Reporter: Philip Porter
February 28 2017
The Consul General’s talk was keenly awaited with over 70 attendees, some from as far away as the Gold Coast.
The Consul General describes himself as “a leg man” meaning he likes to get about and meet people face to face at the grass roots level. He has been as good as his word. In just the few months he’s been here he has travelled from Darwin (part of his responsibility) to Dubbo and criss-crossed the state and Sydney in his quest to know his territory.
Mr. Takewaka also has a laconic sense of humour, opening his address with “My presentation is not as provocative as the title suggests.” It was however, very informative, frank and thoughtful - who could ask for more?
He began by making the point that grass roots organisations like the AJS and numerous sporting, cultural and education bodies, “are the cornerstone of the very special relationship that exists between Japan and Australia.”
Mr Takewaka used the events of Prime Minster Abe’s visit to Sydney (13-15 January) to sum up Japanese priorities in the region and beyond. In doing this he emphasised the “Three Pillars” that create the scaffolding for Japan’s relationship with Australia.
The three pillars of this relationship are:1. Security and Defence
Agriculture: Firstly, an MOC on Agriculture was signed during PM Abe’s visit. This is to act as an initiator for a plethora of agricultural trade and interaction with a team of Japanese experts coming to Australia to map out possibilities including the purchase of agricultural equipment
He pointed out that the FTA will certainly open up the Japanese agricultural sector a great deal. Darwin is of particular interest to Japanese agricultural interest due to its location and potential as a food bowl.
Japanese corporate interest in Australia: is based on its desire to diversify and pursue infra structure projects. Australia’s attraction to Japan is its predictability, transparency and stability.
Japan’s response to a Trump America: Mr Takewaka agreed that there is a heightened sense of unpredictability but pointed out that this is always the case with international relations. Also, the transactional emphasis of Trump’s utterances doesn’t concern Japan particularly as all international arrangements involve a bundling of self-interest, trade negotiations, strategic/military positioning and raw politics. He noted that Clinton in the 80’s wanted Japan to limit its production and export of certain products as part of a broader deal, which Japan resisted.
MOU on Sport: was also signed with Australia. Mr. Takewaka said that sport is a vital form of soft diplomacy. It’s universally enjoyed, involves grass roots connection and no language is required to participate.
The AJS looks forward to more talks from the Consul General during his posting in Sydney.
C-G Takewaka with AJS members and Directors (photo Y. Shoji)
Previous Event Reports :
Japan Earthquake & Tsunami - Reflections on Volunteering
How Japan Can Save the World - August 2015
Japan through the Lens of a Global Investor - July 2015
From Exchange Student to Executive VP - June 2015
2015 University Awards - May 2015
Rugby World Cup 2019 - Nov. 2014
Food Safety and Security - JAEPA July 2014
Tohoku - 3 Years On - March 2014
Nikkei Australians- November 2013
August 2013 - Japanese Investment
Mark Willacy and others Jan - July 2013