Chapter 30......The Club
When the Goss Labor Government came to power, it had signalled that they would deal with this growing concern of ‘foreign land ownership’. In Opposition they had been loud in their condemnation of much of what the Ahern Government was permitting. Wayne Goss however, possibly mindful of the possibility of coming to power in the near future, tended to be guarded. He seized on the controversial aspects of ‘racism and emotionalism’ which distanced him from the real substance of the debate. In the meantime his party had drafted the Foreign Investment Policy, that gave considerable comfort to those who had raised questions of major concern.
In the early days of the new government, there was a an attempt to put in place some of the promises that Labor candidates had telegraphed. This was not surprising, since one of the most ardent critics of the Japanese takeover had been the new treasurer Keith de Lacy. Since Daikyo had come in for considerable attention on the Gold Coast, they had repositioned their operations to the northern city of Cairns. If Cairns had not been as openly critical of the Japanese takeover, then it was not for the want of trying. New Australian Mrs Zita Pobucky was instrumental in forming an organisation ‘AustraliansCitizens Against Foreign Land Ownership’, that did much to raise public awareness. Once again the gutless politicians remained rooted to their own interests, never once lending support to the ordinary people who once again had been at the vanguard of public opinion. De Lacy it is true, spoke of ‘concerns’ but henever did more than rub shoulders with those who were luke warm. De Lacy, I always felt would be‘ putty’ in the hands of big business. When the day came the Goss Labor Government would go to water, just as effectively as their Federal counterparts. They would cave in and fiercely defend the ‘requirements of economic good management and necessity, obviated by our balance of payments’.
That crunch came when Daikyo made a play for the Four Season’s hotel. Already in partnership or total ownership of three hotels in the top tier of the tourist accommodation market, this latest move created a stir. Goss had declared that any future ownership must reflect the basic concerns of what people had been saying and that was essentially that the hotel must retain 50% Australian equity. Until now that matter of Japanese buying into property had met with no opposition, other than the much vaunted totally ineffective and tooth-less Foreign Investment Review Board. Its energies amounted to no more than rubber-stamping anything or everything that came before it. That is slightly exaggerated. It approved only 99.7% When Keith de lacy exercised his muscle as treasurer, he momentarily had respect of the people. Not only was he honouring the undertaking that the government had led the people to believe that it would undertake, but he also signalled that here was a government that at least cold be trusted. As David Lange in New Zealand, had carried out the wishes of his people , so too did it appear that here at last was honest government. This departure from the easy road that had been the order of the day to date, placed the sale of the Four Seasons Hotel now, at the mercy of the Australian market.
For so, long the cry had been for Australian entrepreneurs to have faith in the local tourist industry, but the inhibiting factor had been the culture that drove the market, ...short term profits. Japanese inves
When in the words of Channel Nine reporter Rick Burnett, Sir Sydney Schubert,‘ put himself on the market’, Daikyo, were quick ‘to snap him up’. The Brisbane Sun of 7/7/88, reported that recently retired Queensland Government Co-ordinator General, Sir Sydney Schubert was about
tors were historically inclined toward long term investment, with emphasis on obtaining and consolidating market share. For reasons peculiar to the Japanese capitalisation of shares and the taxation structure ( expand here ) this philosophy has spilled over into the Western world, providing the locals with a poor understanding of why certain properties are purchased.
Daikyo, who understandably were not too keen on the idea waited in the wings for an Australian joint partner to come forward. It did not happen. This was no reflection upon the company, but rather an indicator to the capital liquidity that prevailed on the home front. As the weeks passed, the pressure on the Government to hold to its election commitment, increased. Would Goss and co, block the sale and so set the agenda for change , or would it capitulate. For the moment, it did neither, for the Trade Practices Commission intervened and expressed its concern that Daikyo appeared to be acquiring a greater share of the high end of the hotel market, which did not auger well for the long term interest of the tourist.
With the Government, now seemingly wiping its hands of the question of deliberation and just as seemingly transferring the ‘impediment factor’ to the shoulders of the bureaucrats of the Trade Practices Commission (TPC), something had to give.
Understandably Daikyo had every reason to believe that they were being frustrated from carrying out a perfectly legal operation. They had the money and they could see no reason why they should not be able to increase their holdings. They had been reluctant partners to the idea of joint venture, but had met with the wishes of the government to precede down that road. Having met that requirement, they were now faced with another hurdle, claiming that the ‘goal posts had been moved.’ The resultant mess saw the Government and the TPC passing the buck from one to another as only government and bureaucracy can, with Daikyo standing on the sidelines.
At the time the Government was under tremendous pressure to act. Public awareness of what the Japanese were buying had been highlighted by articles that appeared in the national newspapers supporting what I had been saying, although not in the context of saying ‘look here, what this fellow Whiteside has being saying has merit’. No it was an evaluation that the media placed on figures that often came from my research. It always seemed to me that there was some sort of danger in a newspaper coming out in full support of what I had been trying to achieve. Doubtless some of this was political, but there was more than a hint of simply lacking the guts to stand up and be counted. The bottom line smacked at self preservation in case they upset their advertisers, many of whom regarded their Japanese business connections as being sacrosanct.
Occupying Premier Wayne Goss and treasurer Keith De Lacy’s attention at the time was another matter, that had grabbed the newspaper headlines over the previous days.... the site to be chosen for the much vaunted Multi-Function-Polis. Businessmen, planners, developers, tourist operators and foreign investors , applied never-ending deputations to government, in the conviction that their economically based arguments, had far more merit than the rumblings from the masses. In fact this was an advantage that the masses were never given access to; liaising with government. Confusing signals though came from George Street. Whilst Keith de Lacy was saying on one hand that only 0.34% of the State was foreign owned, a figure incidentally, that had been pared back from the original figure of 1.5%, ...that had caused a deal of comment ...to 0.89%, to 0.54% and finally to an ‘acceptable’ 0.34%. Some months later when the focus of foreign land ownership had abated somewhat, the figure of 1.5% reappeared, to become fact. Point three-four percent, it may have been but this did not prevent the Treasurer from instigating a probe into the increasing acquisition of land and although this investigation looked at all foreign investors it was the Japanese who were in the firing line. No mention here of racism, yet, when the man in the street raised the questions, that government was now struggling to come to grips with, the media saw fit to label them.
Sir Sydney Schubert, had no doubt, that Daikyo was on the Governments hit list and on the 26th of June 1990, served warning that, his company would have to look seriously, at it’s Queensland investment portfolio. If this news set the boffins in Canberra aghast, Keith de Lacy’s foray into examining the possibilities of acceding to the common wish of the people, namely doing something to prevent the sale of freehold land to foreign investors, struck fear into both the Federal Treasurer Paul Keating and later when the ‘theatre’ was right the Prime Minister Bob Hawke. De Lacy in moving in this direction is on record as saying that, Australians would feel more comfortable if foreign investors were not allowed freehold land title”. He admitted that there would be complications, but considered that it could be achieved. This idea angered Daikyo and in a stinging rebuke delivered from Tokyo Sir Sydney Schubert said that the “debate had been high-jacked by ignorance, emotion, racism and the pace of tourist development. “
It was the same old line that had been peddled by all who stood to gain from the benefits of working with or for Japanese investors. Sir Sydney was no different to those financial advisers who had hung onto the coat-tails of some of the entrepreneurs of the eighties, like barnacles on a boat and accused those who asked the loaded questions as being ‘tent-dwellers and even traitors. Some even went as far as to circulate petitions to have the Minister of Immigration, have me deported. If clichés like racism and xenophobia, helped take the sting out of the debate, then it was worth employing. From the Prime Minister down, they tried it and as far as I was concerned, it failed.
The reason was simple enough, guilt is not etched into the Kiwi psyche. New Zealander’s of my generation grew up in an environment that set an unprecedented standard for race relations and in fact racism was never a conscious thought. In a country that had treated its true inhabitants as classless occupants, the spectre of anything that smacks remotely at ‘singling out a people, no matter what the argument, raises this sanctimonious cloak of righteous indignation. This business of‘ racist sledging’, may inhibit the weak, but it is counterproductive. Many learned academics, have expressed publicly that the the ‘smear of racism’ prevents informed debate. Some who came to my home, tried to become involved in the general debate on Japanese investment and the question of Foreign Land Ownership, but witnessed at first hand, the mauling that I received and marvelled that I had the strength to fight on.
Cartoonist Vines, in the Courier-Mail 3/7/90, depicted Mr Yokoyama on the receiving end of a brick, that had been tossed through a plate glass window. On the window ‘Daikyo investments’, on the brick ‘racism’.
It is interesting to note that in the days leading up to July 4, the Murdock owned AUSTRALIAN, seconded four prominent participants in the centre of this argument to write a column. Three were known in Queensland, the fourth was not. Leading off was EIE’s chief financial advisor, Dr Bungo Ishizaki. “The AUSTRALIAN, invited me to write this partly in response to a decision by the Queensland government not to allow Daikyo Kanko to purchase some premium tourist property in that States north. If the Queensland Government decides that leasehold is the way to go, so be it. If it next decide only triangular buildings can be erected, we will handle that too”. This last remark, could be interpreted as being facetious, but in fact is tongue in cheek. Knowing the little of Bungo Ishizaki, that I have been privileged to meet, this is a nice way of saying, ‘well folks that is our philosophy’. We will bend, but within reason. We will listen and evaluate, but if the situation develops along the lines of what is happening to Daikyo, then we would believe that other factors would be driving the agenda. Second cab off the rank was Keith de Lacy; The issue of foreign investment is one which generates strong emotions. It is a question that will never be resolved by logical debate. The basic facts are over-laid by a range of perceptions and issues ...emotions ranging from a genuine desire by Australians to control their own land , to rather ugly attitudes based on racism, war experiences and general xenophobia”. It was typically political, all words and no substance. And this from the one man in the State who could have effected direction. He may well have been a cardboard cut-out.
Sir Sydney Schubert said that his company accepted the right of the Queensland Government to impose restrictions on leasehold of off shore islands, but went on to say and I quote. “Suggestions that foreign purchases in future be leasehold rather than freehold are an approach to assuaging the outspoken opponents of foreign investment.” One can assume from this statement, that if the ‘assuaging’ did take place, then it was ill placed, whereas, if the government to assuaged the Daikyo factor, then the decision was correct. Schubert was working for the interest of his master, the Daikyo Corporation, whereas the ‘outspoken opponents of foreign ownership, were working for the long term interest of their country. From the perspective of possibly the most outspoken opponent and more than likely the focal point of Sir Sydney’s remark, I would like to suggest that Sir Sydney’s principle worry revolved around his preoccupation with the impact of one man. It was a defeat, that he could not contemplate. What Sir Sydney, would have done well to remember, was that, the long term benefits were for the Australians of tomorrow. Whiteside and Schubert, were but passing players on the stage of life.
Finally Sydney broadcaster John Tingle, far removed from the Queensland scene one would have thought, was asked to present the view from the other side of the fence. Tingle said that it was remarkable that everyone in Australia wanted to talk about the issue on his radio talk-back, except, the politicians. Surprise, surprise. And this was July 1990, two years after the people on the Gold Coast had raised the roof on the matter. So what was being reported in the rest of Australia, whilst Queenslanders endeavoured to raise the alarm? Its funny now that I look back, but at the time many people believed that I should have launched ‘the campaign’ in Sydney. What they failed to realise was that my foray into the matter was originally designed to arouse local concern and when the public meeting became national news it was incumbent upon others to pick up the baton. That they did not speaks volumes for the ‘gutlessness of the Australians as a whole’. What is interesting about Tingles summary of the feedback from ordinary Australians, is that it is precisely what was said at our original meeting. Foreign Land Ownership was the concern and yet the press through careless and irresponsible journalism, painted it as something else, doing harm in the process, that reflected on me. I raised an issue of national importance, which was drowned in the short term interest of fiscal expediency. Every man for himself; the banker, the developer, the Japanese employed Australian, and last but by no means least the self-serving politicians. In this case from both side. Serving their country ....? No wonder they called for my head; send the traitor home, have him deported. This from the cousins of Anzac!
Within this climate of turmoil, where the interests of big business was being challenged by a reluctant State Government, cornered by the will of the people, the federal government stepped into the argument. More precisely the Prime Minister, smelling the scent of defiance in the air, stormed in with all the style of an armoured military tank and issued an ultimatum, "back off or I’ll take on the Queensland Government.” Mr Hawke said ‘Australia could not afford to succumb to the cheap and easy anti-foreign approach’. He had he said ‘made my (his) position clear in support of foreign investment clear to Queensland and was prepared to take on any one , including the Labor Party”. According to the Canberra correspondent Glenn Stanaway Mr Hawkes warning came as anti-Japanese investment sentiment grew in Queensland with public protests at the Gold Coast at the week-end.
That protest of course was the street march that attracted three hundred participants and received wide-spread news coverage, not only at home but also in Japan. It was designed to do exactly that and it has never ceased to amaze me how an ordinary citizen was able to reach so many people, when he had the will to do so. This of course only serves to underscore the lack of commitment that our politicians possess when it comes to standing up for Australia. Ironically it was twelve months earlier that Prime Minister Hawke had ‘apologised on behalf of the government and the ‘majority’ of Australians for the repugnant behaviour of the organisers of the Gold Coast meeting’, to the visiting Japanese Prime Minister. It seemed that Prime Minister Hawke was considerably agitated by his ‘newest Australian’, this expatriate New Zealander, who at least was prepared to fight for his adopted country. This was the second time that he had alluded to the ‘organisers of the Gold Coast meetings’. Well lest there be any doubt, there were no ‘organisers’ as such; helpers yes.
When Hawke threw down the gauntlet to the Queensland Government, I was worried that the position that they tentatively held onto would be relinquished. I said at the time that Goss and Co would ‘cave in’ and go to water. It was for this reason that I contacted the ABC’s 7.30 Report and told them of my concern.
‘If Hawke wants to take any one on then, he can take me on.” This may appear to have been a little brash, perhaps even a little presumptuous, but I have never been overawed by people by virtue of their station. Hawke essentially is a bully, who relies to a great deal on ego that is driven by his perception of how people view him. In many ways he reminds me of the story of the eagle and the sparrow. Who could fly the highest. The sparrow did , because he was wily enough to jump on the eagle’s back before he soared into the heavens. Hawke if ever a man did, epitomised the image that is Labor and as a result he revelled in ‘the masses adulation.’ As a man I believed he was weak, without his support writers and his minders. For this reason, confronting him on national television, was something I was looking forward to.
I was not unknown to Hendrick Gout, then producer of the program, so the idea of confronting Hawke was taken, I understand seriously. Unfortunately I can never be sure that the ABC tried to arrange the ‘on air’ episode between Hawke and myself. I was told that they tried everyday for a week, but met with little success, until on the Friday, they were told by the Prime Minister’s office that the debate would not be possible. It was of course a no win situation for the Prime Minister, and quite candidly I knew it. If he agreed to talk about the issue with an ordinary citizen, then he could be seen to be acquiescing to pressure, thereby exhibiting weakness. If he was man enough to meet the people, through the one man who had correctly gauged their collective mood, then he stood to be embarrassed by the strength of his argument. Either Hawke or his advisors opted not to front up and given the headaches that I was quite unwittingly giving the Prime Minister, he could hardly have been unaware of this opportunity to front up. ‘Here again was the evidence of the bully. He was prepared to take on the Queensland Labor Party, or anyone, but when someone called his bluff, he was found wanting. I don’t really like to draw the conclusion, that Hawke found the Queensland Labor Party a softer target, but the ramification of political machinations, can be swift to those who through uncompromising loyalty to their sworn principles, remain defiant. Goss and co fell in behind ‘their’ leader and lived to fight another day. That Hawke was concerned about the ramifications of the peoples expressed will, was evidence enough that he knew it existed, yet he chose to arrogantly ignore it. He is not the first politician to do that nor will he be the last.
Not only was the attitude of the Prime Minister arrogant, in the light of the public outcry against the foreign ownership, but it was arrogance personified. Over-riding the wishes of the Queensland Government and therefore the people of the State, and pre-empting the findings of the Trade Practices Commission, his Government through the Treasurer, equally arrogant approved without consultation the sale of the Four Seasons Hotel, to Daikyo."Forget the nonsense about equity partners Shuji, I’m saying you can have it; 100% of it.
It did not surprise me, for this was the same man that I had accused of being a crawler when on a previous occasion, he had told Daikyo’s chief that his participation in Queensland was welcome. That was not the view of a great many Gold Coasters, although few had the balls’ to stand up and say so. Goss had gone to water in the face of the Hawke onslaught and Hawke had ‘appeased’ the imagined wrath of the Japanese. In short he had caved in. In signalling the Federal Governments intention and leaving Premier Goss, smarting from the public admonishment, Hawke had unwittingly handed Daikyo a hefty weapon. That weapon was ‘intimidation’.
From the time that the Federal Government had signalled its intention and Sir Sydney Schubert dropped his bombshell, a period of some twenty-five days, the comic opera of State Government indecisiveness that sent out so many confused signals and the relentless probing by the Trade Practises Commission, had occupied centre stage. Daikyo, understandably, were not amused. Nor was their demeanour likely to have been improved by the arrest of Mitsuhiro Kotani on alleged charges of manipulating share prices. Kotani, a principal of the Koshin Company, had acquired properties from Daikyo. when the Company, ‘moved its’ property interests to Cairns. Although few noticed it at the time Daikyo and Koshin shared mutual facilities on the Coast, which certainly roused my curiosity. Some months later Jiro Tomishima, another Koshin associate, was arrested in Australia. For the moment however, these asides raised no eyebrows here in Australia.
The Government may have been incapable of acting with decisiveness, Daikyo might have been frustrated, but neither were taking into real consideration, the hostility of the people. What happen next created utter panic. Sir Sydney announced that Daikyo was going to halt all its current projects and review the situation. This brought an initial angry response from the premier who claimed that the company had over-reacted to the TPC intervention. Goss was careful not to accept any of the fallout, opting instead to seek dialog with the company to find out ‘what their concerns were.’ Sir Sydney rejected the suggestion that his moves were ‘petulant’. Petulant they certainly were not; impetuous they were. It was my view at the time that Sir Sydney, applied a none to subtle instrument of intimidation, upon the elected representatives of the Australian people. In one decisive movement he had all politicians eating out of his hand. It was sickening, this mass demonstration of mock bowing to a foreign company. Sir Sydney had said jump, ...and jump they did. From now on, he held the whip hand. From now on Daikyo held all the aces.
This announcement caught everyone by surprise. It shocked me. I did not understand, this approach, coming as it did from a Japanese company. Corporate Japan, may be ruthless, corporate Japan may be powerful, but corporate Japan is not crude. Historically the Japanese have been trained in the art of nurtured negotiations. Human relationships, play a large part in developing closer understandings and as a consequence, the transfer of ideas, arrangements and deals, make for happy partnerships. Sometimes these relationships are forged over long periods, fostering goodwill and trust; an important segment to the Japanese business psyche. Making waves, is not in the Japanese bible of business culture.
Sir Sydney’s action had been crude. It was typically Australian, brash and up front. It did not I think auger well for Daikyo’s chief executive. I had visions of Shuji Yokoyama, making it post haste to Australia, to ‘calm the storm, and to quietly tell his Australian chief, that his style was ‘ not conducive to happy relations’. Daikyo, did not want all this unnecessary attention, but would prefer to box on quietly, all the while being a ‘good corporate citizen’.
On August the 7th, the TPC gave the all clear to its ‘examination’ of Daikyo Kanko. Daikyo refused to renounce its freeze. Many came out in cloaked support of the Japanese giant. Real estate agents warned of the possible backlash from other Japanese investors, if we did not extend the welcome mat. Hawke had told a gathering at Tweed, that people should not be ‘stupidly jingoistic, over the sale of our land to foreigners. An un-named mother writing to a Women's journal, asked the Prime Minister this simple question;
“Why not lease land to the Japanese, instead of selling it. I am concerned for the future of my children and our country. Once land is sold you never get it back!
A simple statement, that says it all. The Prime Ministers reply; “Your suggestion that we change to a system of leasehold tenure in regard to foreign ownership of Australian property might be seen as a discouragement of essential investment.”
What Hawke never mentioned is that Australia is signatory to agreements that the average Australian has no idea of. One of those is the international convention rules contained within the OECD, code of Liberalisation of Capital Movements. In short we will not be masters of our own land.
A month after Sir Sydney had initiated the ‘big freeze’, it was lifted. They came from far and wide to pay homage to the peacemaker, who as I suspected travelled to Australia ‘to calm troubled waters’. The spectacle of Australian ‘men’, hiding behind the charade of so-called diplomacy was sickening. This was unadulterated crawling, for forgiveness, in the fond hope that normal trading relations could be resumed without any loss of investment confidence. Shuji Yokoyama was ‘magnanimous’, accepting that the blame had more to do with ‘his misunderstanding’ of the rules, that any deliberate action by the Government to ‘cloud the issue,. It was ‘classic Japanese’ and we could not see it. David Simmons the federal minister for tourism: ‘Daikyo was obviously concerned by recent statements by the Queensland Government and this had not been helped by the state Treasurer Keith de Lacy. ‘ Mr Simmons went on to say that he had met executives of Daikyo and EIE, who owned Sanctuary Cove and half (at the time) of Bond University. He had told them that Queensland's criticism of foreign investment was ‘irrelevant’. This babe in the woods went on, ”It is fine for the Queensland Government or any other State government to have a point of view, but it is the Australian Government that decides the national interest guidelines that dictate foreign investment.” Here again the natural arrogance that typified those who came out of Canberra and who were completely out of touch. Hawke , Keating and Simmons, lost sight of the fact that the control of land is a function of the States. Foreign investment, had an all consuming hold on their perspective of what the whole argument had been about. Had they listened, had they not been so preoccupied with crawling to the Japanese they might have paused for a moment and understood. The people, Mr Hawke, Keating and Simmons were not opposed to 'Mr Daikyo' or 'Mr EIE,' or 'Mr Kumigai Gumi', bringing money here to help Australia; they were opposed to them owning our land. It was a message that seemed destined never to get through the thick skulls that stagnate on a hill in Canberra. The presumption that Canberra and only Canberra had the answers as indicated by Simmons remark, does not bear close scrutiny. Parliamentarians who have a great store of faith in public opinion polls when they are favourable, and utter contempt for those that run contrary to their hallowed views would find the 93% of those who voted in a television poll, in favour of leasehold arrangements for foreigners, pretty hard to swallow. Irrelevant Mr Simmons? In my view a view I would guess, held by many, the people who speak like Mr Simmons, who ignore the people like Mr Hawke and ride contemptuously over them like Mr Keating would do well to remember, they are elected to serve. They are the masters for the people. Unless we the people rise to check this naked aggression we will be handed over to others, not deliberately, but by de-facto power, delegated by apathy, to parties incompetent.
Before Shuji Yokoyama, flew back to Tokyo, he accompanied Wayne Goss in a round of golf and a day at the races. Not surprisingly he appointed an adroit advocate to speak on the companies behalf. That appointee was Dr Bungo Ishizaki, who had charmed a ‘hostile’ audience in Cairns. It was as company spokesman that gave rise to my next ‘close encounter with the Schuberts.
Before I pass on to the next chapter, I would like to clarify an article that the Gold Coast Bulletin ran, when they asked me to respond to Sir Sydney’s outburst.
I have said that Sir Sydney’s reaction was ‘crude’; that it typified the Australian style. In all my dealings with the Japanese on this protracted matter and they have been many, I have found that I have earned their respect. Interviewed on one occasion, the senior bureau chief asked for thirty minutes of my time. So engrossed was he in the argument that I was espousing, he spent five hours with my wife and I. At dinner that evening my wife asked him what was the perception of her husband in his home country. I shall never forget what he said. Although others were to express similar sentiments, I cherish his. “My people admire, strength, courage and honesty. To my people Mrs Whiteside, your husband has those qualities. In my country, your husband would have been regarded as a hero. We don’t understand why he is not. You see we have a saying in our country, ‘we only borrow the land from our children’. Your husband upholds a principle that is very dear to our people. Australians, should understand what your husband is trying to say’. In truth, the comment made me feel very sad. At least it gave me some fortification to the belief that I was not ‘entirely mad’. My comments to the paper were brutally frank and to the point. Given that I had always held to the view that Australians tend very much to act subserviently toward the Japanese, what was needed here was a statement equally as blunt as the one that Sir Sydney had delivered in threatening to withdraw massive investment. Sir Sydney’s judgement was on the line, in that he had committed his company to a course of action. That action was calculated to be effective. Daikyo had now demonstrated that by using the weapon of intimidation, by withdrawing its investment portfolio. it had politicians , councillors and local businessmen prepared to crawl on their knees.
Nobody was prepared to call Daikyo’s bluff. When asked by the Gold Coast Bulletin what I would have done had I been in the position of Wayne Goss, my answer was simple; “From my observation, it would have been far more productive if the Goss Government had just told Shuji Yokoyama through Sir Sydney Schubert, to ‘simply bugger off’.
There is no doubt in my mind that had the Premier had the intestinal fortitude to issue that directive, relationships and misunderstanding would have been resolved to the greater satisfaction of all concerned. Goss would have earned the respect of the people and doubtless greater respect of Japanese investors.
Japanese people have great difficulty, adjusting to awkward situation. Sorry as Australians know it, has a more meaningful commitment to the Japanese. We can say sorry and forget five minutes later, that we ever said it; often nothing more than hollow words. Fifty years after the Second World War, nations are still requesting that Japan, says sorry, yet despite the odd suggestion from some Japanese, they continue to refrain from doing so. Face or ‘kao’ as it is called in Japan, has much to do with how the person or nation is respected by others. To have to ‘apologise’ for behaviour unbefitting to the Japanese, is not only extremely difficult, but painful. To lose the respect is one thing, to bring disrepute to the Japanese Company, is to bring shame to the Japanese. Their whole culture revolves around being accepted and forging bridges so that in the words of Hotta, ‘gradually subject the foreigners to our influence, until in the end all the countries of the world know the blessing of perfect tranquillity and our hegemony is acknowledged through out the globe’.
Had Daikyo, been put in this intolerable position Shuji Yokoyama would have had two options. Either he saved‘ face’ and withdrew his reputed $800 million investment portfolio, or he lost face and apologised for ‘his’ company’s unworthy outburst. This affront, this holding the people’s representatives to ransom was a very crude way of saying, ‘we get our way or we pull out”. It was in a broader sense ignoring the concerns of the people to whom Sir Sydney had often alluded to as being ‘uninformed, racist and xenophobic’. The peoples only stake was the long term security of their children. Selling our land off to absentee foreigners, did nothing to address that. Sir Sydney’s motives, no matter how it was wrapped in ‘politically accepted jargon’, was driven by self interest. Unless the people spoke out, then the Japanese juggernaut would roll relentlessly on. Sir Sydney would have been well aware, that it was that ‘outspokeness’ that more than anything else was the kernel that drove the Governments misdirected campaign. Nobody issued Yokoyama with the alternative to take his investment and ‘bugger off, but if that position had been adopted I am certain that common sense would have prevailed. He would have defused the situation, negotiated and sought a harmonious agreement and understanding. The result of all of this would have been that Japanese entrepreneurs and businessmen would have been sent a signal that the Australian government and people were not to be treated with contempt. Furthermore it would have spelt out to Australian managers employed by Japanese companies, that they had a responsibility to reflect that company’s corporate image. If that image meant being ‘Japanese’, then that was what was required.
As it transpired we simply gave in to psychological pressure, revealed our inherent weakness in dealing with the Japanese and lost their respect.
Dr Bungo Ishizaki, shrewdly employed by the profusely.... ‘ so sorry Mr Goss, it was all my misunderstanding’.... Shuji Yokoyama turned the fiasco that could have been Daikyo’s into triumph. He was welcomed with open arms to address the 7.30 Report Dinner. I was not amused!