Trade Minister Welcomes AJRC Report Findings

On 16 February 2022, The Hon Dan Tehan, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, welcomed the findings of a major Australia-Japan Research Centre (AJRC) Report, Reimagining the Japan Relationship: An agenda for Australia’s benchmark partnership in Asia, when Dr Shiro Armstrong, AJRC’s Director, and AJRC’s Advisory Board presented it to him at Parliament House.

The extended conversation with the Minister covered Japan on energy transition, comprehensive security, ministerial engagement, gender issues, trade, building sufficient capacities among Australians to manage the new relationship and many other important subjects raised in the Report. The Report identifies key areas for growth needed to build on the current relationship. A reimagining of the relationship is required to manage a relationship that is large and well established but changing very rapidly. There needs to be a big investment in understanding Japan and building up the institutional linkages that are now necessary to Australia’s future engagement. Complacency and failure to upgrade the relationship will weaken its effectiveness, the Report suggests.

Dr Shiro Armstong, Director of the AJRC said,‘We couldn’t have asked for more, in terms of the Minister’s interest and positive reception the Report.’

From left to right: Professor Peter Drysdale; Bruce Miller; Melanie Brock; The Hon Minister for Trade Dan Tehan; Dr Shiro Armstrong; Natsuko Ogawa; Ian Williams; Gordon de Brouwer

The meeting was followed by the Japan Update Dinner hosted by AJRC and the Japan Institute at which the Report was launched in Canberra.

Melanie Brock, visiting from Japan and recently appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her contribution to Australia-Japan relations, delivered the keynote speech. Her speech explained the changes that have occurred in Japanese society as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and stressed suggestions about how to strengthen relations between the two countries set out in the Report. Her remarks highlighted the importance of making the Australia–Japan relationship about more than defence and security, emphasising that ‘the people-to-people links and the economic relationship cannot be taken for granted’. She emphasised that ‘business as usual’ was no longer an option.
The dinner brought together a prominent group from academia, government and business from around the country, with people traveling from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to attend.

The ANU is a leading centre of Japan studies in Australia contributes to the national debate about the relationship with Japan through the AJRC and Japan Institute. The Reimaging the Japan Relationship report can be found here.

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