Australia needs to strengthen its already strong relationship with Japan in the face of a dramatically changing geopolitical environment, says a leading expert on relations between the two countries.
Shiro Armstrong, an associate professor at the Australian National University Australia-Japan Research Center, says economic, environmental and social changes in both countries are accelerating.
“Japan is Australia’s benchmark relationship in Asia,” says Prof Armstrong.
“It is the third largest economy in the world, the second largest source of investment for Australia and was Australia’s second largest trading partner until the fall in commodity trade in 2020.”
In a new report, reimagining the Japan relationship, he says the key challenges facing the two countries in partnership are how to address climate change and meet future energy needs.
Australia supplies two-thirds of Japan’s major industrial supplies and one-third of its total energy needs.
As Australia and Japan de-carbonize their economies, the structure of this trade needs to change radically, says Armstrong.
“The energy and demographic transition taking place in both countries drives the agenda needed to transform bilateral relations and its regional and international role,” he said.
He said that more than 300 organizations and individuals have been consulted to prepare this report and suggestions.
“Japan has great interest in the community, not only as a trading partner and tourist destination but also strategically, we have managed a more uncertain international environment,” he says.
Among the key recommendations of the report are:
* A joint Australia-Japan energy initiative that brings together governments, industries, experts and stakeholders to accelerate and facilitate energy transition.
* Expanding and expanding the traditional definition of “favorite nation” status in Japan. For example, Australia could grant Japan access to work visas similar to those granted to the UK.
* Leaders of business, government, academics and communities are initiating dialogues for a change that focuses on gender diversity and the people’s movement.
* A joint Australia-Japan study by experts to frame the agenda for comprehensive security in the region.
* Expanding new Colombo scheme to include postgraduate stream.
* Investing in exchange and study programs, 107 sister city relations and 553 sister school relations.
* Introduction and rewarding qualifications for literacy and experience in federal and state public service and industry in Japan.