JIN-443 -- Australia-Japan Relations

The 'JIN' Japan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 443 Wednesday December 05, 2007, Tokyo

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Read online at www.japaninc.com

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Australia-Japan Relations

Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies earned the nickname
‘Pig-Iron Bob’ as a result of his insistence on exporting
iron ore to Japan in the early 1940s, dispute the union’s fear
that it would ‘come back as bombs.’ Later on in his career,
Menzies became the first Australian Prime Minister to set foot
on Japanese soil. Since the Menzies era, Australian relations
with Japan have become much tighter and in the last decade,
there have been unprecedented levels of partnership reached
between the two countries. Since the Japan-Australia
Partnerships Agenda was launched in 1997, a series of bilateral
meetings and treaties have seen ties blossom at a number of

In terms of security, since 9/11 and Koizumi’s visit of 2002,
there has been a sequence of conventions generated by mutual
concerns and objectives. These include anxiety over the rise of
China, threat from Islamic extremist terrorism and regional
competition for natural resources. The US has been keen for
this friendship to develop and has tried to make it a tripartite
arrangement with the inclusion of India, linking three of the
region’s most powerful democracies. In March 2007, Australia and
Japan signed a security pact that planned for military personnel
exchanges and joint exercises. Both countries have also been
building their ties with India. Concerning energy cooperation,
there were talks in September about nuclear power cooperation
between the two countries based mainly around Japan’s regional
shopping spree for uranium ore.

However, the recent election of Kevin Rudd to the Aussie
premiership has sparked speculation that Rudd, a sinologist,
is more focused on courting Beijing than Tokyo. At the same
time, Japan’s Mr Fukuda is also arguably more concerned with
China and Korea than with Australia. But, there is at least
this similarity in terms of priority, and, a less proactive
interest in each other does not necessarily mean a cooling of
relations; it may also indicate a similar disinclination to
simply do Washington’s bidding.

Despite changes at the political top, Australia and Japan look
set to continue to get closer, particularly in terms of culture
and economics. While an FTA has yet to emerge, in 2003 the
Australia-Japan Trade and Economic framework increased the scope
of trading relations. According to David Walton, in an article
for the Australian Journal of International Affairs, reports and
economic modelling published jointly in 2005 ‘showed that full
liberalization of markets would produce US$39 billion in
additional GDP over 20 years for Australia and US$27 billion for
Japan.’ And even without an FTA, according to the Australian
government, Japan is officially their number one trading partner
(http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/fs/jap.pdf): in 2006 they exported
over US$35 billion of goods and services, and Australia is also
Japan’s third largest export market.

[Article continues below...]

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[...Article continues]

In terms of culture, flux between the two populations is
healthy. There are roughly 12,000 Aussies living in Japan
according to the Australia & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce;
that said, this figure might be reduced somewhat given that an
estimated 20% of Nova teachers were from Australia.
Additionally, the number of Japanese tourists visiting Oz has
dropped off in recent years, falling by 10.9% last month, the
11th consecutive monthly decline (http://tinyurl.com/29owtl).
This is probably due to a growing preference for cheaper
holidays in Southeast Asia. In order to try and tempt them back
Tourism Australia is hoping to launch a popular Japanese soap
opera set in Sydney. At the same time, a large percentage of the
Australian population would be happy to see less Japanese
landing on their shores as a result of their fierce opposition
to Japan’s whale hunters, an ongoing controversy. There has also
been friction over the case of an Australian woman who was raped
by a US military serviceman in Japan. She has taken the
Japanese police to court alleging mistreatment by them after the
attack (www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUST164191).

Elsewhere, relations still look healthy with a growing number
of young Australians studying Japanese at university and the
sister city arrangement between Nara and Canberra being one of
the most proactive arrangements of its kind, with regular high
level visits and large scale events. Other ties go back much
further and anthropologists agree that there are strong
similarities between Australian aborigines and the Hokkaido
native people, the Ainu. Moving to the present day, one
Australian Tokyo resident told us that ‘I love living in Japan,
and I don’t really give much thought to the whale issue. The
one thing I do find odd though is how Japanese people always
say ‘day’ to me in a funny way once they find out I am from
Australia.’ Presumably it’s because the Australians pronounce
it funny...

Finally, for those wishing to participate in Australia-Japan
relations as they unfold, we recommend the Australia of Society
of Tokyo who are holding their Gala Ball in late January 2008:
http://tinyurl.com/yv9oc8 - the event celebrates Australia Day,
(pronounced as you like it) and raises money for charities in
both Japan and Australia. This year the theme is 'Outback' and
the charities are environmental, 'Eco-Future' in Japan and
'Aussie Helpers' from down under.

By Peter Harris
Chief Editor

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Want to comment? It is now even easier to voice your opinion
than ever before! Simply visit www.japaninc.com/jin443 and
post a comment below the article. Alternatively, you can email
it directly to the author at peter.harris@japaninc.com


Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - Wednesday, December 5th

Panel Discussion Title: 'Boost Your Sales in 2008!'

Mr. Brian Nelson - President and CEO of ValueCommerce Japan
Mr. Dan Harris - Principal at Market Analytic Partners

This coming December, EA-Tokyo will be inviting two past
speakers and entrepreneurs who are also experts in B2B
sales. They will be sharing some of their experiences and
tips for selling in Japan and then opening up the floor to
If you are interested in boosting your sales in 2008 this
is an event you won't want to miss!

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 5, 7:00 pm
Location: Shinsei Bank Head Office 20F
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com
Email: info@ea-tokyo.com

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Date :22nd-23rd January, 2008 Venue: Hilton Tokyo Hotel

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Do not miss the comprehensive training by renowned author and
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Date :23rd-24th January, 2008 Venue: Hilton Tokyo Hotel
The event features case studies and expert presentations by
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For further details and brochures, please contact:
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Tel No: +603 2723 6736
Fax No: +603 2723 6699
Email add: estherw@marcusevanskl.com