Thursday, 30 Nov 2023

Wolf warrior or entertainer? Outspoken Japanese envoy Shingo Yamagami has no regrets as he departs Australia

Wolf warrior or entertainer? Outspoken Japanese envoy Shingo Yamagami has no regrets as he departs Australia


Wolf warrior or entertainer? Outspoken Japanese envoy Shingo Yamagami has no regrets as he departs Australia

If an ambassador's job is to win friends and influence people, Shingo Yamagami has done plenty of that.

But Japan's departing envoy to Australia has also lost friends and alienated others during his two years and four months in Australia.

One former diplomat describes him as "an entertaining player but prone to kicking own-goals". The Chinese ambassador, Xiao Qian, is firmly in the "not a fan" category - he has accused Yamagami of running a deliberate public campaign to sabotage China-Australia relations.

In the final days of his Canberra posting, Yamagami says he has "no regrets".

"I haven't been silenced," he says, ahead of his flight back to Japan on Saturday.

"Whatever sniper shot I have to face, you know, I wouldn't duck and I would keep on standing tall."

For someone with decades of service in Japan's ministry of foreign affairs - and previous postings to Washington DC, Hong Kong, Geneva and London - Yamagami has some surprising attitudes about bread-and-butter diplomatic practices.

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