Japan recognised Kenya soon after independence and in 1964 the Embassy of Japan in Nairobi was opened. In 1979, Kenya's embassy in Japan was opened.
Nairobi now hosts one of the largest Japanese expat communities in Africa. There were 633 Japanese nationals in Nairobi in 2009. Japanese agencies such as JICA, JETRO and JBIC have made Nairobi their regional headquarters.
The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshirō Mori visited Kenya in 2001 while on his Africa tour. The Crown Prince of Japan visited Kenya in 2010. President Mwai Kibaki visited Japan in 2004 and 2008. Prime Minister Raila Odinga in 2010.
In 2008 development assistance from Japan consisted of:
- Loans: 215.7 billion yen (US$ 1.8 billion)
- Grants: 102.5 billion yen (US$ 882 million)
- Technical cooperation: 90.8 billion yen (US$ 782 million)
Japan has been a major financier in key infrastructure projects in Kenya. These include the upgrading of the Mombasa Port, Olkaria Geothermal Plant, Sondu/Miriu Hydropower Plant and Nairobi Western Ring Road.
In 2013, Toyota Kenya opened a Kes. 500 million (US$5.5 million) assembly plant in Mombasa.The plant was opened in association with Kenyan-owned Associated Vehicles Assemblers (AVA). In the same year, Honda Motorcycle Kenya Ltd. opened a motorcycle assembly plant worth Kes. 450 million (US$4.9 million). The plant is said to be the second largest plant in Africa with a production capacity of 25,000 a year. The company is jointly owned by Honda 90% and a Kenyan investor 10%.
In 2014, Nissan also announced that it was opened to building an assembly plant in Kenya if the Kenyan government acted on tariffs and power supply. The company is seeking to regain its fallen market share in the Kenyan auto market.
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- . Kenya donates KES. 82 million to assist Japanese quake victims. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.
- . Japan-Africa Relations On the Rise. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.
- . Kenya seeks to bridge Japan trade imbalance. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.
- . Toyota Kenya opens Sh500m bus assembly plant in Mombasa. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.
- . Honda unveils local partner in Sh450m motorcycle plant. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.
- . HONDA MOTORS ESTABLISHES THE SECOND LARGEST MOTORCYCLE PLANT IN AFRICA, IN KENYA. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.
- . Nissan open to building Kenya plant if gov't acts on tariffs, power supply. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.