The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA85 - 17 June 2004

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Japan

I have today announced the appointment of Murray McLean OAM as Australian Ambassador to Japan. Mr McLean is expected to take up his appointment in November 2004, replacing John McCarthy AO who has been Ambassador since July 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 and services trade in 2003 exceeding $42 billion. The relationship is underpinned by a vast network of people-to-people links spanning the cultural, education, science, technology and sporting sectors.

Mr McLean will take up his appointment at a time of considerable growth in bilateral ties. Our cooperation on defence and security issues, now closer than ever, continues to intensify. We are implementing the Australia-Japan Trade and Economic Framework, which was signed by Prime Minister Howard and Prime Minister Koizumi in July 2003 and charts a course for the future development of the bilateral trade and economic relationship. Australia's participation in the Aichi Expo in 2005 will provide an ideal opportunity to showcase Australia's strengths as a culturally diverse and harmonious society with a dynamic and technologically sophisticated economy. And the 2006 Year for Exchange, marking the 30 th Anniversary of the Basic Agreement of Friendship and Cooperation, will allow us to further strengthen people-to-people ties in a range of fields including arts, science and business.

Mr McLean is a senior career officer and currently a Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has had extensive experience on Asian issues throughout his career. His other senior placements within the Department have included First Assistant Secretary, North Asia Division (July 2001- February 2004) and as Assistant Secretary, East Asia Branch (1992-96).

Overseas, Mr McLean has served as High Commissioner to Singapore (1997-2001), Consul-General in Shanghai (1987-92), Counsellor in Washington (1983-86), Counsellor in Beijing (1979-83) and earlier postings in Beijing and Hong Kong.

In 1991, Mr McLean was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services to international relations, particularly as Australia's Consul-General to Shanghai.

Mr McLean holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours from the University of Melbourne.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 - Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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