87 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs

Memorandum H25 LONDON, 13 October 1937

CONFIDENTIAL

TIMOR

In continuation of H.24 [1], the Ambassador at Lisbon [2], who is relin quishing his post, reports that at his farewell interview with the Minister of the Colonies [3] on 30th September, the latter questioned him about the purport of his recent conversations at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on the subject of Japanese penetration in Timor. The Ambassador accordingly gave the Minister a sketch of the situation, explaining that there was great Japanese activity in that part of the world and that the United Kingdom Government did not want to find that the Japanese had succeeded in establishing themselves anywhere where they might constitute a danger to all Colonial Powers interested in the Far East. The United Kingdom Government had, in particular, been preoccupied by rumours of a transference of the Silva inheritance to some company controlled by Japanese; by the possibility of Japanese being connected with Monsieur Wittouck's [4] activities;

and by the question of the Staughton Concession, since its transfer to the important Australian Company interested in it might afford some security against Japanese penetration in those parts. Dr F. Vieira Machado seemed to know nothing of any transfer of the properties belonging to the Silva heirs. With regard to Wittouck, he said that this gentleman had been highly recommended by the Belgian Minister, and the Ambassador could only reply that he knew nothing against him, only one could not be too careful in this matter. As to the Staughton Concession, the Minister said that it had lapsed, as it had not been worked; but, though it could not be revived, a new one could always be granted. To this the Ambassador replied that there was an Australian Company able and willing to take over the Staughton Concession, which only desired to have it extended in order to make it worth while to incur the expenditure necessary in prospecting. He hoped therefore that this matter could be settled amicably with the Portuguese Government.

ALFRED STIRLING

1 Not printed.

2 Sir Charles Wingfield.

3 Dr F. J. V. Machado.

4 See Document 49, note 3

[AA : A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 22, ii]