By Richard Court AC, Australia’s Ambassador to Japan
The Foreign Policy White Paper, released in November, emphasises the value of soft power – the power of attraction and ideas – to Australia’s foreign policy objectives.
The White Paper makes it clear that Australia’s soft power and efforts to build a stronger nation brand complement our broader trade and investment policies and build impetus into our major economic partnerships.
Australia now – a flagship public diplomacy initiative that celebrates contemporary Australian innovation, creativity and lifestyle – complements our trade and strategic relationship with a key partner country each year.
And what better relationship to celebrate in 2018 than our close ties to Japan, our second-largest trading partner and second-largest source of foreign direct investment.
Starting today and running for eight months through to November, Australia now Japan 2018 will see around 40 events across Japan, celebrating our existing connections at all levels – from Prime Ministers to school children – and forging new relationships for the future.
We will reinforce our shared focus on innovation during exchanges led by Universities Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australia’s leading universities, and major Australian presences at Japan’s leading Biotech and Agritech symposiums. Questacon will bring its highly popular Science Circus Tour back to Japan with support through the Australia-Japan Foundation.
We will celebrate Australia’s world-renowned lifestyle during a major exhibition of Australian architecture, an Australian outdoor film festival, a Grand Wine Tasting, a major Australian beef, lamb and wine promotion, interactive children’s educational theatre, and exchanges in touch football, lifesaving and women’s and men’s rugby.
We will share perspectives on creativity during performances by the wonderful Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Paul Grabowsky Quintet, exhibitions by celebrated Australian artists including Hossein Valamanesh, Jörg Schmeisser and Heather B. Swann, and a visit by acclaimed Australian writer, Helen Garner.
I’m particularly proud to share Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures with a major touring exhibition, Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia, and performances by Bangarra Dance Theatre, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Deborah Cheetham AO, Yorta Yorta Soprano.
Finally, Australia now will touch upon important societal issues affecting both Japan and Australia including aging and disability inclusion through visits by the ground-breaking MADE – Mature Artists Dance Experience and Back to Back Theatre.
With so much on offer, the only difficulty will be choosing what to see!
Organised in collaboration with our Australia now partners, celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors and the Australia-Japan Foundation, this extensive program will reinforce the mutual warmth and interest felt between Australia and Japan.
If you’re living in Japan or know someone who is, I encourage you to get involved and follow the Australia now Japan journey on Twitter or Facebook. You can also find out more about this soft power initiative at Australianow2018.com.
Richard Court is a former Western Australian politician who has held a number of senior positions and directorships in private and public companies, including Resource Investment Strategy Consultants, the Anglican Diocesan trustees and the Olympic Team Appeal for Western Australia. Mr Court was elected to the Western Australia Legislative Assembly in 1982. He served as Premier and Treasurer of Western Australia from 1993 to 2001.