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Speech by the former Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Richard Marles MP: 8th Australia-Japan Conference
The 8th Australia-Japan Conference was held at Mita Kaigisho on 1 March 2013. The Conference was chaired by Dr Akio Mimura AC and Sir Rod Eddington.
The Conference was addressed by Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Fumio Kishida, and Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Richard Marles. Mr Marles also participated in the Conference, as did Japan’s former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi, and the Secretary-General of the Japan-Australia Parliamentary Friendship League, Mr Ichiro Aisawa. Both countries were represented by leading figures from politics, business, think tanks, academia and the media.
The Conference discussions focussed on: enhancing people-to-people ties to build a fuller partnership; the revitalisation and reform of our economies; cooperating for peace and stability; and developing pathways to a closer partnership.
Participants put forward a range of specific proposals, including the following:
Participants from both countries acknowledged the importance of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper in providing impetus to, and outlining pathways towards a closer strategic partnership. They agreed it would be important for governments, business, and community groups to initiate and implement proposals.
Some participants felt clearer definition of the nature of the relationship would provide a stronger basis for expanded and deepened cooperation and enhance mutual awareness and understanding of the relationship in both countries and more widely.
Participants said the partnership should encompass not simply the cooperation the two countries undertake, but the values that they share, including commitment to democracy, free trade, international peace and security, and human rights.
While the relationship was seen as substantial and friendly, participants said there remained a lack of understanding in both countries of the other’s economy and culture. Each side stressed the vital importance of language skills and wider literacy. Administrative hurdles hindered cooperation.
Participants welcomed the strong commitment of the Abe government to the revitalisation of Japan’s economy, noting that there was renewed confidence in Japan’s economic future following the election of the Abe government.
Nevertheless, there was a broad recognition that deeper economic reform and deregulation would be essential to Japan’s long-term economic prosperity. The deregulation of the services sector in both countries would assume even greater importance as services accounted for a greater proportion of both economies.
Participants considered that the bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement/Free Trade Agreement (EPA/FTA) negotiations were important not just for trade but for the whole relationship. An FTA could be a catalyst to refocus public attention on the bilateral relationship.
Japanese participants called for Australia to support Japan’s entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and Australian participants agreed it would be beneficial for Japan to be a part of the TPP and to commit itself to ambitious structural reform and deregulation in line with ambitious kind of agreement Australia was seeking.
Participants noted that Australia would remain an affordable and reliable supplier of coal and liquid natural gas (LNG); exports to Japan of both had grown sharply since the 2011 Tohoku disasters. This major development had not been widely recognised, and was likely to endure regardless of other developments in global LNG markets.
Participants on both sides were more pessimistic about the regional security outlook than at the last Conference as a result of challenges posed by the DPRK, the continuing threat of terrorism, and tensions resulting from aspects of China’s rise. Strategic competition in Asia was increasingly evident in the maritime domain, and Japan and Australia would be disproportionately affected by any regional maritime conflict.
It was noted that both Australia and Japan faced the challenge of balancing their growing economic inter-dependence with China against differences in values and interests. But both countries had an enormous stake in managing differences with China peacefully.
Participants from both sides referred to the importance for regional and global security of a confident and engaged United States, fully involved in the Asia-Pacific region, with allies and partners in the region who were themselves able to cooperate effectively with each other as well as convey shared views in Washington.
Participants welcomed progress in defence and security cooperation, including the regular 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations, the entry into force of the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), and signing of the Japan-Australia Information Security Agreement.
At the same time, participants expressed concern that our security relationship could be tested by looming regional challenges. Some participants felt our security cooperation had been ad hoc and needed more explicit definition, whereas some participants felt the main challenge was to get past Japanese constraints to closer practical engagement.
Equally, participants from both countries believed it was important to seek opportunities to work together to find creative diplomatic solutions to regional and global problems, in the same way they had done so in the past in relation to the Cambodian peace process, the creation of APEC, expansion of the EAS, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
In conclusion, participants agreed that a common vision and more explicit definition of the nature and goals of the bilateral relationship, including in its bilateral and broader aspects, would be useful in taking the relationship to the next level.
That vision should encompass all issues where our interests converge – in particular maritime security, free and stable markets, and a rules-based international order – and celebrate the values we share – such as democratic freedom and human rights.
It was felt that, internationally, the nature of relations among the United States, China, and the ASEAN countries would be central to our shared interests. Australia and Japan would need to work more closely together in engaging each of these.
The economic dimension was seen as the foundation of the relationship, underpinning all of the others. Early conclusion of the FTA negotiations on mutually acceptable terms was seen as the main and immediate goal, with joint participation in the TPP and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) offering the prospect of deeper and more fundamental integration at a later stage.
Continued economic reform and deregulation in both countries – especially the Abe government’s economic revitalisation measures and a robust “growth strategy” – would be needed to allow both countries to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the Asian Century.
Finally, when considering proposals for expanded cooperation at all levels, participants agreed that we must be realistic about the capacity of government to fund proposals and be creative in identifying ways for business and others to assist.
Speech by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs: Australia and Japan in the 21st Century
The Seventh Australia-Japan Conference was held in Brisbane on 4 November 2011. The Conference was co-chaired by Sir Rod Eddington, Chairman of the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, and Mr Akio Mimura, Chairman of the Japan-Australia Business Cooperation Committee.
Participants included eminent representatives from politics, business, academia, think-tanks and media in both countries. Australia's Foreign Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, addressed conference participants. Mr Joe Nakano (Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs), Ms Julie Bishop (Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Senator Mark Furner (Member of the Australia-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Group and of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade) participated in the conference.
Conference discussions focussed on opportunities to advance the Australia-Japan relationship after the tragic earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, including in the fields of political, strategic and defence cooperation, trade and economic cooperation with a particular focus on reform, and people-to-people links.
Japanese participants expressed heartfelt appreciation for the assistance provided by Australian governments, businesses and individuals in the aftermath of the March disasters. They acknowledged the significance of Prime Minister Gillard’s visit to Japan in April 2011 as the first foreign leader to visit the disaster-affected areas. Participants agreed that the nature and scale of Australia’s assistance highlighted and reinforced the strength of the friendship between Australia and Japan.
The main outcomes of the Conference discussions are outlined below.
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The Sixth Australia-Japan Conference was held in Canberra 11–12 February 2010. The Conference was co-chaired by Sir Rod Eddington, Chairman of the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, and Mr Akio Mimura, Chairman of the Japan-Australia Business Cooperation Committee.
Participants included eminent representatives from politics, business, academia, think-tanks and media in both countries. Australia's Foreign Minister, the Hon Stephen Smith MP, addressed Conference participants, and the Chair of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Senator Michael Forshaw, participated in the Conference. Japan's State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Tetsuro Fukuyama, participated in the Conference and delivered Japan's keynote address.
Conference discussions focussed on three broad themes: political and strategic cooperation, trade and economic cooperation, and people-to-people links. The main outcomes of the Conference discussions are outlined below.
Conference participants considered that Australia and Japan were on the threshold of a significant expansion of their cooperation on political and strategic issues. They observed that cooperation on global issues in multilateral fora had progressed and should be expanded even further, noting that Australia and Japan were able to achieve more in these areas when they worked together. They:
Conference participants considered that the bilateral trade and investment relationship remained vital to both countries in the changing international environment, and noted that it was important not to take that relationship for granted. The economic relationship was highly complementary and had much potential for further growth. Australia was a safe and reliable supplier of food and resources and a world-class financial services centre. Japanese investment remained vital to Australia's economy. Recent strong growth in two-way investment flows was a positive sign of mutual confidence at a time of global economic difficulty. Participants:
Conference participants considered the people-to-people relationship to be in good order, with positive public perceptions on both sides of the relationship, and an extensive and organic network of people-to-people ties. They highlighted the need continually to reinforce the value of the relationship to the public in both countries, and felt that stronger parliamentary exchanges were vital to this. They:
Strengthening Japanese Language Learning In Support Of The Australia-Japan Business And Academic Relationship (PDF - 78 KB) | (RTF - 290 KB)
The Fifth Australia-Japan Conference was held in Tokyo on 19 November 2008. Established in 1999, Australia-Japan Conferences are significant events on the bilateral Australia-Japan calendar and have generated and promoted new ideas and initiatives in support of the bilateral relationship. This year was no exception.
This year’s Conference, hosted by Japan, was co-chaired by Sir Rod Eddington, Chairman of the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, and Mr Akio Mimura, Chairman of the Japan-Australia Business Cooperation Committee. Japanese Prime Minister, the Hon Taro Aso, and Australia’s Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, the Hon Martin Ferguson, addressed the Conference.
Conference invitees included senior representatives from politics, business, academia and the media. This year’s Conference participants embraced the challenge set by the Prime Ministers of Australia and Japan in June, when the Prime Ministers called on the Australia-Japan Conference to present forward-looking recommendations for future Australia-Japan relations. Discussion covered four main themes: political/security cooperation, trade/economic cooperation, the environment and climate change, and people to people links. Participants engaged in a free flowing discussion and explored opportunities and challenges for the relationship in light of significant developments such as the global financial crisis, climate change, the evolving regional strategic environment and changing demographics. The co-Chairs issued a statement on the Conference’s outcomes highlighting key issues in the current and future bilateral relationship (below).
The Fifth Australia-Japan Conference was held at Mita Kaigisho on 19 November 2008. The Conference was co-chaired by Sir Rod Eddington, Chairman of the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, and Mr Akio Mimura, Chairman of the Japan-Australia Business Cooperation Committee. Participants included eminent representatives of politics, business, academia and media from both countries. Japan’s Prime Minister, the Hon Taro Aso, and Australia’s Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, the Hon Martin Ferguson MP, addressed the Conference.
Participants underscored that Australia and Japan are natural and indispensable partners, with a sixty-year history of close cooperation based on shared strategic interests and democratic values, economic complementarities and warm people-to-people links, and presented forward-looking recommendations for the future of the bilateral relationship.
The key and general outcomes of the conference discussions are outlined below.
The Fourth Australia-Japan Conference was held at Mita Kaigisho in Tokyo on 23rd June, 2006. The Conference commemorated the Japan-Australia Year of Exchange, and covered wide range of issues including political/security, economic/trade and cultural/ people-to-people exchange.
The Co-chairs of the meeting were Mr. Minoru Murofushi, Vice-Chairman of the Japan Australia Business Cooperation Committee and Mr. Hugh Morgan, Chairman of Australia Japan Business Cooperation Committee. Other participants included eminent representatives of politics, business, academia, journalism and government from both countries. Mr Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and Mr Tony Abbott, Leader of the House and Minister for Health and Aging of Australia gave keynote addresses at the opening session.
The key and general outcomes of the conference discussions are outlined below.
The Australia-Japan trade and economic relationship is a fundamental element of a broader strategic partnership of great significance to both countries. Both are key economies in the East Asian region, with shared values and interests. We support each other's full and active participation in the region's forums for policy dialogue and cooperation.
Regional economic integration is proceeding rapidly, and Australia and Japan are concluding FTAs with third countries. Trade and investment links with China in particular are growing strongly. It is important that enhancement of Australia–Japan economic relations keep pace with these broader regional developments.
While bilateral trade and economic links are strong, both sides should examine mechanisms to deepen the relationship. This should encompass an economic partnership agreement, including the examination of the feasibility of an FTA that would be substantive and support reform in both countries. Sensitive sectors are perceived as a challenge, on the Japanese side in particular. But there is momentum in Japan in reform and a demonstrated willingness to include such sectors in ongoing FTA negotiations in order to achieve economy-wide benefits. There is scope for updating bilateral social security and taxation arrangements.
Resources security is an emerging issue. Maintaining close dialogue and cooperation in this area will remain important. Food security too would be enhanced by greater engagement and bilateral dialogue on food and agriculture issues, including direct investment.
Services trade is of great importance in the global economy. Liberalising services trade, including the movement of people, creates business opportunities and can assist with addressing the social challenges we both face, such as the ageing of our populations.
Both countries are strongly committed to contributing to economic development in the region. Strengthened bilateral dialogue and cooperation in APEC and the ADB should improve further the effectiveness of this aid effort, including in areas such as governance, education, logistics and legal and accounting frameworks. Continuing Australia–Japan cooperation on strengthening financial stability in the region remains vitally important.
Both countries share a common vision of the development of regional cooperation. In particular, both support the evolution of inclusive, open, transparent and market-based frameworks on the basis of universally recognised values and principles. Elaboration of our joint vision of an East Asian community, along with partners in the region, would be a useful area of further discussion in the future.
The international security environment has changed significantly over the last 15 years. Traditional security challenges remain, especially the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, but we also face a range of transnational challenges, including terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, SARS, HIV/AIDS, and natural disasters. Maritime security, vitally important to the economies of both countries, is a key concern.
Australia and Japan also have to manage the opportunities and challenges posed by the changing power balance in the region, and particularly the emergence of China as a key player – not only as a result of its economic growth, but also its increasing political and diplomatic weight.
While both countries' defence and security policies have evolved since the first two conferences, shifts in Japan have been particularly significant.
These changes have considerably broadened the scope for Australia-Japan collaboration in the political and security sphere. Australia and Japan are economically developed liberal democracies with close ties throughout Asia. As such, we are uniquely placed to address regional transnational security threats. Furthermore, our respective alliances with the United States provide the opportunity for us to work together with the United States, as well as bilaterally, to address common concerns. Already, Australia and Japan are working together to build counter-terrorism capacity and to promote counter-proliferation outreach strategies.
Although the UN remains a key institution in addressing security issues, there is an urgent need for reform to ensure its continued legitimacy and effectiveness. Australia and Japan could work together to promote such reform. Australian participants reiterated their support for Japan's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
The regional security agenda provides great scope for undertaking 'functional cooperation' in accordance with our vision of an East Asian community. Elaborating on areas for cooperation, for example threats to maritime security, would be useful.
But it is important too to look beyond 'hard' security issues to the human dimension of the challenges we face. There would be benefit in looking at concrete projects, for example in the development assistance that we provide to Pacific island states, to East Timor, and following the Indian Ocean tsunami. Peace-building and conflict prevention are other areas in which collaboration would be of value.
Second and 1.5 track dialogues (including that initiated by previous Australia–Japan conference participants) have been useful in identifying emerging issues and mechanisms for dealing with them. There may be scope to build further on some of these dialogues – for example by developing channels of communication with inter-governmental processes.
Participants suggested that Australia and Japan might increase cooperation – at official or non-official levels – on the following key issues:
The Year of Exchange in 2006 provides an excellent opportunity for Australia and Japan to expand networks across the fields of culture, education and science. It is hoped that the Year will leave a lasting legacy of stronger people to people links.
There would be merit in expanding collaborative programs with the exchange of artists, curators and administrators. Such programs would complement and have a longer-term impact than exchange of artists themselves. Expanding links in contemporary arts also offers scope for updating perceptions.
The development of two-way tourism is a means for enhancing awareness of each other, in addition to the commercial benefits this brings. Japanese tourists have visited Australia in large numbers for many years. Japan's intention to run a "Visit Japan" campaign in Australia next year is welcome and will help to balance the flow of tourism, which to date has largely been one way. It will build on growing interest in visiting Japanese ski resorts among Australians and could usefully target Australians transiting Japan en route to Europe.
Our science and technology links are longstanding, but offer considerable additional scope for expansion. Both government have specific plans for developing their science and technology capacity. There is further scope for dialogue to promote sharing of scarce resources such as science infrastructure, taking advantage of complementarities and benefits from the avoidance of duplication.
Both countries have shared interests in marine issues in particular, including biotechnology, environment, tourism and piracy aspects of this. Another area of considerable mutual interest is healthcare particularly in the context of ageing populations in both countries. This would include such issues as the training of professionals and collaboration in research into pharmaceuticals.
Dialogue on IP is a further area of the science and technology relationship that merits consideration. Issues such as the enforcement of IP rules and the possibility for creating "combined markets" for the purposes of exploiting scale efficiencies in the marketing of discoveries would be worth examining.
Both countries have considerable experience in hosting foreign students. There is a fairly high level of bilateral exchange in between educational institutions in form of student and staff exchanges. There is, however, scope for considerable further collaboration on education, to encourage further bilateral exchange, as well as collaboration in providing services to third countries.
Our location in the same time zone offers scope for greatly expanded e-learning collaboration. Also, in Japan there is increased emphasis on English-language education, in particular on listening skills, while in Australia enhancement of Japanese-language learning should be encouraged. This too presents opportunities for e-learning collaboration between Australian and Japanese institutions.
There may be scope in particular for collaboration in education in such fields as business management, public policy, risk management and vocational education including in tourism.
To facilitate this exchange issues for both sides to examine include addressing bottlenecks in e-learning, fees, and credit transfers. Links to industry through workplace placements were emphasises as a way of enhancing education exchanges.
Forums set up to examine these issues in more detail may be useful means of pursuing them further.
Working Group IV (science and technology for the ageing) discussed the common issues facing both countries in relation to population ageing, particularly the need to improve the quality of life for older people through the use of innovative technologies. People in Australia and Japan enjoy the longest and healthiest life expectancies in the world. The challenge for the 21st Century is to make these added years of life in old age as healthy and productive as possible. Issues concerning extended working life, continuing participation in society, and the provision of health and social care, were identified as priorities.
The group canvassed a range of options for joint cooperation which require a multi-disciplinary approach and the support and facilitation of both Governments. Technology advancements, particularly in e-health, tele-medicine, electronic patient records, and assistive technology in independent living, were some of the areas discussed. The Group recommended the establishment of an Australia-Japan Panel on Ageing to explore the opportunities for joint research and development on ageing issues, in particular on ways to promote healthy ageing.
The working group made the following recommendations:
The Australia-Japan relationship is one of the most successful bilateral relationships in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a partnership of strength, resilience, diversity and goodwill. From the ashes of World War II, the two countries have built a strong partnership in the region and share fundamental values. Both have security alliances with the United States, and support the contribution to peace and stability in the region by the United States' engagement in the region. Both countries have benefited from our strong and complementary economic relationship. People in Australia and Japan have successfully established a warm friendship and there is active interaction at many levels between the two countries.
This unique partnership represents the culmination of years of effort and commitment by both countries. But Australia-Japan relations cannot be taken for granted. It is time to find new ways to maintain the vigour of the relationship. In this endeavour, governments, business and the two communities should build on what we have to strengthen our relationship to the betterment of both countries and the region. Australia and Japan should be proud of their leading role in APEC's establishment.
This statement suggests some ideas for future action. In doing so, the Conference should be viewed as the start, not the end, of a process. The bilateral relationship is dynamic and both sides need to continue to explore ways to move forward into the twenty-first century.
High level political dialogues between Australia and Japan including between Prime Ministers and Ministers — including through the Australia-Japan Ministerial Committee meeting — should be encouraged.
An initiative of our Prime Ministers, the concept of this Conference is unique in bringing together participants from government, business, academia, media and other areas with an emphasis on fresh ideas. Australia and Japan should explore the idea of convening a similar conference — Australia-Japan Conference for a Creative Partnership — in Japan or Australia in the future.
Located at the northern and southern points of East Asia, Australia and Japan have a shared sense of concern, responsibility and opportunity about our neighbourhood. The two countries want the United States to remain engaged in the region, and to see China's integration as a constructive regional partner. Australia and Japan should build on these common interests by strengthening their bilateral dialogue, focusing on ways jointly to enhance regional security. This dialogue should cover region-wide issues (eg the US role in the region); sub-regional issues (eg East Timor, Korean Peninsula) and transnational issues (eg international crime, food security).
Ways to achieve this enhanced dialogue include:
We are excited by emerging new complementarities and new approaches to traditional complementarities in the economic relationship. In particular, the information and communications technology and services sectors promise to take the bilateral relationship to even greater levels of integration and mutual benefit. Government and business — both large and small business — on both sides should embrace these opportunities. Conference delegates welcome the two Strengthening Economic Relations studies as pre-study for stimulating future discussion. In particular:-
Promoting mutual understanding at all levels in both countries provides the basis for a closer partnership between Australia and Japan. People-to-people links have infused bilateral relations with a spirit of friendship and warmth and enriched the lives of Australian and Japanese people. In the year it is celebrating its twenty-fifth year, we single out the outstanding contribution of the Australia-Japan Foundation in successfully promoting better awareness between Australian and Japanese people.
Both countries — government, private or both — should continue to nurture this spirit of goodwill and mutual understanding in every way possible with special emphasis on our young people. This should include:-
The Australia-Japan Foundation expands contact and exchange between the peoples of Australia and Japan.
The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) deepens our economic ties now and for years to come.
Austrade makes it easier for Australian companies to grow their business in Japan.