277 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 357 LONDON, 25 May 1940, 9.45 p.m.

FOR THE PRIME MINISTER

[In the House of Representatives on 24 May 1940 the Minister for External Affairs, John McEwen, was asked whether his attention had been drawn to reports that Germany, Russia and Japan would hold a conference on the future of the Netherlands East Indies. In reply McEwen said that he was seeking official confirmation or otherwise of the report. He then continued: 'The honorable member asks if I am able to add anything to my earlier statement regarding the maintenance of the status quo in the Pacific, particularly in relation to the Netherlands East Indies. That statement was to the effect that three Pacific powers-Japan, the United States of America, the United Kingdom-together with Australia, had severally declared that the position of the Netherlands East Indies should not be affected by hostilities in Europe. The only thing that I can add to that statement is that I have since had an interview in Canberra with Mr. Akiyama, the Consul-General for Japan, when assurances on behalf of the respective governments were given that neither Australia nor Japan would take any action likely to affect the present position in regard to the status quo in the Netherlands East Indies.

No specific representations to the Government of the United States of America have been made in this regard; there has merely been the declaration of policy which I indicated previously.' (Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 163, pp. 1254-5.)]

Netherlands East Indies. Press here reports an exchange of undertakings between Australia and Japan re Netherlands East Indies. If report is correct would suggest you authorize me to advise the United Kingdom Government.

BRUCE

[AA: A981, NETHERLANDS 33]