How significant is New South Wales (NSW) in terms of the Australia and Japan relationship?
The relations between Japan and Australia’s largest business center and economic region NSW are strong and longstanding. This began mainly with commodities trading and the export of primary products. Japan is NSW’s number one export market. Major export items to Japan include high quality coal for power generation and food like beef. The increase of investments and joint-ventures from Japan in Australia can be seen particularly in NSW. Japanese megabanks have chosen to establish their operations here to support the growing partnerships between Japanese and Australian companies across all sectors.
Japanese investors are exploring new opportunities such as hydrogen for the energy sector and smart infrastructure. Japanese technology and know-how can support the development of Western Sydney and the Greater Sydney region, which includes Tech Central and the Westmead Health and Innovation District.
We have plenty of opportunities to realize the transition from fossil fuels to decarbonized energy together. NSW already has two hydrogen hubs and the NSW government recently announced a hydrogen strategy to drive investment, create jobs and power prosperity in the region. Now is the time to expand business discussions on concrete projects to develop together.
Why is there such a good synergy between Australia and Japan, especially seen in NSW?
‘Complementarity with potential for growth’ is the phrase I would use. Japan and Australia make a great combination. Japan is a small country with a huge population while Australia is a vast country with a smaller population. While Japan’s population is decreasing, Australia has been taking in more Japanese immigrants which are starting families in the country. Australia is a transparent, developed and affluent, English-speaking country with good governance and no time difference with Japan. Australians understand Japan deeply and are willing to take on new ideas. They are easy going and foster cooperation rather than neck-and-neck competition.
There are more than 30,000 Japanese living in Sydney and 150 Japanese restaurants in NSW. It’s a good market for Japanese companies and a great place to live in.
What events are the Consulate-General of Japan in Sydney looking forward to this year?
Japan and Australia have been organizing many seminars and networking events in fields such as hydrogen and circular economy, many using digital tools. We hope to also make use of the online tools to promote Japanese food and culture. Japanaroo, the region-wide Japanese festival in NSW, celebrates Japan’s contribution to job creation and business innovation in Australia while fostering exchange and trust between our two countries. We hope to see more participants and that the initiatives will be most effective.
What message would you send readers of the Report on the eve of Australia Day?
The long history of trust and respect between Australia and Japan matters significantly and will help our economies to prosper together. We look forward to rebounding from the pandemic and for the people-to-people exchange between our two nations, especially between our regions to grow. New and untapped potential exist in both regions of Japan and Australia which we hope to promote. Australians can be great curators of Japanese regional values, products and tourist destinations to the western world.