In an effort to boost trade in Japan with Sydney businesses, the Japanese Government is funding a free seminar on 3rd October run by Austrade, the Australian Government’s export development agency.
Austrade’s Sapporo-based Trade Commissioner, Sally Phillips said outside of Tokyo, in Japanese regions such as Kutchan, local governments are implementing strategies to assist investment and welcome trade.
"Much of Japan is very, very rural and more highly populated than similar areas in Australia. It’s in these regions and cities outside of Tokyo where infrastructure projects are underway and trade prospects are available," Ms Phillips said.
"Currently there’s an unprecedented inflow of Australian investment primarily into Japanese infrastructure and resorts. There’s also a trend for Aussie celebrity chefs like Luke Mangan setting up in Japan and we’re seeing Australian musicians such as Tommy Emmanuel here.
"It’ a myth that Japan is too expensive to deal with, because it’s been our biggest export destination for 40 years. Now Japan is out of its recession of 15 years, there’s sufficient money around for the Government to improve Japan’s infrastructure," she said.
A keynote speaker at the seminar and former Australian businessman, President of Japan-based Hokkaido Tracks Development, Simon Robinson now oversees a thriving resort condominium and property development firm in the ski fields of Hokkaido, and will have completed over 120 apartments and houses in the Niseko area by the end of this year.
Mr Robinson said you can buy land in Japanese locations where you couldn’t buy anything else in the world for such reasonable prices and high returns.
"Unlike ski fields in Australia like Thredbo, Japan’s resort areas aren’t yet as sophisticated – although it’s home to some of the best powder skiing in the world. Many resorts don’t yet have fine dining restaurants, supermarkets or bottle-shops," Mr Robinson said.
"Although land prices have risen 1,000 per cent in four years when we purchased our properties, even at 1,000 per cent higher than four years ago, it’s still a lot cheaper than most ski resorts around the world."
Mr Robinson has observed that as infrastructure investment in Japan increases, it brings with it many opportunities for Australia.
"Many products in Japan cost a fortune. It’s cheaper to bring in exports from Australia. We’ve purchased a lot of our of our building materials from Australia including a range of items such as frameless glass shower screens, carpet, lighting, bedding and bath fittings to name just a few. We’ve also employed Australian accountants and lawyers.
"Japan’s culture is changing from its ‘sensei’ system – where a small elite group of intellectuals and business people make decisions. The ‘new’ Japan is more open to new business techniques especially in regional/rural areas which are offering amazing opportunities for a wide range of professional services," he said.
According to Mr Robinson, a self-confessed weak Japanese speaker – the Japanese treat Australians extremely well. "The Japanese all learn how to speak English at school. Japan is probably one of the most western-friendly non-English speaking countries in the world – most people speak a bit of English. It’s an easy place to travel to and very safe," he said.