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Australia - Japan

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No. M52


EMBARGOED UNTIL 12.30 P.M. .21 August 1976 . · . · .



' I accepted the invitation to address you today With great pleasure. I would like at the outset to express the appreciation which I - and, I believe, all thinking Australians - feel for the foresight, imagination and dedication which groups like yours have shown in

concerning yourselves with the task of bringing Australia and Japan closer together.

You realised earlier than most the importance of this goal. It is desirable, of course, that we improve our understanding of and extend our contacts with all countries. But Japan is a special case. It is a special

case not merely because1it is our major trading partner but because of the increasing weight, political as well as economic, it must carry’ both in regional and global affairs.. . When a source as sober as the London Economist

can speak of the next hundred years as "the Pacific Century", a century in which the centre of gravity of world affairs will shift to this Ocean, we can appreciate why. · ; .

It is a special case, too, in that the problems associated with developing a full and close relationship with Japan are particularly difficult ones. The barriers of language, culture, tradition - and the differences

in size, geography, population are very formidable.

It is this combination of importance and difficulty which makes the question of Australia-Japan relations a special case.

Japan is one of the great powers; and in strength and potential, by no means the least of them. People point to Japan1s almost complete lack of raw materials, and to the fact that, In a nuclear age, Japan

neither wants to, nor sees merit,^i.n fashioning a major military establishment; "Japan; The Fragile Blossom" of Professor Brzezinski1 s book. BiXt the evidence, is that Japan's power will not diminish. Alone among the great powers, Japan has shown again and again that it needs

few other sources of strength than the^determination and talents of its people and the unique social order that

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applies them to best effect. Recently,. those elements have been evident in the skill with which Japan can be seen to be riding out the economic recession. Earlier they , were bringing about what has been described

as "the fastest enrichment of any country ever".

The vigour and skill of Japan is to be found, not only in the world of economics and trade but equally in its diplomacy. Japan has an important role to play in maintaining the balance of power in Asia. Situated as Japan is, alongside Korea - one of the most dangerous flash-points in the world - and at the very nexus of American, Chinese and Soviet interests, this task, requires policies exquisite in. their delicacy and mature in their patience and restraint. As the Japanese are well aware,

a too sudden shift of weight in this region would, risk destroying in a moment the intricate balance of years.

' , The importance of Japan is reflected in the attention which the other great powers increasingly give to her; in the influence which Japan can bring to bear on their policies and the extraordinary resilience Japan has shown, in dealings with them; in the acknowledgement by the United States that Japan is an equal partner and

in the independent role which Japanese· diplomacy is developing for itself on international questions of a political character.

The stature of Japan is apparent, in its unquestioned membership of virtually all the major bodies of international consultation. The one notable exception is the United Nations Security Council. Japan would have long since become a permanent member of that body were it not that .

Japan's access would open up a multitude of questions about the Council's present composition.

Japan is and sees itself as a great power. Let there be no doubt about that. It is a position for which the Japanese people have worked hard, and they have demonstrated great skill in achieving it. It is a position which cannot, and should not, be denied them.

At,a second level, Japan seeks the security to which all states are entitled, the assured access to resources and markets and the non-discriminatory regime for international trade essential to the welfare and prosperity of the Japanese people. These aims are in no

sense unreasonable, though on occasion in the past the international community, including Australia, has been less than ready to concede them. Times and attitudes have changed. Few Australians today would, deny the interests we have at stake in Japan, i n .its continued prosperity and sense of security.

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Japan has deliberately set aside the option of seeking international influence through the acquisition of heavy armanents and advanced weapons. In return, Japan expects of other countries that they not take its opinions

and interests any the more lightly because of this. Australia is prepared to meet that expectation and to encourage others to do so, for the restraint which Japan has shown has contributed greatly to regional stability.

The Japan with which we must live and deal is fundamental to the Australian econortty, and to the prospects and well-being of every Australian. On a per capita basis our economic dependence on Japan is already

greater than that of any other of the industrialised democracies, More than this, however, Japan is of very considerable importance in setting the regional and, indeed, the global environment, political as well as economic, ideological as well as strategic, in which Australia must work out its destiny.

You will forgive me if I say that our present relationship with Japan is not yet adequate to serve the interests which Australia and every Australian has at stake.

We can take pride in the economic and commercial links which, in a generation, Australia has built up with Jap;„n, The flow of trade is enormous and now ranks seventh in the world. It has contributed much to the prosperity of both countries. But what else of substance is to be

found in our relations? Some community of security interests, a shared need for a stable regional and world order, certainly. But we must go further. Vast dissimilarities in outlook, national preoccupation, social,

intellectual and cultural traditions, economic strength and interests must be overcome in our dealings with Japan.

The economic interdependence between Australia and Japan, substantial as it now is, will not be sufficient to bridge or even mask those dissimilarities.

If we are to add stability, substance and warmth to our relations with Japan the lines along which we must move are clear. We need to reduce the scope for discord and disenchantment in our economic relationship. We need to make the adjustments in our cultural attitudes

and person-to-person contacts necessary to promote broad and sympathetic understanding of Australia in Japan and of Japan in Australia. We need to work towards a future in which, if possible within a generation, there will be substantial progress towards building the same political interests with Japan as we have inherited from or built with our traditional partners, Britain, New Zealand and

the United States.

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Australia cannot reach these goals on its own. We will need the cooperation of Japan. We can expect, however, that every effort we make will be reciprocated by Japan. ■

A more certain relationship in the areas of trade, investment and international politics must be our first priority in relations with Japan. A broad attack on mutual ignorance and cultural opacity is also overdue.

There has been real movement along the lines I describe, both on a Government plane and at a private level.

In 1972, an earlier Liberal-Country Party Government established the Australia-Japan Ministerial Committee, a body unique in the spectrum of Australia's international relations. The Committee comprises several

senior Ministers from each country who meet at regular intervals, under the chairmanship of the respective Ministers for Foreign Affairs, to review key aspects of. Australian/ Japanese relations and promote courses for their future development. The Committee has continued to flourish and we are considering another meeting early next year. '

‘ Annual consultations have also been instituted at the level of officials between the Departments responsible in each country for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Primary and Secondary Industry. The last decade has _

a'i so seen the steady development of habits of continuing and frank discussion between the Australian and Japanese Governments on most international questions of mutual interest and in most international bodies such as the United Nations and its specialised agencies, the OECD

and ESCAP.

These arrangements are commendable but there is no call for complacency about them.

As to broader and deeper understanding, the first barrier we face is that of language. The barrier is formidable. Most of the language learning effort sc far has been made by Japan. We Australians are both fortunate and unfortunate in having as our native tongue the most widely spoken of international languages; and we are in consequence among the most insular of peoples

in our language capabilities.

A decade ago, Japanese was taught in a handful of schools and two universities to fewer than a hundred. Aiistralians. By 197 5, however, more than seven thousand Australians were learning it, in nearly a hundred schools

and tertiary institutions, representing a percentage of the population higher than in any other country with the exception of Japan itself.


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Although the expansion of language teaching is encouraging, there is still much to be done to improve standards, and to extend other aspects of Japanese studies.

Though only a small proportion of people will come to speak Japanese, it is open to every Australian to learn something of Japan.

There is also a need for greater contact between individuals from each society and more travel between the two countries. There has been some increase over the last twenty years, but not a spectacular one. There is currently an annual exchange of approximately 15,000 tourists in each direction. I would suggest that, in

addition to thinking about increasing the volume of tourist contact, we should also give some thought to improving its quality. Unfortunately, even when Australians and Japanese see c-ach other there is often no meeting of minds. They see each other from behind the tinted windows of tourist buses, or within the security of groups

of their fellow countrymen. As long as this continues to be the case the value of tourist exchanges.must be limited. It.should be a challenge to organisations such as your own to devise programs that enhance the level of contact and understanding.

The benefits which should flow from increasing the volume of contacts between Japan and Australia will take a generation or two to become evident. If quick progress is to be achieved we shall need as well to look

fov: other things. Particular emphasis should be placed on exchanges between young people, whose ideas are less likely to be inflexible and prejudiced than those of their

elders, especially if such young people can be sent to Japan or brought to Australia at ages when they are impressionable. To some extent we have already begun to move in these directions both through privately-sponsored

exchanges (by such bodies as the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, Rotary International, the Lions Organisation, the Myer Foundation and the Science Scholars Scheme arranged by Sydney University) and through those promoted by each Government. But we will need a good deal more.

Exchanges have also taken place between outstanding figures in special fields in which visits can be expected to make a particular impact. The popularity of Hiroyuki Iwaki as conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the interest which his appointment aroused in Japan

is an outstanding example. On the Australian side, there was the visit to Japan last year of Joan Sutherland, and. the regular visits which the prominent golfer, Graham Marsh, makes to Japan, and the appointment of Ken Rosewall as

coach of the Japanese Davis Cup Team. Sport is something for which Australia is well-known internationally and it earns us much goodwill.

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We need, moreover, an increase in the quantity, quality and range of news reporting in both directions, and more and better programs about each other on television. There is a big contribution to be made by instituting

in each country regular news reports and good television coverage of the other. Your organisation could be helping to create the demand that could lead to this in Australia.

To get away from the ad hoc approach of the past, this Government has established a broad and rational framework for conducting and promoting the kind of relationship with Japan that Australia needs. The principal elements of that framework are the Basic Treaty

of Friendship and Cooperation, signed by the Australian and Japanese Prime Ministers in June, the Cultural Agreement, ratified in February, and the Australia/Japan Foundation, established by Act of Parliament in May.

. The Treaty, the first of its kind that Australia has concluded with any country, has three essential purposes: it records the importance which both countries attach to diversifying their relations and providing wider opportunities for the Australian and Japanese

Governments and peoples to work together in a spirit of friendship and understanding; it constitutes an umbrella for increased cooperation of political, economic ti.ade, commercial, social, cultural and other kinds; and

it recognises the mutual interest of both countries in being a stable and reliable supplier to and market for tl e other.

The Cultural Agreement is a general document which does not of itself ordain any specific exchanges or programs but provides the guidelines' within which exchanges can develop and take place in an orderly

and balanced way.

The work of the Foundation will be specifically directed towards 1 1 deepening and strengthing Australian™ Japanese relations by fostering better understanding and greater tolerance through people-to-people contacts

aid through research and other projects designed to elucidate the character, culture and outlook of the two peoples'". The Foundation, which operates separately from and supplementary to arrangements under the Cultural Agreement, is administered by a National Council, the members of which are drawn from key elements in Australian

society such as business , the trade unions, the universities, the artistic world and government. The Council has discretion to decide what projects the Foundation should sponsor, but it holds itself open both to donations and

to suggestions from any section of the Australian community.

This framework which I describe and which we have taken such care to build can amount to no more than the . . . /7


shadow of a good intention if there is no will in Australia to flesh it out and make it work. The framework can guarantee nothing and achieve nothing without the firm and active interest of the Australian people at large, of labour, of business and of government.

I believe, the Government believes, that the will and the interest is to be found in the Australian community. It will be the job of Government and of dedicated bodies such as the Australia/Japan Society to provide

the inspiration and leadership necessary to carry out the difficult task that lies ahead of giving our relations with Japan the breadth and stability on which so much of our future rests.