation with Japan.

The Agreement for Science and Technology Cooperation

The Agreement for Science and Technology Cooperation between SA and Japan is a bilateral cooperative agreement to promote research and development (R&D), official developmental assistance (ODA), human capacity development (HCD), and knowledge and technology transfer. It was signed in 2003 and is currently the only bilateral research agreement between Japan and a sub-Saharan African country. 

Most collaborative frameworks established between Japan and South Africa directly result from the S&T Cooperation Agreement. One such framework is the JSPS-NRF Joint Research Programme which promotes bilateral and core-to-core research activities. 

The agreement supports research collaboration in the following fields, among other

  • Food systems
  • Climate change
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Health
  • Agriculture
  • Global societal challenges

JSPS-NRF Partnership

The partnership between the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa results from the Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement and was signed in 2005. It supports joint research between Japan and South Africa.

JSPS-NRF Research Mobility Programme

The JSPS-NRF joint mobility call launched alongside the partnership between the JSPS and NRF. As of 2021, there have been 18 joint calls for research mobility, resulting in over 70 collaborative projects between South African and Japanese researchers.

The mobility programme funds exchange mobility for researchers, doctorates and post-doctorates, small equipment and consumables, and meetings (workshops, seminars, and networking events). The 2024 mobility call (for 2025-2026 funding) is open. The joint mobility call supports joint research proposals within social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. 

JST-NRF Partnership

In 2009, the NRF signed another agreement with a Japanese research institute – the Japanese Science and Technology Agency (JST), to promote long-term collaboration between the two countries. The bilateral agreement expanded, and the Africa-Japan Collaborative Research (AJ-CORE) Programme was conceptualised to promote a greater Japan-Africa partnership.