Japan became a significant trading partner early in the 20th century and Australia’s largest two-way global trading partner by 1970. On 16 June 1976, Australia and Japan significantly progressed their relationship when Prime Ministers Fraser and Miki signed in Tokyo the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the two nations, often known as the Nara Treaty. The relationship has continued to grow at a pace that has quickened over recent decades, so that by the 21st century Japan and Australia share a sophisticated and balanced relationship.
His Excellency Mr Sumio Kusaka discusses Australia-Japan relations in light of the 40th anniversary of the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation between Australia and Japan. AIIA ACT Branch Vice-President Chris Farnham conducted the interview prior to the Ambassador of Japan’s presentation to the ACT Branch.
As Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Australia, His Excellency Mr Sumio Kusaka brings with him 37 years of distinguished service as a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
Before arriving in Australia, Ambassador Kusaka was posted as Ambassador and Consul-General of Japan in New York (2013-15), after serving in Tokyo as Ambassador and Chief of Protocol (2012-13) and Ambassador and Director General for African Affairs (2010-12).
Ambassador Kusaka has considerable knowledge and experience in economic affairs and has previously worked in senior economic roles with both MOFA and the Ministry of Finance (MOF). Notably, he served as Deputy Vice Minister for International Affairs and Deputy Director-General at MOF (2004-06), and oversaw economic partnership agreement negotiations with both Australia and India as Deputy Director-General for Economic Affairs Bureau at MOFA (2006-08).
Prior diplomatic postings have included assignments in Australia, Canada, Tanzania, Boston, Washington DC, and as Consul-General in London/Deputy Chief of Mission in the UK.
Ambassador Kusaka obtained a bachelor’s degree in law from Chuo University in Japan and then a bachelor’s degree in economics from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. At Harvard University from 1999-2000, he was a fellow in the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs program.
Interviewer: Chris Farnham
Filmed and edited by: Tarisa Yasin