Australian Embassy

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. There were 12,307 enrolments by students from Japan in Australia in 2020, ranking Japan as 16th overall by volume of enrolments for student visa holders. Japanese students enrolled in English courses, VET colleges, and higher education. For Australian school students, Japanese is the most studied foreign language.


There are more than 100 sister city and state-prefecture relationships between Australia and Japan. These relationships provide opportunities for educational, cultural, sporting, and economic exchanges.

Since 2014, Japan has participated in the New Columbo Plan, an initiative of the Australian Government that aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia and strengthen people-to-people and institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduate students in the region. The New Colombo Plan has awarded 4,427 scholarships and 5,025 mobility grants for Australian undergraduates to undertake study and work-based experiences in Japan to date (as of July 2023).


The Australian Government supports the expansion of people-to-people and institutional links through the Australia-Japan Foundation, which provides grant funding for projects aligned with Australia’s foreign policy priorities, including in science and technology, sport, arts and education programs. People-to-people links are also supported by several Japan-Australia societies that provide grassroots community support to the relationship.


Most Japanese travel to Australia on short-term visits as tourists or on business. Japan is Australia’s thirteenth-largest inbound market in terms of short-term arrivals and Australia’s eleventh-largest tourism market by expenditure.




Australian Support for Tohoku

Since the devastation caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Australia has shown tremendous support to the Tohoku region (in the north-eastern part of Japan). Then-Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was the first foreign leader to visit the region and Australia provided much support through food aid packages, donations and relief teams on the ground when it was needed most. Since 2011, the Australia-Japan Foundation has provided nearly $1 million in grant funds to Tohoku, particularly to community-driven activities.


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Real Life stories in the Australia-Japan Relationship

The people-to-people links between Australia and Japan lay at the foundation of the relationship. Here are stories of people who have been part of the Australia-Japan relationship. 


A conversation with Professor Emeritus Yasue Arimitsu – Researcher on Australian Literature and first-generation recipient of the Australia-Japan Foundation Graduate Scholarship. Study abroad opened a path to researching Australian literature 


Marty Hicks and Marty Holoubek Strengthening Cultural Ties - How Australian Jazz Musicians are Influencing Japan's Music Scene -