Australia-Japan Foundation Strategic Plan: 2017-2022

Mission Statement

To advance Australia's engagement with Japan by supporting people-to-people linkages, promoting a contemporary image of Australia in Japan, and facilitating informed discussion on key bilateral foreign and trade policy issues.


Malcolm Turnbull speaking to large audience
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, addressing the audience at Australia’s Parliament House on the occasion of the 40th Anniversaries of the 1976 Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Australia and Japan and the founding of the Australia-Japan Foundation. (Credit: DFAT)

The objectives of the Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) are:

  1. to increase awareness and understanding in Japan of shared interests with Australia;
  2. to increase awareness and understanding in Australia of the importance of Japan to Australia as an economic and strategic partner; and
  3. to increase recognition in Japan of Australian excellence and expertise.

(AJF Orders in Council, 30 November 2006)

Priority areas

Group of sportswomen with arms around each other
AJF 2016-17 recipient – Touch Football Australia ‘Touch Blossoms: Girls Participation and Business Sustainability Game Plan’, The Australian and Japanese Women’s Opens teams embrace after a test match (Photo: Glen Eaton – Aisle 5 Photography)

To achieve its objectives, the AJF will prioritise high quality programs particularly, but not exclusively, across any one of the three cross-cutting themes: youth; gender, diversity and inclusion; and innovation.

Effective 'public diplomacy' plans are an essential element of projects to maximise the potential of projects to increase mutual understanding and goodwill between the two countries. Public diplomacy means that projects have the capacity to reach out to the public and/or decision-makers in such a way that strengthens Australia's influence and reputation in the bilateral relationship. Good public diplomacy should generate positive and effective media coverage and commentary on the Australia-Japan relationship, and promote a contemporary and positive image of Australia, and support the Australian Government's international policy goals.

Good public diplomacy should also open doors to new areas and to new and sustainable networks between individuals and institutions in the bilateral relationship, and enable partnerships or collaborative activities to emerge or existing ones to deepen.

Projects must demonstrate collaboration between Japanese and Australian partners, including through financial and other (eg in-kind) contributions. Projects will come under the following priority areas (in alphabetical order):

Communication, Information and Advocacy

Projects will promote an accurate and positive image of Australia in Japan, highlight the enduring nature of the bilateral relationship and increase public understanding of the importance of the Australia-Japan relationship in both countries.

Current project: Inaugural Australia-Japan Youth Dialogue will bring together 20 dynamic young Australian and Japanese future leaders (Grantee: David Lang).

Australia-Japan Foundation grant amount: $25,000

Economic Diplomacy and Geopolitics

Projects will facilitate informed discussion among policy-makers, business groups and academic opinion leaders on the importance and potential of the Australia-Japan business, economic and geopolitical relationships to each country. Projects will focus on the following areas:

  • Promoting closer economic relations arising from the opportunities of trade agreements and their built-in agendas;
  • Promoting emerging issues and trends in Australia's trade and investment relationship with Japan;
  • Promoting Australian corporate reform capabilities and international business expertise in areas of interest to Japan (for example in project management and private-public partnerships);
  • Promoting understanding and public awareness of Australia and Japan's shared contribution to promoting peace and stability in the region and globally; and Australia and Japan's commitment to rules and norms that promote stability, peace and prosperity.

Current project: Promoting sustainable fishing of vulnerable Pacific bluefin tuna through new technology for breeding bluefin tuna in captivity. (Grantee: Flinders University of South Australia)

Australia-Japan Foundation grant amount: $9,546

Education and Australian studies

Projects will focus on two areas:

  • The promotion of Australia's strong education and training credentials, for example, through alumni engagement and opportunities to provide in-country exposure to Australian education and training capabilities.
  • Support for the teaching of Australian studies in Japan and the maintenance and expansion of Japanese academic interest and expertise on Australia.

Current project: Promoting Australian studies in Japan through special sessions on 'Japan and Australia: What can we do for global platform? ' (Grantee: Australian Studies Association of Japan).

Australia-Japan Foundation grant amount: $24,000


Australia and Japan both face natural disasters, sometimes with devastating results. Currently, projects under this priority are assisting Japanese communities to recover from the devastation of natural disasters, particularly communities of the north eastern Tohoku region still recovering from the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake/tsunami.

Current project: Collaboration between Australian and Japanese artists and participants with a disability to celebrate the official opening of a train line destroyed in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (Grantee: Crossroad Arts).

Australia-Japan Foundation grant amount: $20,000

Scientific innovation

Projects will focus on three areas:

  • Exchanges between potential Australian and Japanese individual and institutional collaborators and partners in sectors that promote Australian excellence such as in innovation, science, health and technology;
  • The promotion of Australian expertise in scientific research, technology and innovation, for example, through alumni engagement and public outreach activities. AJF will not fund science research in itself;
  • Promotion of Australian excellence in sports medicine and other sports-related scientific innovation through exchanges.

Current project: Japan-derived cell-lines for Australia-based preclinical Non Communicable Disease (NCD) research and publication of findings by successful NCD researchers (Grantee: Children's Medical Research Institute).

Australia-Japan Foundation grant amount: $33,800

Society and Culture

Projects under this priority will encourage new social and cultural exchange and cooperation initiatives between Australian and Japanese professional, community and other institutions including sport, local government, youth, community and not-for profit groups which highlight Australian excellence and expertise in Japan and enhances mutual understanding, friendship and respect. Projects will promote Australia as a contemporary, creative, successful, diverse and tolerant nation; and an attractive place to work, study, visit and live. Projects will also promote Japan as a highly complementary partner with shared values and interests. Arts/culture projects would preferably be a collaboration between Australian and Japanese partners and demonstrate innovative ideas and/or approaches conceptually or in its delivery. The individual or organisation must have a proven record of quality and excellence.

Current project: ' Masterpieces of Contemporary Australian Literature' - translation and publication of contemporary Australian novels into Japanese, author visit, and public conference (Grantee: Gendaikikakushitsu Publishers).

Australia-Japan Foundation grant amount: $23,000

Opportunities and Challenges

Australia competes for attention with the rest of the world in Japan, not only in trade but also in higher education, science innovation, tourism, research collaboration, health, the arts and culture. Much of the AJF’s efforts will be directed towards increasing the prominence of Australia in Japan and building the capacity of Australians to establish and maintain enduring links with their Japanese counterparts.

The Australian Government’s Australia now Festival in Japan in 2018 provides an important, high-profile opportunity to do this. Japan’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2020 will provide additional opportunities to showcase the Australia-Japan relationship to decision makers in both countries.

The AJF is one of the Government’s key public diplomacy programs for strengthening the Australia-Japan relationship. The agenda for this program continues to expand. Australia and Japan share a strong interest in innovation which creates concrete opportunities for both countries to work together for mutually beneficial outcomes. The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), including its built-in agenda, provides an excellent framework for enhanced two-way trade and investment. Security cooperation is another fast-growing element of the relationship as well as working together on global issues.

Increasing understanding and appreciation of the bilateral relationship by the peoples of our two countries will require close monitoring of trends, recognition of opportunities and response to challenges. Recent growth in inbound investment and services trade, driven by education and tourism, will require greater cultural awareness and understanding including by Australians. The AJF is ideally placed to lead this charge through encouraging grassroots exchange, people-to-people and institutional linkages. ​

Last Updated: 6 January 2016