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6 Letter From Ex-Servicemen's Association To Prime Ministers

30th July, 1951


The Federal Executive of the abovenamed Association [1] have
instructed the undersigned [2] to forward the attached copy of a
policy, which we think should be adopted in regard to future
trading with Japan.

[matter omitted]


The draft of the peace treaty with Japan, which permits unlimited
re-armament and the withdrawal of Occupation forces, provides that
Allied P.O.W. will be indemnified from 'Japanese assets in neutral
countries'. A figure of 14,000,000 has been mentioned as the
total from which the claims of all Allied P.O.W. must be met.

Australia has over 16,000 ex-prisoners of the Japanese now living.

Many thousands more died in those jungle hells. When other
countries have taken their share from the 14,000,000, how much do
you think each ex-serviceman scarred physically and mentally for
life, each struggling dependent family, will have as their reward
for toil and fortitude? A few pounds-no more.

The mesh of international politics takes no account of human
wreckage. Peace treaties must be signed, and trade must be
resumed. Expediency conquers all.

We can thrust the plight of our war widows and children away from
our eyes with indecent haste; but save us from the final hypocrisy
of pretending that a pittance administered by an international
body can do what we have failed to do.

Instead, let us combine sentiment with practical realism and
Levy a duty on all items sent by the Japanese to this country.

This duty to be on a per ton or per article basis as the base
might be, and to be paid directly by the Japanese exporter on
entry of the goods into this country or on release from bond here.

The duty to remain in force for a specified period-say, three
years-and to be sufficiently heavy to provide a substantial sum,
equivalent to a good insurance policy or the present scale of
workers' compensation payment. This sum to be administered and
paid over as it accrues direct to P.O.W. families, war widows and
dependents of servicemen.

The duty should never be allowed to become a debt as between
governments-previous reparations experience shows that it would
rapidly become a mere book entry. It should remain a tax to be
paid by every Japanese firm or individual wishing to do business
with Australia, to be collected before the goods are allowed in,
and to be paid over as soon as possible.

After such a duty had run its course, we could settle down to the
task of cooperating with our former enemies, feeling that they had
at least made some material effort to expiate their crimes. [3]

1 The Thirtyniner's Association of Australia, representing all
three Services.

2 Thomas H. Parker, Honorary Federal Secretary.

3 The Department of Trade and Customs commented that the proposal
was impracticable, as most imports from Japan were essential goods
for Australian industry and building unobtainable elsewhere. A
levy would simply increase costs or deprive Australians of scarce
materials. Letter from Turner to Brown, 8 October 1951, AA :

A463/17, 56/984.

[AA : A463/17, 56/984]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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