Regional dialogue in Australia-Japan relations, 1952 to 1965: The beginnings of a political relationship in regional affairs.
The thesis examines regional dialogue on political and security matters between Australia and Japan in the period 1952 to 1965. It is the contention of the thesis that regional dialogue between Canberra and Tokyo, which was largely focussed on developments in Indonesia and Indonesian foreign policy, was enhanced and then driven by emerging policy networks. Secondly, the thesis argues that regular consultation with Japan on regional matters had an influence on the tone, style and direction of Australian regional diplomacy. Accordingly the role played by senior officials in the Department of External Affairs in enhancing overall bilateral ties is extensively examined. This is an important contribution as, due to the concentration on the commercial aspects of the bilateral relationship, the role of External Affairs has been overlooked in the literature.
To support these claims the thesis examined, in detail, the pressing regional issues of the period (West New Guinea Dispute and Konfrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia) to demonstrate the regular nature of consultations, the level of dialogue and the information exchanged.
The central questions asked were 1) What was the nature of regional dialogue with Japan? 2) "How did Australia and Japan reconcile their different positions on the West New Guinea dispute and Konfrontasi?"3) Did consultation affect overall Australian regional diplomacy?
In essence, the thesis argued that regional dialogue and cooperation went beyond the US framework as consultations involved regional issues that were of vital national interest for both Australia and Japan. Moreover, consultation between Australia and Japan on regional issues was not restricted to developments in Indonesia. In many respects the issues dealt with in the case studies were the starting point for broader discussions. The importance of Japan in issues pertaining to Southeast Asia demonstrated the need to develop and enhance political relations and regular consultation on regional issues.
In this context the emerging policy networks on political and security matters and subsequent regional dialogue were a part of the overall development towards the close consultations and the myriad of connections in the contemporary period. Regular consultations on regional matters also were the beginnings for discussion of regional architecture such as APEC. As such, the rapid improvement in post war bilateral relations with Japan, especially through the impact of policy networks, had an impact on overall Australian regional diplomacy.