The distance separating the two countries is great. But it was a good excuse for a Mexican delegation to arrive in Japan in 1874. The group was headed by scientist Francisco Diaz Covarrubias and their mission was to witness the transit of the planet Venus through a solar disk. The mission signaled the beginning of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. In 1888, the Foreign Ministers of Mexico and Japan signed a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation.
Relations were interrupted during World War II but have grown continuously since hostilities ended in 1945. Before the location in the Mapfre Tower, the current address of the Japanese embassy, the embassy occupied a building by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in collaboration with Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Manuel Rosen Morrison.
The three architects exchanged ideas, concepts and criteria that resulted in an innovative formal design. The project was famously noted as the first time that the Japanese government invited architects from other countries to design one of its embassies. The celebrated 1976 building still stands at the corner of Rio Nilo and Paseo de la Reforma.
The Embassy of Mexico in Tokyo dates from 1966. It was designed by Mexican architects Guillermo Rossell de la Lama and Lorenzo Carrasco, in collaboration with Japanese architect Hiroshi Ohe. The building employs both minimalist codes of Japanese architecture and details of “Mexican modernity,” such as a lattice pattern.
Relations between Mexico and Japan have only grown since 2005, when the nations signed a free trade agreement. That agreement has seen increases in exchanges in agricultural products, alcohol, and automobile parts to name just the most heavily traded items.
The Torre Mapfre was built between 2007 and 2013. With 27 floors, and 5 more underground, it was an important part of the rehabilitation of Reforma during those years. The Japanese Embassy in Mexico City is probably the best known tenant in the building. The embassy overlooks the Glorieta del Ahuehuete (formerly Glorieta de la Palma) from the ninth floor. The Mexico City Torre Mapfre has a better-known counterpart in Barcelona. The headquarters of the Spanish insurance group is in Madrid.