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Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1949

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Peace Treaty (Proposals)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the recent American recommendation that Japan should be allowed to attend certain international conferences, he will consider the desirability of re-opening the question of a peace treaty with Japan, or, failing that, a settlement of Japanese reparations.

Our views on the desirability of concluding a peace settlement in the Far East are well known. But this is not a subject on which we can make progress alone. The proposal to which the hon. Gentleman refers does not represent any fresh development towards removing the obstacles which have hitherto prevented consideration of a Japanese peace treaty.

In view of the suggestion that the Japanese should attend international conferences and of the possibility that the United States may press for Japan receiving most-favoured-nation terms, surely we ought to come to some decision on reparations beforehand; and, as things are now getting better with Russia, would not this be the moment for us to press for a peace treaty with Japan?

I think we must wait for the convalescence to be effective before taking another step.

British Nationals (Taxation)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why British firms and British subjects now residing in Japan have to pay Japanese taxes; to what extent these taxes are to repair damage done to Japanese plant, machinery and houses by the Allies during the war; and whether such sums paid by British subjects will be offset against Japanese debts owed to Great Britain.

British firms and nationals in Japan cannot justifiably escape the payment of normal taxation, which contributes to the stabilisation of the Japanese economy and from which they themselves therefore derive benefit. The taxes are non-discriminatory and are paid by all other United Nations nationals in Japan. United Nations nationals are not, however, required to pay taxes which are either based upon income received in non-yen currencies, or primarily designed to meet costs directly arising out of the war. For this reason they have been exempted from the provisions of the Capital Levy Law of 1946, the Non-WarSufferers Special Tax, and wherever appropriate, from the War Indemnity Special Measures Law. It is not possible to compute the extent to which ordinary national and local taxation is devoted to repairing the ravages of war. The answer to the last part of the Question is "No, Sir."

If we have to pay taxes to Japan, and are not being allowed to receive reparations for damage done in different parts of the Empire, does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that it is high time that we ceased to argue that it is the United States who is indirectly paying us if we press Japan? We are paying this money and, that being so, why should it not be canalised for our own reparations?