Session 1: Governance & Politics (chair - Kate Stevenson, 2019 alumna)

Yuri is a journalist working for NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation. She has been joining the New York bureau of NHK World-Japan since November 2021.

Yuri entered NHK in 2010. She started her career as a correspondent in Aomori prefecture, the northern part of Japan and experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. After she was posted to the Political news division in 2015, covered news on education, foreign policy, and National Diet management. For the past year she was in charge of Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, writing articles about COVID-19, medical care system, vaccine policy, and immigration policy.

Yuri graduated from Tusuda University of International and Cultural Studies. She was selected to the Hirasawa Scholar Program in 2007, which is a one-year study abroad program at Bates College.

Hiroya Sugita is Professor at Kanagawa University majoring in Australian politics. He obtained PhD in politics at Flinders University in 1996. His PhD thesis was on the Australian Democrats. After completing PhD study, he worked as Special Advisor at the Japanese Embassy in Canberra from 1995 to 1998.

His research mainly focuses on Australia's political parties and party system, election and parliament. In 2019 he conducted research on gender and politics in Australia commissioned by the Gender Equality Bureau, Cabinet Office. His next research project will focus on independent members and minor parties in the Commonwealth Parliament.

He has written extensively on Australian politics including a couple of chapters in John Warhurst (ed.) "Keeping the Bastards Honest: The Australian Democrats' First Twenty Years and "The governor-general’s forgotten power" in Inside Story on 27 September 2018 (https://insidestory.org.au/the-governor-generals-forgotten-power/). He supports ACT Brumbies in rugby union and Port Adelaide in AFL.

Rikki Kersten is currently an Honorary Professor at the Australia-Japan Research Centre at the Australian National University. She is a former Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the ANU, and of the School of Arts at Murdoch University. Her research interests include Japanese democracy, modern Japanese political thought, Australia-Japan relations and Japanese security policy. Prior to entering academia she was a diplomat in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and served in the political section of the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.

Session 2: Security & Defence (chair - Dr Tomohiko Satake, 2017 alumnus)

Ms Hayley Channer is the Senior Policy Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre. Based in Canberra, Hayley produces analysis on foreign and defence policy in the Indo-Pacific, engages with key Australian Government agencies and other policy stakeholders, and builds and sustains the Centre’s domestic and international network. 

Hayley is a 2021 Fulbright Scholar and US State Department International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumni. She has previously worked for the Department of Defence, Office of the Minister for Defence, World Vision Australia, and Australian Strategic Policy Institute. She has also been a Visiting Fellow with the East West Centre in Washington DC and National Institute of Defence Studies in Tokyo, Japan.

Dr Bryce Wakefield is national executive director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Before coming to the AIIA, he was the associate responsible for programming on Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Australasia at the Wilson Center in Washington DC from 2009 to 2012 and was a tenured lecturer in Japanese politics and international relations at Leiden University. He has lived, worked, and studied in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States. He also lived in Japan for six years. His academic writing focuses on Japanese security, Japanese politics and the constitution of Japan.

Tomohiko Taniguchi, PhD (national security), is Professor, Keio University Graduate School of System Design and Management. He worked with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as his primary foreign policy speech writer throughout the period in which Mr. Abe was in office, 2013-2020. LL.B. from the University of Tokyo, he spent 20 years in journalism before joining Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005 as Deputy Press Secretary. He spent the next 3 years writing speeches for Foreign Minister Taro Aso as well as for then Prime Minister Abe. While in journalism he was a Fulbright visiting fellow at Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, 1991-92, spent three years in London, 1997-2000, during which Foreign Press Association in London elected him President, the first from "the east of Suez," and spent sabbaticals at Shanghai Institute for International Studies, 2002-03, and at Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., 2004-05. Between 2008 and 2012 he was an Executive Advisor at JR-Central. He has published books on Mr. Abe, modern history and international affairs.

Session 4: Gender Equality (chair - Dr Mana Takahashi, 2017 alumna)

Tetsuki Tamura is professor of political science at the Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University. He is also an associate of the Centre for Deliberative Democracy & Global Governance, the University of Canberra after his previous two-years stay as a visiting fellow at the Australian National University. He was the first man to take parent leave in Nagoya University. Working between (normative) political theory and empirical political science, his research interests include contemporary democratic theory, the welfare state and basic income, feminist political theory, and rethinking sites of politics. Especially, he is best known for his contribution to deliberative democracy research. His books include Jyukugi no Riyu [Reasons for Deliberation] (Tokyo: Keiso Shobo, 2008), Seijiriron to Fyeminizumu no aida [Between Feminism and Political Theory] (Showado, 2009), and Jyukugi Minshushugi no Konnan [Deliberative Difficulties and Beyond] (Nakanishiya Shuppan). He has many co-authored and co-edited books such as Kokokara Hajimeru Seijiriron [Introduction to Political Theory] (Yuhikaku, 2017), Nitijoh Seikatsu to Seiji [Politics and Everyday Life] (Iwanami Shoten), and Habermas wo Yomu [Reading Habermas] (Nakanishiya Shuppan). He also contributed a co-authored chapter on Deliberative Democracy in Asia to the Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy.

Sakura is a systems engineer at wpd, working in the offshore wind industry to promote decarbonisation of the electricity generation. Working in the renewable energy sector and part of the mymizu team, she strives to make Japan more environmentally aware and sustainable.

As one of the few girls in UTokyo in STEM, Sakura has also represented millions of young Japanese girls in advocating for female empowerment for economic development, including being the 2020 Japanese delegate in G(irls)20. Since then, she has held workshops for corporate companies to better their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

She is currently working with Waffle, to increase and advocate for girls in IT and is spearheading her own women's university hackathon in Tokyo with Google, with a focus on normalizing programming education to women. The aim is to provide a platform for university students that bridges the gap between computer science and other majors to facilitate problem-solving in a multi-disciplinary environment.

Having lived in Germany, Japan and the UK, Sakura is a trilingual who enjoys learning about different cultures and is eager to help grow the bond between Australia and Japan.

Jo has been at Google for a decade and currently based in Sydney Australia as an experienced Employee Engagement Partner in diversity strategy building.

Prior to Google, she served many international clients as a Senior HR Consultant in Japan. Jo received a Master in Labour Law and Relations from The University of Sydney, and MA from the University of Bath (UK), after graduating from Tokyo Woman’s University. She also holds an Advanced Certificate in Human Resources Management from Cornell University.

In her own time she is a mom of 3 daughters and a furry 4th puppy girl, practices meditation, learns permaculture, and supports the community through her career/wellbeing coaching volunteer roles.

Session 5: Cultural Activity

Masashi Sato is the CEO of ITO EN Australia. He developed an early interest in the international relations when he was a pre-school child and later developed great interests in domestic and international business studies as he was involved with two exchange programs while his early teenager-hood as well as in his university-hood and developed a curious mind about business operation outside of Japan. A great inspiration received from his international friends while his U.S. university life, he started looking for his future to promote “Authentic Japan brand” to overseas markets. Due to this, it did not take too long for him to decide joining ITO EN, LTD, in 1999 when the company was recruiting young, international business minded work force. Here’s his ITO EN career:

  • 1999 – 2003: spent 3 years as a domestic sales force in Tokyo metro region.
  • 2003 – 2009: spent at ITO EN North America Inc supporting ITO EN’s newborn business in New York City. Saw a 330 X revenue growth during his 6 years involvement.
  • 2009 – 2014: Senior manager of the International Division at ITO EN LTD, Extended great contribution in 2012 by generating $25 million U.S. dollars capital injection for the incorporation of ITO EN Asia Pacific Holdings (APH) in Singapore and its first operating company ITO EN Singapore Pte Ltd as the first strategic business within ASEAN regions.
  • 2014 – 2015: the second time involvement at ITO EN North America Inc.
  • 2015- today: ITO EN Australia Pty Ltd to recreate Australian business and saw 3 X revenue growth from his Day 1 of his Australian business life so far and is ongoing.

Session 6: Business & Trade (chair - Aya Haruyama, 2017 alumna)

Masaki Takahara joined Japan External Trade Organization in 1989. Worked as a staff of Aomori Office (1993-96), Researcher of New York Office (1996-2000), Deputy Managing Director of Shanghai Office (2004-09) and Managing Director of Yangon Office (2012-15). Currently working as a Managing Director of Sydney Office since June 2019.

Natsuko Ogawa is a partner at Ashurst.

Natsuko practises in the area of mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, acting primarily for Japanese clients investing in Australia. Natsuko leads the firm's Japan practice in Australia and is one of only a small number of senior lawyers in the Australian market who is capable of executing major transactions in Japanese and English.

Natsuko also regularly advises her clients on Australia's foreign investment framework, directors' duties, Corporations Act requirements and corporate governance. She has extensive experience in negotiating and advising on shareholder agreements.

Natsuko's clients include leading companies in a broad cross section of industries including resources and energy (including oil and gas and renewables), food and agriculture, and business and financial services, infrastructure, telecommunications and retail.

Trevor joined Austrade in late-2020 as a Senior Trade Commissioner and Consul-General in Osaka.

The Austrade Osaka team is responsible for identifying new investment opportunities and expanding trade for Australian exporters in Western Japan.

Prior to Austrade, Trevor worked across a number of roles in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including leading Australia’s engagement with Japan. He also managed Australia’s economic engagement with China, including through two postings to Beijing. Trevor represented the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science in Japan for four years, with a focus on expanding Australia’s energy relationship with Japan.

He previously worked for an Australian Minister for Trade covering North Asian trade and investment policy, and at the Business Council of Australia.

Trevor has a Master of Arts from the University of Queensland and is completing a Master of Economics. He also spent a year at Keio University in Tokyo as an exchange student. He is a NAATI-qualified Japanese translator. He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2013 for services to the international community.

Session 6: Sustainability & ESG (chair - Dr Lisa Fujise)

Vivek Dhar has worked as CBA’s lead mining and energy commodities strategist since late 2014 after working as a junior analyst for 4 years.

Prior to working at CBA, Vivek interned at Deutsche Bank and Siemens. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Economics) from the University of Melbourne.

Vivek works in the Institutional Banking & Markets division of the Commonwealth Bank. This division is responsible for managing the Group’s relationships with major corporate, institutional and government clients and providing a full range of capital raising, transactional and risk management products and services.

Kanna leads Private Capital Markets team in Japan where her primary role is to connect Japanese capital to global infrastructure opportunities. Her most recent experiences include successful formation of a partnership with JERA on Formosa 1, 2 and 3 offshore wind projects in Taiwan, and acquisition of Electricity North West in UK by a consortium including Kansai Electric.

Since joining Macquarie in 2013, she has worked on 2 of the first 3 major infrastructure privatisation projects in Japan, Sendai Airport and Aichi Toll Road, as a financial advisor to the winning consortium of each transaction.

Before joining Macquarie, Kanna engaged in commercial lending for non-EU EMEA companies in Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation’s EMEA headquarter in London for 5 years. Kanna started her career as a business consultant at BaringPoint (currently PwC) where she worked on various business process optimisation projects for Japanese companies.

Llewelyn Hughes is an analyst and educator working on the low carbon energy transition. He is particularly focused on public policies that help to create durable competitive advantage while responding to climate change. A key area of work is offshore wind power in the Asia Pacific, especially Japan. Dr. Hughes works at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, where he sits on the steering committee of the Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific initiative. He also advises companies, non-profits, and other organizations working on the low carbon energy transition.

Session 7: Working Cross-Culturally

Jason Hayes is the leader of PwC’s Asia Pacific Japan Practice (ex Japan). In Australia he is supported by a team of 25 Japanese professionals situated across Australia covering the firm’s Deals, Assurance, Taxation and Consulting service offerings.

Jason is a Financial Assurance Partner and has more than 29 years of international experience providing assurance and advisory services to companies in a wide variety of industry sectors. He has advised Japanese companies on IFRS, JSOX requirements, foreign listing requirements and he has extensive experience with financial due diligence and financial investigations in Australia and Japan.

Jason is the lead author of PwC’s “Japan Rebooted” series and is a regular commentator in the media and presenter at forums on Japanese trade and investment in Australia including seminars organized by PwC in conjunction with Asialink, JCCI and JETRO. Jason has spent 8 years on assignment with PwC in Japan and he is an active member of the Australia Japan Business Cooperation Committee.

Session 8: Diversity & Inclusion Workshop

Marcela Lapertosa is a Child Psychologist with a Masters degree in Cross Cultural Psychology and a passion for fostering intercultural understanding. Marcela is also an intercultural facilitator and trainer who has travelled the world providing intercultural learning training and coaching to students, host families, volunteers, executives and educators. Marcela led the development of multiple intercultural learning curricula to enhance study abroad experiences including the AFS Global Competence Certificate, a blended learning program for 18+ study abroad participants.

Over the last few years Marcela has been an advocate for Global Citizenship education organising and speaking at several conferences around the world. She is a former faculty at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication and is also a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory.

Fran is committed to helping build intercultural competence as a means of increasing deeper understanding amongst groups and individuals, and the value of diversity. She is an intercultural educator who has consulted with community, education and government organisations to design and deliver transformational learning interventions with students, volunteers, staff and educators across Australia and in a diverse range of countries worldwide. Fran holds a Bachelor of Adult and Vocational Education, is a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory and a qualified trainer for the Global Competence Certificate. Fran’s earlier consulting and teaching work focussed on the design and delivery of accredited training for trainers and assessors and she recently held the role of CEO for AFS Intercultural Programs Australia.

Fran’s love of learning fuels her work and personal life. Learning through immersion in new cultures, both at home and abroad stimulates her natural curiosity and interest in people to people connections.

Session 9: Space Cooperation (chair - Dr Matthew Richardson, 2019 alumnus)

Dr. Kazuhiko Yamada is an associate professor at the Department of Space Flight Systems, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. He is an engineer and a researcher on high-speed aerodynamics, especially atmospheric technology.

He received his Ph.D. in Engineering from The University of Tokyo in 2004. And he started working in JAXA/ISAS in 2004. At first, he worked in JAXA as a project researcher of a scientific balloon center, for three years. In this job, he worked to develop an advanced balloon system or a recovery system using a parafoil.

Next, he became assistant professor in ISAS in 2008, and commenced his present role in 2017. His present focus is various re-entry technologies, from conventional sample return capsule to innovative inflatable decelerator. He led several flight tests of a new atmospheric-entry capsule using a scientific balloon, sounding rocket and nano-satellite. And he is working to plan several future planetary exploration missions from the aspect of atmospheric entry technology.

Additionally, he was a member of the recovery team of HAYABUSA in 2010 and HAYABUSA-2 in 2020. He contributed to the successful recovery operations in Australia.

Dr Sarah Cannard is an experienced Senior Engineer and Project Manager with over 15 years of demonstrated history working for Nova Systems in the defence and space industry. Sarah is currently the Industry Director at the SmartSat CRC and the Project Lead for the AROSE Lunar Service Rover program as part of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars initiative.

Sarah has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science (Physics) and holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Engineering) from the University of Adelaide. Sarah is also a Fellow with Engineers Australia, an Amelia Earhart Fellow, and a Graduate of the AICD.

Prior to her current roles, Sarah has been involved with many complex defence, space and civil programs including the JAXA Hayabusa I Spacecraft re-entry, hypersonic rocket launches, Woomera Test Range trials and activities, the Joint Navy/DSTG Autonomous Warrior 18 activity, and the Hunter Class Frigate Program. She was pinnacle in founding the AROSE consortium and lead the Australian Remote Operations Capability review as Program Director.

Sarah has a deep passion for space and growing a sovereign Australian industry through cross-sector collaboration and pushing the frontiers of space technology. She is also passionate about STEM and creating opportunities for current and future generations.

Chris joined Astroscale as Group COO in August 2017 and leads the global strategic development for the company.

Prior to joining Astroscale, Chris served as the NASA Attaché for Asia, the senior space policy official in the U.S. Embassy Tokyo, from 2012-2017. In that capacity he identified multiple opportunities for cooperation in the region; served as strategic space advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and senior U.S. Government officials; acted as an official intermediary between NASA and its partners in Asia in negotiating agreements and resolving disputes; and participated in numerous outreach events highlighting NASA activities.

Chris holds an MBA from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.

Session 14: Sports Diplomacy

Ian Williams currently works as a non-executive director and Japan-Australia strategic adviser. He was previously a partner and head of the Japan team at international law firms Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Ashurst, where he worked on 400 M&A transactions and advised over 150 Japanese companies.

Ian is Vice-President of the Australia Japan Business Co-operation Committee; a director of ASX-listed companies New Hope Coal and Lindsay Australia; a director/adviser to Asahi Kasei, Daiwa House, Kokusai Pulp & Paper/Spicers Paper, Japan Coal Development and Softbank Robotics.

Ian worked in Japan for Kobe Steel from 1989 to 1995 and played in the Kobe Steelers rugby team which won 7 consecutive All-Japan championships. He has represented both the Australian Wallabies (1984 to 1990) and Japan Brave Blossoms (1993).

In July 2001, Ian created the 'Australia Japan Roundtable Dinner' event, with over 156 dinners having been held in Australia and Japan.

He has published numerous reports/papers on Japan-Australia business and investment relationship, including HSF's annual Japan-Australia M&A Report.

In October 2016, Ian was awarded the Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation (外務大臣表彰) for service to the Japan Australia relationship in business and sport.