104 Record Of Conversation By Shaw

6th July, 1955


Japanese Membership of G.A.T.T.

Mr Kakitsubo called to enquire whether the Australian Government had yet defined its attitude to Japanese membership of G.A.T.T.

I told him that the Government had carefully avoided any reference to Japan in the recent Parliamentary discussions on the review of G.A.T.T. and that there had been no public statements about Japan, one way or the other.

I said that Cabinet had not yet considered the explicit question of Japanese membership of G.A.T.T. and would not have an opportunity to do so before some meetings beginning about the end of July. We realised, however, that we would have to define our attitude before 11th August. I told Mr Kakitsubo that it would be idle for me to forecast any Government decision or to give any departmental thinking. Most Cabinet Ministers held views about G.A.T.T., trade and Japan, and the decision would be essentially a Ministerial one.

Kakitsubo volunteered the information that the United Kingdom would probably agree to the accession of Japan to G.A.T.T. but invoke Article 35 against Japan. I asked whether Japan would regard this as a satisfactory course. He said that it could be satisfactory enough if it resulted in Japan being admitted to G.A.T.T. The United Kingdom might feel that Japan would profit by having increased trade relations with other G.A.T.T. members which would enable Japan to earn more foreign exchange with which to buy British goods. Kakitsubo expressed no strong views against the invoking of Article 35 against Japan. He did, however, say that every vote in opposition to Japan's accession to G.A.T.T. would count. He said that 23 affirmative votes were required and there was some doubt as to whether they would be obtained. Australia's vote of assent, dissent or abstention would therefore be important.

Kakitsubo was not importunate or threatening. He did mention that after accession to G.A.T.T. Japan would then have two tariff rates-most-favoured-nation and general tariff.

I said that we would let him know as soon as we had any information we could pass to him on the subject.

[AA : A462/20, 602/2, iv]