Western Australia and Japan have a longstanding economic relationship based on Japan’s demand for raw materials and Western Australia’s capacity to supply those raw materials.
Western Australia has been supplying iron ore to the Japanese steel industry for more than 50 years and LNG to Japanese energy companies for more than 25 years.
Trade with Japan supported the development of the state’s iron ore and oil and gas industries. This trade relationship with Japan turned the export focus of Western Australia from Europe and America to Asia.
Japan was Western Australia’s largest export market from the 1970s, only until overtaken by China in 2006-07, and is still the state’s second-largest export destination.
In 2016-17, Japan accounted for 13 per cent of the state’s exports. Together, petroleum and iron ore accounted for almost 90 per cent of Western Australia’s exports to Japan.
Japan accounted for 14 per cent of the State’s imports in 2016-17. Western Australia buys semi-processed and finished goods from Japan, most notably passenger and commercial vehicles. Western Australia’s largest import from Japan in 2016-17 was non‑monetary gold ($2.6 billion or 62 per cent of imports), with most of this gold likely to be refined in Western Australia before being re‑exported.
The Western Australian Government has a long-standing sister state relationship with Hyogo Prefecture and has maintained an office in the prefecture capital, Kobe, since 1989.
The Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation supports Western Australia’s trade offices in Tokyo and Kobe.