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99 Record Of Conversation By Shaw [1]

5th April, 1955


Trade Talks Between Australia and Japan
The Japanese Ambassador called at our request.

He was handed a Note, dated 5th April, 1955 [2], suggesting that
'there would be mutual advantages in arranging informal and purely
exploratory talks between the Embassy and Australian officials
representing the Departments primarily concerned'.

After his appointment had been arranged but before the Ambassador
had called, the First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, Mr
Yamamoto, conveyed the impression to Mr Critchley of this
Department that the Japanese hoped that we would not give them a
formal note requesting trade talks. Further contact with Yamamoto
since the event has confirmed our belief that the Japanese are
happy with the suggestion for informal talks but would have been
embarrassed by a more formal request which would have had to be
circulated more widely within the Japanese Government.

Mr Nishi's first reaction was to refer to Japan's wish to become a
Contracting Party to G.A.T.T. It seems clear that, in any
discussions which take place, this question of Japanese membership
and probably the related questions of applying G.A.T.T. as between
Australia and Japan and conducting tariff negotiations between
Australia and Japan will be uppermost in the minds of the

Our response to Mr Nishi's query about the Australian attitude to
G.A.T.T. was:-

(i) that the Australian Government would have to consider the
Report of the Delegation to the G.A.T.T. Review Conference before
the future Australian attitude to G.A.T.T. was determined and that
this consideration would probably take some time;

(ii) that the question of Japan's accession would not come up
until later this year and the Government's attitude would be
decided then.

Although these considerations were turned over by Mr Nishi for
some time, he did not press them unduly. Finally after some
deliberation, the Ambassador said that he welcomed our suggestion
for informal talks.

We explained to Mr Nishi that the Note deliberately did not
attempt to set down topics to be discussed since we felt that the
way should be left clear for the introduction of any topics from
either side. We explained too that we had in mind that the talks
should reveal the ground that might possibly be covered in more
formal talks later, if they seemed appropriate, and that we did
not contemplate that any commitments by either Government would
emerge from these informal talks. Finally, we suggested that the
talks might be conducted between members of the Embassy staff and
officers of the Departments concerned and that we contemplated no
formal dispatch of a Japanese delegation to Australia.

The Ambassador accepted these points. He said that he might wish
to visit Tokyo before the talks commenced. In any event, and
especially since many of the relevant Japanese officials were
engaged in tariff negotiations in Geneva, he would probably not be
able to get instructions to enable the talks to commence
immediately. We agreed that, particularly because of Australian-
German trade talks which would occupy much the same Australian
officials, we could not ourselves start talks immediately and in
fact would not be ready until early May. Mr Nishi seemed content
with this.

The Ambassador particularly asked that the informal talks be
regarded as strictly confidential and that there be no
announcement and no leakage either to the effect that talks were
being held or what their content might be. We agreed that this
should be.

The Ambassador will presumably get in touch with us again as soon
as he has had an opportunity to consult his Government.

1 Dr J.W.C. Cumes, Acting Head, Economic Relations Branch, DEA,
was also present.

2 Document 98.

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