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Supporting Japan-related programs in European Capitals of Culture

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European Capital of Culture

European Capital of Culture:  Its Inauguration and Subsequent Development

“A mutual understanding of our cultures, our identities, is essential to true European integration”. This assertion by Melina Mercouri, then Greek Minister of Culture, launched the system of the European Capital of Culture in 1985. Since then, the Council of Ministers of Culture of member countries of the EU (at that time the EC) have selected one city within an EU member country as the European Capital of Culture, which over the course of one year holds a variety of artistic events to deepen mutual understanding.

This system incorporates the thinking of the Ministers of Culture that “It is difficult to realize a single Europe through political and economic treaties and agreements alone, and culture plays important role in realizing integration.

Integration of the European market was completed in 1993, and since that year the European Capital of Culture has sought the broad participation of countries throughout the world rather than cultural exchange within the EU region alone and in June of that year the 1st EC-Japan Fest cultural exchange program was held in Antwerp. Cultural cooperation with Japan has continued since then with each year’s European Capital of Culture.

With the expansion of the European Union, major public works projects and other factors associated with hosting the European Capital of Culture have invited considerable attention to the role which plays in regional economic activity.

The principle of host city selection changed in 2011 to designate a pair of cities, one from among countries that were EU members in 2003 and earlier and one from among those that have joined since 2004. A new framework makes it possible for a city in a candidate country or potential candidate for EU membership to hold the title every third year as of 2021.

Cities seeking to host the European Capital of Culture announce their candidacies ten years in advance, and in a competition focused on host-country concepts for staging the festivities, the hosts are ultimately selected by an EU selection committee five years in advance. Future host cities are currently selected through 2033.


To see the details of each ECoCs, please click pins on the map. Red/ Host cities of Current European Capital of Culture, Blue/ Coming European Capitals of Culture, Green/ Past European Capitals of Culture

Year City / Country
1985 Athens (Greece)
1986 Florence (Italy)
1987 Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
1988 Berlin (German)
1989 Paris (France)
1990 Glasgow (United Kingdom)
1991 Dublin (Ireland)
1992 Madrid (Spain)
1993 Antwerp (Belgium) (The 1st EU-Japan Fest)
1994 Lisbon (Portugal) (The 2nd EU-Japan Fest)
1995 Luxembourg (Luxembourg) (The 3rd EU-Japan Fest)
1996 Copenhagen (Denmark) (The 4th EU-Japan Fest)
1997 Thessaloniki (Greece) (The 5th EU-Japan Fest)
1998 Stockholm (Sweden) (The 6th EU-Japan Fest)
1999 Weimar (German) (The 7th EU-Japan Fest)
2000 Brussels (Belgium) / Avignon (France) / Santiago de Compostela (Spain)
(The 8th EU-Japan Fest)
  Prague (Czech) / Bologna (Italy) / Helsinki (Finland) / Bergen (Norway) / Reykjavik (Iceland) / Cracow (Poland)
2001 Rotterdam (The Netherlands) / Porto (Portugal)
(The 9th EU-Japan Fest)
2002 Salamanca (Spain) / Brugge (Belgium)
(The 10th EU-Japan Fest)
2003 Graz (Austria) (The 11th EU-Japan Fest)
2004 Lille (France) / Genova (Italy)
(The 12th EU-Japan Fest)
2005 Cork (Ireland) (The 13th EU-Japan Fest)
2006 Patras (Greece) (The 14th EU-Japan Fest)
2007 Luxembourg (Luxembourg) / Sibiu (Romania)
(The 15th EU-Japan Fest)
2008 Liverpool (United Kingdom) / Stavanger (Norway)
(The 16th EU-Japan Fest)
2009 Linz (Austria) / Vilnius (Lithuania)
(The 17th EU-Japan Fest)
2010 Pécs (Hungary) / Istanbul (Turkey) / Ruhr (Germany)
(The 18th EU-Japan Fest)
2011 Turku (Finland) / Tallinn (Estonia)
(The 19th EU-Japan Fest)
2012 Guimarães (Portugal)/ Maribor (Slovenia)
(The 20th EU-Japan Fest)
2013 Marseille-Provence (France) / Košice (Slovakia)
(The 21st EU-Japan Fest)
2014 Umeå (Sweden) / Riga (Latvia)
(The 22nd EU-Japan Fest)
2015 Mons (Belgium) / Plzen (Czech Republic)
(The 23rd EU-Japan Fest)
2016 San Sebastian (Spain) / Wroclaw (Poland)
(The 24th EU-Japan Fest)
2017 Aarhus (Denmark) / Pafos (Cyprus)
(The 25th EU-Japan Fest)
2018 Leeuwarden (The Netherlands) / Valletta (Malta)
(The 26th EU-Japan Fest)
2019 Matera (Italy) / Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
(The 27th EU-Japan Fest)
2020 Rijeka (Croatia) / Galway (Ireland)
(The 28th EU-Japan Fest)
2021 Timisoara (Romania) / Eleusis (Greece) / Novi Sad (Serbia)
(The 29th EU-Japan Fest)
2022 Kaunas (Lithuania) / Esch (Luxembourg)
(The 30th EU-Japan Fest)
2023 Veszprém (Hungary)
(The 31st EU-Japan Fest)
2024 Tartu (Estonia) /Salzkammergut (Austria) / Bodø(Norway) (The 32nd Eu-Japan Fest)
2025 Slovenia / Germany
2026 Slovakia / Finland
2027 Latvia / Portugal
2028 Czech Republic / France
2029 Poland / Sweden
2030 Cyprus / Belgium
2031 Malta / Spain
2032 Bulgaria / Denmark
2033 The Netherlands / Italy


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