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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 67

The PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator SIM - The resolution of the Senate of 1 1th June 1970, which set up the legislative and general purpose committees, anticipates that committees will report progress to the Senate. Accordingly, it is my pleasure to report briefly on the progress made by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in its current inquiry into Japan.

This Committee was established on 6th October 1971 and on the following day had referred to it the subject of Japan for investigation and report. The Committee held its first meeting on 7th October and did me the honour of electing me its Chairman. Public hearings commenced on 22nd November 1971 and since that time the Committee has had 30 days of sittings, principally in public hearing, and has received evidence from 70 witnesses. In addition, many written submissions and much published material has been studied.

Perhaps I should mention the uniqueness of the reference to the Committee. It is a simple one-word reference - 'Japan' - which left the Committee free to planthe scope of the inquiry and the nature of the subjects into which it would inquire. I understand this is the first occasion on which a committee of the Senate has inquired into relations with another country.

The Committee decided that it would not restrict the scope of the inquiry to foreign affairs and defence only. As Japan has become Australia's greatest trading partner, it appeared desirable to study trade and cultural relations and, importantly, to explore how mutual understanding between the peoples of the 2 countries might be advanced. The Committee also considered that it would be of value for it to examine Japan's position globally and not exclusively in the narrower field of Australian-Japanese relationships.

The Committee has sought information from the widest possible field of witnesses and I am pleased to inform the Senate that a high level of co-operation has been received from academic, government and business circles and from private citizens with special knowledge of Japan. We have also been fortunate to have had the opportunity of discussions with visiting Japanese academics and businessmen.

There remain only several witnesses to be heard by the Committee and it is our intention, if at all possible, to present our full report to the Senate during the present Parliamentary session.

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