225 Memorandum From Eckersley To Department Of External Affairs
10th July, 1957
Japan-Australia Trade Agreement-Press Reaction 1. In my telegram No.220 of 8th July I gave you an outline of the Japanese press reactions to the Japan-Australia trade Agreement.
This reaction was more important than that given to any issue in Japan-Australia relations in recent years. This fact must be viewed against the background that publicity given to Australia has been gradually increasing in the post-war years until a peak was reached about the time of the Olympic Games, when the publicity given was not only to the Games themselves but to things Australian as a whole. A renewed impetus to publicity on Australia was given by the Prime Minister's visit but nothing in recent years has drawn such solid attention as the signing of the Trade Agreement. All the leading Tokyo newspapers of the evening of 6th July, gave their lead space to a write-up of the signing ceremony in which most of them included the main provisions of the Agreement. All of them headlined the mutual granting of most- favoured-nation treatment or the mutual abolition of import restrictions. (The granting of most-favoured-nation treatment to Japan has, of course, political and psychological significance not measurable, as in trade, in terms of money. The removal of discrimination is the removal of a thorn which has troubled the Japanese almost since the time when they first came into contact with the West). Not only did the leading newspapers give the new Trade Agreement their lead space, but most of them published favourable editorials upon it in their Sunday editions.
10. The overall impression which one gains from the commentary upon the Treaty is highly favourable, the outstanding feature being the degree of unanimity in the editorial comment upon the need for Japanese exporters to exercise restraint, which is, at the same time, a tribute to the success of our Minister for Trade's visit and the degree of understanding with press and trade circles achieved by the Japanese Foreign Office. It is regrettable that some commentators have seen in the re-orientation of our trade policy signs of a complete re-appraisal of our situation, but that was inevitable in the circumstances. It is also regrettable, but perhaps inevitable, that some of those Japanese who supported or connived at extremist policies in the thirties which made it difficult for Commonwealth countries to grant similar concessions at that time, should now be able to climb on the band-wagon and attempt to claim some of the credit for the agreement which has been reached.