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Wednesday, 27 February 1952


Mr RYAN (Flinders) .- Any peace treaty is of the greatest moment to any country participating in it, and this treaty is of the very greatest importance to Australia. It must be approached in a spirit of great responsibility. Honorable members opposite who have spoken in this debate, including the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), should at least have acquainted themselves with the facts of the matter bef ore they gave expression to their views in such unrestrained terms. The honorable member for Port Adelaide said that Australia had to sign this treaty on the dotted line. Nothing is further from the truth. There were lengthy consultations between all the governments concerned, and the fact that Australia did not get all that it wanted is surely not very astonishing when it is remembered that ours is only one of the nations involved and indeed is one of the smaller nations.


Mr CALWELL (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - What did Australia' get?


Mr RYAN - Australia got reparations of some importance. During the last 150 years there have been many wars and many peace trea ties. When one considers the treaties that have been signed one must admit that most of them were bad treaties. Most of the bad treaties were based on principles which, as I understand the matter, have been put forward to-day by honorable members opposite. Those principles, understandable as they are, spring from two sources : First, the short-sightedness of the ordinary human mind and, secondly, the failure to learn from the teaching of history.

There are powerful arguments for and against this treaty. On the one hand it has been said that it will turn out to be a disaster for the democratic world. On the other hand it has been said that it will turn out' to be a big step forward by the Allies in their world-wide struggle against Russian communism. The first viewpoint is advanced by people whose minds have been influenced by recent happenings, and the second by those who have some vision of what might take place in the future and who want to do the best that they can for Australia. Our attitude towards the Japanese people has been caused by two things. The first is the fear that we may again become a victim of an aggressive, war-like, efficient Japan which is ten times as strong as we are. Having a vivid memory of how close we were only ten years ago to being overrun by the Japanese, that state of mind is understandable. I know also that our generation is living in a troubled world - a world of wars and economic depressions, atom bombs and intellectual conflicts, lt is only natural that it is the desire of all of us to attain some sort of security, physical and economic. Therefore, I understand the fear that is in our minds.

The second emotion that has influenced us is hatred, not of the Japanese people, but of the Japanese inhumanities and brutalities during the war. I do not need to remind honorable members of the atrocities associated with the construction of the Burma-Thailand Railway, the hardships and murders in the Japanese prisoner of war camps, and the many individual cases of atrocities. But I also remind the House of another part of the world - -Germany. I find it hard to assess which of German and Japanese atrocities were worse. All that I know is that in Japan and Asia our prisoners of war were treated with inhuman brutality, but that that treatment was largely caused by individuals. On the other hand there was mass slaughter of human beings by Germany in Poland and other countries At Ausschlitz 2,500,000 people were killed. We remember the atrocities at Belsen and the massacre of Lidice. When I put all those things in the balance against the Japanese atrocities I find it hard to determine which weighs down the scales. However, I do know that on the other side of the world Germany is being taken back into the comity of nations on an equal footing. Those Western European nations are not akin to children who quarrel and then kiss and make up, they have national hatreds that go back far into the past. Their memories of national wrongs are very long and it is impossible to wipe out the injustices of past years.

What is taking place to-day in Western Europe has been caused by stern necessity. Over Western Europe lies the shadow of the immense power of Soviet Russia. That shadow is spreading over all demo.ratic nations. People in power have realized that there can be no strength in Western Europe unless Germany is strong. They also know that there can be no stability in Europe, either political or economic, unless there is a powerful and stable Germany. For that reason, and for that reason alone, they have taken Germany back into the comity of democratic nations. The same thing should apply in the Pacific. I cannot visualize a stable Eastern Asia or a stable South-Western Pacific without a stable Japan. Surely we must try to work for stability in those areas. I know that the emotions that we feel in this country are the same emotions that have been felt in other nations that have been the subject of aggression during past ages, and I understand it. But emotions are not safe ground on which to build a really stable structure.

In the course of this debate a number of speeches has been made in opposition to this treaty. I want to deal with only two or three of them because that is all that my time will allow me to cover. One of the main points raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and supported by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) was a legal point, and a point that one might expect from the Leader of the Opposition. His argument was that binding agreements had been signed in the past, in particular the agreement at Potsdam and the decision of the Far Eastern Commission. It is astonishing to discover that the Leader of the Opposition, who has had extensive experience in external affairs and who has borne in the past and bears still a great responsibility, should have forgotten or should have refrained from mentioning that both those agreements when signed and made public were also made the subject of certain conditions. Consider the Potsdam Agreement, which did not affect Australia-


Mr Haylen - We were signatories to the Potsdam Agreement.


Mr RYAN - That agreement was made between three great powers, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) should well know. President Roosevelt specifically said that that agreement was subject to any further negotiation that might take place when the peace treaty was being concluded.

I now turn to something closer to us, the Far Eastern Commission, of which Australia is still a member. When the decisions of that commission were made public our Ambassador to America, Mr. Makin, released a statement to the press for the whole world to read. That statement indicated that decisions made by that commission were subject, and without prejudice, to any negotiations that might take place in respect of the final peace treaty. The Leaders of the Opposition did not see fit to make those facts known to the public or to the House.

In the course of an interesting speech the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) appealed to the emotions and made statements which in my opinion were highly dubious. He spoke of the probable resurgence of the military spirit in Japan. That is his opinion. I point out to him that the resurgence of Japan would be a long process. He was in Japan when I was there and we spoke to many people. A very large section of the Japanese is not now militaristic, and if any resurgence takes place it will not be in the near future. In order to support his argument, the honorable member for Parkes went on to talk about the Zaibatsu. He should know that the Zaibatsu was broken to pieces, not horizontally hut vertically, by the removal of some of its branches of business. The honorable member suggested that the re-emergence of the Zaibatsu would be brought about by big money interests and cited as an example of immunity from attack I. G. Farben Industries in Germany. He said that it was a curious thing that those big industries were not destroyed in World War I. and that obviously they escaped because big industrial interests did not want them to be destroyed. The honorable gentleman should know that the big factories of that group were situated at Cologne and Frankfurt and were 200 miles behind the front line until the closing stages of World War I. Not until then did the Allies have bombers with a sufficient range to reach Cologne or Frankfurt. Only two or three reached Frankfurt and Cologne and there is no sinister inference to be drawn from the fact that neither of those establishments was destroyed. The position of the factories in Japan was very similar and they were not destroyed until the final stage of the war.

The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) gave some interesting facts to the House, but I believe that the inferences that he drew were wrong. Contrary to my point of view and that of many others, he said that the short-term problem which faced us was the early settlement of the matter of rearming Japan. He suggested that if Japan were rearmed it would probably encompass our downfall. The rearmament of a country must necessarily extend over many years. Japan was producing armaments over a period of from 30 to 35 years before the last war and even though Japanese industries worked at full speed for the last ten years with large resources of iron and coal, Japan was even then not entirely satisfied about its strength. Now Japan is bereft of supplies of raw material and plant and of technical personnel. How can Japan occupy a position of great strength in a military sense in the next fifteen or twenty years?


Mr DOWNER (ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - But Japan will do so.


Mr RYAN - Facts are undeniable. Germany cannot raise more than twelve divisions in two years and then only with the help of the United States of America and the supply of heavy armaments from outside, and honorable members will not deny that Germany's industrial knowledge is better than that of Japan.

The honorable member for Angas referred to the occupation of Japan. He does not trust the Japanese and suggested that the occupation should be continued. Does the honorable member believe that the occupation of Japan for ten years could have any more effect than it has had already? It could not. The occupation of Germany after World War I. had no real effect on the Germans. No nation with old traditions, education, and pronounced characteristics will he changed in less than several generations, if at all, unless it is occupied by a completely new set of people and the children are educated apart from their parents. Russia is an example of the force of my argument. A strong dictatorial power has been in control of Russia for 30 years but, fundamentally, Russia is unchanged. The honorable member for Angas spoke about the posibility of educating the Japanese and of spreading the assimilation of democracy in Japan. Democracy has not made much advance there, but a strong liberal element in the community has been in existence for more than 30 years. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) spoke about assassinations. That the Japanese assassinated the liberals indicates that they were there in some strength. Their presence is a hopeful sign that democracy will continue to be a factor in Japan.

The honorable member for Parkes recalled that Mr. Speaker had once stated in this House that a peace treaty could be negotiated with the application of common sense and a knowledge of history. Following that line, how have the victorious treated their defeated enemies throughout history ? The middle way invariably has turned out badly. The enemy should be entirely eliminated or completely conciliated. A mixture of the two simply guarantees the continuation of a cause for resentment. History provides many examples of annihilation. When the children of Israel returned to Palestine they put their enemies to fire and the sword. Those days have gone. History provides few examples of complete conciliation, but these have been successful. One example is Britain's treatment of the Boers at the end of the Boer War. The Boer leaders Botha and Hertzog then became firm friends of the British Empire. I recall the events in Germany after the first world war, when I was in that country. Under the Treaty of Versailles a strong and sensitive nation was completely humiliated. We disbanded their armies, took their arms, and forced them to pay immense amounts by way of reparations. That was all done under the guarantee afforded by a continuous occupation. Partly because of the terms of the reparation settlements, and partly as a result of the humiliations that we inflicted upon them, the Versailles Treaty bit deeply into the souls of the Germans. They nursed, and to some purpose, thoughts of revenge and of the rehabilitation of their nation. Such a reaction in Japan would be a result of the harsh conditions that the Opposition wants to have included in this treaty, and I for one will not agree to their inclusion.

The terms of the proposed treaty are remarkable for their generosity. They are free from any suggestion of attributing collective guilt. They recognize, by implication, that in a non-democratic country the humble individuals who make up the mass of the people cannot be held responsible for the decisions and misdeedsof the small clique of militarists who led them. The treaty is generous in respect of reparations. In fact, America has already disbursed 2,000,000 dollars in order to restore and maintain the Japanese economy. Japan certainly has lost its overseas possessions and. is confined to its home islands, but I cannot see that the terms of the treaty can possibly arouse rancour in that country. I believe it to be a statesmanlike document. Admittedly, Ave have no certainty about the nature of future events, so all we can do is to try to encourage those whom we wish to have as friends, and to discourage those who may wish to be our enemies. The proposals of the Opposition are impractical and wrong. For that reason I support the treaty.







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