Australian Prime Minister Releases White Paper - Honorary Director's Blog



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Australian Prime Minister Releases White Paper

Asia, Australia, Noboru Kobayashi, education

I recently read the white paper issued by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on October 28, 2012, entitled "Australia in the Asian Century." It impressed me very much, and I have decided to make it the topic of my column this month.

First, I was surprised that a white paper on the coming era would be released by the Australian Prime Minister. Perhaps there are white papers like this by the Japanese Prime Minister that are focused on the future, but I don't recall any in recent memory. The only white papers by the Japanese Prime Minister that I can think of deal with immediate problems. Perhaps politics is in such a state of confusion that it is impossible to think ahead.

It has long been said that "the twenty-first century will be the Asian Century," and now twelve years have passed since its start. It is said that Asia, where we live, will become the center of the global economy in the twenty-first century. Most of the world's commodities and information will probably be produced here and the aggregate information services will be based in Asia. At the same time, Asia is the region that will consume the most energy because the scale and speed of its prosperity is expanding at an astonishing rate.

The white paper sets a number of targets for Australia to reach over the next 13 years to 2025. First, Australia's per capita GDP will enter the world's top ten, rising from 13th in 2011. Furthermore, Australia's productivity will rank in the world's top five, and ten of Australia's universities will be in the world's top 100.

Studies of the Asia region will make up the core of the Australian school curriculum. Moreover, Australian students will have the opportunity to learn Asian languages such as Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, and Japanese.

Australia's leaders will become more educated about Asia, and one-third of the directors of Australia's top 200 companies and government bodies will work in the countries of Asia and become equipped with the necessary knowledge and experience. Furthermore, the Australian economy will be closely linked to that of countries in Asia, increasing trade with Asia from the current one-fourth of the GDP to one-third of the GDP.

2025 is ten years in the future, and I expect that some changes will take place. According to Prime Minister Gillard, every child now in kindergarten will graduate from high school with knowledge about Asia. School curriculum will make this possible by offering subjects on Asia as well as Asian languages.

I have been to Australia twice, and on my trip in the 1990s, I was surprised to see students in junior and senior high school learning Japanese. That was over twenty years ago, and I was moved to learn once again of the Australia government's Asian strategy for the future.

It is very important that national leaders adopt this way of thinking. Japan also needs to learn from Australia and develop the human resources required for the Asian Century.