Remarks by the Consul-General at his Farewell Reception on September 3, 2021

I would like to sincerely thank you all very much for attending this afternoon’s reception for me to bid farewell.
While my professional relationship with Australia extends almost 40 years, I have come to learn here in Queensland just how strong the bilateral relationship is – I think I can claim the strongest in our history, and how far back our historical ties go.
This year marks 150 years since the arrival of the first Japanese person to settle in Australia – right here in Queensland – Sakuragawa Rikinosuke.  Soon after, more Japanese arrived to work in the pearl shell diving industry in the Torres Strait islands and sugarcane industry in north Queensland.  The thriving Japanese population increased and Japan’s first government office in Australia was opened in Townsville 125 years ago in 1896.
On Thursday Island lie around 800 graves of these original pioneers as well as those that followed in their footsteps – a reminder of the beginning of our bilateral relations, the dangers of pearl diving, and the determination to build a successful multicultural community. It became a gateway to the world for Queensland and Australia around the turn of the century.
Relations further strengthened, and under Anglo-Japanese alliance in World War I, the Japanese cruiser “Ibuki” escorted ANZAC troops, across the Indian Ocean and to the Middle East in 1914.
But like any relationship, there are ups and downs, and bilateral ties between Japan and Australia suffered a downturn during World War II.  There were many losses and sacrifices made, but after the war the sincere and enormous efforts for reconciliation were made on both ends.
Post-war leaders of both nations saw economic potential, and in 1957, only 12 years after the end of the war when the wounds were still fresh, the Australia Japan Commerce Agreement was signed.  
As our economic ties flourished under this Agreement, 1976 saw the signing of the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, aka NARA Treaty, which would form a broad framework of principles to guide and enhance future bilateral relations in the political, economic, cultural and other fields.
The post-war era has seen Japan consistently invest in the Queensland economy and a mutually-beneficial complementary economic partnership built, most notably the state’s resources sector since the 1960s, and the tourism sector since the 1980s. In more recent years, this investment has vastly expanded into other areas such as technology and innovation, renewable energy, and, most recently, hydrogen.
Trust and friendship was built through economic cooperation in the private sector and people-to-people exchanges, and deep cultural exchange has thrived.
This integration into Queensland over the past 70 years has resulted in great contribution to the state’s development, both socially and economically, further exemplifying the longstanding and robust ties we share.
The present-day Japan-Queensland relationship has been built on the foundation of this historical background. What has been achieved – a complementary, open and friendly relationship with mutual respect – is the result and hard work of so many people on both sides.
It is important that we cement what we have, not be complacent, and continue working with each other to further expand and build an even more prosperous future for not only our two nations, but also for our region and indeed for the entire world.
In closing, I would like to sincerely thank everyone for their support for Japan-Queensland relations, and making my stay in this beautiful state so wonderful.  I have very much enjoyed my time here, even despite the pandemic, and look forward to returning to this beautiful city someday, if not as late as the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games.
Thank you.