JAPAN, AUSTRALIA AND ASIA
AUSTRALIA -JAPAN RELATIONS SYMPOSIUM 1975
JAPAN, AUSTRALIA AND ASIA
Before I begin I would like to make three points. First, I really am genuinely honoured to be invited here today, in particular that I should be invited to share the same platform as Mr Ushiba. Already Mr Ushiba’s historic role in the 1956 trade negotiations with Australia has been mentioned, but I would like to mention a few other points about Mr Ushiba which are probably less known in Australia than in Japan.
Mr Ushiba was Japan’s Ambassador in the United States during a very difficult and interesting time -the period of the China rapprochment, the currency shocks, the complex textile negotiations -and although he probably doesn’t realise it, he was my main source of information as a correspondent in Japan on what was going on between the two countries. We would go to the Americans to find out about Japan-US relations and they wouldn’t tell us. But then we’d pick up the Japanese newspapers and find that Mr Ushiba had made a speech, or that he’d talked to the Japanese or the American press and had given a frank and highly perceptive picture of what was going on. He has now retired and since the Japanese system is perhaps a little bit more human and humane than ours, they try to make use of their retired diplomats, and he now has an important
role in the relationship between Japan and Indonesia. He has made several visits there, and I hope that in the discussion it might be possible to draw him out on the relations between those two very important countries, particularly the idea that was floating around about a year ago -for a Canberra-Jakarta-Tokyo axis.
Secondly, I’d like to make it clear that I am speaking as an outside observer of relations between Japan and Australia. I was invited, in fact, to give this talk six months ago when I was still working as a correspondent in Japan. The views that I express today are those which were formed during five years of observation in Tokyo.
Thirdly, I wrote my paper before I realised that the eminent Japanese anthropologist, Chie Nakane, would in fact be visiting Canberra. She has given several seminars explaining very significant points which I first heard her enunciate in Tokyo -the link in psychology between Japanese and Southeast Asians. I thought it was so important, particularly in relation to our topic today, that I’ve explained it in some length in my paper. Now, because she’s been here, and because she’s said this much better than I can say it, I hope you will excuse me if I abbreviate that portion of my paper and perhaps expand some of the other sections.
The basic point I want to make was that before we can say anything sensible about Japan and it’s relations with our country, we have to do something about the stereotypes which many of us have about Japan. Stereotype No. 1 says that the Japanese are an inward looking, inscrutable, xenophobic nation. Stereotype No. 2 says that in doing business with Japan we have to be constantly on the lookout for plots and deceptions. And our third stereotype, in Australia anyway, says that the Japanese are unpopular in Asia, that we Australians must back away from a close bilateral relationship with Japan for fear of offending other Asians.
These three images of the Japanese are closely related. I, myself, to some extent, shared them until I went to Japan. But five years in Japan has convinced me that they are not true, that the Japanese like any other people do have their faults, in particular, a strong sense of exclusiveness towards outsiders, towards outsiders even within their own society, but this is one side of a very much two-sided coin. If you turn the coin you will see a very different image of the Japanese, and it is one which I, personally, find very attractive. I think many other people who have lived in Japan have had the same experience. In trying to explain it, one word I can hit on is that there is something very human about the way the Japanese act towards each other, organise their society, and even in a sense in the way they behave towards us outsiders. As the new generation of the Japanese emerges, they may be able to blend this more attractive side of their Japanese personality with a greater confidence and less exclusiveness towards foreigners.
I mention all this because it is very relevant to Japan’s position in South-East Asia. As Chie Nakane has pointed out, some remarkable similarities exist between the Japanese and the peoples of South-East Asia in their group orientation and family structure. Nakane is known best for her work explaining the structure of Japanese society – its group nature, hierarchies etc. She has now expanded this to a theory, explaining the similarities between Japan and South-East Asia, and the dissimilarities with China, India and the West. I find it convincing, and if the representatives of the Japanese Government here wince at what I have to say, let me point out that their Foreign Ministry liked her earlier work on Japanese society so much that it has had it summarised for distribution to us foreigners who want to know what makes Japan tick.
To paraphrase Nakane the world can be divided into two very different types of society: “continental” and “island”. These labels are not strictly related to geography. The “continental” societies – China, India, Western Europe and Central Asia -are those which were forced to mature in an environment of constant clash and competition with other groups of foreigners. Society in Japan and South-East Asia on the other hand, enjoyed “island” isolation. They were free to develop on their own with outside buffeting. This difference of environment had a crucial effect on social development. Close awareness of their neighbours forced the “continentals” out of their narrow tribalism. Gradually they developed a framework of kings, deities and morality within which they could organise themselves to cope with the foreigners and assert their superiority. From this was born the nation-state – that peculiarly regimented, hierarchical, legalistic, egotistic being which anarchists, one-earthers and other idealists are probably quite right to despise but which the rest of us have to put up with.
Society in Japan missed out on all this. Locked in its self-contained incubus its values could only grow out of the surrounding, highly-uniform human environment. In this sense Japan never lost its basic tribalism. There was no need to go out and find forces above the society to lay down the law on how people should behave. The laws were the conventions of the group – whatever code of behaviour was needed to allow the group to survive, function and prosper. There was no need to appeal to abstract concepts of mortality.
(Nakane goes on to base a distinction also on differences in agricultural organisation – on the fact that Japan and South-East Asia are rice growing. This reinforced the need for, communities to be highly co-operative, so that the rice got its water and labour.
It also forced communities to remain tied to the one place to the point of immediate and outright submission to occasional conquerors. This last point can be questioned, as the history of protracted wars in South-East Asia shows, but there is no doubt that the mobility enjoyed by the nomads and wandering cultivators of our early Western and Central Asian civilisation made it easier for them to wage their wars. In the process they evolved to the moralistic structured society that makes it easier to win wars.)
Nakane’s term for Japanese-style society is nantai dobutsu or “non-vertebrate”. In other words, Japanese society lacks the rigid principles and morality – backbone if you like – which govern our societies. To some this may sound like a serious fault. I hesitate to pass judgement, but it certainly does create something very different from what we know in the West. For example:
Emotionalism: No one who has watched a Japanese demonstration, argument, TV soap opera or the Ginza on pay night could subscribe to the stereotype of the Japanese as cold, inscrutable automatons. Human relations and moods are the all-important mortar of Japanese society. Destroy the mood and you can destroy anything, as Prime Minister Tanaka found to his cost. Create a mood and you can do anything as the men who re-opened relations with China, forced through the anti-pollution laws and stopped the sailing of nuclear ships, have shown.
Irrationality: The Japanese emotional approach seems often irrational and contradic- tory. But for the Japanese the only true rationality is the gin, ninjo etc. of human relations. In the West if I rent a house or sell a ton or iron ore I insist on a contract to remain valid regardless of circumstances. The Japanese see a contract simply as reflecting a relationship as it exists at any moment between two people. Change the relationship and you are entitled to a new contract. We might call it immoral or illegal, but then we are more casual about non-contractual promises. The lack of morality also helps to explain what for me is the greatest contradiction about the Japanese – their genuine anti-militarism combined with the almost complete lack of conscience about their past war atrocities and unending self-pity about their own war suffering.
Communality: As the saying goes, if communism had reached Japan rather than China it would have been embraced with an enthusiasm that would have made the Cultural Revolution look like a picnic. As fate would have it Japan is capitalist. But the simple democracy of Japan’s elemental communism often asserts itself. One example is the remarkable homogenity of their society; most Japanese see themselves as belonging to the middle class. You don’t see “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted” signs in Japan; the traditions born in those rice fields remain strong. Similarly, they realise that freedom of information is the lubricant of an efficient society, as any foreign journalist who has worked there can testify.
Someone is bound to point out the contradictions in all this and I am bound to try to answer: yes, the Japanese only recently did go in for all the paraphenalia of gods (Shintoism), emperor worship, nation-state, national superiority and finally militarism. But this was only after they were forced into contact with other peoples. In other words they responded exactly as we did thousands of years ago in the same situation, except that they tried to do overnight what we could do over those thousands of years. The results, predictably, were a mess. Few in Japan want to repeat that mess, which is why all the talk in Australia about Japan returning to the 1940s if it is denied resources grates so harshly on the Japanese consciousness.
Yes, the Japanese can be subservient and hierarchical. That is inevitable in a system where loyalties are focused on the group. But it is not a rigid hierarchy, as the foreign business chief who makes the mistake of thinking he can force through a deal simply by talking to his opposite Japanes number will find. It is the bright young men down in the middle reaches of Japanese management who initiate most of the decisions. In the West the boss is king; in Japan he is father.
Yes, the Japanese can be intensely exclusivist. But this is more in group than national terms. Each Japanese is surrounded by a series of concentric groups -close friends and family, school and work mates, people from the same district or province, and finally nation. We foreigners happen to be on the outermost periphery. If a Japanese is operating at a level of any of the groups smaller than the nation (as they are for most of the time) then the Japanese outside that group get much the same treatment as we foreigners get almost all the time. This exclusivity does not mean we are necessarily badly treated. On the contrary, because we are outside the group they are intensely interested in our views of how they look. Resident foreigners in Japan are in constant demand for TV discussions and magazine debates, can’t imagine us taking the same interest in the views of Japanese in our midst.
I mention all this for several reasons. Firstly I feel it gives us some clue as to why the Japanese have such difficulty of coming up with what we would call a foreign policy. There is, of course, some doubt as to the extent to which any state actually follows a program of conscious policy towards other states. For the most part it is a matter of reacting. But the Japanese often seem as if they cannot even react, except to the most immediate issues (when they sometimes over-react). One Japanese has called it the “immobilism” of their foreign policy. Another has likened it to a giant aircraft on a blind course through a cloud. Or as Nakane puts it: Foreigners are always asking us what are the principles of our foreign policy. What they don’t realise is that we Japanese don’t have any principles.
But the facts of life do force the Japanese to at least go through the motions of having relations with other peoples. And they are motions very much dominated by their unusual psychology. An informal Japan-Australia student gathering organised near Tokyo last year produced an example of this. The leader of the Australian students gave a speech saying how he hoped everyone would find some good friends. The Japanese leader called on his compatriots to take this chance to “broaden their “wa” (literally, a wheel, but here used in the sense of “circle of acquaintanceship”).
The same is true of their foreign relations. We tend to identify countries and nations which are important to us as targets for our diplomacy. We convince ourselves that the Americans or the Indonesians are important to us. We give aid and make alliances. And we hope that they will be our friends. The Japanese see all of us as foreigners beyond the periphery of true friendship. But if they have to deal with foreigners they prefer to deal with those who they 50 are near their wavelength, who can be included in the “Wa”.
Which brings me back to my earlier point. As they look out into the world who, eventually will the Japanese see as closest to their wavelength? If there is anything in the Nakane approach, I suggest strongly that they are going to find it easiest to get on with the South-East Asians. “Continentals” like we Westerners, the Indians and the Russians will be left well out on the periphery. The Chinese, and the Koreans, could come into a special category somewhere in between by virtue of their knowing and understanding the Japanese much better than we do.
Already there is evidence that this is how it is turning out. For all its importance the Japanese don’t seem to be able to get on to the Soviet wavelength, and not just because of the problem of the northern islands lost to the Russians after the war. Press the Japanese on this and they just say simply they don’t like or trust Russians. The lack of contact with India – cultural, political and economic – is staggering, particularly when you remember that they have a shared interest in Buddhism. Again there seems to be some deep and unexplained emotional gap. Similarly with ourselves. The difficulty we have had in reaching a NARA pact (really a simple Commerce and Navigation treaty with some ambiguous icing on top) with Japan shows how far we remain apart politically and culturally, despite our economic links. There is a brittleness (our Ambassador in Tokyo has publicly called it a shallowness) in relations due to lack of human content.
Towards Europe and the United States, Japan has shown a little more warmth. The Japanese still see Europe as a sort of cultural and social mecca (as the mass movement of hundreds of thousands of tourists each year testifies). With the United States the emoti- onal ties and hangups of the postwar occupation remain strong. But despite this it does not take much for the Japanese to revert to their basic belief in how we Westerners really do not understand and like them. During the currency shocks of 71-72 intelligent Japanese could talk openly of the “whites” ganging up against Japan. Some spoke of a reversion of the old ABCD style of diplomacy to isolate Japan (ABCD refers to the alleged prewar American, British, Chinese and Dutch conspiracy to force Japan to war).
And in South-East Asia? The theory that Japan and South-East Asia are natural partners is one that recent events – the troubles during Mr Tanaka’s January 1974 tour for example – might seem thoroughly to disprove. I was on that tour. At the risk of seeming to make apologies which even the Japanese have avoided, let me say simply that the Jakarta riots were a political act directed at the existing regime; the Kuala Lumpur student affairs were a farce; and the Bangkok demonstrations, to the extent they reflected a genuine anti-Japanese feeling, were based on some fairly distorted images of Japanese business activities.
This is not to deny that the Japanese face problems in South-East Asia. Their exclusivity means the average Japanese has enormous difficulties in relating to foreign peoples. He makes the effort with us Westerners because he at least believes we have something to offer. Few Japanese are willing to make the same effort with non-Westerners. Their instinctive reaction in South-East Asia is to clam up and retreat into their Japanese shells (or golf clubs and nightclubs). And precisely because the South-East Asians share the Japanese sensitivity to human relations this behaviour is so bitterly resented by their officials and intellectuals. This resentment in turn registers on the Japanese. It sends them further into their shells; it provokes an intense dismay and introspection about how hopeless they are in dealing with foreign peoples and how the world really hates them. A typical Japanese discussion on Japan’s role in South-East Asia begins with the assumption the world sees all Japanese as “economic animals” (a term which the Japanese love to mistranslate and grossly overplay) and that the South-East Asians see them as “ugly Japan- ese” as well.
I have set out in some detail what I see as the main traits of the Japanese, partly to explain why they might have difficulties in relating to foreigners. But equally I want to point out that the Japanese personality is not the distasteful, avaracious, humourless thing that I am afraid too many of us like to believe it is. It is a highly viable, nd in some ways highly attractive, personality. True, the moodiness and volatility of the Japanese is something we need to keep very much in mind in our dealings with them. And their exclusivity can have some very unpleasant effects on those subjected to it. But this is a long way removed from the popular suspicion that the Japanese are out to “screw” us or the South-East Asians. On the contrary, they have contributed far more to South-East Asia then they have taken out.
If we exclude places like Singapore and Hong Kong, which are special situations, the Communist countries of Asia, and South Korea and Taiwan, which are also special because of their massive Japanese investments and their industrialisation programmes, Japan’s overall trade deficit with South-East Asia is running at a rate of four thousand million US dollars a year. (Based on the deficit of $1,013 million in first quarter of 1974. Imports valued in C.I.F. terms, exports in FOB. terms.) Add to this the deficit of two thousand five hundred million US dollars in trade just with us in Australia and you have a massive injection of money into our part of the world. In scale, even allowing for inflation, it compares with the United States Marshall aid to Europe after the war, except that in this case it is not aid, it’s trade. And, as many economists say, trade is the best form of aid because it goes directly into the economy of the receiving countries. It is development in the form of new projects and plantations for the foodstuffs and timber for Japan, mines and new oil projects for the raw materials which Japan needs. In exchange, Japan is providing capital equipment and manufactured goods.
This, however, is one side of the picture. Far more significant in the long run is the effect of Japanese investment in the nearby countries and the export of industrial plants to China. In effect, Japan is providing these countries with the wherewithal to industrialise themselves in the same way as it has itself. This is already well advanced in Taiwan and South Korea. Beginning with the factories producing the cheap plastic toys and textiles, Japan has escalated its investment in these two areas to the point now that they are already moving into the full range of light electrical goods. They are even starting to move into heavy chemicals. They are following almost exactly the same growth path that Japan followed forty years ago, only faster. And this has been at the expense of Japan’s own traditional markets developed with such difficulty over the last 20 years, as can be seen in the dramatic fall in Japan’s exports of textiles and light industrial goods to the United States. It has even gone one stage further as these countries penetrate the Japanese market with the cheap goods they can produce with their low cost labour and the Japanese-financed factories. Today, hundreds of thousands of Japanese are out of work as a result of this competition, and in contrast with Australia, the Japanese are not reacting with tariffs and quotas; they are using it to force their own industry to higher levels of sophistication and specialisation. It would be very hard in the post-war years or even the pre-war years, to find another example of a country deliberately helping other countries to take over its line of business.
Taiwan and South Korea, so far, have been the foci for this investment, for several reasons. The obvious one is their closeness. They have a large core of Japanese speaking technicians and engineers who were trained before the war. Also there is a cultural similarity and a shared work ethic. In other words, they have the efficiency which, blended with their low labour costs, can produce an explosive industrialisation. The remarkable thing is the way that this industrialisation is now starting to lap over into the Philippines and Malaysia. It has been a cliche up to now that no matter how low the cost of labour was in South-East Asia, the much lower efficiency of these people meant that they could never develop the industries for competitive export abroad, say to America or the western world. That is now changing, and given a few more years it will lap over into Thailand and possibly – keep our fingers crossed – even into Indonesia. When that happens, South-East Asia will become a vast industrial heartland of the world, producing on a scale several times what Japan has been doing for the past ten years.
In this light, I feel that the Australian coyness in relations with Japan is somewhat misguided. As this industrial heartland emerges we will have to choose between whether we want to co-operate or compete with it. The non-viability of our own industry will become more apparent, and while we may find some markets for our foodstuffs and minerals in this new industrial bloc, we will also start to find a number of competitors in trade with Japan in the supply of these goods. The idea that in this situation we should be keeping Japan at arms’ length, and these words are used I regret to say, amongst Australian policy makers, to avoid offending South-East Asia, will look rather antiquated.
Of course, if the Japanese continue for ever to show their worst and most introspective face to the outside world none of this trade and aid by itself is going to make them popular. My own feeling is that sooner or later they will develop the confidence to deal with other peoples more openly. When this happens we will find a very different Japanese image in South-East Asia, and it is one likely to make much more impact than the Western image. No longer will we be able to take the patronising view of Japan’s difficulties in Asia that many in Australia have been glad to adopt, particularly after the Jakarta riots.
Even today, if the Japanese in South-East Asia can throw off his inhibitions he can have spectacular success. Scattered throughout South-East Asia one finds these “liberated” Japanese. Often they are running small companies or factories, or buried away on some forgotten aid project. Unlike most Westerners they take the trouble to learn the local language. Some end up being almost completely assimilated.
In fact, the Japanese have long sensed they have this ability to make a contact in South-East Asia denied them elsewhere. Despite the obvious brutalities of the war, many Japanese genuinely still believe they had a liberating mission in South-East Asia, and that this was appreciated by the local people. Michael Somare in Papua New Guinea can attest to the fact that the Japanese occupation did in fact have two sides; that some Japanese did try to relate to the local peoples in a way that was never attempted in, say, China or Korea. Typically, it was the Chinese in South-East Asia who suffered most from the Japanese occupation and fought hardest to resist it. The local people in many cases collaborated with the Japanese.
If this new industrial bloc in Asia does emerge, and I give it another ten years or so, the Japanese-Indonesian relationship will be the most important. The economic potential is obvious – Indonesian oil, timber and minerals to Japan with Japan providing whatever industrial goods and technology that can be absorbed. Culturally, both nations share the same love of factions, consensus politics and the use of middle-men. Apart from the fading memory of the Dutch there is no third presence (as there is in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines) which impinges.
And China? While the Japan-Indonesia link will be crucial in South-East Asia, I suggest the Japan-China link could be crucial to Asia and perhaps the world. Japan’s relations with China may not be quite as close as some imagine; the fact that China gave Japan its culture and much of its language has some relevance, but then we don’t make too much of a fuss over the present inhabitants of Greece even though much of our language and culture comes from there. But neither is the relationship steeped in distrust as some also like to believe – the brief phase of Australian foreign policy which said that Chinese denunciations of Japanese militarism gave us a chance to find a shared interest with Peking was wildly inaccurate.
The Chinese, in particular, the northern Chinese, do have the “continental” culture which I mentioned earlier. This laps over into Korea, and I am sure it creates enough of a communication gap with the Japanese to prevent a really close relationship developing. We Westerners who share the continentality of the Chinese and Koreans can see the proof of the gap. I have yet to meet one Tokyo-based Westerner who has not come back from a Korea visit struck by the much more “normal” attitude the Koreans take towards foreigners. My own experience is that it is easier to talk to a middle-rank Chinese cadre ignorant of the outside world than to the average educated Japanese, even the sophistic- ated well-travelled Japanese. Given this, it is not surprising that the Chinese and Koreans have had more than their share of difficulties in relations with Japan.
But precisely because of the traumatic history of relations both the Chinese and the Japanese now take each other very seriously. Indeed, few in the West really appreciate the intensity and sublety of the Japan-China relationship over the past twenty years. Long before the Chinese and Americans moved to their Shanghai communique and liaison offices the Japanese were dealing with the Chinese through “memorandum trade” offices. The way in which Japan maintained its Taiwan links even after recognising Peking makes our own Peking recognition exercise seem highly straightforward. The Chinese fuss about reviving Japanese militarism was a deliberate and successful ploy to make sure that the former anti-Peking Mr Sato would not be replaced by another anti- Peking Prime Minister. It was dropped and forgotten the moment Mr Sato resigned. While no one can say for sure, I would suggest that China now knows more about Japan than it knows about any other non-communist country. I suspect the reverse is also true. One obstacle to relations is the fear of some conservative Japanese that the Chinese know too much about them – that in any close alliance Japan would find itself manipulated by China. But this is unlikely to stop the growing economic relationship, particularly if the Chinese conservatives can be persuaded to abandon their self-reliance obsession.
Where does all this leave Australia? There is a widespread view in our official circles that any deliberate attempt to forge closer cultural and political links with Japan is likely to cause resentment in China and South-East Asia. The other Asians will allegedly beupsetatthe sight of the two rich men in the area getting together. We will also be tainted with Japanese unpopularity in Asia, it is claimed. I doubt whether any of this is true. I doubt whether anyone anywhere is over-impressed with the depth of our existing links with Japan. On the contrary, if we fail to make greater efforts to get onto the Japanese wavelength we could easily find ourselves left out when Japan’s relations with its other Asian neighbours begin to mature. Japan has made it clear that it puts far greater priority on links with ASEAN than on responses to Mr Whitlam’s call for an Asian Forum. No one has yet satisfactorily explained why certain sections of the Japanese bureaucracy fought so long to have us excluded from the Ministerial Conference on the Economic Development of South-East Asia – Japan’s maxi-ASEAN.
Nor will it be easy for us to move to a closer political relationship with Japan if and when we decide to. We have a serious ‘wavelength” problem with the Japanese. We should compare ourselves with the Indonesians for example. The Indonesians respond readily to the Japanese liking for middle-men to handle relations. They have a sensitivity to nuance and negotiation. The result is that at least half a dozen senior political figures in Japan see themselves as channels for relations. When the Indonesians want something out of Japan they usually get it.
And in our case? Conservative and right-wing politicians centered around ex-Prime Minister Kishi have made some tentative efforts to set up semi-official middleman links with various Australian Governments. The previous Australian Government responded somewhat, but it was hard for the Japanese to make much impression on our Anglo- Saxon preference for doing everything through the proper and formal bureaucra-tic channels. Since then we have made no effort to encourage other informal channels of communication through other strata of Japanese political life. I suggest that if we had these channels many of our recent difficulties in trade with Japan could have been eased. In our negotiations with the Japanese we seem to act as if the frequent and righteous statement of our case will bring the slippery, devious Japanese to heel. When we should be putting pressure on Japan we back away for fear of upsetting this Asian giant. When we should be compromising we are digging our heels in “to show the Japanese that they can’t dominate us”. We should try being a little more round-about, more involved, more “Asian” sometimes.
Similarly the Japanese have problems getting onto our wavelength. They allow their legitimate complaints about our immigration policies to confirm exaggerated prejudices about lurking 1930s White Australianism. Deep down they still prefer to believe that we want to extend hidden favours to our Anglo-Saxon mates in the United States and the United Kingdom; that we secretly discriminate against Japan.
Obviously both the Japanese and ourselves are, and will continue to be, involved in Asia. But we need to do something about our direct bilateral relationship before we get too esoteric about what we should or should not be doing together vis-a-vis Asia. When we understand Japan we can begin to think about the opportunities that exist for involving Japan in Asia to our mutual advantage, for example steering Japan towards a rational Indo-China policy.
Knowing Japan will require us to do far more than what we are doing now. Our government still does not have a single fluent Japanese speaker, as shown by our failure to provide an interpreter for Mr Whitlam’s speeches and talks during Mr Tanaka’s recent visit. Recent efforts to train Japanese speakers have produced several intermediate level linguists but none who could handle negotiations at the level we expect the Japanese to cope in English. Our large team for the complex negotiations with Japan on the NARA treaty did not even include one specialist in Japanese affairs. The senior staff of our Tokyo Embassy does not include a Japanese speaker of any standard.
Conversely, the Japanese should take a more serious interest in Australia. While they do at least extend us the courtesy of sending English speakers (some quite fluent) they pay far less attention to us than our economic and strategic position warrants. When he visited the United States, former Prime Minister Tanaka offered US$10 million cash to the United States universities for study of Japan. Japanese firms followed up with more. Australia, Japan’s second trading partner and where Japan studies are badly lagging, received one million dollars over ten years subject to official control.
But while it would be nice to have some more money from Japan ultimately it is up to us in Australia to organise study of Japan we need so badly. We should start by asking our universities to improve their standards of Japanese language teaching. Plans to establish an Australia-Japan Foundation are most welcome. It is to be hoped the Foundation sees as its main task the creation in Australia of a core of real expertise on Japan, rather than a continuation of the bland, superficial exchanges which to date may have done more harm than good to relations.