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218 Cablegram from Watt to Department of External Affairs

Singapore, 8 March 1952

230. CONFIDENTIAL IMMEDIATE

Consultative Committee Meeting

1. Munro was told I believe by Dr. Benham,1 Singapore delegate to the Meeting of Officials, that he had instructions apparently from the United Kingdom to support any proposal directed towards participation of Japan in the Colombo Plan although Singapore is not to take the initiative in this connection. Reasoning behind this is that Japan has definite interest in the area and would be a potential contributor.

2. There is a distinct possibility that the Asians will suggest Japanese participation which it may be argued would have advantages of—

(a) Increasing the flow of scarce capital goods and raw materials to Colombo Plan recipients.

(b) Reducing pressure on sterling (otherwise Japanese capital goods and technical assistance will be paid for).

(c) Increasing attractiveness of Colombo Plan to recipient governments at a time when their interest in the plan may be diminishing.

3. In the circumstances such an Asian move may not be easy to oppose. However, in view of recent indication of present Australian opinion regarding Japan any move in the direction contemplated at Karachi meeting would I assume be unfortunate. Munro2 will attempt to secure clarification of United Kingdom thinking immediately on arrival in Karachi and will cable further. Pending directions to him from Canberra I have asked Munro to inform the United Kingdom representative that we will probably oppose any suggestion that Japan be associated with the Colombo Plan at this stage either as a potential donor or recipient, and that likely reaction in Australia to any idea that Japan is a source of financial assistance to South and South East Asia would be met by argument that Japan should first meet justifiable reparation claims. He will also point out that in any event it would be inappropriate to consider Japanese participation before the ratification of the Peace Treaty.

4. Assume you will send instructions to Munro direct after consultation with the Minister.

[NAA: A 1838, 3103/9/3/3]

1 Frederic Charles Courtenay Benham, adviser to Commissioner General for the United Kingdom in South East Asia.

2 D.J. Munro, Australian representative, Colombo Plan Consultative Committee, Karachi.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History