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277 Cablegram from Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Washington, 12 August 1954


Japan and the Colombo Plan

1. Young,1 Director North East Asian affairs, called us in with New Zealand and United Kingdom to suggest confidential exchanging of views before Ottawa meeting on Japanese association with Colombo Plan. He said Americans thought Japanese Association 'in some feasible manner' should now be considered, though they had not developed detailed position on exact nature. Exclusion of Japan from Plan constituted 'logical inconsistency' against background of generous policies pursued toward her by United States and Commonwealth and also prevented practical co-operation between Japan and South East Asia. Japanese had approached Americans on subject recently. They were not aware of present approach to us by Americans but the latter on political and economic grounds 'attached considerable importance' to achieving the 'suitable relationship'. They would like to know the views of our Governments as soon as possible. United States embassies in our capitals have been briefed and could also discuss question if desired.

2. We referred to Japanese continuing economic difficulties which seemed to stand in the way of tangible contribution and said it would seem desirable to have even at this stage clearer picture of the role envisaged for her in relation to the Plan. Had Japanese themselves gone beyond generalities on this? Reply was they had not. We and other[s]2 mentioned the importance of views of Asian members particularly reparation claimants. Americans said they had no recent information. They said they themselves did not want to appear as primary sponsors of move and attached importance to initiative from Asians.

3. Young said opportunity had been taken already to consult Canadians who themselves saw no objection to Japanese association but would wish to consider attitude of other Commonwealth countries (see paragraph 4). United Kingdom representatives expressed similar attitude and asked whether United States ideas would be met if Japan were 'brought into the technical co-operation scheme' alone at this stage. Answer was the affirmative and it was agreed that only this limited idea need be considered at present.

4. Canadians amplified to us as follows:–

In discussion with them, Americans raised the question of desirability of Japanese association on the nature of which they were not too specific but seemed clearly to exclude the idea of Japanese as recipient country and 'threw out' ideas of Japanese membership of technical co-operation council and possible observer status at Ottawa meeting. Canadians have replied that on Official level they saw no objection in principle to Japanese participation but foresaw that difficulties might be caused for other countries and did not wish to bring in issue if it proved so controversial as to threaten the effective working of the Plan.

5. It seemed plain at meeting and in subsequent private discussion with Young that the American move has:–

1. Clean cut political objective of contributing to Japanese integration in international community (during meeting state department official remarked political reason was as important as economic) and

2. A rather ill thought out economic objective, obviously linked in American minds with their anxiety about Japanese export crisis along the lines that any kind of economic cooperation between Japan and South East Asia will be mutually beneficial. In private discussion Young remarked that it might have been easier to influence Japan against undue commercial exploitation in the area if she were associated with the rest of us in the Plan. He did not develop that idea and it seems clear that American thinking on the economic side is rather woolly.

[NAA: A1838, 2080/13]

1 Kenneth T. Young.

2 Editorial insert.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
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