A Brief History of Japanese in Australia
The Australian Department of Social Services reports that “The first recorded Japanese settler arrived in Australia in 1871, an acrobat who settled in Queensland. Until 1866 it was a capital offence for Japanese to leave Japan.
“During the 1880s and 1890s Japanese migrants worked as crew for Australian pearlers in northern Australia. Others worked in the Queensland sugarcane industry, or were employed in service roles. A Japanese Consulate was established in Townsville with one of its main tasks being to monitor the welfare of the Japanese workers in the region.
“Many Japanese continued to come to Australia on temporary entry permits under indentured work schemes, despite the introduction of immigration restrictions. The 1911 Census recorded 3281 Japanese males and 208 females in Australia.
“With the outbreak of war in the Pacific in 1941, most of the Japanese in Australia were interned and then deported when the war ended. At the end of the war only 74 Japanese nationals and their children were permitted to remain in Australia, mostly in Victoria.
“Immigration from Japan remained banned until 1949, however during the next five years numbers increased with the arrival of over 500 Japanese war brides.
“Most Japanese migrants arrived in Australia from 1981.”
Source: The Department of Social Services.
Japanese Migrants in Victoria
As indicated above, because of the Second World War “Japanese communities and businesses across [Australia] were effectively eradicated. In Victoria the community size plummeted from 273 people in 1933 to 96 in 1947.
“By 1954 the community in Victoria had climbed to 238, and by 1961 had reached 606.
“The end of the White Australia policy in 1973 saw more Japan-born businesspeople, students and tourists arrive in Australia. The Japan-born population in Victoria doubled in a decade to 2,744 in 1986, and increased to 8,515 by 2016.
“Today Japan-born Victorians are largely employed as professionals, and live predominantly in the more affluent eastern suburbs. The community organises a popular annual Japan Festival in the city of Whitehorse, and its activities are supported through organisations such as the Japan Club of Victoria.”
Source: The Museum of Victoria.
The Japanese Population in Australia Today
The Department of Social Services further reports that “The latest Census in 2011 recorded 35 378 Japan-born people in Australia, an increase of 14.9 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed New South Wales had the largest number with 12 108 followed by Queensland (10 317), Victoria (6820) and Western Australia (3564).”
Source: The Department of Social Services.
Japanese Tourism to Australia
One important aspect of Australia and Japan’s more recent relationship is tourism between the two countries. The Budget Direct website reports that “Currently, the top six countries people visit Australia from are: China, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Singapore.”
Source: Budget Direct website.
Budget Direct also reports that “Japanese tourists spent $1.6 billion while in Australia in 2017. The main purpose for travelling to Australia was for holidays. 272,237 travellers came to Australia for holiday purposes. The most popular destinations were Sydney with 42%, tropical north Queensland with 29%, and Melbourne with 50% of visitors. The population of Japan is 127 million people, meaning that 0.3% of their population visited Australia in 2017.”
Source: Budget Direct website.
A Snapshot from the Tourism Australia website highlights the 2019 market for Japanese tourists coming to Australia. Tourism from Japan for the year ending March 30, 2019 was 474,800 Japanese visitors, an increase of 9% on the previous year, who spent $2.0bn, an increase of 11 percent.
Source: Tourism Australia.
Australians Visiting Japan
Also according to Budget Direct, in 2017 the number of Australians who visited Japan was 332,000, making it the seventh most popular overseas destination for Australians.
A Big Reversal in the Australia-Japan Tourism Relationship
The ABC reports that “Well before China’s economic growth drove its citizens to seek out Australian beaches and koala cuddling sessions, it was Japanese tourists filling the pockets of operators in the 1980s and ‘90s.
“The peak was in 1997 when more than 814,000 made the journey south.
“Two decades later, in 2016, the number was basically half, with only 417,900 making the same trip.
“By comparison, in 1997 some 101,460 Australians made the trek to Japan, of which just 41,520 were tourists.
“By 2016 the number had sky rocketed to 445,237 — of which 398,193 were tourists. That’s a 959 per cent increase in the number of Australians taking a holiday in Japan over just two decades.”
Japanese Students in Australia
The number of Japanese students coming to Australia to study is significant. In June 2017, the Australian Federal Department of Education and Training reported the following statistics regarding Australians studying the Japanese language and Japanese students studying downunda.
“§ Japanese is the most studied foreign language in Australian schools and universities – currently 360,000 students studying Japanese in Australia
“§ Australia is the most popular destination for Japanese school tours – there are over 60,000 Japanese school students visiting Australia for short-term visits each year
“§ Australia is the top sister school partner for Japan with approximately 650 school to school arrangements
“§ In 2016 there were around 14,700 enrolments for Japanese students on a student visa, for English language study in Australia (7,367), vocational and technical education (4,128) and higher education (just under 1,493).”
Australian Visas for Japanese Citizens. The Working Holiday Visa
There are many Australian visas appropriate for Japanese citizens. One of the most important is the 417 Working Holiday visa. Since 1980, Australia and Japan have had a reciprocal Working Holiday program, which was the first one for Japan. According to the Consulate-General of Japan in Sydney, “The arrangement is intended to promote mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries.
“Visas are issued to youth intent on accomplishing these purposes whilst planning a long term stay and journey in the country.”
Source: Consulate-General of Japan.
Japanese citizens aged between 18 and 31 may be eligible to apply for the 417 Working Holiday visa. Learn more about this important visa opportunity.
Also read this more general information about Australia’s Working Holiday visas.
Most Japanese visitors, tourists and businesspeople enter Australia on a Visitor visa. Learn more about this important visa.
Australian Work Visas
Australia has multiple work visas for Japanese citizens to consider.
Migration Ways is Australia’s leading migration agency re the 408 Entertainment visa for film and TV crews and sportspeople, among others. Learn more about Australia’s Entertainment 408 visa.
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