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Wednesday, 27 February 1952


Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) . - In all the confusion that has been evident in this debate, a number of important facts which form the background of this treaty have been overlooked. Therefore, although the secondreading debate is nearing its conclusion, I think that I should endeavour to clarify some aspects of those background matters which are associated directly and indirectly with the ratification of the peace treaty. I am inclined to agree with some of the statements which have been made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) about the problem of Japan's population. The density of population on Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, which are the three main islands of Japan, is approximately 700 persons to the square mile, and it is rapidly increasing. Consequently, one of the greatest problems which faces the Far East is the population of Japan, and undoubtedly at some time in thi future, whether we like to face the facts or not, Japan must have territorial expansion. Where that expansion will take place is something that we cannot foresee at the present time, but the Western Powers must heed that fact now, and watch for such expansion in the future.

The religion of the Japanese people also forms a part of the background of this treaty. For many centuries, the principal religion of Japan was Buddhism, although there were several important minority groups, the chief of which was Christianity. For the last century, the cult or religion of Shintoism which embraces to a degree both Buddhism and Christianity has been adopted as a State religion. We should be foolish at the present time even to expect any significant- change from that basic religion. Therefore, there is a challenge to the Western Powers to spread Christianity through the islands of Japan. We must face that matter in the future. It undoubtedly has an important bearing as a background to this treaty.

We should also remember that Japan did not begin to emerge as a modern nation until 1845. That followed the virtual breaking of the blockade by the American, Commodore Perry, in the previous year. Japan then emerged from a state of feudalism and signed trade treaties with the United States of America and later with Great Britain and other nations. It was not until 1868 that the great national reorganization took place in Japan. The bi-cameral system of government was established, and a section of the Japanese people were given voting rights. The government at that time was controlled by two principal groups, the Batsu, and the Zaibatsu. The Batsu was the principal military group, and the Zaibatsu was the commercial and industrial group, which retained control of the government from that time until practically the present day. Some of the great names which have been associated with the Zaibatsu are Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitama and Yasuda and are well known to honorable members. Before the outbreak of the last war, they were the great commercial and industrial forces behind the Japanese Government. After the conquest of Japan, one of the first efforts of the Allied government was to break the control that the Batsu and the Zaibatsu organizations had exerted over the Japanese Government, and to establish some kind of democratic government. Prior to 1945, the government in Japan was based on a hereditary monarch. The constitution which had been formulated in 1889 gave the first facade of representative government to the Japanese people. But only certain sections of the community were given the right to vote, and had representation in the Imperial Diet. In conjunction with the bi-cameral system there was established a privy council, the members of which were appointed by the Emperor. Despite the changes which took place after the formulation of the first constitution in 1889, the Emperor re- mained the rulling authority although he was subjected to the influence of powerful groups throughout the country.

Many significant changes have taken place in the government' of Japan since 1945, and I shall describe some of them. They result directly from the terms of the instrument of surrender that was signed at the termination of hostilities. These changes have solved some of the problems that were mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne. Following the occupation of Japan, a new constitution was adopted in 1946. Certain very significant changes took place at that time, and they are still in operation. The first thing that was done was to remove the centralized power from the hands of the Emperor and to establish him merely as a figurehead. That change has been effective. The next move was to displace from power the elder statesmen of the old ruling class, who belong to family groups that had been established in positions of authority for centuries. That was a vital move, as anybody who is acquainted with Japanese mentality will acknowledge, because it broke with tradition. The third procedure was to break the power of the Zaibatsu. That measure, as the honorable member for Melbourne admitted, has been reasonably effective. The fourth thing that was done was- to terminate the existence of the secret police organization with which some members of this House have been familiar, the Kempe Tai. Those acts were of a negative character, but they achieved desirable results.

The positive changes involved the introduction of certain basic democratic principles. The new constitution provided that both houses of the Parliament must be elected freely by the people. That was a complete change from the previous system, and it established the bi-cameral system of government on a democratic basis. Women were enfranchised and, for the first' time in Japan's history, were allowed to vote freely for the election of their representatives in both houses of the Parliament. Another significant change vested executive powers in the Prime Minister, who was authorized to form an executive council from the major political party or parties represented in the Parliament. A. similar system operates in most of the Western democratic countries. All cabinet ministers were required to be civilians. As honorable members are aware, service ministers in the imperial Diet prior to 1936 were senior officers of the armed services and had direct access to the -emperor. That change broke the power of the Batsu group.

The peace treaty that we are now considering was evolved in draft form only after lengthy discussions between representatives of the allied nations concerned. The views of all these nations were considered during the discussions, and Australia's representations received equal attention with those of its allies. Australia's representatives realized that the rearmament of Japan might threaten our security in the future. Therefore, they pressed very strongly for the inclusion in the treaty of a provision that would curb Japanese expansion by banning the manufacture of long-range aircraft and restricting naval vessels to such types of craft as would be required only for defence "purposes in the immediate vicinity of Japan. Unfortunately, the views of the major powers did not agree with those of Australia and, in accordance with the principles that we have espoused as a member of the United Nations, we were forced to accept the majority decision. However, the treaty has been prepared in the. light of existing world conditions, under which we face a grave threat from international communism, which did not exist prior to the end of World War LT. and was not immediately apparent in the post-war years. Eventually it was brought prominently into focus by the events in Korea that led to the outbreak of war there. The conflict in Korea made it obvious that Communist aggression was aimed at the Far East as well :is at Europe and the Middle East.

The peace treaty is designed primarily to state clearly, in precise terms, the nature of Japan's obligations to the victorious powers. Those obligations should be understood by all honorable members. Other provisions relate to the arrangements that are being made for Japan to resume normal international relationships and to regain a degree of economic stability. Every honorable member realizes, I believe, that a serious threat to Australia and the whole of the Far East is involved in releasing the latent power of Japan by rearmament. Australia's representatives were fully cognizant of that potential threat and they endeavoured, during the preliminary discussions, to impress Australia's point of view forcefully upon the representatives of the other Allied nations. However, the fact remains that the United States of America is the major power in the Pacific region. From the standpoint of power politics, it cannot afford to maintain occupation forces in Japan indefinitely, and, from the standpoint of economics, it cannot afford to continue indefinitely to underwrite the Japanese economy. America's difficulties in relation to the occupation of Japan have been accentuated considerably by the events that have taken place in Korea. Its commitments have increased beyond all expectations. In fact, the United States occupation force in Japan, like the Australian force, was diverted to Korea and Japan became merely a base for operations in Korea.

Communism is represented in Asia by " red " China, the Soviet power in Manchuria and satellite forces in Indo-China and Burma. Asian Communists are faced with a lack of industrial resources, and Japan has a great industrial potentiality. Therefore, Japan is important to the Asian Communists. Should its industrial resources fall into their hands, I should say that it would be only a matter of time before the whole of Asia and Australia were conquered. Every honorable member must agree that, if the Communists in Asia, with their tremendous reserves of man-power, gained control of the man-power and the industrial strength of Japan, the threat to Australia would be more grave and imminent than it can become under the terms of the peace treaty that we are now asked to ratify. We must remember that up to 1945, Japan had been largely dependent on the Asian mainland for raw materials with which to maintain its industries. Since the conclusion of the war, its industrial potential has been underwritten by the United States of America, assisted in some measure by the other Western Powers.

These powers have also provided the essential materials for the maintenance of Japanese industry. Thus, it is possible for Japan to continue on the side of the democracies, and obtain the raw materials which were previously obtained from the Asian mainland. To refuse to accept the treaty would mean that Japan would be thrown into the arms of Asian communism. Of course, we must always consider the security of our own country first, and I am not, I confess, happy about the security provisions of the treaty, nor, I believe, is any other member of the House satisfied with them. However, the alternative to making peace with Japan on these terms is to run the risk that Japan will come under the influence of Asian communism, with all the attendant dangers to Australia and to the whole of the Ear East.


Mr Ward - That is only propaganda.


Mr SWARTZ - The threat of Japan as a member of the Communist group would be far greater than the threat of Japan rearmed, but still under the influence of the democracies. In the former case, the threat would be much more serious and more immediate to Australia. Moreover, there are in the treaty certain security provisions, and associated with the treaty there are certain instruments, which give some protection to Australia. Japan is to be deprived of its former overseas territories, so that its military strategy will be restricted in the Pacific. To a degree, its internal economy will also be restricted. Another factor is the defence agreement between the United States of America and Japan under which the United States of America will use certain bases in Japan and former Japanese island bases, including the island of Okinawa.We must also consider the economic control which can be exerted by the Western Powers. So long as theWestern Powers continue to supply essential materials to Japan it will be simple to exercise some control over the flow of such materials. However, the most important factor in relation to the safety of Australia is the Pacific pact, which is a security pact by the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia, and which is a guarantee that, if we are attacked, weshall have on our side the mighty power of the United States of America.

There has been a great deal of reference during this debate to the subject of reparations. It is obvious that we cannot collect reparations from Japan without seriously damaging thatcountry's industry and commerce which, if damaged, would have to be re-established by the United States of America. However, by the efforts of Australia's representatives there has been written into the treaty a provision under which Japanese assets held in neutral and ex-enemy countries shall be sold, and the proceeds paid into a fund to be controlled by the international Red Cross for distribution among former prisoners of war held bythe Japanese, and the dependants of those persons. It is pleasing to note, also, that Japanese assets in Australia are tobe sold, and applied for the same purposes.

I have no great affection for the Japanese. I remember, as do some of my colleagues, including the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), the behaviour of Japanesesoldiers and civilians on the island of Singapore and at the Changi prison camp. I remember the ill-fated " F " Force which consisted of 7,000 prisoners of war who were sent to work on the notorious BurmaThailand railway. Only about 3,500 came back to Singapore.Remembering those experiences, I have no reason to love the Japanese. I know that the real story of the Burma-Thailand railway has not yet been told, and perhaps will never be told. Nevertheless, I believe that the international situation is such to-day that we have no alternative but to accept the Japanese peace treaty.

In his speech, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) obviously attempted to play on the feeling of the Australian people in order to make political capital. He suggested that Australia could in some way influence the United States of America and the United Kingdom in order to secure an alteration to the terms of the treaty. Of course, it is sheer mendacity to suggest that Australia could thus influence the major powers, particularly so late in the day when the treaty has been signed by the representatives of so many nations, i was astonished to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that, in his opinion, the treaty should have been signed by only the six or seven nations that were actively engaged in the war against Japan. He has always been a staunch supporter of the United Nations, but he has now, it would seem, changed his ground. The basic principle upon which the United Nations was founded ensures to each of its members the right to sign such a treaty as the one we are now considering. The Leader of the Opposition did not offer any alternative to the treaty. He merely suggested that Australia, by refusing to ratify the treaty, would -place itself in a moro favorable world position. That is, to every reasonable person, completely incorrect. Australia could gain nothing at present by not ratifying the treaty. Indeed, we should have a lot to lose. By refusing to ratify the peace treaty we might cause a situation to arise in which the United States of America would not he prepared to continue its guarantees under the Pacific pact as far as we were concerned. We should also continue in a state of technical war against the Japanese nation for an indefinite period. That state of affairs, I venture to suggest, would not tend to increase Japanese affection for us, if Japanese opinion is tending to change. The- only thing for ns to do, and the Leader of the Opposition did not agree with this course, is to ratify the peace treaty as it stands and remain on-side with the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

During the debate the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) said that he thought the recent referendum had killed the Communist bogy. I think that is a scandalous statement, but if it is an attempt to try to persuade the people that communism, not only in. Australia but also throughout Asia and the rest of the world, is not an immediate threat to us, then newspaper reports that have appeared during the last few days absolutely refute such an opinion. Those reports indicate that communism is a direct threat virtually at our front door. On the 25th February it was reported in the press that the Chinese reds were losing troops in the conflict in Burma. It was also reported that a big French retreat had taken place in Indo-China. A Hong Kong newspaper reported that a Chinese Communist army group had moved from Korea to South China and was now located somewhere along the Burmese or Indo-Chinese border. In the face of all these circumstances, statements have been made here that the threat of communism to Australia is merely a bogy. Communism is on the march in Malaya at the present time, and Australians are fighting Communists in. Korea. I should hate to try to convince our wounded soldiers from Korea that they had been shot by a bogy.

I deplore the shameful attack by the honorable member for Angas on the foreign policy of the United States of America. I say that, after having given due consideration to the effect of. his statements, I think it can be said reasonably that his attack was unwarranted and also completely undiplomatic at this stage when the Pacific pact is before the Parliament for approval. We know that there have been various thoughts in American foreign policy in the Far East. The Americans have been wrong in some respects and right in others. No nation could be completely right all the time. Moreover, we are dependent to a large degree for our security on the United States of America. In the last war we leaned very heavily on America and were very thankful for the American troops that were sent out here for our protection. No doubt we shall be very happy to welcome American forces again if they are required to defend Australia and the Pacific from aggression. The honorable member for Angas stated that he would refrain from voting for the measure, principally on the ground that he believed that the occupation of Japan should continue for approximately another ten years.


Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member's time has expired.







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