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137 Letter From Casey To Menzies [1]

24th May, 1956



The Japanese Ambassador, Mr Suzuki, called on me last week and
asked if I would suggest to you that the Prime Ministers'
Conference in London might consider the question of the admission
of Japan into the United Nations. I understand he spoke to you
recently along the same lines.

I think there is considerable merit in Suzuki's suggestion. Japan
has been trying to get into the United Nations for almost four
years, but has been continually blocked by the Soviet veto. The
failure of the 'package deal' proposals last December, when Japan
was bracketed with Outer Mongolia, deeply hurt the Japanese.

Whilst it was generally conceded in Japan that the blame for
Japan's failure to gain admission rested squarely with the
U.S.S.R. and Nationalist China, there appeared to be a fairly
strong local feeling that the United States and the other free
nations, with whom Japan is committed, had not supported Japan's
case as strongly as they might. Japan feels most keenly her
present situation as a second-rate power and an unequal partner in
the Western bloc. Admission to the United Nations would restore to
the Japanese a great deal of lost national pride and would, I
think, tend to tighten the ties at present linking her to the
West. Continued failure to gain admission would appear, on the
other hand, to have the dangerous effect of forcing the Japanese,
in their frustration, to look elsewhere for a means of national
reassertion and would encourage, at the best, a drift towards
neutralism or, at the worst, increased flirtation with the
Communist bloc.

Australia has consistently supported Japan's admission to the
United Nations and will continue to do so. During my speech to the
last General Assembly, I went out of my way to stress that
Australia wholeheartedly supported Japan's candidature and would
do everything possible to ensure Japan gained early admission. Dr
Walker spoke similarly before the Security Council last February.

I understand that both statements were very well received in Japan
and given most favourable publicity.

Whilst nobody, least of all the Japanese themselves, has yet hit
on a solution to the present impasse over Japanese membership, I
do feel that it is a subject which might well be canvassed with
the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers. You might also consider
making special reference to this question in statements you might
make during your stay in Japan.

All of the above assumes, of course, that Russia and Japan will
not reach a solution to their problem of a termination of the
existing state of war over the next month or so. A restoration of
normal relations must inevitably carry with it the Soviet
Government's support for Japan's admission to the United Nations.

I have no reason to believe that a solution to this problem is
probable in the near future, but the Russians do appear to have
manoeuvred the Japanese into a position where it will require
considerable political strength by the Japanese Government to
resist Soviet demands for very much longer.

I would also like to mention briefly here one or two of the more
important issues in Australian-Japanese relations which are
certain to be raised with you while you are visiting Japan. They
are pearl fisheries, trade, admission of Japanese into Australia,
war criminals and telecommunications.

On pearl fisheries, the position at present is that the Japanese
are awaiting our comments on their latest draft of a Special
Agreement for referring the dispute to the International Court of
Justice. You will, of course, recall that Cabinet on 21st May
authorised you to sound out the Japanese on the possibility of an
arrangement for five years or more on pearling operations which
might avoid the reference of the dispute to the International
Court. There is little to be said about the Provisional Regime,
under which the Japanese pearlers can fish for pearl-shell pending
the International Court's decision. The Japanese will claim that
we have been somewhat unreasonable in our arrangements under the
Regime. Your only reply can be that we have been most reasonable
and have endeavoured to permit the Japanese the maximum possible
catch consonant with conservation requirements.

You will be fully aware of the difficulties surrounding our trade
relations with Japan, and the fact that Japan is one of our most
valuable export markets, which we cannot afford to lose. The
recent decision of Cabinet to commence negotiations [2] which will
have the effect of removing some of the more serious
discriminations against Japanese imports into Australia should go
a long way to satisfying the Japanese. As far as the entry of
Japanese into Australia is concerned, our decision last December
correcting many of the anomalies which had applied to Japanese
nationals since 1952 was a considerable step forward, well
received by the Japanese. They are still pressing for a further
liberalisation of restrictions, including permission to establish
business agencies and branch offices of companies in Australia.

This matter is receiving consideration by the Minister for
Immigration and a decision should be available soon.

Cabinet's recent decision on war criminals should enable us to
release most of the remaining 100-odd prisoners by the end of this
year. [3] The Japanese, however, can be expected to continue their
representations until the last war criminal is released. You will
almost certainly be petitioned for a general amnesty for the
remaining war criminals. I would suggest you simply state that,
whilst an amnesty is not possible, the Australian authorities
concerned will continue to carefully examine all recommendations
on war criminals from the Japanese Government and take whatever
action is appropriate. You could perhaps mention the number of war
criminals Australia has released on parole since September, 1955,
which will be available from the Embassy.

Telecommunications between Australia and Japan has been a minor
issue recently given some prominence. The Japanese Government
wishes to establish a direct circuit between Japan and Australia
instead of the present circuit through Singapore and Hong Kong.

Our telecommunications authorities have denied the need for a
direct circuit on the grounds that present arrangements are more
than adequate. I understand the real issue is one of revenue-under
the present arrangements all revenue goes to our Overseas
Telecommunications Commission whereas, if a direct circuit was
established, the revenue would be shared with Japan. It is just
conceivable that this question may be raised with you. All you
could say is that you understand it is in the hands of the
Australian and Japanese experts.

1 Menzies was about to leave for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers'
Conference in London. He planned to return home via North America
and Japan.

2 Document 135.

3 In order to hasten the rate of release of minor war criminals
Cabinet had decided, on 18 May (Decision 197), that Japanese war
criminals should be eligible for parole after serving one-third of
their sentence or a maximum of ten years imprisonment.

[AA : A1838/278, 3103/10/1, iv]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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