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278 Minute from Casey to Tange

Canberra, 16 August 1954

I think you might read the attached.

Assuming that a Cabinet accepts the Cabinet memorandum1 on our attitude towards Japan for the future, I think that this subject of their joining the Colombo Plan (in some form) might be the first thing that we might do to implement this new attitude towards Japan.

It seems to me rather like taking two bites at a cherry for the Japanese to be allowed into the Colombo Plan technical assistance side—and not the economic aid side. They would of course come in (I presume) as a donor country. I have always assumed this and it is on the basis of this that I send you this note. It would be a wholly different proposition if they hoped to be a recipient country.

If we want to get any political capital out of our being willing to allow Japan into the Colombo Plan—then I think we should even consider whether we might not even go as far as making the proposal—or at least making a warm response to such a proposal made by someone else.

In other words, I suggest that Japan's wish to get into the Colombo Plan may be a rather heaven-sent opportunity on which we might base our 'new deal' towards Japan.

You might let me have your views.2

[NAA: A1838, 2080/13]

1 The reference was to a draft Cabinet submission from Casey to Cabinet recommending that 'in handling issues involving our relations with Japan, Australia should give special attention to the need to prevent the formation of a close alliance between Japan and Communist China; and Australia should be guided by the principle of allowing Japan, through co-operation with non-communist nations, to have reasonable facilities for taking part in her own defence, for meeting her economic difficulties by expanding her export trade, and for developing her political and economic life and institutions in a way that will strengthen Japan's association with the West'.

2 On 27 August Cabinet agreed that 'if the question of Japanese association with the Colombo Plan is raised at the Colombo Plan meeting in September, 1954, Australia should support the proposal if a majority of the members including United Kingdom and United States are in favour and if Asian countries do not oppose. Cabinet contemplated that if Japan did become associated with the plan, it might be possible to link it with the outstanding problem of compensation and ex-prisoners of war'.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History