Australian Embassy

Australia and Japan

About our relationship with Japan

The Australia–Japan partnership is Australia’s closest and most mature in Asia and is fundamental to both countries' strategic and economic interests.


Fast Facts
  • Japan was Australia’s second-largest trading partner in 2021, with two-way goods and services trade valued at AUD87.2 billion

  • Japan was Australia’s second-largest export market, valued at AUD65.1 billion in 2021, accounting for 12.5 per cent of total exports

  • More Australians study the Japanese language per capita than anywhere else in the world

  • Australian visitors to Japan (2019) — 459,000

  • Japanese visitors to Australia (2019 — 457,000


Bilateral Relations

Japan-Australia relations date back to the late 1800s, when Japan began importing Australian coal and wool. At around the same time, Japanese immigrants came to Australia to work in agriculture and maritime industries, including pearl diving. The trade relationship between Japan and Australia continued to strengthen until the onset of World War II, when Australia joined allied troops to fight against Japan.

Australia and Japan re-established bilateral relations in 1952. Our post-war relationship began with the establishment of a major trading relationship with the 1957 Commerce Agreement, and deepened cultural ties under the 1976 Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (the Nara Treaty). Our bilateral relationship has developed into a fully diverse and rounded partnership, including important political and security objectives, highlighted by the 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (renewed in 2022) and the 2015 Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA). Since 2014, we have been broadening and strengthening our cooperation across the board under our Special Strategic Partnership. Today, Japan is Australia’s closest partner in Asia.


Strategic partnership

The Australia–Japan partnership is our closest and most mature in Asia, and is fundamentally important to both countries' strategic and economic interests. The relationship is underpinned by a shared commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as common approaches to international security. 

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Economic engagement

The Australia-Japan economic relationship is underpinned by complementary strengths and needs. Australia is a safe, secure and reliable supplier of food, energy and mineral resources and a world-class centre for financial and other services. Japan became Australia's largest trading partner in the early 1970s – a position it maintained for 26 years. Japanese investment continues to play a significant role in the development of the Australian economy.

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International Cooperation and defence 

Based on the 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (renewed in 2022), security and defence cooperation forms one of important pillars of Australia and Japan’s bilateral relationship. We have also signed an Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement on defence logistics cooperation, and an Information Security Agreement on the sharing of classified information.

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Cultural diplomacy

Australia is a land of old and new, where more than 60,000 years of heritage and tradition is incorporated into contemporary culture. This exciting blend of ancient and cutting-edge expression is what makes Australia the dynamic and innovative society it is today.

The Australian Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Section has a proactive cultural program designed to promote and showcase Australia’s vibrant and diverse society in Japan.

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Science diplomacy

The Australian Embassy is building on existing ties of collaboration to make science, education, and innovation a stronger focus in our future bilateral relationship.

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Sports diplomacy

Australia as a nation embraces a sporting culture – from community based grassroots programs to supporting our most elite athletes perform on the world stage, Australians love sport. Sport has been a powerful force in uniting our nation, made up of people from a diverse range of countries and cultures.

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Australia-Japan resources and energy relationship

Australia and Japan have long shared a highly-complementary mutually beneficial relationship in the energy and resources sector.

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People-to-people links

Early Japanese settlers started the pearling industry in Australia in the late-1800s. Larger-scale migration began after World War II, and Japanese continue to settle in Australia today. According to the 2016 census, more than 65,000 residents identified with Japanese ancestry.

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Australia-Japan Foundation

The Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) was established by the Australian Government in 1976 to expand and develop contact and exchange between the peoples of Australia and Japan and to help project positive images of Australia and Japan in each other's country.

Since its creation, the Foundation has worked to promote the people-to-people links across a diverse range of sectors. The current objectives of the Foundation are to:

  • increase understanding in Japan of shared interests with Australia
  • increase understanding in Australia of the importance of Japan to Australia as an economic and strategic partner
  • increase recognition in Japan of Australian excellence and expertise.

Click here for more details.