Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys. Through the magic of technology, this event is being live streamed to Japan. So I acknowledge the Mayor of Ota City, Mayor Shimizu and all the representatives of Ota City in Japan this evening.

In Sydney, I welcome the Japanese Consul-General and Jonathan O'Dea, representing the Premier of New South Wales.

This initiative is a partnership between the Sydney Opera House and the Art Museum and Library of Ota City. Through this Join the Dots initiative, young people in both cities will collaborate with artists and performers to create freehand illustrations that will then be projected simultaneously on the walls of both these iconic buildings.

This event brings together art, culture, technology, young people and I thank the artists and performers, particularly, Nobumasa Takahashi and Jacqueline Stockdale.

Australia and Japan are the closest of friends and partners. Indeed this week our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be visiting Tokyo to meet with Prime Minister Abe. Our political, social and economic ties are strong and growing closer.

Sixty-one years ago, Australia and Japan signed the Commerce Agreement, which laid the foundations of our contemporary economic, trade and investment partnership. Within just ten years of signing that agreement, Japan became Australia’s largest export destination and the recent Japan-Australia free trade agreement is continuing to build economic ties that benefit both our nations.

While I have visited Japan many times, I now have a rather personal connection to our economic relationship.

The Ichthys LNG project is the largest overseas investment by a Japanese company ever in the history of Japan. Last year I launched, and was named the godmother of INPEX Ichthys Explorer, the LNG platform which is the largest semi-submersible structure on the planet.

My godchild is now located 220km off the coast of Western Australia and I am very proud to say my godchild will enable about nine million tons of LNG to be produced every year, 70 per cent of which is already sold to Japan for its energy security.

Japan is also a founding partner of the Australian Government’s signature initiative, the New Colombo Plan, which enables Australian undergraduates to live and study and undertake work experience in one of 40 locations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

Japan is a particularly popular destination, and in just four years from 2014 to 2018 about 2,300 Australian undergraduates will have lived and studied and worked in Japan under the New Colombo Plan.

Each year, Australia chooses a partner country for our public diplomacy initiative called Australia Now. In 2018 our Australia Now partner country is Japan. Between April and November this year there will be a series of events, showcasing Australia in Tokyo and across Japan. Our themes this year include innovation, culture and lifestyle and the events will include design exhibitions, wine and food festivals, outdoor film festivals and other educational and cultural programs.

I can’t think of a better way to mark the beginning of our Australia Now partnership with Japan than launching Join the Dots this evening. In launching Join the Dots, let our 8000km cultural, digital technology collaboration begin.

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