09 Nov 2018

Celebration of Australia in Japan adds momentum to deepening ties

Celebration of Australia in Japan adds momentum to deepening ties

9 November 2018

The largest celebration of Australia in Japan this decade wraps up on 9-10 November, with performances by world‑renowned Bangarra Dance Theatre capping off 40 feature programs in the eight-month Australia now Japan 2018 celebration.

Fresh from sold-out seasons across Australia, Bangarra returns to Japan for the first time in 13 years to present I.B.I.S. and Spirit 2018, showcasing the best of Bangarra’s 30-year repertoire in a powerful celebration of Australia’s proud Indigenous cultures.

Since April, over 400,000 Japanese guests have taken part in Australia now highlights, including tours by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and major Indigenous and architecture exhibitions, alongside visits by leading Australian scientists, performers, researchers, entrepreneurs, sportspeople and artists.

Six well-known Japanese and Australian celebrities – actor Toshio Shiba AM, actress Kyoko Maya, actor Tetsuya Bessho, radio DJ Chris Glenn, essayist Keiko Kojima, and artist Sarah Àlainn – lent their support to promoting unique aspects of Australian innovation, lifestyle and creativity.

Announced during then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Japan in January 2018, the program featured over 210 individual events across 28 prefectures, building on existing links and sparking new connections between Australia and Japan.

Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, said, “The Australian Government has been promoting Australian innovation, creative industries and lifestyle in Japan as part of our flagship public diplomacy program, Australia now. By reinforcing how much we have to learn from each other and by working together, Australia now complements our deepening strategic and economic relationship with Japan.”

Ambassador Richard Court AC said that Australia now had given new inspiration to Australia’s longest-standing relationships in Japan, and started new conversations: “By working with our commercial and program partners to bring together all the different parts of our relationship, Australia now has given new impetus to a relationship that is already a model of stability and friendship,” Ambassador Court said.

“With the momentum generated through Australia now, we look forward to being a strong supporter throughout Japan’s hosting of the G20 and Rugby World Cup in 2019, the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, and beyond.”

Building on Japan’s strong interest in Australia’s unique Indigenous cultures, Australia now featured visits by Yorta Yorta soprano Deborah Cheetham AO, actor Uncle Jack Charles and Ilbijerri Theatre, didjeridu master Djalu Gurruwiwi, and the Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia major touring exhibition. The program concludes with Bangarra Dance Theatre’s performances on 9-10 November at one of Asia’s leading contemporary dance venues, Saitama Arts Theater.

The program started new conversations on how Australia and Japan can address shared challenges through delegations led by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO, National Farmers’ Federation CEO Tony Mahar, Universities Australia, National Health and Medical Research Council, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), AusBiotech, Questacon and Australian universities. Another finale highlight, Questacon’s Science Circus Tour Japan 2018 will wrap-up its five-week tour in Kochi on 11 November.

Visitors experienced firsthand a taste of Australia’s world-famous lifestyle through lifesaving and rugby exchanges, Australian food and wine showcases, and a highly-popular short film festival at Mori Building’s Roppongi Hills, run in collaboration with Flickerfest and the Australia and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Mori Building also hosted the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES / UNIQUE PROJECTS architecture exhibition, featuring twelve unique Australian architecture projects chosen for their environmentally responsibility, resource friendliness and sympathy to context.

Visits by Tasmania’s Mature Artists Dance Experience, Victoria’s Back to Back Theatre and Workplace Gender Equality Agency Director Libby Lyons shared perspectives on how Australia is tackling discrimination, whether based on age, disability or gender.

Australia’s creative powers were showcased through tours by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, artist Heather B Swann, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, Last Great Hunt, Erth Dinosaur Theatre, Hossein and Angela Valamanesh, musician Paul Grabowsky AO, Henry Jock Walker, Lucy Guerin Inc, author Helen Garner, and an exhibition by renowned printmaker, Jörg Schmeisser, at Machida City Museum of Graphic Art (until 18 November).

Australia now Platinum Partner representative, Mr Chris Salisbury, Rio Tinto Chief Executive Iron Ore [and sponsor for Japan on Rio Tinto’s Executive Committee], said, “As a long-standing partner of both Australia and Japan, Rio Tinto has been honoured to support the Australia now program. The development of Rio Tinto’s iron ore mines in Western Australia was underwritten by Japanese investment back in the 1960s and the metals produced through this long-standing partnership underpinned Japan’s development and human progress. Today our mining and metals operations in Australia supply not only iron ore, but aluminum, salt, uranium, even diamonds to Japan.

“The program has been another exciting way to showcase the partnership between both nations and Australia’s innovative spirit and important contributions to Japan. I know that it has also been a wonderful opportunity for the people of Japan to experience the many different facets of Australian culture, creativity, lifestyle and sport. I congratulate the Australian Government on an outstanding Australia now Japan 2018 program.”

Dr George Gilboy, Chief Representative Japan for Australia now Platinum Partner, Woodside, said, “Australia now has been fantastic, showcasing everything from Australian artistic endeavours to leadership in science, technology and medicine. The rich program has demonstrated how both Australians and Japanese embrace innovation, while respecting tradition. Woodside has been very proud to sponsor Australia now in Japan.”

Australia now Japan 2018 was funded through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade together with corporate partners: Woodside, Rio Tinto, BHP, ANA, Japan Airlines, New South Wales Government, Victorian Government, Qantas, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation/SMBC NIKKO Securities Inc., True Aussie Beef, Tourism Australia, JTB, INPEX CORPORATION, Government of Western Australia and the Australia-Japan Foundation. The program was organised in collaboration with over 115 event partners.

Australia now is presented by the Australian Government and showcases contemporary Australia in one focus country each year. After Japan, the program moves to ASEAN in 2019.