The Australia–Japan relationship is strong and long standing. It is a relationship built on common values and interests.
Trade and investment have been a pillar of the Australia–Japan relationship for five decades. Our bilateral relationship now encompasses cooperation on regional and global issues, a defence and security partnership, and extensive education, tourism and cultural exchanges.
During then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to Japan in April 2014, he and Prime Minister Shinzō Abe affirmed their intention to elevate our strategic partnership to a ‘new special relationship’. Our relationship has never been stronger.
When the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck on 11 March 2011, the Australian Government was quick to respond, donating $10 million to the Australian Red Cross Japan and Pacific Disaster Appeal. We dispatched a 76-member Urban Search and Rescue team to search for survivors in Minami Sanriku and deployed a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 to transport more than 500 tonnes of relief stores, food, water and personnel around Japan.
Many Australian businesses, individuals and volunteer groups offered support to assist Japan in its long process of recovery. Across Australia, local communities rallied to find ways to help the Japanese people.
More than four years since the earthquake and tsunami, many livelihoods are still badly affected. Australia is not forgetting the human face of destruction, not least of which is the impact on children and the elderly.
In this spirit, the Australian Government, including through the Australia–Japan Foundation, is continuing to make a real contribution to the people and businesses in the Tohoku region. We have always known that the recovery would require commitment and ongoing support.
This Reconstruction Initiative book celebrates some of the many projects that are supporting the long-term human needs of the people of Japan. The various initiatives display innovative public–private partnerships and cooperation with partner organisations, designed to make a real difference.
The Australian Government’s support for the Reconstruction Initiative reflects our long-term commitment to the people in the Tohoku region and the importance we attach to this bilateral relationship.
The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs