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186 Extracts From Record Of Conversation By Plimsoll

4th January, 1957


Uyama called at his own request. He said that the Japanese
Ambassador (Suzuki) would be leaving Australia on 18th January to
attend a meeting in Tokyo of Heads of Japanese Missions in Asia.

This meeting had originally been scheduled to be held in Ceylon,
but the site had been changed to Tokyo because of the recent
change in the Japanese Government. Uyama said that during the
meeting Suzuki would no doubt have to talk about Japan's present
and future relations with Australia and also about Australia's
policies, and in addition other matters would come up for
discussion in which Suzuki would be able to make some
contribution. Uyama said he was therefore calling on me in order
to have a general discussion which would help Suzuki prepare for
this Tokyo meeting. (Suzuki himself was absent from Canberra in

2. Uyama began then by saying that relations between Australia and
Japan had got steadily better, and a large number of differences
or points of friction that had existed between us were now cleared
away. Japan had originally been sceptical as to how far friendship
with Japan had represented a single consistent policy by Australia
as distinct from a series of separate decisions on particular
issues, but experience over a period of time had convinced Japan
that Australian policy was in fact one of developing genuine
friendship with Japan and widening our cooperation. (I am
reporting this rather more directly than Uyama stated it.) For
example, Uyama continued, the Japanese Government had noticed that
on nearly all occasions when they had asked for Australian support
for Japanese candidates in international bodies, Australia had
supported them. Australia had also been very helpful to the
Japanese delegation in New York, and the reports which the
Japanese Embassy had seen here from Kase (the Japanese
representative to the United Nations) indicated that he had
benefited greatly from, and relied a good deal on, the assistance
he had received from Dr Walker. In the trade field also a lot of
progress had been made recently, and Japan had found encouragement
in what they had found to be Australia's frame of mind. Uyama
hoped that, as the result of the recent change of government in
Japan, Japan would now be able to come closer to Australia,
particularly as the new Prime Minister (Ishibashi) had never
agreed with Kono in letting American surpluses be an obstacle to
an agreement on Australian wheat.

3. Uyama continued that other evidence of Australia's friendly
attitude to Japan had been provided by the reception given in
Australia to Mr Miki [1] and Mr Takasaki when they visited here;

no Japanese Cabinet Minister visiting a foreign country could have
received more friendly or warm treatment than Mr Takasaki received
from Mr Menzies (he mentioned the dinner in Melbourne [2]) and
from the rest of Australia. Japanese athletes at the Olympic Games
had also been very well treated; at the end of the Games they had
mentioned to the Japanese Embassy that, whereas a booklet issued
to them by the Embassy here had warned them that they might on
occasion meet some hostility from individuals as a hangover from
the war, in point of fact they had met with nothing but
friendship, and the war had not been mentioned.

4. I told Uyama that Australia also was very gratified at the
steady improvement in the relations between our two countries.

This had naturally taken time because feelings here had naturally
been rather bitter after the war. Australia had of necessity been
wary in its first dealings with Japan and had wanted evidence that
Japan was in fact sincerely embarking on policies in accord with
peace and democracy. The fact that our two countries had been able
to come so close together in so short a space of time reflected
great credit on both our countries.

5. I said that there was another aspect of Australian policy
towards Japan in addition to the one that Uyama had mentioned of
developing friendly relations between our two countries. Australia
also believed that Japan should be given a full opportunity to
develop itself and play a role within the family of free
democratic nations. For example, Australia had taken the
initiative in sponsoring Japan's admission to the Colombo Plan. We
had also worked hard to secure Japanese membership of the United

[matter omitted]

8. Referring to relations with the Communist nations, Uyama said
that this presented great difficulties for Japan which was a
neighbour of both Russia and mainland China. He did not think that
there would be any weakening in Japan's ties with the United
States. The new Foreign Minister (Kishi) was an advocate of close
relations with the United States; and though Ishibashi had been
critical of America on occasions in the past, Uyama thought that
he would be less difficult as Prime Minister. In regard to
Communist China there would be a development of trade, but Uyama
did not think there would be any question of recognition of
Peking. He said that in recent years the Communist Chinese had
invited many Japanese to visit Peking; the first Japanese visitors
had come back very enthusiastic, but subsequent visitors had been
more and more critical, and he (Uyama) wondered why the Chinese
continued to invite so many Japanese to visit China when they were
coming back so critical.

[matter omitted]

11. I said I thought that in the Far East one of the objectives of
Communist policy was undoubtedly to absorb Japan. Uyama said that
Japan did not think there was much danger of military aggression
by the Soviet Union against Japan, but that the Communists would
use other means against Japan. I said that it seemed to me that
the Communists would work steadily at subversion of Japan from
within and would try to detach Japan from its friends. The
independence of Japan, like that of Australia, lay in our
partnership with other members of the free world, and for both of
us the backing of the United States was essential. If Japan ever
came into the Communist orbit, I thought that she would cease to
have any independence worthy of her ancient traditions, and that
the Communists would try to make Japan an appendage of Russia or

12. I told Uyama that Australia attached the greatest of
importance to SEATO, which we thought had been very valuable and
had achieved a lot more than might sometimes appear from the
newspapers. The most valuable thing of course had been the
assurance which SEATO provided to the member countries that they
would have American military support if they were ever the victims
of aggression. Military co-operation under the Treaty had
proceeded very well up to date.

13. Uyama asked me whether Australia would favour Japanese
membership of SEATO. I said I had understood that Japan did not
want to be a member. He replied that this was so, since Japan
could not at present send military forces outside Japan and there
might in any case be some public opposition to Japan's undertaking
military obligations in respect of South East Asia. I said I could
see some difficulties about Japanese membership of SEATO, partly
because of objections of some countries in the region, and partly
because it would raise the question of the geographical scope of
the pact and thus would immediately raise also the questions of
China and of Chinese representation in SEATO. Australia felt that
the present pattern of military arrangements in the Pacific was
satisfactory: the United States had bilateral defence treaties
with Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Formosa, a trilateral pact
with Australia and New Zealand, and a multilateral pact with the
SEATO countries. The United States, as a common member of all
these agreements was in a position to co-ordinate defence
arrangements. Consequently, though Australia and Japan did not
have a defence agreement between them, nevertheless our defence
arrangements did dovetail through the United States.

[matter omitted]

1 Takao Miki, Minister for Transport 1954-55, visited Australia in
January 1956 during a tour of South and South-East Asia as a

special envoy of the Japanese Prime Minister.

2 A dinner party given by Suzuki on 29 November was attended by
Menzies, McBride, McEwen, Townley, Japanese Olympic delegates and
Australian and Japanese officials. A.B. Jamieson recorded that
Menzies' address was 'extremely cordial and frequently humorous in
tone. As the evening progressed the Prime Minister called on each
member of the Government present to speak and later urged the host
to have virtually everyone present say something. The atmosphere
became increasingly lively and amicable as time went by. Those who
spoke on trade expressed the hope that by understanding and
goodwill on both sides the present important negotiations would be
brought to a satisfactory conclusion.' Minute from Jamieson to
Plimsoll, 3 December, on file AA : A1838/278, 3103/10/10/2, ii.

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