44 Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister, to Sir George Pearce, Minister for External Affairs

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 10 June 1937


For Minister for External Affairs. Personal and most secret.

At opening speech of Conference [1] I indicated that Australia would welcome regional pact in Pacific and would be prepared to collaborate with other Powers to this end. Words used were precisely those of Cabinet Committee report on sanctions and as used in Senate and Representatives in September last. [2] Proposal aroused great interest both in Conference and generally and when Far Eastern questions were reviewed by Conference Australia was asked to elaborate the idea in a memorandum. Memorandum [3] dealt with interest of Commonwealth Government in this question and quoted cable sent to United Kingdom Government in March [4] on advisability of Anglo-Japanese rapprochement as starting point for general Pacific settlement. Proposal was generally agreed on by Conference as being politically desirable and question was referred to Committee for examination.

At conference Tuesday last it was agreed [5]- (1) that Pact covering territories in and bordering on Pacific was a desirable objective.

(2) that Pact might embrace following- (a) non-aggression including respect for each other's sovereignty;

(b) reaffirmation of renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy;

(c) provision for political collaboration on lines of provision in Quadruple Treaty or lesser degree of collaboration in Nine-Power Treaty.

(3) that United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Japan, Soviet Union, China, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Siam might be approached with view to participation.

(4) that United Kingdom Government be asked to take initial steps to sound United States, Japan and China and should have discretion as to time and manner of doing so.

At conference need of absolute secrecy and need of proceeding cautiously were stressed, as it would be fatal to success if any Power thought it was being presented with any cut and dried scheme. Incidentally economic questions or economic collaboration will be avoided as such matters will only complicate issues and jeopardise political agreement.

I have had personal assurances of readiness to co-operate by Ambassadors in regard to Netherlands [6], Russia [7], France [8] and China. [9] United States Ambassador [10] said the United States would not enter into any commitment of mutual assistance but would no doubt be prepared to co-operate on lines of non- aggression pact indicated by me. Japanese Ambassador [11] also requested an interview yesterday and was most friendly and sympathetically interested in proposal. I said I had done what I could to launch idea and he should now discuss with Eden. [12] He readily agreed to do this and said an Anglo-Japanese understanding was his main objective.

Until you receive some idea from me as to nature of any public announcement being made on proposal I would urge no public statement whatever.


1 Document 25.

2 See Document 5, note 1 and Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol.151, pp. 644-45, 622-23. 3 Document 33.

4 Document 12.

5 Document 41 6 Count John de Limburg-Stirum.

7 Ivan Maisky.

8 Charles Corbin.

9 Dr Quo Tai-chi.

10 Robert W. Bingham.

11 Shigeru Yoshida.

12 Anthony Eden, U.K. Foreign Secretary. No record by Lyons of these conversations has been found, although various Foreign Office papers refer to them (See PRO : FO 371/21025).