Ayako Mie


Ayako is a strategic communications and media expert. Recently she joined MetLife Japan as Group Manager, Integrated Content Management, Corporate Communication after more than 16 years as a journalist.


Prior to joining MetLife Japan, she covered Japanese politics and policies for Japan Times. She started her career as a reporter at Tokyo Broadcasting System in 2001. In 2008, she went to journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley, as a Fulbright scholar. On returning to Japan in 2010, she worked for the Washington Post as a Special Correspondent. She was also a Wall Street Journal Asia Fellow at NYU, focusing on economic reporting, and non-resident fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS.

Nathan Herman

Nathan works for ANZ in the Loan Syndications team, based in Hong Kong. His role focuses on connecting borrowers and investors across the broad Asia/Pacific region, with a specific mandate for coverage of Japan. Prior to his current role, Nathan worked in the ANZ Tokyo office as a Relationship Manager with responsibility of a portfolio of Japanese corporate banking clients who have business interests in the region.


He participated in the JENSYS Future Business Counterparts Programme (JICE/Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and is an active member of the Future Leaders Programme of the AJBCC/JABCC.


Having lived in Japan for eight years, Nathan is a fluent Japanese speaker and a qualified translator/interpreter. Nathan holds Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Melbourne (Genetics) and the University of Western Australia (Corporate Finance), and a Master of Applied Finance from Macquarie University.

Mana Takahashi

Mana is pursuing a PhD degree in comparative law, at Nagoya University. Her current research explores the role of law and justice assistance for enhancing people's access to justice in small island developing states.


She holds a MA in international development from Nagoya University (2009), majoring in law and development, law and justice assistance, access to justice, and project management method. Mana previously worked as a project management officer in IT at IBM Japan Ltd and as a consultant at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific located in Incheon, Republic of Korea.


Mana was also a Japanese fellow of the National Parliamentary Fellowship Program 2016, based in the Australian National University.

Joshua Flannery​

Joshua has been the driving force behind the University of New South Wales startup community. Through UNSW Innovations, he has managed the UNSW startup program since its 2012 launch.


He is also a co-founder and CEO of Innovation Dojo, a company that incubates ideas for Australian and Asian markets and holds a board position with Haymarket HQ, Australia’s first Asia focused co-working space. He has spent six years living in Asia including three years as Managing Director for an edtech venture in Japan.


Joshua has also been the manager of the China and Hong Kong agent partner network for Macquarie University and has held advisory roles with Shanghai based startup QLC and has advised hundreds of early stage startups across multiple industries in his various roles.

Penny Alexander

Penny is a Managing Associate at the law firm, Allens Linklaters and a member of the firm’s Energy, Resources and Infrastructure group. Penny specialises in both advisory and transactional work in the resources and infrastructure sectors, acting for a diverse range of Australian, international and government clients.


She has a unique insight into the Australian resources and infrastructure sectors, especially from a Japanese investor’s perspective. Penny spent over two years seconded to the in-house legal team of Mitsubishi Corporation in Tokyo to provide expertise concerning Mitsubishi’s global resources investments portfolio. In this role, she assisted with acquisitions, divestments and corporate reorganisations in relation to Mitsubishi's resources projects worldwide.


Penny continues to maintain a significant focus on cross-border transactions and investment, particularly business relationships and opportunities involving Australia and Japan. A key aspect of this focus is Penny's role as the leader of the Future Leaders Group of the AJBCC and her ex officio position on the Executive Committee of the AJBCC. Outside of work, Penny enjoys learning the Japanese language which she has continued to do since returning to live in Melbourne.

Takeshi Kurihara

Takeshi is a journalist at NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation.


After receiving his BA degree from the University of Tokyo, he started his journalism career in the city of Okayama in western Japan, covering local news. He was eventually posted to Tokyo, and for the past seven years he has been a political news reporter delivering daily broadcast news.


Takeshi's field of expertise is diplomacy and security issues. He has been in charge of covering news on the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the office of Prime Minister. He is currently handling stories related to Diet proceedings and legislative process in Japan.


Parallel to this, Kurihara is undertaking research on developments in media innovation. He studied at Stanford University as Visiting Scholar in 2015, researching on the intersection of technology and organisational journalism. 

Celeste Koravos

Celeste is a Senior Associate in Corrs’ Construction and Japan Business Groups. Celeste advises on the procurement and delivery of infrastructure and construction projects.


She has a personal interest in encouraging investment between Australia and Japan, and has published and presented in this area. Celeste studied Japanese at high school and university, and worked in Tokyo as a foreign-qualified lawyer. She recently completed Meiji University’s Law in Japan program. 


Celeste understands the unique needs of Japanese businesses through her Japanese clients, comparative knowledge of Australian and Japanese law, and understanding of Japanese business culture. Celeste sits on the Committee of Management of the Australia-Japan Society of Victoria where she organises events such as business briefings, konshinkai and shaberoukai.


Celeste is a qualified civil engineer with practical industry experience in organisations such as BHP Billiton, Exxon Mobil, GVP Fabricators, ARRB Group and Monash University. 

Kohei Tamura


Kohei is Manager - Special Projects/Innovation Partnerships at Rio Tinto. Based in the Tokyo office, he builds on the deep and multifaceted relationships between Rio Tinto and Japan. He is also responsible for the relationships with Rio Tinto's significant suppliers headquartered in Japan.


He plays an active and leading role in the Future Leaders Group of Australia Japan Business Cooperation Committee, while acting as a committee member/treasurer of the Australia Japan Society (Qld) Inc.


Prior to joining Rio Tinto's Tokyo office, Kohei worked in Rio Tinto's Brisbane-based global tax team and a big 4 accounting firm as the manager in charge of Japanese companies investing in resource projects in Australia. 

Kohei is a Chartered Accountant (Australia) and holds a Master of Applied Taxation (University of New South Wales), a Master of Commerce - Professional Accounting / Applied Finance (University of Queensland) and a Bachelor of Agriculture (University of Tokyo).

Kylie Pinder

Kylie joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as a graduate trainee in 2016. She currently works in the United States Political and Strategic Section, and has previously worked for the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, the Cultural Diplomacy Section, and Executive Branch.


In 2016 Kylie graduated from the Australian National University’s Master of International Relations having completed a pun-heavy masters thesis, “Cool Japan and Kim Chic: riding the soft power wave of popular culture.” Her thesis analysed the efforts of Japan and the Republic of Korea in leveraging their respective vibrant popular cultures for soft power success.

Prior to this, she worked in Hyogo Prefecture as a participant on the JET Programme. From 2012 to 2015 I was an Assistant Language Teacher at Kobe Suzurandai Senior High School, and also at Hyogo Kenritsu Shikaku Tokubetsu Shien Gakkou, a special needs school.


Kylie has also worked as a lawyer for Gadens Lawyers in her hometown of Brisbane, specialising in intellectual property and general corporate law, in addition to experience working in insurance, workplace and energy and resources law.

Jarrod Clague

Jarrod is an educational program developer based in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. Over the past there years he has worked on educational initiatives aimed at preparing Japan’s youth for a global future, working with schools, governments, and educational institutions both in Japan and abroad.


He also works as a chief student counsellor for the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education’s Ji-Sedai Leader Program, is the director of SLICE (an in-country program with a focus on global citizenship and intercultural communication), and regularly speaks at Japanese schools on the subjects of language learning and international education.


Previously, he has worked as an English teacher, was an inaugural member of the Hamer Scholarship Japan Program, a guest speaker at the Australian International Education Conference, and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Japanese Language, Secondary Education) from Monash University. In addition to his current roles Jarrod is also set to undertake research at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education in 2018.

Heather Chai

Heather is an international relations, advocacy and public relations professional.


A former diplomat, she has represented Australia in Tokyo and in Vientiane, as well as at the United Nations.


In her current role, Heather oversees communications strategy, media and public relations for Asialink Business, the National Centre for Asia Capability.


Heather holds a Masters of Arts in International Studies and a BA Communications/BA International Studies from the University of Technology Sydney, as well as a Graduate Certificate in International and Community Development from Deakin University. She is a Fellow of the United Nations International Security Program.

Matthew Khoo

Matthew is a Defence Scientist with 11 years’ experience at the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST). He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) and Bachelor of Computer Science (with Honours) from The University of Melbourne.


Matthew is responsible for the day-to-day management of the collaborative defence research project on Marine Hydrodynamics between Australia’s DST and Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA), the first of its kind between the two countries.


He has successfully worked with project partners to plan and conduct joint hydrodynamic experiments in Australia and Japan, and has recently commenced PhD studies in this field through the University of Tasmania.


Prior to working in hydrodynamics, Matthew worked in non-destructive evaluation, specialising in the automated ultrasonic inspection of aircraft structures for fatigue crack detection. His work allowed the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force to make informed decisions about the management and inspection of their fleet and test wings.

Aya Haruyama

Aya is an Equity Research Associate with Macquarie Capital Securities (Japan), covering listed gaming and internet companies. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in Finance and Marketing from the University of Melbourne.


She has worked as a Research Assistant at the Asian Law Centre, Melbourne Law School assisting in research of Japanese Law for Associate Professor Stacey Steele. She also represented Team Australia in the Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition in the Japanese speaking team, placing 3rd.


Aya was also involved in establishing Chalk Circle  a not-for-profit organisation focused on gender literary to empower the next generation. She was a member of the Young Finance Professional committee with FINSIA, the Financial Management Association of Australia and an active member of the ANZCCJ.

Nobuhiko Tamaki

Dr Tamaki is a project researcher at the Policy Alternatives Research Institute, located at the University of Tokyo. He also serves as a lecturer at Kanagawa University, Aoyama Gakuin University, Rikkyo University, and Gakushuin University.


His research interests are alliance politics and international relations in the Asia-Pacific region. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo. He studied at Boston University from 2009 to 2010 as a Fulbright student and at Yale University from 2011 to 2012 as a visiting assistant in research. He participated in the Shangri-La Dialogue as a delegate to the Southeast Asia Young Leaders’ Program in 2017.


His main works (in Japanese) include:

  • “Japan Hands: The Transformation of U.S.-Japan Alliance and the Perception of Japan Experts in the U.S. Government, 1965–68,” Shiso 1017, (January 2009);

  • “Empires and Alliances: A Theory of Asymmetrical Alliance,” Ph.D. Dissertation (The University of Tokyo, 2014)

  •  “The Concept of Alliance Revisited; The Future of U.S-Alliance in the International Order,” Asian Review of Kanagawa University (March 2016)

  • “U.S.-Philippine Relations and the Vietnam War: The Paradox of Power in Asymmetrical Alliances,” Kokusai Seiji, (April 2017); and

  • “The Dilemma of Alliance Management: U.S.-South Korea Alliance and Japan-Korea Normalization,” Kanagawa Hogaku (forthcoming).

Kanna Mihara

Kanna was born in Chiba, near Tokyo in 1981. She grew up surrounded by music and art, which are still important influences on her. Her dream was to become a Broadway musical dancer, but her strong interest in politics and talent for business won out. 

Kanna worked for BaringPoint, an international business consulting firm prior to studying a Masters in International Relations at the London School of Economics.

Following her stint in London, Kanna worked for SMBC, a Japanese commercial bank. In this role she focussed on lending for clients across the globe including a Sheikh of Dubai, Russian oligarchs, and South African gold miners.


For the past four years Kanna has worked at Macquarie’s Tokyo office. In this role she identifies global infrastructure investment opportunities for Japanese companies, from European offshore wind projects to US airport privatisation, 

Manabu Sawa

Manabu is a Sydney-based project finance banker with Mizuho Bank. Born in Tokyo, he spent few years in San Francisco before returning to Japan and studying at the Keio University (BA in Economics). He was also active in the student club which promoted short-term student exchange programs with universities outside Japan.


Upon graduation, Manabu joined Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), where he took various roles including country officer for Central Asia, representative of Islamabad Office, and secondment to Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During his service at JBIC, he gained a Master of Public Policy and M.A. in Applied Economics from the University of Michigan.


While in Tokyo, Manabu worked on various projects in Asia, Middle East, Europe and Americas. He has been in Australia for five years as a Head of Project Finance, and also served as a founding member for Future Leaders Program of Australia-Japan Business Co-Operation Committee (AJBCC/JABCC). He enjoys his life with his family in Sydney and is a big fan of football and basketball.

Tomohiko Satake

Tomohiko is a senior research fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) located in Tokyo, specialising in US-Japan-Australia security cooperation.


Between 2013 and 2014, he worked for the International Policy Division of the Defense Policy Bureau of the Japan Ministry of Defense as a deputy director for international security. He earned B.A. and M.A. from Keio University, and PhD in international relations from the Australian National University.


His publications include:


  • “Japan-Australia Security Cooperation: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities”, Strategic Japan Working Paper, CSIS, 2017;

  • “The New Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation and an Expanding Japanese Security Role”. Asian Politics & Policy, 8: 27–38, 2016;

  • “The Japan-Australia contribution to a liberal and inclusive regional order: beyond the ‘China gap’”, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 70, Iss. 1, 2016; and

  • “The Origin of Trilateralism? The US-Japan-Australia Security Relations during the 1990s,” The International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2011

Cristina Merino

Cristina Merino is Executive Director of the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Before joining the Chamber,


Cristina was Business Development Manager at Meat & Livestock Australia’s Japan office. Over her career, she has worked at the Australian Embassy, Japan, as part of the Executive Team, and for a Japanese company in the construction of a Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) project in Central America. She holds a Bachelor of International Business, specialising in Japanese, from Queensland University of Technology; and a Master of Arts, Intercultural Communication, from Kyushu University.


She is fluent in English, Japanese and Spanish.

Krystal Hartig

Krystal Hartig is a Research and Program Assistant at the Perth USAsia Centre. She currently develops and manages a range of programs that focus on Northeast Asia and the Australia-Asia-U.S. Partnership in Emerging Asia. Krystal also provides assistance to the Hon Kim Beazley, AC.


Krystal has a Master of International Affairs (2016) from the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Asian Studies and Politics & International Studies (2014) from Murdoch University.


Prior to the Perth USAsia Centre, she held a number of leadership roles including Perth Branch Director at Young Australians in International Affairs, Vice-President of Education at Willetton Toastmasters, Youth Governor at the Western Australian YMCA Youth Parliament and President of the Murdoch-Japan Relief Association coordinating a university based relief effort in response to the 2011 Fukushima Disaster. When not working in the Centre, Krystal regularly trains for marathon events.

Gentaro Habu

Gentaro is a multilingual professional based in Tokyo, well-regarded in the Australia-Japan business world for his commitment to bilateral relations. 


After completing his  education in the UK, Gentaro started his career as a founding member of the gourmet importer/distributer, Agenda. In 2005 he was promoted to the role of Director of Sales, where he helped Australian food and beverage companies to build their profile in the highly competitive Japanese retail and wholesale market.


In 2010 he was appointed to the offshore sales team at Disco Corporation. He was account manager for several global companies such as Intel Corporation and Micron Technology, and received “Employee of the Year” award in 2011.


As a senior licensing manager role at the world’s largest licensing agency, CAA-GBG Global Brand Management Group. Gentaro developed successful brand extension programs for overseas companies across a range of sectors. 


In 2016, he joined consulting firm Melanie Brock Advisory as the Director of Business Development where he provides support to foreign companies looking to enter into the Japanese market.


Gentaro is a father of two young children and is currently studying for an MBA at Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University in Japan.

© 2016 Australia–Japan Youth Dialogue Limited

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