These two charts show why Australia should be cheering Japan's strong GDP figure

Ian Waldie – Pool/Getty Images

Several decades ago, much like China does today, the Japanese economy played an important role in determining the economic fortunes of Australia.

While that importance has diminished in recent years, particularly with the emergence of China as the world’s second-largest economy, it seems lost on many that the Japanese economy remains an important cog in the overall global economy.

Not only does is it the world’s third-largest economy behind the US and China, who sit at number one and two respectively, it is also the second-largest trade partner for Australia.

Here’s a couple charts demonstrating Japan’s important economic relationship with Australia.

The first shows the annual value of Australian merchandise exports to Japan going back to the hey-day before the Japanese economy ran into well-documented economic troubles in the early 1990s.

While the pace of growth has slowed in recent years, it remains significantly part of Australia’s total merchandise exports.

In the year to March 2015 it totaled $AU46.5 billion, close to double the figure recorded only a decade earlier.

To give some perspective on that figure, as a percentage of all Australian merchandise exports in the past year, it made up a whopping 17.9%. Only China, at 32.3% was a larger importer of Australian goods.

While Japan’s sharply-improved GDP figure, released earlier today, has been largely ignored — it’s not China data, of course — given its strength, perhaps its time for markets, particularly in Australia, to start paying closer attention.

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