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107 Cablegram From Cutler to Watt

Cablegram, Wellington, 13 July 1951


Japanese Peace Treaty and Pacific Pact.

Doidge made a statement[1] in the House 8.30 a.m. Australian time today. After tracing the historical difficulties of enforcing restrictive clauses in peace treaties and mentioning that in Japan's case possible growth of Communism was a further reason for avoiding restrictive clauses, he stated that New Zealand had sought the necessary Pacific Security by initialling a tripartite Pact with the United States and Australia. He stressed that the United Kingdom Government had been kept fully informed and was in accord with the Pact. He also said that the closest co-ordination possible would be maintained in the future with the United Kingdom. He anticipated that the Pact and Treaty would be signed at the same time early in September and he informed the House that copies of both documents would be tabled and gave an assurance that an opportunity would be given Parliament to consider the Treaty and the Pact as early as possible. He made no reference to any misgivings on the part of New Zealand.

The Leader of the Opposition, Nash,[2] stated that he had not had time to consider the matters and therefore, he would like to make it clear that this was a statement to the House by the Minister of External Affairs and did not necessarily have the approval of Parliament. He further stated that every Government had the right of making a Treaty, and while he thought that Parliament may not necessarily agree with all the clauses of the Japanese Peace Treaty, nor possibly with those of the Security Pact, he nevertheless had no doubt of the wisdom in principle of the arrangement with America and Australia.

1 For the text see New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, vol. 294, pp. 318-20.

2 Walter Nash.

Casey delivered a statement about the Security Treaty in the House of Representatives on 13 July.[1] Casey summarised the series of mutual obligations accepted by the three countries under the Treaty as follows:

'(a) Under Article 2 the Parties agree to maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. This does not impose any specific level of armaments or armed forces, but is a general undertaking to maintain the strength of the defence forces available to meet armed attack. Adequate defence arrangements are of course essential if the Parties are to fulfil their obligations.

(b) The Parties will agree to consult together whenever in the opinion of any of them the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened in the Pacific. Under the Treaty there is provision for consultation in advance in order to enable possible threats to be anticipated - which means that we do not have to await an imminent attack before defensive arrangements are considered.

(c) The 'heart'of the Treaty is contained in Article 4, under which each Party recognises that 'an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety', and declares that it would 'act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes'. As in the case of the North Atlantic Treaty, on which this treaty is modelled, the precise action to be taken by each Party is not specified. Australia is not bound, and the United States could not accept an obligation, to make an immediate formal declaration of war, which under the United States Constitution is the prerogative of the Congress. But, as the United States Secretary of State has expressed it, 'our fates have been joined', and the intention is that an attack on one should be regarded as an attack on all and that all three will resist together'.

Casey stressed the importance of the establishment of a Council for putting the Treaty into effect. It would 'be so organised as to be able to meet promptly at any time in the event of any threat to the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties'. He also noted that 'the United States, by virtue of its power and resources, must continue to carry the major share of responsibility for the maintenance of security throughout the Pacific, and the fact that it has shown such constant willingness to acknowledge this responsibility must increase our sense of obligation to do all that we can to make this agreement truly reciprocal'.

1 The full text is given in Current Notes, vol. 22, 1951, pp. 401-3.

[NAA : A1838, 250/7/10, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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