Strong people-to-people links contribute significantly to the strength of our bilateral relationship. These links are reflected in extensive and well-established sister city relationships. There are currently 101 sister city relationships and 6 state-to-state relationships between Japan and Australia. They allow for a unique exchange of culture, sports, education, social and economic practices including bilateral visits by representatives.
In addition, over 650 sister schools exist between Australia and Japan. In fact, Australia is the most popular destination for Japanese school study tours and sister school exchanges.
Currently Japanese is still the most widely studied foreign language in Australian schools and universities, with around 400,000 students studying Japanese across primary to tertiary levels. These figures place Australia fourth in the world in terms of the number of Japanese language learners, and top in terms of the number of learners per 100,000 people.
Many sister cities in Japan undertook fundraising activities for Australia during the bushfires in 2019-2020.
Here are a selection of sister-city/ sister-state relationships. Read more about the sister city relationships between Australia and Japan here, or on the CLAIR Sydney website.
MELBOURNE & OSAKA:
Although strong and beneficial sister port relationships already existed between the Port of Osaka and Port of Melbourne since 1972, it was not until 1978 that a formal sister city relationship was established. Watch the fortieth anniversary video above.
The second largest metropolis area in Japan, Osaka is also considered the nation’s ‘food capital’ – a label that has in common with Melbourne.
Melbourne’s strong ties with Osaka’s trade agencies such as the International Business Promotion Center and the Osaka Business & Investment Center can also facilitate potential Melbourne exporters by supplying in-market information, business matching activities and practical introductions for corporate registration, office location and recruitment.
A 5,500 nautical mile yacht race, the “Melbourne Osaka Cup” is also held every four years starting from its inception in 1987. It is the longest latitudinal race of its kind in the world. The next race has been rescheduled for 2025, following the announcement that Osaka will host the World Expo that year.
SYDNEY & NAGOYA:
Sydney and Nagoya signed a sister city relationship in 1980, and have since seconded staff trainees and supported reciprocal visits by school rugby union teams, bands and dance ensembles. The city has also supported the Student Exchange Agreement between educational authorities and is involved in the sister zoo relationship between Taronga Zoo and Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo.
BRISBANE & KOBE:
Brisbane and Kobe share a strong relationship through civic, cultural and business events. In the wake of the 1995 Kobe earthquake, the people of Brisbane raised a total of AUD82,000 to help with the appeal.
Since then, the relationship between the two cities has only continued to grow, with the hosting of cultural exchanges, trade missions and conferences. In 2020 the two cities celebrate their 35th anniversary.
Kobe is one of the most cosmopolitan, modern and multicultural cities in Japan with foreign residents from over 110 countries. Kobe is known for its chocolate and beef.
ADELAIDE & HIMEJI:
Famed for its UNESCO World Heritage listed Himeji Castle – one of the oldest wooden castles in Japan - the city of Himeji has evolved from its beginnings as a castle town to its current day presence as a vibrant cultural centre and hub for economic and industrial activity.
Since forging sister city relations in 1982, the two cities have enjoyed strong relations. Notable activities include student and artist exchange programs, signing of a contract to supply Australian produce to Japan, and an establishment of English and Japanese colleges in Himeji and Adelaide respectively.
A model of Himeji Castle is displayed in Adelaide Town Hall, originally presented to the city on 3 February 1986.
HOBART & YAIZU:
Hobart and the city of Yaizu, located between Tokyo and Nagoya with an estimated population of approximately 140,000, have been sister cities since February 17, 1977.
Annually, Hobart hosts a group of students who visit from various schools in Yaizu, for a uniquely Tasmanian cultural exchange. Every two years, Hobart students also travel to Yaizu to experience a homestay with a Japanese family. The student exchange program has been active since 1990. Yaizu City supported the creation of the Japanese garden in Hobart.
In 2013 the Hobart-Yaizu Sister City committee coordinated an Omikoshi (Japanese Portable Shrine) with the Tarremah Steiner School for the Myer Hobart Christmas Pageant parade, and assisted with activities during the Yaizu Mayor’s visit to Hobart.
VICTORIA & AICHI:
Victoria’s sister state relationship with Aichi prefecture was established on 2 May 1980 to promote understanding and exchange in fields such as trade and investment, education, culture and the arts.
Major joint undertakings have included the Victorian Government’s role as leading participant at the Aichi World Expo in 2005. There have been a series of business sector specific trade missions to Japan in areas ranging from automotive, biotechnology and ICT to tourism, education and food.
The strong relationship continues to develop, with two of Victoria's leading universities, RMIT and Monash, having broad MOUs and exchange programs with Aichi-based universities.
LISMORE & YAMATOTAKADA:
Lismore and Yamatotakada city share Australia and Japan’s oldest sister city relationship, having signed the Sister City Agreement in 1963. Over the course of nearly 60 years, the two cities have continually strengthened ties through student exchanges, cultural programs and official visits.
In 2013, both cities celebrated the golden anniversary (50 years) of their sister city relationship with the unveiling of a monument in Lismore by Mayors Masakatsu Yoshida and Jenny Dowell. Mayor Yoshida was accompanied by 50 delegates from Yamatotakada during this visit.
WHITEHORSE & MATSUDO:
Talks of starting a relationship between these two cities began in the early 1960s when students of Daigo Junior High School in Matsudo sent a request to the Australian Ambassador to assist with tree planting and improving greenery in their city. The ambassador, in reply, gifted 100,000 eucalyptus seeds.
Following a series of talks between the Mayors of both cities, a formal agreement was finally signed in 1971. The City of Matsudo’s official international tree is the Eucalypt.
During the anniversary period on the 12 May, the city of Whitehorse hosts a number of Japan-themed events, most notably Matsudo Week, the Japan Festival and Green Tree Day. The two cities also share numerous exchange programs, among which are the English Speech Contest Winners and reciprocal Scouts and Girl Guides exchanges.
PERTH & KAGOSHIMA:
Kagoshima City, the capital of Kagoshima prefecture, is the centre of culture, politics and economy for southern Japan. Picturesque and a popular tourist destination, the city is surrounded by mountains on three sides and Kinko Bay on the fourth side. The active volcano, Sakurajima, sits just 4km from the city centre and frequently showers its residents with ash.
Celebrating nearly 50 years of friendship, Kagoshima is the City of Perth’s longest standing Sister City relationship. Over the years, both sides have welcomed many citizen, educational, business and cultural delegations.
Notable activities include the annual student exchange program Youthwings, which sees Kagoshima high school students come to Perth during Japan’s summer each year, and the 40th anniversary delegation to Perth in August 2014, led by Mayor, Mr Hiroyuki Mori.
NEW SOUTH WALES & TOKYO:
Established in 1984, the State of New South Wales and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government share a long and closely-linked relationship.
During a visit by NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian to Japan in 2017, she offered her Government’s assistance to Tokyo as the city prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2020.
The two states also collaborate in the areas of education, trade and maintenance of sustainable cities.
QUEENSLAND & SAITAMA:
Queensland and Saitama have enjoyed a sister state relationship since 1984.
Since the establishment of the sister state relationship, Saitama, located just north of Tokyo, and Queensland have enjoyed many exchanges in the areas of education and economy, as well as sharing unique wildlife.
On the 30th Anniversary of the relationship, a Joint Statement on Enhanced Cooperation was signed, further strengthening the bond that exists between the two States. This cooperation agreement aimed to, among other things, promote trade, reconstruction management in natural disasters and expertise sharing. A gift of three koalas was also made to the Saitama Children’s Zoo.