The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
19 March 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Japan

I have today announced the appointment of Mr John McCarthy, AO, as Australian Ambassador to Japan.

Mr McCarthy will replace Mr Peter Grey who has been Ambassador since March 1998.  He is expected to take up his appointment in June 2001.

Japan is one of Australia's most important bilateral partners.  We share many economic and strategic interests, especially in the Asia Pacific region.  Japan is our largest export market, with two-way merchandise trade in 2000 exceeding $37 billion.  The relationship is underpinned by a vast network of people-to-people links spanning the cultural, education, science, technology and sporting sectors.

Mr McCarthy takes up his position at an exciting time in the relationship.  A number of high-level initiatives are planned, including the Australia-Japan Conference to be held in Sydney on 29-30 April.  The Conference is an initiative of Prime Minister Howard and the late Prime Minister Obuchi, and will bring together leaders from the business, media, academic and other areas.  This event, combined with regular Ministerial exchanges and the Strengthening Economic Relations studies currently being undertaken by our two governments, will generate opportunities to deepen our already strong ties.

Mr McCarthy recently completed his posting as Australia's Ambassador to Indonesia, a position he had held since February 1997.  Mr McCarthy has served as Australia's Ambassador to Vietnam (1981-83), Ambassador to Mexico (1985-87) and Ambassador to Thailand (1992-94).  He has also served in Damascus, Baghdad and Vientiane.

From 1994-95, Mr McCarthy was Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

Born in Washington D.C. in 1942, Mr McCarthy was educated at Cambridge University where he received a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws degree.  He is a barrister-at-law and practised in London from 1965 to 1966.  He worked with the New York Law Firm of Shearman and Sterling from 1966 to 1967 and joined the then-Australian Foreign Service in 1968.  Mr McCarthy has two daughters.

Media inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 62777 500/
Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534/

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