24 Note Verbale From Japanese Foreign Ministry

12th May, 1953


No. 124/E4 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs presents its compliments to the Australian Embassy in Japan and, with reference to the Ministry's Note Verbale No. 417/E4 dated 17th November 1952 [1], and the Memorandum of the Japanese Embassy in Australia presented to the Australian Department of External Affairs on the date of the 27th March, 1953 [2], has the honour to refer to the current restrictions imposed by the Australian Government on imports of Japanese goods into Australia.

Since its resumption after the war, the trade between Japan and Australia had been steadily expanding to the mutual benefit until the imposition of import restrictions by the Australian Government on Japanese goods in March last year. However, Japan's exports to Australia have since been contracting and during the second half of 1952 they amounted in value to only one tenth of her imports from Australia.

In this connection, the Ministry understands that, in consequence of the talks which have been conducted with a view to finding ways and means to expand flow of trade between Japan and the Sterling Area, the United Kingdom Government have recommended to their Colonial Governments to relax to certain extent the latters' current import restrictions on Japanese goods and also have informed it to the countries of the Commonwealth. With high hope, the Ministry naturally expects the Australian steps towards similar liberalization in due course of time.

In expressing the above hope, the Ministry would like to point out that in sharp contrast with a marked improvement in recent months of the overall balance of payments on the Australian part, Japan's sterling holdings have been deteriorating since last fall, thus forcing her, unless this downward tendency be expeditiously arrested, to taper off her imports from the Sterling Area. In addition, the attention of the Australian Government is also invited to the fact that, in spite of Japan's having shelved the dollar clause at the time of conclusion of the current Sterling Payments Agreement in 1951, Japan has been and still is singled out by the Australian authorities as a hard source together with the dollar area. The Ministry feels unable to see as to why Japan should not be entitled to be accorded at least the same treatment in respect of the Australian import licensing as other soft currency countries.

In the light of the above, the Ministry has the honour herewith to propose to the Australian Government to start as soon as practicable an informal talk between representatives of both Governments, with a view to improving trade relations between the two countries and, in particular, to discussing the points as raised in this note. It is suggested in this regard that in consideration of the fisheries negotiation now being undertaken in Canberra [3], the talk will be held in Tokyo at the earliest time convenient to the Australian party.

1 Presumably Document 17.

2 See note 2 to Document 22.

3 A conference to negotiate an agreement with Japan on fisheries in waters adjacent to Australia opened on 13 April. In order to facilitate negotiations, the Japanese Government had agreed to delay sailing of the Japanese pearl fishing fleet intended to operate in the Arafura Sea.

[AA : A609/1, 555/120/4, i]