184 Submission from Blakeney1 to Bowen2

Canberra, 19 April 1972


Inquiry from Japanese Embassy about Nuclear Weapons in Australia

The First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, Mr Tada,3 telephoned the Department on the morning of 18 April saying that he was conveying a request from Tokyo concerning the stationing of nuclear weapons in Australia. Mr Tada said he realised it was a delicate issue, but his Government would be grateful to know 'to the extent possible':

  1. Whether there were any United States nuclear weapons at American bases in Australia;
  2. If so, whether there was any mechanism for 'prior consultations' with Australia on the introduction of nuclear weapons.
  1. Mr Tada telephoned the same Departmental officer on the night of 18 April saying that his first question ((a) above) might better have been worded, given the sensitivity of the issue, 'Whether there were any official statements about United States nuclear weapons at American bases in Australia'.
  2. Mr Tada added that his Ambassador was anxious to take the matter up personally, if necessary, in order to receive an early reply. The Japanese Government was under quite heavy attack in the Diet on the 'prior consultations' issue.
  3. We think the Embassy's questions should be disposed of promptly at fairly junior level and without our becoming drawn into any exchange of substance which might later prove embarrassing if leaked by the Japanese authorities.
  4. We therefore propose speaking to the Japanese Embassy in the following terms and giving them an informal piece of paper purely as a means of ensuring accurate reporting as follows:
    'There are no American bases in Australia. There are only a United States naval communication station at North West Cape, a joint defence space research facility in the vicinity of Alice Springs and a joint defence space communications station at Woomera. The questions put by the Embassy therefore do not arise. The matter they raise is not an issue in Australia and the Australia Government would not wish any public comment to be made by the Japanese Government which could have the effect of linking Australia with the issue in Japan'.
    We would not be drawn into any further comment to the Embassy.
  5. The Department of Defence is informing the Minister similarly and we shall be responding to the Japanese during the course of today, 19 April.

[NAA: A1838, 919/10/5 part 35]