393 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr M. Akiyama, Japanese Consul-General in Australia

Letter MELBOURNE, 17 June 1940

I am in receipt of your letter of 5th June, 1940, on the subject of the prohibition of the export of iron ore from Australia. [1]

I regret that I have not been able before this to communicate to you the decision of the Commonwealth Government, but your Government will appreciate that a most exhaustive investigation on such a vital question was necessary to establish fully the facts on which the Commonwealth Government had to base its decision.

This investigation is still proceeding, but an interim report has been received which indicates without any possibility of doubt that the deposits of iron ore in Australia are extremely limited in extent. The report shows that the position is far more serious than was believed at the time the prohibition was made.

Consequently, the continuance of the prohibition of the export of iron ore from Australia is completely unavoidable.

As you are aware, the Commonwealth Government is prepared to examine and consider equitable claims by Japanese nationals for reimbursement of their expenditure in connection with the Yampi Sound enterprise up to the time of the commencement of the embargo. Any such claims submitted through you will have the earliest possible attention. [2]

R. G. MENZIES

1 Document 342.

2 Akiyama acknowledged this letter on 20 June 1940 and informed Menzies that he had reported his decision to the Japanese Govt.

The U.K. Govt was informed of the decision in cablegram 340 dispatched on 1 July. (See file AA: A1608, C47/1/4, vii.)

[AA: A981, AUSTRALIA 90B, ii]