68 Mr J.A. Lyons, Prime Minister, to Mr Torao Wakamatsu, Japanese Consul-General in Sydney

Letter CANBERRA, 3 April 1939

With reference to your letter of 15th March, 1939 [1], I have noted with gratification the expression of your appreciation of the efforts of the Commonwealth Government to preserve and promote friendly relations between Australia and Japan. In this connection I can say that I have just received advice to the effect that senior officials in Japan have expressed appreciation of the level-headedness of the Australian public, and of the reasonable attitude adopted by the Commonwealth Government in connection with commercial matters.

With regard to the censorship of films, I desire to inform you that I have caused the attention of the Film Censorship Board to be drawn specially to the Commentaries to films with a view to exercising great care in the censorship of any passages likely to offend the susceptibilities of nationals of other countries.

I frankly admit that the references in the Sydney 'Daily News' supplied by you are in deplorably bad taste, and can only express my regret that any newspaper in Australia should lose so completely its manners and sense of responsibility in publishing such comments. I am of the opinion however, based on previous experience, that it would be wise to ignore this paper, as any attempt to get it to exercise restraint would only result in undesired publicity and further regrettable comments.

I shall cause an immediate inquiry to be made on the exhibition of photographs at Swain's, and ask that displays of the nature you have in mind are in future eliminated.

I appreciate the reasons which prompted you to raise this question, and cordially reciprocate your desire for the maintenance and promotion of the most cordial relations between our countries.

J.A. LYONS

1 Document 39.

[AA: A981, JAPAN 101, ii]