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227 Cablegram From Watt To Department Of External Affairs

12th July, 1957



Trade Agreement.

We feel in some difficulty in relation to other diplomatic
Missions-especially the Old Commonwealth-in answering questions on
the trade agreement. The Japanese press published the text of the
main agreement but naturally could not publish in any detail the
text of public minutes. However, the press referred to certain
figures contained in the above minutes, which were not
incorporated in the main agreement without indicating the source.

This led some Missions to seek information about 'other documents'
and in one case to refer to the possibility of 'secret documents'.

We are endeavouring to remedy the situation as far as practicable
by distributing quickly to the Old Commonwealth and some other
Missions mimeographed copies of the main agreement and public

2. I discussed briefly with Mr McEwen yesterday the above problem
and also the question whether information regarding confidential
minutes was at any stage to be given to Old Commonwealth
countries. I pointed out the necessity for exactly similar action
in Canberra and Tokyo to avoid complications in our general
relationships with the Missions concerned. I understood from the
Minister that no action is being taken in Canberra (nor I assume
in London, Washington or Ottawa) to communicate the text or
substance of confidential agreed minutes. In these circumstances
we in Tokyo are making no mention anywhere of confidential agreed

3. I pointed out to Mr McEwen that the Japanese Foreign Office and
other Departments are notoriously insecure and mentioned the
possibility that the United States, Old Commonwealth or other
Missions might well learn from Japanese sources of the existence
of confidential agreed minutes. If so, Old Commonwealth relations
with Australia whether in Canberra or at relevant overseas
missions could be prejudiced in some degree. Mr McEwen, while not
minimising the risk, felt we had to rely upon Japanese, whose
self-interest should make them take care not to disclose the
existence of confidential minutes.

4. Would appreciate cabled confirmation that Old Commonwealth
Missions in Canberra have been given information only regarding
the main agreement and the public minutes. [1] Would also
appreciate any comments on above.

[AA : A1838/280, 3103/10/2, v]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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