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16 Defence Issue 1 2016
Two members of the International Policy Division gain new insights
during reciprocal exchanges with Japan and New Zealand
OSTINGS for staff within the
International Policy (IP) Division are
not uncommon, however, in 2015,
for the first time, IP had a reciprocal
exchange, with a Japanese policy
officer joining the Division for four months.
Shinichi Ikawa worked in IP Division in Russell
Offices in Canberra from June until September
2015 before returning to his position at the
Japanese Ministry of Defence (JMOD).
Tara Boyd has been working for the JMOD's
Capacity Building Office in Tokyo since February
2015 and will return to Australia in July.
Tara joined Defence in 2010 as part of the
graduate development program after completing a
Bachelor of Psychological Science.
She joined IP in 2011 as a policy adviser for
India and the South Asian Defence Cooperation
Before her current posting, she had short-
term postings to New Delhi and Seoul, providing
support to the Defence attachés.
Her main role in Tokyo is to look for defence
capacity building opportunities where Australia and
Japan can cooperate.
“Defence is an experienced provider of
capacity-building assistance. Drawing on my in-
depth understanding of our Defence Cooperation
Programs in the region, I help progress and
coordinate Japan's capacity building engagement,”
“A key example of this was Japan’s participation
in the Australian-led Exercise Harii Hamutuk, an
engineering exercise in Timor-Leste in October.”
Participants included the Japanese Ground
Self-Defence Force, Australian Army, US Marine
Corps, US Navy and Timor-Leste military
“I also work to improve exchanges of information
between our departments and progress mutually
agreed defence co-operation,” Tara says.
“Exchange positions like my own are an
important and visible demonstration of the
strength of the Australia-Japan bilateral defence
relationship. They assist in building enduring links
between our two departments, which will enable
a better understanding of each other’s policy
processes and priorities.
“I have already learnt so much about the JMOD
and have had the opportunity to meet a number of
senior officers throughout the ministry, including
Defence Minister Nakatani.”
The highlight of her exchange so far has been
attending the Australia-Japan Defence Ministers
“I addressed the delegation and conveyed
the importance of my role and its benefits to the
broader bilateral defence relationship,” Tara says.
Before she was posted to Tokyo, Tara studied
Japanese for a year through postgraduate study and
then had six months' intensive language training in
“I can speak Japanese, but more nuanced
conversations can be difficult, especially those that
involve particular Defence and security terms,” she
“It’s a daily challenge but I continue to look for
opportunities to improve my speaking, listening
and writing skills.”
She says living and working in Tokyo is a dream
come true as she first travelled to Japan in 2005
for a holiday and “fell in love with Japan’s history,
culture and style”.
“I have explored many parts of the country
and am always impressed by the friendliness and
politeness of Japanese people,” Tara says.
“I love the diversity of style and atmosphere
in Tokyo, particularly the quiet, traditional streets
and parks hidden among the skyscrapers in the
“I really enjoy Japan’s unique cultural traditions
and activities, including staying at traditional
ryokans (inns) and bathing in the natural outdoor
onsens (hot springs).”
She says she would like to have a career which
builds on the work and strong networks she has
“I would like to maintain a strong link with
Japan, whether that is through continuing to
work on the Australia-Japan bilateral relationship
in Canberra, or a posted diplomatic role at the
Australian Embassy in Tokyo,” she says.
She has had a lot of contact with Shinichi since
he returned in September.
“I work with Shinichi frequently on capacity
building issues and we have exchanged many
experiences about our respective secondments,”
Sharon Palmer and Warrant Officer Class Two Andrew Hetherington
LIKE MY OWN ARE AN
IMPORTANT AND VISIBLE
THE STRENGTH OF THE
INTERNATIONAL POLICY DIVISION
Tara Boyd on
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