Japan’s ambassador to Australia says Australia is “not walking alone” in its trade war against China, insisting Japan can help Australia turn away from the volatile economic superpower.
In his National Press Club address on Wednesday, Shingo Yamagami signalled his disapproval of China’s behaviour towards Australia.
“Trade should never be used as the tool to apply political pressure,” he said.
“Australia is not walking alone. Japan fully supports Australia’s efforts to serve the ongoing trade disputes.”
Mr Yamagami applauded Australia’s commitment to the liberal, rules-based world order that many fear will topple under China’s increasing global dominance.
Camera IconThe Japanese ambassador to Australia spoke with enthusiasm about the potential for Australia and Japan to hedge against China together. NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia
Earlier this month, Mr Yamagami warned that if the rules-based order was not upheld, the world would end up as a “lawless jungle”.
The ambassador insisted Japan would play a vital role in helping Australia become less reliant on China, particularly in its wine exports.
“For wine, the time is ripe … all tariffs on Australian bottled wine have been reduced to zero (in Japan),” he said.
“The quality Aussie cheese and beef dominating the Japanese market needs to be paired with quality Aussie wine.”
Last month, Australia lodged a formal complaint to the World Trade Organisation after China slapped a number of eye-watering tariffs on some of Australia’s most important exports. Australian wine exported to China is now tariffed at up to 212 per cent.
Mr Yamagami encouraged Australia to follow Japan in pivoting away from China as its major trading partner.
“First we brought the case to WTO to solve the disputings in accordance with international rules. Second, we did our best, trying to reduce the dependency on (China),” he said.
The ambassador applauded Australia in helping to pull off this pivot away from China, noting that thanks to the Australian mineral company Lynus, Japan managed to reduce dependency on Chinese minerals from 85 to 63 per cent.
Mr Yamagami highlighted Australia’s extensive history with Japan, emphasising the immense potential a closer alliance between the two countries could have.
“Japan was Australia’s largest trading partner, a position it held for 40 years,” he said.
“Japanese people developed a fascination with the vastness and the beauty of the Aussie landscape … and a cycle of Japanese investment and reinvestment gained traction.”
Japan is second only to China as Australia’s largest trading partner.
Mr Yamagami said Australia and Japan should forge closer trade and diplomatic ties to hedge an increasingly aggressive China.
“Together, we must continue to pursue liberalisation and establishment of fair, transparent rules,” he said.