JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.69

SPECIAL FEATURE

Interview with Ms. Tara Boyd, Australian Civilian Exchange Officer at the Capacity Building Support Office in the Ministry of Defense of Japan
- A Bridge between Japan and Australia -

Interview with Ms. Tara Boyd, Australian Civilian Exchange Officer at Capacity Building Support Office at the Ministry of Defense of Japan

Ms. Tara Boyd is an Australian Civilian Exchange Officer at the Capacity Building Support Office in the MOD. She has been dispatched from the Australian Department of Defence since February 3rd, 2015, as a part of Japan-Australia cooperation in the field of capacity building support, which was agreed at the Japan-Australia defense ministerial meeting in September 2012.

Q1. Why did you decide to work at the Australian Department of Defence?

A1. Having a keen interest in international and strategic affairs, I wanted to work for a government department that gave me the opportunity to contribute to supporting Australia’s national security interests. I also wanted to work in a large department that had a diverse range of career paths and opportunities, including the possibility to travel and work overseas. Defence fits all of these criteria, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to live and work in Tokyo.

Q2. Tell us your impression on Japanese culture.

A2. I have travelled to Japan many times for holidays and I am always impressed by the friendliness and politeness of Japanese people, and the safety, cleanliness and orderliness of the cities. I love the diversity of style and atmosphere in Tokyo, particularly the quiet, traditional streets and parks hidden amongst the skyscrapers in the sprawling city. I really enjoy Japan’s unique cultural traditions and activities, including eating delicious Japanese cuisine, staying at traditional ryokans and bathing in the natural outdoor onsens.

Q3. Tell us your work at the Australian Department of Defence.

A3. I entered the Department of Defence in 2010 as part of the Graduate Development Program. I joined International Policy Division in 2011 as a policy officer for India and South Asian Defence Cooperation Program countries. In 2012 I transferred to the North Asia section, and provided policy support and advice on Australia’s defence relationships with Japan, Korea and China. During this time I supported then-Minister Onodera’s visit to Australia for Ministerial Dialogue, the Australia-Republic of Korea 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, and managed Australia’s hosting of the inaugural North East Asia 1.5 Track Strategic Dialogue, which brought together academics and government officials from Australia, China, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, South Korea and the United States. During my time in International Policy Division I have had the opportunity to undertake short term postings at the Australian Embassies in New Delhi and Seoul, providing policy support to the Defence Attaché.

Interview with Ms. Tara Boyd, Australian Civilian Exchange Officer at Capacity Building Support Office at the Ministry of Defense of Japan

Q4. How does Australia assume the significance and importance of exchanging personnel with the MOD?

A4. The exchange personnel positions are a visible demonstration of the strength of the Australia-Japan bilateral defence relationship. They assist in building enduring working level 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 Japanese Ministry of Defense, and have been afforded the opportunity to meet a number of seniors throughout the Ministry, including Defense Minister Nakatani, and visit a number of JGSDF and JASDF bases and facilities.

Q5. Tell us details of your current work.

A5. In my current role I assist to coordinate Australia and Japan’s capacity building efforts in the South East Asia and Pacific regions and where appropriate, look for opportunities where our countries can cooperate. I also work to improve exchanges of information between our departments, and progress mutually agreed defence cooperation. A key example of this is Japan’s participation in the Australian led Exercise Harii Hamutuk, an engineering exercise in Timor Leste which will take place in October 2015 and comprises participants from the JGSDF, Australian Army, US Marine Corps and Navy, and the Timorese F-FDTL.

Q6. What areas and fields do you want to get involved in the future?

A6. I would like to have a career that builds on the good work and strong networks created by my current role and maintain a strong link with Japan ? whether that be through continued work on the Australia-Japan bilateral relationship in Canberra, or a posted diplomatic role at the Australian Embassy Tokyo.

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