17 June 2023 (at Kanagawa University)
Mina sama konnichi wa.
Osutoraria Taishi no Justin Hayhurst to mou shi masu.
- Professor NAGANO, President of the Australian Studies Association of Japan
- Professor OGUMA, President, Kanagawa University
- Distinguished visitors from Australia
- Ladies and gentlemen.
I’m pleased to join you today for the Australian Studies Association of Japan’s annual conference.
As Australia’s new Ambassador to Japan, I have been thinking a lot about narratives and stories about Australia.
At a time when Japan and Australia are drawing closer, I consider the need to share and project an understanding of modern Australia is important to the embassy.
This should be fertile ground for partnership between us and Australian Studies experts in Japan.
After all, the two governments and businesses in both countries are working together in new and more intimate ways.
Our interests are converging, and so are our policies.
But do we know enough about each other?
Are we up-to-date in understanding the way our societies are evolving and how this shapes and influences what we do abroad?
I think precisely because we are each more important to the other, we probably could do better.
Covid disrupted many of our connections.
We need now to recommit to examining what is changing, what is unique and what is important about each country.
This is why Australian Studies matters.
From my perspective it is not an esoteric pursuit.
It is an important connection that helps our close partner, Japan, better understand and appreciate what makes Australia tick.
Our shared journey after the war, one of reconciliation and mutual success was founded on many things.
One pillar was strong education and research collaboration based on open enquiry and freedom of artistic expression as guaranteed in our democracies.
We can and should be open about challenges we have, the problems we share and all of the many things we admire in each other.
That’s a good foundation for academic exchange, including at this weekend’s conference.
It is great to have Professor Nicole Moore, one of Australia’s foremost experts on Australian literature, here as the Visiting Professor in Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo.
I look forward to her lecture shortly, as well as to the very welcome panel on arguably Australia’s greatest literary strength, children’s and young adult fiction.
I express appreciation to the Australian Studies Association of Japan for your promotion of the study of Australia through research, teaching, and outreach.
As I have said, this work matters perhaps now more than ever, and it enriches and strengthens our relationship.
I also want to make mention the Masterpieces of Contemporary Australian Literature.
Over the past decade, this series, supported by the Australia-Japan Foundation, has introduced award-winning Australian literature to a Japanese audience through translation.
The last novel in this series, “Odyssey of the Horizon” by Alexis Wright, a prominent Australian indigenous writer was released in Japanese earlier this month.
I thank those here who have contributed to this initiative.
In closing, I extend my gratitude to Professor Sugita, Associate Professor Kurita and other colleagues for hosting this conference at Kanagawa University.
I thank also Professor Nagano, Professor Fujioka and all the Australian Studies Association of Japan board members for their efforts.
I wish you, and all participants here, all the best for the conference.