236 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram D176 LONDON, 13 May 1940, 12.45 a.m.


(1) The Governor General of the Netherlands East Indies [1] has proclaimed duly that the Netherlands East Indies are involved in war with Germany but that the International Political status remains unchanged. He has stated that his Government are in a position to maintain order and security. Assistance from any foreign power will be refused as unwelcome.

(2) Local authorities have informed His Majesty's Consul General at Batavia [2] that they do not consider the suggested defence talks desirable at present, or that British or French forces should come to the Netherlands East Indies waters, thus giving Japan the impression that the Netherlands East Indies need protection, and so a possible pretext for intervention. His Majesty's Consul General understands however that normal passage through territorial waters and the Straits is allowed to belligerent vessels if necessary.

(3) The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs [3] has informed His Majesty's Counsellor at Tokyo [4] once again that the Japanese Government are deeply concerned over the maintenance of political or economic status quo in Netherlands East Indies. He adds that if, as a result of the Netherlands becoming involved in war, supplies which Japan is now drawing from the Netherlands East Indies should diminish, a situation would arise which Japan 'could hardly bear'. He has agreed, however, that if in the present circumstances the Netherlands require more supplies from their Colonies, Japan cannot complain if she gets less.

(4) The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs said that he was making similar communications to the French [5] and German [6] representatives. When the Counsellor remarked that the Germans were hardly in a position to make themselves effectively felt in Netherlands East Indies, the Minister for Foreign Affairs replied that he wished to prevent Germany from making 'paper annexation'.

(5) His Majesty's Ambassadors at Tokyo [7] and Netherlands East Indies [8] are agreed that there exists a danger of the Japanese Navy and advocates of self sufficiency overriding the less adventuresome elements in the Japanese Government, Army and the bulk of public opinion in which case the possibility of sudden coup in the Netherlands East Indies cannot be overlooked. The latest reliable information from Tokyo indicates that the Japanese combined fleet has been in home waters since 1st May.

(6) The United States Secretary of State [9] has asked His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington [10] whether we agree with the United States Government that there should be no alteration in the status quo of Netherlands East Indies as a result of the invasion of Holland. We are replying in the affirmative.

Netherlands West Indies (7) The United States Secretary of State has expressed concern lest the despatch of Allied troops to Curacao and Aruba invites Japan to intervene in the Netherlands East Indies thus precipitating a United States-Japanese crisis, which would be attributed to our action and arouse resentment against us in U.S.A. He recommends the Allied withdrawal as soon as internal position is secure.

1 Dr A. W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer.

2 H. F. C. Walsh.

3 Hachiro Arita.

4 J. L. Dodds.

5 Charles Arsene-Henry.

6 General Eugen Ott.

7 Sir Robert Craigie.

8 This probably refers to the U.K. Consul-General at Batavia.

9 Cordell Hull.

10 Lord Lothian.

[FA: A3195, 1.3185]