55 Record Of Conversation By Plimsoll

12th March, 1954

After a discussion of Japanese fishing (which is the subject of a separate report) the Secretary raised with Mr Nishi the question of trade with Japan.

2. Mr Tange referred to the conversation which Mr Casey had had with Mr Nishi on 19 February, in which Mr Casey had pointed out that this was not an appropriate time to discuss contentious matters relating to Japan. [1] Mr Tange said that the Australian Government had been carefully examining an earlier memorandum of the Japanese Government on trade and we would be in a position next week to offer some comments on it, mainly of an explanatory nature and designed to clear up some of the points of facts on which Japan had showed an interest. Australia did not propose however to reply at this stage to the Japanese note because we felt that it was not yet a suitable time for our discussions to take up matters of policy and harden into attitudes on either side. Mr Tange said that the Department would be happy to have talks with Mr Kakitsubo possibly in the coming week along the lines he had suggested.

3. Mr Tange then referred to reports that Mr Kitahara of the Economic Division of the Japanese Foreign Office was coming to Australia and New Zealand to talk about trade. Mr Nishi said that Mr Kitahara was really going to New Zealand and would be passing through Australia. However, he would visit Canberra so that he could also have some talks with Australian government officials.

Mr Kitahara was principally interested in two matters: (a) programming by Japan to take account of the likely Australian action to follow the recent Japanese sterling agreement with the United Kingdom; and (b) the principles to be adopted by Australia in carrying out licensing procedures. If Australia did not want to have official talks, Japan would be quite agreeable to unofficial talks. Mr Kakitsubo said that if necessary there could merely be an informal party in his home to which some Australian officials could come. Mr Tange said that he did not think that would be wise or acceptable. The best thing would be for Mr Kitahara not to pass through Australia at all; if he did come to Australia it would be best for him not to come to Canberra but to stay in Sydney. The Japanese might well find that some of the points Mr Kitahara was interested in would be covered by the official talks here with the Japanese embassy which were referred to above (para. 1). Mr Nishi replied that in any case Mr Kitahara had to come to Canberra to see the Japanese Embassy and that Australia could not prevent that. He (Mr Nishi) would be prepared to issue a statement saying that Mr Kitahara had come to Australia solely to see the Embassy and that he would not be having any talks with Australian Government officials. Mr Nishi undertook to advise Mr Kitahara to make a statement along those lines if the press raised the purpose of his visit.

1 See Document 52.

[CP553/1/1, 194/B/10/35]