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169 Cablegram From Stuart To Department Of Trade

21st November, 1956


Very frank and useful discussion with Yoshino, who says:

(1) All officials and Ministers, with the exception of Kono,
together with the entire Japanese press agree on necessity for
reduced United States surplus to permit valuable agreement with

(2) However, Kono opposed and his political power overwhelming at

(3) Finance Minister Ichimada has agreed to provide equivalent of
counterpart yen from the Budget, but Kono will not accept for
current reasons (see paragraph 5 my memorandum 24th July). [1]

(4) MITI Minister Ishibasbi, who is a strong opponent of United
States surplus, stayed away from the Cabinet Meeting because he is
a contender for the Prime Ministership and wished to avoid
tangling with Kono.

(5) Even if, as has been suggested, Kono leaves the Ministry of
Agriculture in the near future and becomes Secretary General,
Liberal Democratic Party, he would retain power and through a
puppet Minister retain financial interest counterpart yen.

(6) Foreign Office trying to get Mitsubishi Shoji, Daiichi Bussan,
Kanematsu and Gosho Trading Companies to bring pressure to bear on
Kono but so far only Gosho prepared to act at short notice.

Komamura, the President, Gosho, met yesterday but without success.

Further meeting this morning, result unknown.

(7) Japan can grant other Australian requests leaving wheat and
Kono as only stumbling blocks.

Yoshino depressed and said he realises that Australia might find
it impossible to understand the...power of one man.

We discussed possible compromises:

(a) I said Australia regarded wheat as decisive;

(b) Because of the nature of Japanese requests not possible to
grant part of them;

(c) Therefore compromise difficult;

(d) I suggested that the United States might be persuaded to agree
that Japan's total commercial wheat imports should be regarded as
'usual' on a 'global' basis, leaving Australia to compete with
'usual' Western wheat, Yoshino, said this had been tried last year
with cotton. It was then unacceptable to the United States and
still would be;

(e) I said we were unlikely to accept 200,000 tons F.A.Q. and in
any case could not see how Japan could fit in even that quantity
without major modification of Kono's attitude.

Yoshino said he had received a cable about our request for 'firm
allocation' of 400,000 tons F.A.Q. and 220,000 tons semi hard. He
said he had not passed this request on to other Ministers because
he considered it weakened both his and our position. He said the
greatest strength of our requests was that they did not ask for
any preferential treatment in Japanese markets. In his opinion the
'firm allocation' would be preferential because it would operate
irrespective of commercial considerations of price and quality. I
did not pursue this aspect.

Today's press reports airport statement by Takasaki [2] last
night, which includes 'I may also talk with Australian leaders
about the import of Australian wheat'.

(a) They have been working on Takasaki for some time but doubts
whether he is strong enough to stand up to Kono particularly in
view of his dark horse ambitions.

(b) He would ask Ushiba to facilitate Takasaki talks in Australia.

Yoshino said he would prefer the talks to break down on a clear
question of principle leaving the way open for later negotiations
rather than have a 'messy compromise which was not really
satisfactory to either side'. If there was to be a breakdown he
said it was essential that it should happen in such a way that the
whole responsibility rested squarely on Kono and that the Japanese
public knew it. He gave me the impression of a very unhappy man
talking completely honestly.

I said that, if all that he had said was true, then it seemed to
me that:

(a) Kono had to be brought to heel;

(b) Only the trading and commercial interests could do it;

(c) This would take some time.

I therefore suggested that the best course might be to adjourn the
discussions for a couple of months. The Japanese Delegation and
Takasaki could come back to assist the mobilisation of trading
pressure on Kono. The initiative for the adjournment would have to
come from the Japanese side which, I suggested, would say that it
needed time to consult its Government. Everyone's face would be
saved. Yoshino was most attracted and almost went so far as to say
that Japan would adopt the suggestion.

This would pose some tactical difficulties for Japan because of
the inadequacy of the present wool allocations which are currently
being treated illegally at around 45% premium. If adjournment ran
well into the first quarter of 1957, Japan might have to increase
allocations 'unilaterally' or suffer serious internal

Both in relation to the present talks and the whole of our future
relations with Japan, I strongly recommend against any course, the
objective effect of which is that Kono alone has taken us for a

1 The memorandum has not been found. Presumably the word 'current'
should read 'currency'; the reference is to the local use of
proceeds of US surplus arrangements (see PL480 in Glossary).

2 Tatsunosuke Takasaki, Director of the Economic Planning Board,
was to lead a Japanese delegation to a Colombo Plan conference in
New Zealand, travelling via Australia. He was expected to reach
Sydney on 29 November, and leave on 1 December.

[AA : A1838/283, 759/1/7, iv]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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