The history of Australian foreign policy can be divided into three phases, a British phase which covered the period from the first settlement to the early years of the Commonwealth, an American one which has run by and large from the end of World War II to the present, and a Japanese which covered the period from approximately 1905 to 1941. Each of these phases is defined by the great power which dominated and conditioned Australian security in its respective period. The Japanese phase, however, is fundamentally different from the British and American. Whereas in the latter cases Great Britain and the United States gained their importance for Australia's relation with the world from the certain shield they afforded against foreign intervention and invasion, in the former Japan became the central factor in Australia's foreign policy because of the threat that she posed to the national interest and national survival. For the greater part of the period 1905-1941, especially in the decades leading up to World Wars I and II and during the first years of both wars, Japan was the pre-eminent power in the Western Pacific, a power moreover seemingly bent on an expansionist course. At the same time Britain, preoccupied with the German threat in Europe and in the North Sea, was uable to provide an effective counterweight and the United States, holding firmly to its Western Hemispheric tradition, was unwilling to place a buffer between Japan and its ambitions in the region. These are the key elements which make up the framework of the “Australian Crisis”. In these circumstances national leaders came to see that Australia might be left to fend for itself against a southward movement by Japan, or against what the popular press, some literary publicists and not a few politicians called “The Yellow Peril”. On the basis of this analysis successive Australian governments, without respect to party or person, adopted a defence and diplomatic posture which was aimed at meeting the threat from the north. Thus Australia, with different emphases at different times, sought to persuade Britain and the British Empire-Commonwealth to re-establish its naval strength in the Pacific, to find ways of placating Japan in areas such as Manchuria which were of no direct concern to the Dominion, and to create, as the last line of its defence, a military naval and air force which could deter aggression. These policies were, despite some superficial evidence to the contrary, based primarily on interest not sentiment, on reason not racism. Though identifying strongly with the British cultural inheritance, Australian governments refused to accept the European-centred analysis of international affairs which underpinned British advice on policy matters and which would have had Australian directing all its resources towards helping Britain in Europe. It was this clash of geo-political perspective which brought Australia step by step to break with the idea of imperial unity in international relations, to set up its own foreign office, to demand independent representation at international conferences and finally in 1940-1941 to establish its own legations in the capitals of the major Pacific powers. Similarly, though the imagery and language of “The Yellow Peril” was widespread in the debate over Japan and “The Australian Crisis”, nevertheless Australian policy-makers' views were shaped predominantly by realpolitik considerations, by strategic calculations based on observable patterns of power relationships and national behaviour. While sceptical of the Anglo-Japanese alliance because they could not see that it was held together by a mutual exchange of interests, they set aside racists criticisms and endorsed it as a marginal restraint on Japan. Furthermore in their Pacific pact proposals which were aimed at containing Japan, they were happy to include China and other Asian nations who were their potential enemy's
The Barton government, the first federal government in Australia in 1901, refused to meet the Japanese demands that Japan should be exempted from the White Australia Policy. There was a vicious circle that the Japanese protest made the policy more anti-Japanese and this upset Japan immensely, since it put the prestige of Japan at stake. For Australia, there were several reasons not to negotiate with Japan over the immigration questions. Firstly, the New South Wales colonial legislation of immigration restriction, fundamentally the same as the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act, was approved by Takaaki Kato, Japan's minister in London; hence, the Japanese protest in 1901 was contradictory to Kato's approval. Secondly, the Barton government finally passed the act after adjusting the different interests of the political parties and the British Colonial Office so that they would be in harmony with each other. To complete the legislation, Barton found Japan's demands difficult to meet. Thirdly, Barton found Great Britain as a lever to solve the Japanese questions. From 1894 to 1901, the Australian attitude toward Japan was primarily to promote trade but not to allow Japanese migrants to Australia. The Queensland's Nelson government's adhesion to the 1894 Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation promising the freedom of entry into the contracting parties, caused the federalist government to legislate the Unified Federal Act which excluded Asians. Nippon Yusen Kaisha's steamship service between Japan and Australia, even though contributing to increased trade, was regarded cautiously since it encouraged Japanese migrants to Australia. There was mainly no military consideration on the Japanese immigration questions. It was after the Russo-Japanese War that Australia considered Japan as a military threat.
Throughout the 1920s mention of Australian security was normally linked to the state of the naval base under construction at Singapore. The strategy devised at the Washington Conference was generally accepted in Australia as sufficient, although delays at Singapore were inclined to arouse references to a possibly hostile Japan. In 1931 there was considerable support for the Japanese action in Manchuria, although once again the reaction was frequently one of relief that Japan had moved westward rather than southward. Once the Manchurian crisis had proved that the League of Nations was a limited force in world affairs and circumstances in Europe began to worsen, Australia had to re-examine her security arrangements, especially as a simultaneous conflict in Europe and the Far East became a distinct possibility. In effect, the Australian reappraisal of her position was slow in coming and by 1937 the old reliance on United Kingdom initiative and leadership began to appear a serious misjudgment. At the Imperial Conference in 1937 the Australian Prime Minister promoted unsuccessfully the formation of a Pacific Pact of non-aggression, in line with the emphasis then being placed on regional pacts in Europe. Then suggestion had been tried in several quarters since 1933 by Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. The Australian proposal was thus an attempt to achieve something that had been tried and failed. In the circumstances it did provide the Australian electorate with the impression that security planning was a distinct priority.
This article focuses on the problem of why the Lyons Government went so far as to invite a trade dispute with Japan by raising tariffs on Japanese textile piece goods under the Trade Diversion Policy which was enacted in May of 1936. In this period, it was not in Australia's interest to provoke Japan since it was in a vulnerable strategic position and it might lose its profitable market for Australian exporting products, especially wool. In view of these risks, it is difficult to attribute the provocative tariff measures against Japan simply to Australia's acquiescence in requests from British textile interests whose share in the Australian market had been declining through competition with cheaper Japanese goods. A plausible explanation is that the Commonwealth Government tried to obtain concessions from the United Kingdom Government in the negotiations over exportation of Australian meat and other agricultural products in return for giving benefits to British textile piece goods. Furthermore, the Australian people felt it necessary to protect their high standard of living from the inflow of cheap Japanese goods. Another factor is that Australian Government leaders underestimated the Japanese reaction to the Trade Diversion Policy. That is to say, they thought that the Japanese Government would not take very serious retalitaory measures against Australia even if higher tariffs were levied on Japanese textile piece goods. The judgement was decisive in that it diverted their attention from the risks involved in the new tariff policy. Contrary to their estimation, however, Japan did impose import restrictions on Australian products and it markedly curtailed Australian export trade with Japan which had been prosperous during the first half of the 1930s. The miscalculation of Japan's intention to retaliate was largely due to lack of diplomatic thinking within the Lyons Government. In this sense, the Japanese-Australian Trade Dispute revealed the “immaturity” of pre-war Australian Governments in managing foreign affairs.
Since her founding as a nation-state in 1901 up to at least the first half of the 1930s, Australia had lacked her own diplomacy. One can guess at the reasons. She was at the “antipodes” from the centre of world politics. Great Britain could provide her with almost all of the diplomatic resources she needed. Hence arose the idea that her best policy would be to do her utmost to maintain the integrity of the British Commonwealth, of which she was a part. She was too preoccupied with her economic development to look to the outside world. These elements were all persistent even in the second half of the 1930s. However, underneath lay a slow but steady shift in Australia's attitude towards foreign policy: the shift from sheer dependency on Great Britain to the orientation as a “Pacific nation”. The much-delayed improvement of the diplomatic service and the proposal for a “Pacific Agreement” in 1937 were two illustrations of this. Even more important was the emergence of John J. Curtin in Australian politics. His “Australia First” policy—more energy on national interest, less on the Commonwealth bond—exerted a considerable, if not permeating, influence on Australian diplomacy. Australia in the second half of the 1930s was at the threshold of deciding her course to follow, looking farther into the years to come. Nevertheless, she oscillated between a Commonwealth and a “Pacific nation”. In this paper the author has dichotomized Australian diplomacy into these distinct models and attempted to trace this oscillation. In doing so, its dilemmas have, the author believes, been shown even more clearly.
Japan and Australia were never direct allies. But they have been linked in the Pacific in indirect alliances for more than fifty years since the beginning of the twentieth century as the allies of Great Britain (1902-1923) and of the United States (1952 until to-day). Fortuitous as their alliance linkages in the Pacific may appear to have been, they did have an impact on the development of the strategical element in Japanese-Australian relations, and are worth looking at for an assessment of strategical cohesion in Japanese-Australian relations. With this in mind, the paper examines and contrasts, from an historical point of view, the strategic developments in Japanese-Australian relations under so-called Pax Britannica and Pax Americana, and looks for any discernible trends in the two countries' involuntary strategic associations, when Japanese-Australian relations were evolving under the predominance of British and American leadership in the Pacific. It does so by first focusing on the genesis of the alliance structures in the early 1900s and 1950s, and surveys then, in two separate sections, the major developments in Japanese-Australian relations under Pax Britannica and Pax Americana. Two noteworthy similarities in the alliance formation periods show that both in 1900 and 1950, it was the menace of Russian advances in the Asian/Pacific region which triggered the fate that caused Japan and Australia to become indirect allies in the Pacific, and that both in the early 1900s and early 1950s, Australia displayed an acute sense of suspicion of becoming locked in indirect alliance with Japan. What emerges as the most obvious difference from one period to the other is the qualitative change in the development of Japanese-Australian relations, which evolved from often tense and erratic relations under Pax Britannica (hinging as they did on Australia's regional insecurity vis-à-vis Imperial Japan) to more regular and durable relations centered on the promotion of Japan's and Australia's complementary economies under Pax Americana. On the other hand, most strikingly similar to observe in both periods has been the trend that despite Australia's deep mistrust of Japan at the beginning of both “Paces” periods, strategical congruity in Japanese-Australian relations developed rather consistently, both at the end of Pax Britannica, when Australia was loath to see the Anglo-Japanese alliance lapse, and again at the end of Pax Americana, when there were calls in both Japan and Australia to upgrade their indirect alliance and pull closer together strategically. If this positive trend, from suspicion to trust, has had a certain beneficial effect upon the general progress of Japanese-Australian relations, it is also pointed out that the essence of rising Japanese-Australian strategical congruity in the early 1920s has been different in character from that of the late 1970s. Differences in strategical perceptions past and present notwithstanding, it appears not inconceivable that Japan and Australia, who at this stage are firmly allied with the U. S. and share a vital interest in the safety of the region's sealanes, particularly with regard to the protection of their own phenomenal two-way trade, may in the future act more in league with one another on defence questions.
When the Japanese Peace Treaty was concluded at San Francisco, there was fairly widespread fear in Australia that Japan would revive with great industrial capacity and military potential. But this fear of Japanese militalism had been removed by the early 1960s. One of the principal factors contributing to the favorable attitude to Japan is the realization that Japan became the most important export market for Australia. By the 1970s, the relationship between Australia and Japan had begun to enter a new phase in political as well as economical spheres. Especially since the American disengagement from Southeast Asia accelerated during the early 1970s, both countries have had common deep interests in and responsibility for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed in June of 1976 was a formal recognition of the community of interests between Australia and Japan, and at the same time a formal framework for further cooperation in political, economic and cultural fields. This article sketches the development of Australia-Japan relations over the past decade and describes the political role of both countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Although trade relations between Japan and Australia have been called “mutually dependent, ” there has been some friction since the so-called oil-shock of 1973. Trade relations can work well only when both the production and the demand of the two countries concerned are balanced. The fall in Japanese consumption is the reason for trade frictions in the 1970s. The beef trade problem is one of these cases. The Australian beef industry developed in the 1960s and half of her production was exported. Japan was the second largest market for them after the United States. In early 1974, as beef consumption, which had increased about eight per cent annually untill 1972, decreased 4.2 per cent in 1973, the Japanese government decided not to import any more until beef prices had recovered. This is the “first beef dispute”, in which the Australian Labour government did not try to retaliate against the Japanese cutback. After the Japanese resumption of imports in 1975, Australia complained about the piecemeal announcement of the import quota.The Japanese government promised that the announcement would be made twice a year, but it announced only a part of the quota in the fall of 1975. The Australian conservative government warned that the Japanese decision might damage trade relations between the two countries and suggested that as a retaliation it would not extend the Fisheries Agreement. This is the “second beef dispute.” In Japan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry attempted to minimize beef imports in order to protect the cattle growers' interests and the beef import policies which were formed under the influence of the farmers' organizations and the LDP leaders who supported them. The most influencial factor to increase the import quota was the pressure from the United States. Briefly speaking, relations with Australia have not been considered in the Japanese policy-making process. On the other hand, the Australian policies were influenced by their own internal politics. The attitude of the Fraser government in the “second dispute” was tougher than that of the Whitlam government because the Liberal-Country coalition relied on the rural electorate. For instance, Mr. Fraser strongly criticised Japan in the fall of 1977 concerning such a minor problem as the long-term announcement of import quotas as his electoral strategy. The government of both countries must play a more constructive role in trade relations as disputes concerning some commodities can be harmful to the general relations between Japan and Australia.
“The Pacific community study” proposed by the late Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira's policy study group in May 1980 is working to determine policy areas in concrete terms, with its target set on an “open regionalism.” This paper aims to indentify the position of open regionalism in the whole process of formation of the economic blocks in the 1930s and the EC and evolution of regionalism into a Pacific community. History tells us that the worldwide panic of the 1930s came from the fact that an imbalance in the economic structure formed during World War I was amplified by the short-term inflow of funds into the United States due to American economic boom. However, this did not directly lead to the formation of economic blocs. The formation was prompted by a lack of world leaders wishing to maintain the international currency and the free trade system and by an insufficient influence of Socialist economies, both of which helped aggravate economic confrontations between free countries. A good example is the sterling bloc formed by the British Commonwealth of Nations. The formation of the EC was accelerated by two factors which helped European countries to join forces: loss of national wealth of European nations as a result of two world wars and erosion of the international influence of European nations as a result of being flanked by two superpowers. More directly it was prompted by the Korean war, the Suez conflict and the Hungarian disturbance. Since its economic growth rate is lower than that of Japan or the United States, the EC atempts to have greater political and economic influence by increasing its members. Its greater diplomatic influence is often exerted at the Summit conferences and OECD's ministerial conferences. Since the oil crisis, however, the EC has had to place emphasis on economic security by setting up the EMS designed for greater stability of its currencies and by making greater efforts for energy development and industrial restructuring. Particularly since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the EC has had to consider its security in a wider perspective of the West at large. In the changing international environment in the 1980s, both the growing threat of the Soviet Union and the expanding power of the oil-producing countries will remain major sources of external pressure on the Western nations. The aggravating balance of international payments of the non-oil-producing countries caused by the greater power of the oil-producing countries shows an expanding imbalance in the international economic structure. The declining power and influence of the United States will help push the international order more toward regionalism. However, the formation of economic blocs as seen in the 1930s would only help disrupt the international order. Under the circumstances, cooperative trilateral relations between Japan, Europe and the U. S. would be the basis for maintaining the international order, and an open regionalism would be a realistic choice. In this sense an open regionalism offers many points that would help us study the present international order.