For Australians, Japan is “a destination abroad, yet so close to home”
The top three languages spoken throughout the worlds are Chinese, Spanish and English. Naturally, one of these three languages is often the most popular second language learned as well.
This being said, the most popular foreign language learned in Australian schools is Japanese. There are approximately 400,000 Australian students studying Japanese at all levels of education, spanning from primary school to the university level. This makes Australia the world’s top country for Japanese learners – outside of Japan of course – given that more Australians per 100,000 individuals study Japanese than anywhere else in the world.
This is because Japan is a very important partner for Australia. Between the 1980s and 1990s trade between the two partners, which straddle the Northern and Southern hemispheres, was booming. This economic exchange encouraged all Australians to study Japanese, resulting in dramatic increases of Japanese learners throughout the entire country. Currently, there are 101 sister-city and 6 sister-state relationships enjoyed between the two countries. These relationships facilitate vibrant exchange between the two countries.
Many Australians visit Japan every year during the Northern winter not just to ski Japan’s great slopes, but to study Japanese and participate on a wider cultural exchange. Once, again this is because Australians have an affinity with Japan. Many Australians have come to Japan participating in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) – a broad exchange program backed by the Japanese Government – as assistant language teachers (ALT) or coordinator for international relations (CIR), profoundly contributing to this exchange throughout the country.
The two countries benefit from dynamic bilateral exchange on many fronts. In 2008 Club Australia, an Australia-centric members based organisation in Japan, was launched. Club Australia promotes bilateral exchange through messaging campaigns in Japan. Many members of Club Australia have been known to ‘barrack’ for Aussie teams in Japan, donning the country’s signature colours of gold and green!
On the business front, the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ANZCCJ) was founded in 1972 to promote even greater commercial development between the three countries. The ANZCCJ has also set up a committee known as “Sports for Business” which fosters partnership within the sports field for all communities. Sports for Business promotes activities in a number of fields, providing many opportunities for businesses.
Club Australia and the ANZCCJ are both “Friends of Australia” – official partners of the Australian Government’s sports diplomacy campaign “AUS+RALLY.”