With over 8,000 Japanese people residing in the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, Duesseldorf is often referred to as “Little Tokyo.”

In addition to attracting some of the largest Japanese companies, a flourishing exchange between Duesseldorf’s startup ecosystem and different Japanese startup ecosystems gained momentum during the past five years.

“Duesseldorf is part of JETRO’s (Japan External Trade Organization) Global Acceleration Hub program and together with our partner di­gihub Duesseldorf/Rheinland we have established a very successful matchmaking program for Japanese startups and German companies,” said Theresa Winkels, director of Duesseldorf’s Office of Economic Development.

“As well as the large corporations, we are attracting Japanese companies from industrial IoT (Internet of Things), digital health care, medical robotics and other emerging sectors.”

“Our Japan Desk also supports the cooperation between digihub and X-Hub Tokyo, an accelerator platform for Tokyo-based startups which connects Tokyo’s global innovation ecosystem with the world,” said Benjamin Leonhardt, senior project manager at the Japan Desk of the office’s International Business Service.

With Japan-centric infrastructure, a convenient location and access to Europe, Japanese companies started establishing their operations in Duesseldorf over seven decades ago.

“Japanese companies find that Duesseldorf offers a very Japan-like and open-minded environment,” said Annette Klerks, head of department for International Business Service. “Our administration always offers a high level of service for Japanese investors to facilitate comfort and convenience for families and companies.”

A sister city of Chiba Prefecture, Duesseldorf will have on exhibit this month an intricately curated history of “Japanese life” and how it evolved in the city.

The city also hosts an annual Japan Day cultural festival and DoKomi, the largest anime and Japan expo in Germany. The pandemic may have actually strengthened Duesseldorf’s Japanese network.

“People in the city are committed to the Germany-Japan friendship and despite the pandemic, our partners successfully held events this year,” Klerks said.

“Japan will be one of the first destinations visited by an official city delegation after the pandemic,” Winkels said. “We plan to host our regular Duesseldorf Evening in Tokyo event in September 2022. This is the largest international location-promotion event for the city of Duesseldorf, and with our partners we look forward to strengthening connections between Duesseldorf and Japan.”