Japanese | English

Greeting from the Consul-General

Japanese | English

Photo by Toshiki Tanaka

Happy New Year.

It has been 1 year and 8 months since I was posted to Melbourne. During this time, I have had the opportunity to see the diversity of Australia’s different regions, including the three jurisdictions of the consulate (VIC/SA/TAS) as well as the Northern Territory, Sydney, and Canberra. Through this, I have experienced the importance of Australia’s ‘MCG’: Multiculturalism, Convenience, and Generosity, an acronym I invented inspired by the letters of the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.

2018 was a year of deepening Japan-Australia exchange. The year started with KUMAMON’s visit to Australia, followed by a collaboration between the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Ghibli film music composer Joe Hisaishi. There was a rakugo (traditional Japanese comedy) performance by rakugo master Tatekawa Shinosuke, and exchange through sport with Keisuke Honda joining an Australian soccer league team. Japan-Australia diplomatic relations also strengthened. Prime Minister Abe visited Darwin for the first time, which was bombed by Japanese forces during World War II. As well as extending his condolences and reiterating Japan’s vow of peace, Prime Minister Abe also discussed economic partnerships and defence ties with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Moreover, there were many active bilateral exchanges between Japan and our three states of jurisdiction in 2018, especially amongst many of the sister city relationships. Commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Osaka-Melbourne sister city relationship included the Melbourne to Osaka Double Handed Yacht Race and reciprocal visits by the delegations of both cities. Okayama Prefecture and South Australia celebrated the 25th year of their sister state relationship and South Australia welcomed the Okayama Prefecture mayoral delegation. In the economic sphere, there were new projects and collaboration in various new sectors, such as the world-first coal to hydrogen energy pilot project.

This year, Oshu in Iwate Prefecture will celebrate their 40th anniversary of friendship city relations with Greater Shepparton, and Tokai in Aichi Prefecture and Macedon Ranges Shire will commemorate the 5th anniversary of their sister city relationship. Additionally, Shiroi in Chiba Prefecture and Campaspe Shire, which marked the 20th year of their sister city relationship in 2018, will commemorate their 21st anniversary this year following the Australian custom of celebrating 21st birthdays.

In the past, we have received feedback from customers asking whether our office can introduce online applications and cashless payments for processing fees. This has been difficult due to legal restrictions, but is now under consideration thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Digital Government medium-long term plan. Furthermore, we will continue to provide the latest Japan-related event information and useful business information through our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We look forward to receiving your further opinions and suggestions.

According to the Japanese zodiac, 2019 is the Year of the Boar. I hope to charge straight through the upcoming year like a boar for an even better Japan-Australia relationship, keeping myself busy so I won’t get boar-ed!

I wish you the best of health and happiness throughout the coming year.

Kazuyoshi Matsunaga
Consul-General of Japan in Melbourne
January 2019