History of the Society
The Japan Australia New Zealand Society was established in 1928 by diplomatic and economic interests as a result of deepened bilateral relationship between Japan and Australia in the aspect of diplomacy and economy. Duke Iesato Tokugawa and Baron Yoshiro Sakatani were appointed Chairman Emeritus and Chairman of the Society respectively. Administrative affairs were meanwhile handled by major players from the world of diplomacy and trading, and even Dr. Inazo Nitobe’s name was allowed to be added to the Society.
Stanley Melbourne Bruce, the Prime Minister of Australia, extended his congratulations at the establishment of the Society as he commented that it was such a great time to do so.
At that time, the Society held welcoming events not only for diplomatic envoys from Japan and Australia, but also people from various industries or rugby sports teams and youth groups upon their visit to Japan, as well as it played an active role in international trade. For example, Chairman Sakatani sent a telegram to Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons in 1933 to request for the relaxation of tariffs imposed by the Australian government against goods from Japan as it only worsened the situation. Responding to his request, it is recorded that the Prime Minister of Australia sent a “telegram imbued with deep expressions” as reply. Particularly around 1935 when negotiations for conclusion of the bilateral trade agreement between two governments met with difficulty, the Society sent messages to the Prime Minister, as well as to the trade minister and chief justice of the Supreme Court of Australia in June 1936 to request for recognition of the agreement by the Australian government.
When the agreement was signed in December of the same year, it is recorded that congratulatory messages were sent in joy by the Chairman, and appreciation messages sent by Prime Minister Lyons. In 1938, when export of iron ores from all over the country, including the Yampi Sound iron mine in Western Australia which was undergoing preparations for mining through Japanese capital and technology, was prohibited, the worrying Society initially sent a message to the Prime Minister and people in every quarter to prompt them to make a reconsideration. In the midst of the transition of such economic developments, various activities that show the friendly relationship between the two countries were continued
For example, through the Society, the Australian government received a complimentary gift of a painting drawn by Rikuo Arai that shows the Japanese battlecruiser Ibuki escorting a fleet trading ships from Australia and New Zealand while crossing the Indian Ocean during the First World War. That happened in 1939.
In September 1940, a recorded exchange of greetings over the radio by the Society’s director, Iemasa Tokugawa (Duke and later Chairman and Chairman Emeritus) and Sir John Latham, the first appointed Minister of Australia to Japan, was broadcasted by the Tokyo Central Broadcasting Station. It was December of the same year when the steamship carrying the minister entered the port of Yokohama. Tatsuo Kawai was appointed Japan’s Minister to Australia in January 1941, and the Society respectively hosted welcome and farewell parties in the same month. When the Pacific War erupted in December of that year, the Society was soon renamed Australian Society and it endured an inevitable time when all of its activities were naturally restricted.
In 1948, calls that wish for the revival of the Society took place amidst the momentum of postwar resumption of trade between the two nations. The proposal for the Society’s revival was taken in on February 1949 and a general assembly was held in June. It was decided that the Society’s name will be Japan Australia Trade Society whose positions of Chairman Emeritus and Chairman were respectively held by Iemasa Tokugawa and Tatsuo Kawai upon recommendation. In 1951, the scope of the Society’s activities was later formally expanded to New Zealand and the Society was renamed Japan Australia New Zealand Society.
Following upon the restoration of diplomatic relations between Japan and Australia, in 1952, the Australian government appointed E.R. Walker as the country’s first Ambassador to Japan. The Ambassador Haruhiko Nishi moved to Canberra in January of the following year and chargés d’affaires were appointed between Japan and New Zealand.
At that time, the Society published “Free Trading Japan”, an annual report in English, and has distributed copies to Australia and New Zealand. Alongside, the Society carried out information-sharing by publishing “Boueki Shiryou (trading document)”, a monthly publication, and “Nichi-Gou Boueki Shiryou (Japan-Australia trading document)” (later renamed to Nichi-Gou Kaihou/Japan-Australia Newsletter).
During this period, the Japan-Australia Society of Kansai was established in 1951 with Mr. Mikisaburo Taniguchi, a former director of the Society, as its Chairman. In 1952, the women’s department of Japan Australia New Zealand Society was born.
In 1955, relations between Japan and Australia gradually deepened as the frequency of VIP visits to Japan is considerably higher than before and the Society has been holding welcome parties and social gatherings on all such occasions. In April 1958, starting with Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies and his wife (with four economic groups and two wool importing organizations co-hosting the welcome party), there are ministers from Australia and New Zealand and prime ministers from Australia who paid visits to Japan. In June 1965, the Society welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister Keith Holyoake and his wife. In May 1955, the Society invited the Australian economic mission that had visited Japan for the conference, to a luncheon party. And also farewell parties were usually held for our ambassadors of the both countries Australia and New Zealand, as well as for their ambassadors (ministers).
Furthermore, the Chargés d’Affaires of New Zealand in Tokyo was promoted to Embassy of New Zealand to Japan in 1958. It is recorded that the Society sponsored a welcome party for Australian selected student rugby teams (March 1958), as well as a welcome party for Japanese women’s goodwill mountaineering party who made a successful ascent to the summit of Mount Egmont in New Zealand (1961).
In October 1963, the Japan-Australia Student Exchange Federation (JASEF), that was very active and had sister relationships with JANZ, was established. In June 1967, Prince Takamatsu was made President of the Society. Former Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke and the ambassadors from both countries were respectively welcomed as Chairman Emeritus and Honorary Presidents of the Society.
Starting with respective welcoming activities for guests visiting Japan such as Lord Richard Casey, former Viceroy of Australia, who visited for 1970 Osaka World Expo, former Prime Minister Menzies and his wife (November 1971), Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and four cabinet members accompanying him (October 1973), the Society usually continued to hold various parties that express welcoming and farewell. At the welcome luncheon party held for former Prime Minister Menzies and his wife, Mr. Kishi commented upon Mr. Menzies’s visit to Japan despite Australians’ unstable feelings toward Japan in 1957, Prime Minister Kishi’s visit to Australia, and Mr. Menzies’ wise decision of signing the Japan-Australia Commerce Agreement while overcoming opposition from Australia’s manufacturing industry, to praise his stagemanship. Mutual visits by the heads of state in the 1950s was such a memorable achievement between the countries, and it should be remembered. Prime Minister Sato visited Australia in 1967, and Prime Minister Tanaka as well visit to Australia and New Zealand In 1974. The Society held farewell parties for his and farewell party.
It is noteworthy that in the 1970s, The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan (now Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko) made official visits to Australia and New Zealand. Prior to their official visit,
The Society hosted a farewell dinner at the Imperial Hotel on April 27, 1973, given the presence of the Crown Prince of Japan. In 1974, Prince Takahito Mikasa, a.k.a. Prince Katsura was sent to the Australian National University in Canberra to make researches on history. Before his visit, JANZ held a farewell dinner for him at the New Otani Hotel on May 20 of the same year.
Also in 1974, the Society held respective fundraising events and sent donations to the flood victims in New South Wales and Queensland, as well as those living in Darwin which was damaged by a cyclone. In addition, through the commission by the Sydney Japanese Association, fundraising activities for the establishment of schools for Japanese residents were held from 1969 to 1972 and amassed 51.69 million yen in total. The money was then allotted for the construction of school buildings and procurement of furniture and equipment.
In 1975, JANZ actively participated in the Australian Day ceremony at the Okinawa Ocean Expo. Even in the 1970s to 80s, related events during VIP visits and respective exchange of ambassadors continue to take place on all such occasions. In addition, the following projects also existed.
Wellington Citadel Brass Band Concert (April 1979, Tokyo, Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Kyoto, Maebashi) and 2nd AJF (Australia-Japan Foundation) Cup Japan Australia Friendly Golf Tournament (July 1979, at Three Hundred Club). The 1st golf tournament was held in Melbourne while the Society primarily sponsored the 2nd golf tournament. The tournament’s Chairman Emeritus was Nobusuke Kishi, and the Chairman was Shigeo Nagano. It was participated by 32 players such as Isao Aoki, Masahi Ozaki, Nobumitsu Yuhara, Hisako Higuchi, Tatsuko Osako, Peter Thomson and Greg Norman.
In addition, to commemorate the great achievements done by Tokuichi Kuribayashi (at that time Chairman of Nippo Pearl Co., Ltd), as well as two other persons for pearl cultivation in Western Australia’s Augustus Island situated on the Indian Ocean, the Society worked together with erecting a statue in the said state. It happened in 1977. In 1978, the Society commemorated its 50th anniversary and was incorporated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1986. After Prince Takamatsu passed away, Prince Katsura became president of the Society in the first year of Heisei (1989) and the activities of the Society received warm encouragement from him.
In 1988 when Australia celebrated its 200th year of foundation, the Australian government requested Japan for cooperation in raising capital for a science center to be constructed in Canberra as part of the country’s commemorative event. A social gathering for discussions to commemorate the 200th year founding of Australia was held by the KEIDANREN (Japan Business Federation) chaired by Chairman Eijiro Sato. At the gathering, JANZ helped to realize the construction of the science center by holding fundraising activities under joint signature from Chairman Noboru Goto of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chairman Shizuo Saito of the Society
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Society and a commemorative dinner party was held at the Hotel Okura on April 19 with the presence of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan (now Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko), together with Princess Takamatsu and Prince Katsura, and was attended by many people who had been showing cordial and kind support to the Society.
And finally, we move to the Heisei era.
In 1998, the Society held a memorial reception at the Palace Hotel on a fine clear evening of autumn of November 16 to celebrate its 70th anniversary. The reception was attended this time by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan, as well as Prince Katsura. They exchanged toasts with the ambassadors from Australia and New Zealand and their wives, as well as their countries’ citizens residing in Tokyo. People from various industries and Society member lively joined the reception. The Society received cordial and great care by all of these people and many of them came from far away regions in Japan such as Tohoku, Chubu and Kansai.
On April 1, 2012, following the reforms in Public Interest Incorporated Associations, the Society was renamed to “Public Interest Incorporated Association Japan Australia New Zealand Society”. JANZ began to make steps towards a new era.
However, Prince Katsura, the president of the Society, passed away on June 8, 2014. As all members respectfully offer their prayers to the late Prince, we have made a new decision to carry out his will in memory of his great achievements.