Skip to main content

Historical documents

107 Cablegram From Walker To Department Of External Affairs

29th July, 1955


223. Your 204.

Japan and G.A.T.T.

Chadwick the British Economic Counsellor spoke on the telephone to
Yukawa about his reported statement.[1] According to Yukawa he had
answered questions in the Diet Foreign Affairs Committee which was
considering the bill for accession to G.A.T.T. and which wished to
know what steps could be taken by Japan against discriminatory
treatment on the part of those G.A.T.T. members that invoked
Article 35. After the Diet Committee he had been approached by the
press and had held a press conference on which he repeated the
substance of the replies he had given to the Diet Committee. His
statement was therefore intended for home consumption.

2. There is little doubt of the attitude that the Government is
likely to adopt. Yukawa explained to Chadwick that when Japan is
admitted to G.A.T.T. she will apply the tariff rates agreed at
Geneva to all contracting parties except those who invoke Article
35 and to the latter Japan will continue to apply the existing
tariff rates. Consequently there will be in effect a double column
tariff. In addition there is the possibility so far as the present
tariff law is concerned of establishing even a third column of
still higher duties against countries that discriminate against
Japanese goods. Yukawa agreed that Japan must continue most-
favoured-nation treatment to the United Kingdom until April, 1956,
but said that after that date Japan would be free to apply
discrimination if circumstances warranted such a policy.

3. I have not thought it expedient to approach Yukawa myself
unless instructions are received to do so.

1 Cablegram 220 from Tokyo on 27 July reported a press conference
at which Morio Yukawa, Director of the Economic Bureau of the
Japanese Foreign Ministry, predicted retaliation including higher
tariffs and tougher trade negotiations against countries invoking
Article XXXV. On file AA : A462/20, 602/2, iv.

Canberra, 5 August 1955

Trade with Japan
Attached is a record of conversation with the Japanese Ambassador
on 4th August together with the aide memoire referred to therein.

Although we were careful not to make a commitment to commence
trade talks on 23rd August, we consider that every effort should
be made to commence the talks then or very shortly thereafter.

With this in view it is suggested that there should be a meeting
of Departments concerned next week to discuss such questions as
what Australia would seek in bilateral trade talks, what we could
agree to do for Japan and what Ministerial guidance would be
necessary before talks commenced. We would be glad, if generally
desired, to arrange for these interdepartmental discussions to be
held in the Department of External Affairs.

Copies of this memorandum have been sent to the Departments of
Commerce and Agriculture, Trade and Customs, National Development,
Prime Minister's and the Treasury.

4 August 1955
OFFICERS PRESENT Mr Patrick Shaw; Mr G. N. Upton

Trade Talks With Japan
Mr Suzuki handed over an aide memoire (copy attached) [1] to the
effect that Japan wished to commence informal trade talks as
suggested by Australia, in Canberra, around 23rd August, 1955.

Mr Shaw said that he would bring this proposal to the attention of
Departments concerned without delay. He thought there might be
some difficulty in commencing talks that week as the Budget would
probably be brought down then and some of the officials most
concerned might not be available. However, he hoped that
arrangements could be made to commence the talks shortly
thereafter. Mr Suzuki said that a week or so later than the date
proposed would be satisfactory.

Mr Shaw enquired whether Japan had any specific problems to raise.

Mr Suzuki said there would be a number of questions but he had not
yet received final instructions. Tariffs and the establishment of
Japanese business branches in Australia would probably be
included. He said that it was not proposed to bring officials from
Japan for the talks.

Accession of Japan to GATT
Mr Suzuki referred to recent conversations Mr Kakitsubo had had on
this matter with Mr Shaw and Mr Plimsoll [2] and said that Japan
hoped Australia would vote in favour of the decision without
reservation. He especially emphasised that the Japan Government
would be grateful for our announcement being delayed until 10th
September or as long as possible if we decided to invoke Article
XXXV. In making this request he referred to New Zealand's
agreement to delay an announcement as long as circumstances

permitted and the suggestion of the Executive Secretary of GATT
that Governments should not state their individual positions until
10th September.

Mr Shaw said that Mr Suzuki's representations on these points
could be brought to the attention of the Minister and that the
Minister would advise him on 10th August of the Australian
Government's decisions. He said that Australia was anxious to help
Japan to trade with countries of the Western world. On the
question of delaying a possible Australian announcement about our
position, Mr Shaw said that there were strong domestic pressures
which had to be taken into account. It was likely that the
Government would be under pressure to announce its position as
soon as it became known that Japan had been admitted to GATT.

[AA : A1838/283, 759/1/7, ii]

1 Not published.

2 See Document 104. Kakitsubo also saw Plimsoll on 21 July, and
Shaw on 28 July. Shaw asked whether the statement by Yukawa (see
Document 107) should be taken as an official Japanese Government
statement, whereupon Kakitsubo replied that whatever had been said
was to be regarded in the context of cross-questioning by a Diet
committee. Records of both conversations are on file AA : A462/20,
602/2, iv.

[AA : A1838/283, 759/1/7, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top