The Japanese Ambassador in Canberra is being withdrawn

Feb 18, 2023
Shingo Yamagami

Journalists Matthew Knott and Andrew Tillett and other anti China hawks cultivated by Yamagami-san will be particularly disappointed that they will lose their anti China news feed as well as their sushi and sake.

At Japan’s National Day Reception last Tuesday night,  Yamagami-san made a long speech, in which he lauded former Australian PMs present (Abbott and Morrison) and the leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton. During the speech, he said that this National Day Reception in Canberra would be his last.

There is a background story.

Yamagami-san has been subject to two rare high senior ambassadorial inspection missions from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year investigating his diplomatic style and management of the embassy and staff. There was a very large turnover of local staff in 2022, many resignations or requested cross-postings by diplomatic staff, and young/new diplomats refusing to be posted to Canberra.

The Canberra diplomatic community will be relieved. But the anti China media will be disappointed as they won’t be wined and dined to the extent that Yamagami-san did.

I have written several times about Yamagami-sans belligerent anti China campaign. I asked ‘what our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade thought about the behaviour of the Japanese Ambassador. Surely the Ambassador should not be using Japan’s Embassy in Australia to attack China and encourage a cabal of anti China hawks to caucus at the Embassy.’ P&I article: What is the Japanese Embassy in Canberra up to? Feb 19 2021

In another article on Jan 12, 2023 I commented, ‘Japan’s anti-China campaign is in full swing again. In Australia it is aided by the Japanese Ambassador in Canberra. The anti China crowd at The Australian and AFR give him a pulpit whenever he wants to indulge his anti China propaganda. In fact he has made the Japanese Embassy the meeting place for the anti China brigade in Canberra – out of date former defence officials, selected ASPI staff, serving government officials, academics and hard right conservative politicians. As far as I know DFAT has ignored this improper behaviour. As a former Australian Ambassador to Japan it would have been most improper if I had been promoting say an anti ROK group at the Australian Embassy.’ P&I article: Influential Japanese want us to join them in their long standing hostility to China

In Pearls and Irritations on Jan 18, Allan Behm commented... ‘As his Embassy’s media website attests, Japan’s Ambassador to Australia, HE Shingo Yamagami, enjoys his media profile. He likes to put his views regarding the coal policies of the Queensland Government on the public record, which he has done several times with groups that are aligned with the State opposition. He has not been shy in advising Australia publicly on how it should manage its official relations with China, both before the May 2022 election and since. He appears frequently on Sky News.

Maybe the Ambassador aspires to be a legend in his own lunchtime. At a recent lunch with the Sydney Morning Herald, he described himself as a former spymaster and spycatcher, less a testament to discretion than an indulgence in braggadocio. But perhaps the Ambassador has read the first sentence of Satow’s Guide, interpreting Australia’s alliance with the US, rather like Japan’s treaty with the US, as an indicator of our shared status as vassal states. We are nothing if not security conscious.

In a country where convention is so highly valued, Japanese eyebrows would certainly be raised were an Australian ambassador to proffer unsolicited advice through the media on Japan’s tariff policies, the conduct of its relations with China or the coal policies of Kumamoto Prefecture. Nor would Tokyo welcome public advice on the US presence in Okinawa, the continuing UN role of defence facilities at Yokota, Yokosuka and Kadena, or the management of troublesome historical issues like war crimes or compensation to comfort women. P&I article: When ambassadorial style overshadows the diplomatic substance

Hopefully the new Japanese Ambassador will learn from Yamagami-san and put Australia- Japan relations back on a sound basis and not use Australia as the platform to promote Japan’s ages old aggression and hostility towards China.

Unfortunately the goading of China continues on all fronts, much of it quite unhinged -Taiwan, spy cameras at the AWM and even balloons. We are drenched in US propaganda.

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