172 Minute From Jamieson To Tange And Quinn

23nd November, 1956


Mr Kono and Trade Negotiations with Japan Telegrams 389 and 392 [1] from Tokyo discuss Japanese policy on the current trade negotiations with Australia and the role being played by Mr Kono, the Japanese Minister for Agriculture and Forestry.

2. The gist of the first telegram from our Commercial Counsellor is that:

(i) Kono alone opposes the acceptance of our proposal that Japan take less American surplus wheat so as to give Australia the opportunity to compete in the Japanese commercial market for wheat;

(ii) Other Japanese Cabinet Ministers and business interests favour meeting our proposal and thus removing the only remaining obstacle to a trade agreement.

3. Stuart further implies that Kono, who has Ministerial control over the use of counterpart funds derived from the sale of US agricultural surpluses, is using this control for ... purposes of his own. He urges that we do not give way on this question of wheat imports and allow Kono to chalk up a further triumph.

4. Sir Alan Watt comments that Stuart exaggerates Kono's power and suggests that his strength is declining and will decline further when Prime Minister Hatoyama retires.

5. I would agree that Stuart has been over-influenced by the view of Yoshino, the senior trade official with whom he talked.

Japanese officials tend to think in terms of black and white when it comes to those opposing their policies and Kono emerges from the reported talk as impossibly powerful and villainous.

6. ...He is also powerful because of his contributions to the Party, his ability, his hold over the ailing Hatoyama and by reason of the backing of his own feud[al]istically loyal henchmen in the Party.

7. I would conclude that:

(a) Kono is not unsupported in his stand, even though his forceful personality may make him appear so;

(b) his influence may not decline, particularly if he is supporting Kishi for the Prime Ministership. He would then supplant Kishi as Secretary-General of the Party;

(c) therefore an adjournment should not be decided on merely in the hope of finding the Japanese more compliant in a few months time;

(d) it would be very difficult to pin the cause of a breakdown on Kono, who could influence the tone of Japanese Government hand- outs and quite possibly even influence part of the press. In any event the Japanese are not given to publicizing any case except Japan's own.

1 Documents 169 and 170.

[AA : A1838/283, 759/1/7, iv]