102 Record Of Conversation By Shaw

22nd May, 1955


Japanese-Australian Trade Relations I told Mr Nishi that I was not sure what he had meant in a recent talk with the Secretary when he said that the Japanese Government strongly desired an opportunity of having trade talks before the Australian Government decided its policy towards Japan and the G.A.T.T. I said that I had had the firm impression from Yamamoto a couple of weeks ago that the Japanese Government did not wish to press on with the proposed informal trade talks immediately. [1]

Nishi said that a month or so ago he had hoped to have had the opportunity to take to Tokyo some ideas and proposals which might have been presented to the Australian Government at the informal trade talks which we had suggested. This timetable had been interrupted by his reassignment to London. He now proposes to take to Tokyo this week his suggestions for the basis of a Japanese approach to Australia. He hopes that this will be considered in Tokyo next week and that they would then be put to us either by the Embassy in Canberra or by trade officials who might be spared to come from Japan for the informal talks. Nishi feared that in the course of parliamentary discussion on G.A.T.T. the Australian Government may be constrained to make a decision about Japanese participation in G.A.T.T. before such a decision was really necessary. He said he understood our reluctance to apply the G.A.T.T. to Japan. He felt also that assurances could be given in Japan to allay our fears about possible Japanese dumping.

I told Nishi that the question of Australia's adherence to the revised G.A.T.T. would probably come before Parliament within the next week or two in the form of a White Paper. I was not sure whether or not there would be a parliamentary debate on the question of Japan and G.A.T.T. I said that I hoped that the Government would not feel it necessary to make any mention of our difficulties in this regard but no one could guarantee that the matter would not be raised by some Member of Parliament which would call for some statement of Government policy. However, I said that I would bring his concern to the attention of the Government Departments most concerned, with the hope that a public discussion about Australia's attitude towards Japan and G.A.T.T.

should be postponed as long as possible. I said that we would like to help Japan in this as, in any case, the decision did not have to be taken for a couple of months yet.

Nishi spoke again of the great importance which he and his Government attached to reaching some agreement on trade with Australia. He said that his Government and commercial interests appreciated what we had done to help Japanese imports over the past six months within the framework of existing policy. What they wanted, however, was an over-all assurance that Japanese trade was being treated in a nondiscriminatory way as a whole. He regretted that he would have to leave Australia before achieving one of his main objectives which was an Australian-Japanese trade agreement.

1 On 5 May Yamamoto told Shaw the Japanese Embassy was not pressing for early talks and suggested that Nishi would wish to return to Tokyo for consultations first.

[AA : A1838/278, 3103/10/2, iii]