199 Extracts From Brief For Menzies [1]

8th April, 1957


The primary purpose of the Prime Minister's visit is to develop understanding between Australia and Japan on the part of Ministers and officials and of the general public in both countries.

The Attitude of the Japanese Prime Minister Mr Kishi, who is Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Japan, has never been farther abroad than Manchuria and is a relative newcomer in the field of foreign relations. His thinking on foreign policy has tended to focus on the United States, the U.S.S.R., China, and on the nature of Japan's relationship to other members of the Afro-Asian group. The Japanese Ambassador to Australia (Suzuki) told us when he returned from his visit earlier this year to Japan that Kishi (who was then Foreign Minister only) had not seemed really conscious of Australia. Suzuki implied that Australian reactions and interests were not really a factor in Kishi's mind when he made decisions. This may help to explain Japan's vote against Australia on Dutch New Guinea [2], which was contrary to the impression that we had been given of the likely Japanese attitude.

3. A valuable consequence of the Prime Minister's visit to Japan could be a realization by Kishi personally that Australia exists, that our friendship is worth having, and that our reactions and interests could have some consequence for Japan.

[matter omitted]

Australia's Basic Approach to Japan 12. Our disagreement with Japan on pearling does not in any way imply a misunderstanding on our part as to the status of Japan.

Australia's basic approach to Japan has been guided by a belief that Japan must be given an opportunity to develop peacefully in association with the countries of the free world, or else she will be forced to come to terms with Communist China and the Soviet Union. Hence Australia has sponsored Japan's entry into the Colombo Plan and international organizations. Australia recognizes Japan's economic needs in the trade agreement which is now being negotiated. Our approach is evidence of Australia's desire to assist Japan to play her proper role in the family of nations and is an indication of how Australia can be of practical assistance to Japan. Australia's understanding of the status of Japan and of its needs is something that could be stressed in public speeches by the Prime Minister.

Japan's Attitude towards South East Asia 13. One line of thought that might be developed with the Japanese is that Japan is not a small power-it is an important power, and it is not in Japan's interests to submerge its identity completely in a grouping like the Afro-Asian bloc, where Japan might be dragged along at the heels of many countries which may have an equal vote but not an equal weight in the world.

14. On South-East Asia, it could also be pointed out to Japan that on the whole she has found a more friendly reception from Australia than from most countries in South and South-East Asia.

For example, Australia did not seek reparations from Japan, whereas Burma and the Philippines are receiving reparations and Viet Nam and Indonesia are making substantial claims (which have not yet been settled). The Australian Government is showing no hostility towards Japan and has taken positive steps to help her in her international and other problems, whereas in some South- East Asian countries, such as Indonesia, there is active and continuing antagonism in many key quarters.

Dutch New Guinea 15. This brings us to the question of Dutch New Guinea, on which Japan voted this year, against Australia's wishes, for a good offices committee of the United Nations. In explaining this vote to Sir Alan Watt, Kishi said that it was Japan's policy not to 'hurt unnecessarily' the feelings of members of the Afro-Asian bloc. It would be useful if the Prime Minister could vigorously express Australia's disappointment at Japan's attitude; point out to Japan the dangers to Japan's own position of submerging its identity in the Afro-Asian bloc regardless of the merits of an issue; and point out that Japan has something to get from Australia and Western countries no less than from the Afro-Asian bloc.

1 Prepared in the Department of External Affairs. Menzies was to be in Japan from 11 to 17 April. Brown and Plimsoll travelled with his party.

2 A resolution calling for the appointment of a Good Offices Commision to assist in negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands was passed by the Political Committee of the Eleventh Session of the UN General Assembly, but failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority in the plenary meeting, Forty members, including Soviet bloc and most Afro-Asian countries, supported the resolution; twenty five, including most European countries and the 'old' British Commonwealth, opposed it. There were thirteen abstentions, including the United States and most Latin American countries.

[AA : A1838/278, 3103/10/11/2/1, i]