332 Department of External Affairs to Noel-Baker, Fraser and Bajpai

Cablegrams 207, 155, 15 CANBERRA, 11 August 1948, 4.15 p.m.



You will doubtless be aware of recent developments in Japan arising from letter from SCAP to Ashida [1] suggesting that Government workers in Japan be prohibited from striking. It appears that present Japanese Government has chosen to interpret this letter as a firm directive and is seizing opportunity to amend National Public Service Law in such a way as to abolish the right to strike not only in clerical and administrative divisions of the Japanese Public Service but also in Government enterprises such as the railways. This action appears to contravene the intention of FEC Policy Decision on Trades Unions [2] and to amount to serious curtailment of what are normally regarded as legitimate labour rights. There are signs moreover, that it is already serving to widen the split between extreme right and left. SCAP apparently has no intention of intervening, and Killen, Chief of SCAP Labour Division has resigned.

2. We are disturbed at the effect which these developments may have on the growth of democratic institution in Japan, and we are instructing the Head of the Australia Mission in Tokyo (who we understand has kept in touch with the United Kingdom Liaison Mission) to raise matter at the next meeting of the Allied Council for Japan (18th August).

3. He is to suggest that the proposed Public Service Bill be amended to enable workers in Government enterprises to enjoy normal trades union rights and particularly to provide for a system of collective bargaining along the lines of the Australia[n] Public Service arbitration system. We also intend to raise matter in FEC.

4. We would be glad of any views you may have on the matter.

1 Dated 22 July 1948 to Hiroshi Ashida, Prime Minister of Japan.

2 FEC 045/5, approved 6 December 1946.

[AA:A1838/278, 478/2/5, i]