Australian Embassy

Ambassador Hayhurst Speech - The Japan-Australia Business Co-operation Committee

Monday, 17 June



I am delighted to be here today to address the Japan Australia Business Cooperation Committee.

Thank you, Secretary-General Nishitani, for your introduction.

I last addressed the JABCC in July last year, where I spoke about the strength of the Australia-Japan bilateral economic partnership. 

Since then, you have held a successful 60th Joint Business Conference [last October].

I think with considerable thanks due to Hirose san, the largest ever delegation of Japanese executives joined their Australian counterparts in Melbourne. 

Hirose san said he would make Melbourne “nihon jin darake” (awash with Japanese) – and I think he succeeded.

The Australian and Japanese business communities are at the heart of our bilateral relationship.

Business relationships, connections and exchanges matter, so I look forward to joining you for a successful Joint Business Conference in Nagoya this October. 

Let’s see if we can make Nagoya “oosutoraria jin darake”.

Today, I will talk about how Australia and Japan – our governments and our businesses – can work together to advance our shared interests during a time of unprecedented disruption.

Our Indo-Pacific region is experiencing immense change.

Technology is transforming our world at an unprecedented rate.

From advancements in AI and robotics, to breakthroughs in renewable energy technologies, this technological revolution brings opportunities, but also new challenges - particularly for our economic security.

Trade tensions and disruptions to global supply chains are stark reminders of the importance of having strategic partners you can trust.

The energy transition is transforming our strategic environment.

Both Australia and Japan are committed to achieving net-zero by 2050.

Australia’s vast natural resource endowments and Japan’s technological prowess and commercial strength position us well to develop sustainable solutions for a net-zero future together.  

But this will be a challenging joint enterprise.

Demographic shifts are changing our countries.

Japan is grappling with an aging and falling population.

Australia, on the other hand, has a growing population that is getting younger, supported by immigration and higher birth rates.

Importantly for cash-rich Japanese companies facing a decreasing customer base, growing and stable markets like Australia offer opportunities for investment and growth.

Finally, shifting geopolitics – and in particular, the growing power of an ambitious China – challenge our security.

Countries like Japan and Australia must work together, and with others, to promote an alternate regional and global order to that pursued by China and its closest partner Russia.

We want negotiated rules, not power alone, to shape the future.

Our environment will be further complicated in the near future by the upcoming US election – or ‘moshitora’ as I hear people calling it in Japan.

Just as China is a key variable for governments, so is America.

Australia’s and Japan’s shared commitment to regional stability is paramount as we navigate this complex environment.

Turning to Australia’s economic outlook there is good news. 

Australia’s economy continues to be among the best placed to deal with volatility and risk.  

Inflation is lingering in North America, growth is slowing in China and is tepid in Europe, and global supply chains are fragmenting.

In our most recent Budget, we forecast an Australian economy which is slowing, but still performing well.

Inflation is moderating and wages are increasing - with a forecast return to real wage growth.

And business investment continues to expand.

While real GDP growth slowed to 1.75 percent in 2023-24, it is expected to pick up to 2 percent in 2024-2025, and 2.25 percent in 2025-26.

Good news. 

And a solid foundation for the Australian Government’s investments in our future.

Last month, the Government announced an investment of $22.7 billion [2.4 trillion yen] over the next decade in what it described as the Future Made in Australia package. 

The title Future Made in Australia might sound like it is domestically focused. 

But many of the initiatives are almost tailor-made for the Australia-Japan bilateral relationship.

It includes incentives and policies to attract investment, support the energy transition, and back the supply chains that will strengthen economic and energy security for both Australia and Japan.

There was also another significant recent announcement – Australia’s Future Gas Strategy – a Cabinet agreed strategy that confirms the role of gas in our energy transition.

It makes clear that as Australia decarbonises, we will work with key partners, like Japan.

It identifies the need for new investments and sources of gas and highlights the importance of CCS. 

And it commits Australia to remaining a stable supplier for the region. 

We know this is not just about economics – energy security goes hand in hand with national security. 

A strong Japan is good for Japan, the region and Australia.

Australia is also streamlining and strengthening our investment regime, including a new ‘Front Door’ service for major investments, to provide a single point of contact, accelerate and coordinate approvals, and connect investors to investment vehicles.

These measures, coupled with Australia’s existing strengths in agriculture, resources and services, means we will remain a reliable, dynamic and long-term economic partner for Japan.   

I now want to delve a bit further into some priority sectors where our strengths intersect with great potential for mutual benefit and growth.

First, critical minerals.

We have them. 

We have all of them, including lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements essential for the production of high-tech devices and renewable energy technologies.

Japan has capital, technology and demand, and is a natural partner in developing these resources.

Together, we want to create reliable, diverse and sustainable supply chains in critical minerals that are fundamental to our economic security.

Australia’s initiatives include new funding and support for critical minerals projects, helping to reduce risk for Japanese investors.

We have allocated an extra $1.2 billion [124 billion yen] to priority critical minerals projects.

Approximately half a billion dollars [52 billion yen] will be used to identify potential new critical minerals sites, through intensive mapping and surveying of Australia.

And an uncapped Critical Minerals Production Tax Incentive will provide incentives for processing and refining across Australia’s 31 identified critical minerals.

There will also be support for pre-feasibility studies to develop critical minerals common-user processing facilities.

We’re seeing strong interest from Japan on minerals processing in Australia.

The Embassy is holding a workshop tomorrow (18 June) on rare earths and lithium processing linking Australian experts with 120 representatives from Japanese trading houses, banks and mining companies.

Next, hydrogen.

Both Australia and Japan are pioneers in the development of hydrogen as a clean energy source.

Australia’s abundant natural resources make it an ideal location for hydrogen production.

And Japan’s technological advancements in hydrogen infrastructure and utilisation create natural synergies for collaboration.

Already, Japanese companies are involved in 13 hydrogen-related projects in Australia that are under construction or development – with many more in the pipeline.

The Future Made in Australia package contains billions of dollars in new support for renewable hydrogen projects, building on a dedicated $150 million [16 billion yen] Australia-Japan Clean Hydrogen Trade Program.

An uncapped Hydrogen Production Tax Incentive will provide incentives of $2 per kilogram for renewable hydrogen production.

An expanded Hydrogen Head Start program of $4 billion [415 billion yen] will support early movers to invest in the industry’s development.

Two Japanese backed projects are on the first shortlist to receive support.

Australia’s and Japan’s energy partnership has long been vital to both countries.

For energy insecure Japan, Australia is a crucial and trusted partner.

Japan’s investment in Australian energy projects has transformed Australia’s economy and delivered Japan’s energy security.

We have a partnership built on trust and key relationships between businesses, government and people.

As we decarbonise and move towards net-zero, this partnership will evolve and will inevitably be more complicated.

But you need a partner you can trust on the fundamentals for the future.

We can and must work together, including on LNG as a vital element of our respective energy transition. 

I see it as a key mission in the second half of my term to support Japan’s GX work and Australia’s energy security and energy transition work to deliver economic prosperity, energy security and decarbonisation. 

Please join me in this mission.

Now let me broaden the conversation.

Australia is a global leader in agricultural production.

We are one of the most food self-sufficient nations in the world, exporting around 70 percent of everything we produce.

Our food is high-quality and safe.

Japan’s food self-sufficiency however, on a caloric basis, is at 38 percent.

If we are serious about economic security we can’t just talk about energy. 

We need the same partnerships to ensure stable and secure food supply. 

We can do more on investment in agriculture, food processing, supply chain logistics, information sharing, agricultural technology and addressing barriers to trade.

I have spoken a lot about supply chains. 

But I also should highlight the opportunities for Japan in the Australian market.

Akiya (empty houses) are not a problem in Australia. 

Instead, with our growing population, Australia has a shortage of quality, affordable housing.

Real estate is a prime target for Japanese investors looking for growth. 

Japanese property investment into Australia skyrocketed in 2023 to more than $2 billion [207 billion yen].

Japan’s top two global real estate markets are now the US and Australia.

Build-to-rent offers attractive and sustained long-term potential returns for investors.

In 2023, around 85 percent of Japanese investment went into three projects – two of which were build-to-rent investments by Mitsubishi Estate and Daiwa House.

There will be many opportunities for Japanese companies in this promising market.

Australia and Japan recognise that joint efforts in defence industry, space cooperation and cybersecurity are essential for our stability and security.

Australia is investing A$330 billion [34 trillion yen] through to 2033-34 to deliver an integrated, focused Australian Defence Force across maritime, land, air, space and cyber domains.  

Japan is boosting defence spending to two per cent of GDP.

This means significant opportunities to strengthen cooperation on defence science and technology.

Including with Japan as the first potential partner for AUKUS Pillar II.

For example Australia and Japan recently agreed to enhance strategic capabilities in robotic and autonomous systems for undersea warfare.

This is a new frontier of cooperation and opportunity, including for the business community.

Japanese finance is one of the great untold stories of supporting Australian prosperity.  

Japanese banks finance Australian projects, attracted by Australia’s good prudential regulation, financial product innovation and potential growth.

Australia has the fourth largest pension system in the world, and there is more room to grow.

Japan has experience in managing an ageing society, great strengths in life insurance, aged care, mobility systems, and other products for retirees.

Australian companies want to leverage Japanese expertise on product design processes and data governance, while Japanese companies will be able to exploit opportunities as the Australian market develops and becomes more competitive.

Demographic shifts and rising healthcare demands also means opportunities in medical technologies and health solutions.

Japanese trading houses Marubeni, Sojitz and Mitsui are already investing in Australia’s hospital and healthcare providers.

Australia’s R&D tax incentive for clinical trials is a motivator for foreign investment.

Japanese pharmaceutical and biotech companies are finding that Australia’s multicultural population (and number of willing volunteers) make it an ideal place to conduct clinical trials for new drugs.

Himuka AM, a Japanese company focused on drug discovery, is undertaking a cancer drug clinical trial in Queensland.

Cochlear, an Australian leader in hearing implant technology, exemplifies the potential for collaboration.

Since 1985, when the first Cochlear impact surgery was performed in Japan, more than 10,000 patients have benefited from Cochlear’s technology.

Finally, in an increasingly digital world, ensuring the security and integrity of data is paramount.

Australia and Japan are working closely together to develop frameworks to ensure our digital economies remain secure and resilient.

We are expanding our cooperation on cybersecurity, implementing reforms to keep up with cyber threats. 

For me as Ambassador, this is an important area in which Australia and Japan need to collaborate.

As you can see, this is a pretty big agenda.

You, the business community, are at the heart of it, and we are perfectly positioned to become and remain the closest of security and economic partners.

I look forward to working together to seize opportunities and deliver results that serve both our interests.




Ambassador Hayhurst, thank you for a wonderful speech about the Japan-Australia relationship and its wide-ranging potential across several fields.

I have some understanding of this in terms of resources and economic potential, but from listening to your speech, I gained a better sense of the opportunities in new fields, such as health, finance, defence and cybersecurity.

I get the sense that these fields intersect with the current regional security situation.

On this point, what would you like to see from Japan as Ambassador? Of course, it will require effort from both sides.


The speech has many areas in it so it’s hard to synthesise, but the bottom line is this:

My request of Japan is let’s actually build a deep, genuine and integrated partnership, at a time when economic and security interests and risks converge.

We know that the new technologies of the future will unlock productivity in our economies, but they can also be exploited - so how do we protect them and how do we do it together.

For me, the great challenge is to move from the two countries agreeing to what the problems and the issues are, and what we don’t like, to actually solving those problems together.

I think we’ve done it in areas like energy, traditionally, and now there are many new areas of economic opportunity.

It is a little simplistic, but joint problem solving is the name of the game. We can’t have narrow national solutions. My mantra is, in order to protect your sovereignty and economic security, you need to share your sovereignty with people you can trust. That’s the bottom line for our partnership in the future.