203 Statement By Menzies At Press Conference

12th April, 1957


I think it might be useful if I said a few things to you in a general way in the beginning so that you might thereafter put a few questions to me.

The first thing I ought to say to you is that I have not come up here to enter certain negotiations about trade, etc. I have come up so that the Prime Minister of Australia may pay a visit to Japan-the second visit by a Prime Minister since the war-since I was here myself in 1950. And as you are here at the northern end of the Pacific you are a very great power and we at the southern end of the Pacific and we are not a great power-but growing-I think it would be a very good thing that we should increase our personal contact. In particular, of course, I wanted to see your Prime Minister. I have had the great pleasure of meeting some of your distinguished representatives in Australia, but I thought I would like to see something of Japan more than I have seen before and to meet more of your people than I have been able to meet before. And, therefore, you will not regard this as if I was up here to negotiate some trade treaty or some specific matter. All this is being dealt with by other people in the appropriate places. But I thought it might be useful if I told you something of my point of view and that of my Government; our relations with Japan and of Japan's position after the war. After all, we have been at war with each other and wars produce, not infrequently, great bitterness and great difficulty.

I came back into office at the end of 1949 and, at that time, feelings in Australia were still, as you will understand I am sure, quite perfectly, strong and, in many cases, bitter. The point of view of my colleagues and myself have been that when a war is over these things are best put back into some perspective to let all of us learn how to live with each other, not against each other. And although I do not exaggerate the significance of a relatively small country like Australia, I think we have a part to play. We are not without influence in some other considerable nations in the world. So we decided that step by step we should aim at two things in relation to Japan. One was to help in our own fashion to restore your great country to the general community of nations; to take whatever steps we could take to help in the result that Japan would once more after the war-after the interruption caused by the war-take her place as one of the great friendly powers of the world. It is for that reason that among other things we were strong advocates for Japan's admission to the United Nations. I was able to say and do something about that myself last year when we had a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in London; a conference at which, after discussion, we all agreed that whatever influence we had should be exercised in Japan's admission to the United Nations.

I am very glad that that has been successful, because no country with your history and strength and pride wants to be treated as if it was outside the pale. And that, I think, has been a good thing.

For the same reason, Australia sponsored the admission of Japan to the list of Colombo Plan powers.

We saw in that some further opportunity of restoring what are called normal relations between the rest of the world and yourselves. We participated in the negotiations for a Peace Treaty, I am very pleased to say, without any idea of penalties or reparations but with the desire to get things back to normal as soon as possible.

There are many other aspects of the international political scene which one should talk about but, perhaps, that will illustrate our own point of view and I am happy to tell you that, progressively, we have come more and more to agree with that approach and to realise that Japan and a variety of great nations and ourselves in Australia must be able to live together in peace and, if you are to live together in peace, you must live together in friendship and mutual understanding not exaggerating points but understanding them.

On the economic side, we are perhaps in a peculiar position to talk because we, for our population, are a great trading nation.

The volume of our overseas trade is out of all proportion for the number of people we have. We are very big exporters and very big importers and in the case of Japan we export to you very much more than we import from you. I do not think anybody seriously believes that every nation which trades with another nation must strike a balance with each other. But we have, looking at your position, realised that a great trading nation like Japan has been able to pay in broad for what it buys in broad. I think it is quite inevitable that so long as we are the great wool exporting nation of the world we will export more than we buy from you. I hope you will not think that pessimistic from your point of view. But you will remember that the wool we export to you and produce in great quantity and quality is, from your point of view, the raw material for your own country, it is the same in the case of France and other European nations. We have a large export income which cannot be neatly balanced because we have great industries and we are encouraging our own industries like you are encouraging yours. But after a number of preliminary negotiations things are going along in Australia for a trade agreement and, with your kind permission, I do not need to say anything about those negotiations, because with my experience, when a politician goes many miles from home and talks about these negotiations he does more harm than good.

They are being conducted in a very friendly way on both sides.

We have, of course, apart from that matter had to consider the removal of what are called points of irritation and I am happy to tell you that most of these have been removed. We have been able to make satisfactory settlements on a variety of matters. It is true we have still a little matter of pearling, which is now under discussion, and I do not wish to say anything about it this afternoon. But it is being approached on both sides in realistic terms. We have the problem of war criminals. That has been handled in a liberal and civilised way and I have no doubt that that process will continue. I do not regard that as a problem that is going to be with us indefinitely or even for a long time.

Now what I have said to you is merely designed to establish this in your minds. We have not, in spite of what may have been the problems of ten years ago, approached the problems with Japan in a spirit of hatred or unpleasantness. On the contrary, we have made our watchword, full and friendly association.

I would, perhaps, like to add to that the point of view of my own country and my own Government, and I am sure it represents the point of view of most of the great countries in the world. It is widely realised that with your record of ingenuity and industry, industrial capacity and patriotism, you are bound to become one of the great elements in world economic and world political position, and all of us want to see that position achieved on terms which will, if not entirely remove, sensibly reduce, the chances of disagreement in the future. Australia is a young country. This is a truism, but in Australia there are many people who can remember Japan in two wars-in one of which you were our ally and with close and friendly association with our own people-in the other you were our enemy. We would like to see the state of affairs continue where our friendship continues, and continues on the footing of a common set of ideas, ideas of freedom and of Parliamentary Government; ideas of a legal system before which people are equal, in which the law possesses authority and in which all of us looking around the world at our friends, make up our minds that we will be with our friends, that we will stand together to protect the things that matter to us.

That, after all, is the broad conception of many of the things that happened in the world since the last war and, therefore, I come here without any reservations as a man with a lot of experience in political affairs and in Government and a complete Australian, to tell you in Japan, to the extent to which I can that our attitude in the Pacific is peace and friendship and that we do not contemplate that either peace or friendship can profitably continue in the Pacific unless Japan is strong, self- reliant, understands us, is understood by us and lives in a world, not an unready, a ready world, but one which is chiefly moved by friendship.

[AA : A1838/283, 3103/10/11/2/1, ii]