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Australia-Japan Foundation Strategic Plan: 2017-2022

Mission Statement

To advance Australia's engagement with Japan through people-to-people linkages, by amplifying and shifting perceptions of Australia in Japan to reflect contemporary Australia. 

To facilitate the promotion of the inventive, innovative capabilities that Australia brings to Australia-Japan collaborations across a broad range of sectors.

To strengthen increasingly sophisticated engagement between Australia and Japan that reflects a mutual awareness of the vital importance of Australia and Japan to each other's foreign, economic, trade, security and cultural policies.

The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia, and His Excellency  Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan, bowing to a line of soldiers holding the Japanese Flag.
The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia, and His Excellency Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan, during a visit to Tokyo in November 2020.


The objectives of the Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) are:

  1. to increase awareness and understanding in Japan of shared interests with Australia;
  2. to increase awareness and understanding in Australia of the importance of Japan to Australia as an economic and strategic partner; and
  3. to increase recognition in Japan of Australian excellence and expertise.

(AJF Orders in Council, 30 November 2006)

Priority areas

To achieve its objectives, the AJF will prioritise high quality programs particularly, but not exclusively, across any one of the three cross-cutting themes: youth; gender, diversity and inclusion; and innovation.

Effective 'public diplomacy' plans are an essential element of projects to maximise the potential of projects to increase mutual understanding and goodwill between the two countries. Public diplomacy means that projects have the capacity to reach out to the public and/or decision-makers in such a way that strengthens Australia's influence and reputation in the bilateral relationship. Good public diplomacy should generate positive and effective media coverage and commentary on the Australia-Japan relationship, and promote a contemporary and positive image of Australia, and support the Australian Government's international policy goals.

Good public diplomacy should also open doors to new areas and to new and sustainable networks between individuals and institutions in the bilateral relationship, and enable partnerships or collaborative activities to emerge or existing ones to deepen.

Projects must demonstrate collaboration between Japanese and Australian partners, including through financial and other (e.g. in-kind) contributions. Projects will come under the following priority areas (in alphabetical order):

Communication, Information and Advocacy

Projects will promote an accurate and positive image of Australia in Japan, highlight the enduring nature of the bilateral relationship and increase public understanding of the importance of the Australia-Japan relationship in both countries.

Project Examples:

Australia-Japan Youth Dialogue 2019

Introducing Australian expertise and establishing cooperative framework in Service-Dog breeding

Economic Diplomacy and Geopolitics

Projects will facilitate informed discussion among policy-makers, business groups and academic opinion leaders on the importance and potential of the Australia-Japan business, economic and geopolitical relationships to each country. Projects will focus on the following areas:

  • Promoting closer economic relations arising from the opportunities of trade agreements and their built-in agendas;
  • Promoting emerging issues and trends in Australia's trade and investment relationship with Japan;
  • Promoting Australian corporate reform capabilities and international business expertise in areas of interest to Japan (for example in project management and private-public partnerships);
  • Promoting understanding and public awareness of Australia and Japan's shared contribution to promoting peace and stability in the region and globally; and Australia and Japan's commitment to rules and norms that promote stability, peace and prosperity.

Project Examples:

Japan Update 2019

Australia-Japan Symposium on sustainable SME trade expansion

2019 Strategic Dialogue: Australia, Japan and the US

Education and Australian studies

Projects will focus on two areas:

  • The promotion of Australia's strong education and training credentials, for example, through alumni engagement and opportunities to provide in-country exposure to Australian education and training capabilities.
  • Support for the teaching of Australian studies in Japan and the maintenance and expansion of Japanese academic interest and expertise on Australia.

Proposals for student or staff study tours, particularly those that lack a strong communications component, are generally not competitive.  Projects that are primarily academic research, or that lack a public diplomacy dimension will generally not be eligible for funding.

Project Examples:

Palliative Care and Community Partnership

Management and Selection of the Australian Studies Visiting Professorial Chair

Designing a Sustainable Future: Interdisciplinary Dialogues between Australia and Japan

Scientific innovation

Projects will focus on three areas:

  • Exchanges between potential Australian and Japanese individual and institutional collaborators and partners in sectors that promote Australianexcellence such as in innovation, science, health and technology;
  • The promotion of Australian expertise in scientific research, technology and innovation, for example, through alumni engagement and public outreach activities.   Projects that engage scientific and technological areas of cooperation between Australia and Japan - but are not wholly or predominantly scientific research - will be eligible for funding.
  • Promotion of Australian excellence in sports medicine and other sports-related scientific innovation through exchanges.

Project Examples:

A Sustainable Carbon-free Asia Pacific - The Hydrogen Era

Exploiting new technologies for personalised and precision medicine

Smartgrid Communications: Japanese-Australian Collaboration for Excellence

Society, Culture and Sport

Projects under this priority will encourage new social and cultural exchange and cooperation initiatives between Australian and Japanese professional, community and other institutions including sport, local government, youth, community and not-for profit groups which highlight Australian excellence and expertise in Japan and enhances mutual understanding, friendship and respect. Projects will promote Australia as a contemporary, creative, successful, diverse and tolerant nation; and an attractive place to work, study, visit and live. Projects will also promote Japan as a highly complementary partner with shared values and interests.

Arts/culture projects should be a collaboration between Australian and Japanese partners and demonstrate innovative ideas and/or approaches conceptually or in their delivery. The individual or organisation must have a proven record of quality and excellence.

Where projects have been successful in gaining funding in the past as part of a larger cultural festival, these have been able to demonstrate how their project:

  • promoted the Australia-Japan relationship specifically,
  • demonstrated that the project was not simply an incidental part of a broader international festival promotion
    • ensured that AJF funding of the bilateral aspect of the program clearly acknowledged the AJF as a funding body;
  • had a clear potential for promoting the bilateral relationship widely, particularly through media; and
  • could act as a catalyst for important, new relationships between Australian and Japanese collaborators.

Sports-related projects should promote Australian technical expertise.  Past successful sports-related projects were able to demonstrate the prospect of building long-term connections, and were not simply one-off exchanges.  

Project Examples:

Over the Sea – bringing island nations together across the ocean

ChildFund Pass It Back

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Community Engagement Project in Chuo Ward

Opportunities and Challenges

Australia competes for attention with the rest of the world in Japan, not only in trade but also in higher education, science innovation, tourism, research collaboration, health, the arts and culture. Much of the AJF's efforts will be directed towards increasing the prominence of Australia in Japan and building the capacity of Australians to establish and maintain enduring links with their Japanese counterparts.

The Australia Government's focus country program Australia now was held in Japan in 2018, showcasing contemporary Australia in Japan,and Japan's hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 provided important, high-profile opportunities to do this. The Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will provide additional opportunities to showcase the Australia-Japan relationship to decision makers in both countries.

The AJF is one of the Government's key public diplomacy programs for strengthening the Australia-Japan relationship. The agenda for this program continues to expand. Australia and Japan share a strong interest in innovation which creates concrete opportunities for both countries to work together for mutually beneficial outcomes. The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), including its built-in agenda, provides an excellent framework for enhanced two-way trade and investment. Security cooperation is another fast-growing element of the relationship as well as working together on global issues.

Increasing understanding and appreciation of the bilateral relationship by the peoples of our two countries will require close monitoring of trends, recognition of opportunities and response to challenges. Recent growth in inbound investment and services trade, driven by education and tourism, will require greater cultural awareness and understanding including by Australians. The AJF is ideally placed to lead this charge through encouraging grassroots exchange, people-to-people and institutional linkages.

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