13 Memorandum prepared for Delegation to Imperial Conference

Extract MELBOURNE, 8 March 1937

THE POLITICAL AND STRATEGICAL CONSIDERATIONS RELATING TO IMPERIAL AND LOCAL DEFENCE

II. THE POLITICAL AIM IN PEACE IN THE PACIFIC REGION

A definition is sought of the political aim in peace in the Pacific Region. The improvement of British relations with Japan with the object of securing her permanent friendship is understood to be the ultimate aim of British Foreign Policy. While British defences are being strengthened, this improvement is to be secured by a policy of accommodation, to guard against the possibility of the British Commonwealth being faced simultaneously with the hostility of Germany, Italy and Japan. In Europe the traditional friendship is maintained with France, and mutual assurances of assistance in the event of unprovoked aggression have been exchanged between Britain and that country. The recent Mediterranean Pact with Italy [1] is an attempt to emphasize common interests and remove misunderstandings.

While realizing Britain's world-wide interests, particularly in the maintenance of peace in Europe, Australia is naturally most directly concerned in the Pacific Region, as are also Canada and New Zealand. By reason of their membership of the British Empire, by the Empire's close relationship and points of common interest with Japan and China, and by the affinities of race and language with the United States, these three Dominions are in a unique position to fulfil a special mission of seeking to draw closer the bonds of friendship between the Great Powers bordering the shores of the Pacific Ocean.[2]

1 The Anglo-Italian Agreement or 'Gentlemen's Agreement' of 2 January 1937, by which the U.K. and Italy recognised that their interests in the Mediterranean were not inconsistent with each other, agreed to respect each other's rights and interests in the area, and disclaimed any desire for modification of the status quo as regards the national sovereignty of territory in the Mediterranean.

2 For a summary of the whole paper see Document 20.

[AA : CP4/3, BUNDLE 1, ITEM R. G. CASEY 2A]