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187 Cablegram From Watt To Department Of External Affairs

7th January, 1957



Foreign Minister Kishi summoned me today for first formal
interview. He referred to his assumption of office and desire to
maintain contact and friendly relationships. He expressed thanks
for Australian support for Japan's admission to the United Nations
and for Australian action last year in speeding up the release of
war criminals. He mentioned the Prime Minister's proposed visit
last year and its inevitable postponement [1] and expressed the
hope that the visit would take place this year. Such personal
contacts were, he believed, useful. Takasaki had told him of the
valuable contacts and conversations he had had while in Australia
recently. In speaking of war criminals he made one reference to
the 'shadow' of the war and implied that was a past stage to which
had succeeded brighter and happier relationships.

2. I thanked the Minister for the opportunity of personal contact
so soon after his assumption of office and expressed hope he would
not hesitate to call me in at any time for frank discussions of
difficulties which inevitably arose even between friendly
countries. I assured him it was the policy of the Australian
Government to improve relationships with Japan as far as
practicable, taking into account that Australian public opinion
was somewhat sensitive on some matters, for instance, war
criminals. I added that Australia had gladly supported Japan's
entry to the United Nations and only regretted the unjustifiable
delay caused by the Soviet Union. As regards personal contacts, I
mentioned Mr Casey's strong views on the value of these. At this
point Kishi intervened to say the visit to Japan of Mr Casey, as
well as by the Prime Minister, would be welcomed. Finally, I
referred briefly to the special attention given to Australian
relationships with Asian countries since the present Government
came to office. I described the opening and strengthening of
diplomatic posts in Asia and referred to the Colombo Plan,
stressing the significance of the number of Asian students now
studying in Australia. I concluded by expressing hope that Japan
and Australia in their common interests, could and would co-
operate in solving the many difficult international problems with
which the world is faced.

3. Kishi spoke throughout in Japanese which was interpreted by
official protocol section. Nevertheless I had a strong impression
he understood at least the substance of my replies before they
were translated. He impressed me as a person of ability, who knows
what he wants to do and say. He was very much in charge of the
interview and raised specific topics from notes. He seemed at ease
throughout the discussion and I suspect his use of Japanese was
due to the understandable desire to play safe at first interviews
with Heads of Missions until he knows them better. He responded
favourably to my reference to desirability of frank discussions,
without worrying about protocol. As I judged he had other
interviews to follow I felt it unwise to raise particular topics,
but think he showed some interest in my general reference to the
development of our representation in Asia and the reasons

[matter omitted]

1 See note 2 to Document 144.

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