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

Cablegram 92 LONDON, 5 February 1940

FOR PRIME MINISTER SECRET PERSONAL

Your cablegram January 25th. [1] Before moving King for approval have privately discussed matter with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. [2] While welcoming appointment Minister Japan he expressed doubt as to whether present suitable moment on grounds that owing to certain political tensions existing and economic difficulties such as economic warfare and supply of raw materials including wool causing considerable friction appointment might be construed as due to Australian dissatisfaction with manner United Kingdom handling position and as indication of break in Empire diplomatic and economic fronts. He also suggested probability of China pressing for simultaneous appointment of Minister creating embarrassing position if refused and destroying any good effect of appointment to Japan if agreed to.

He admitted latter point would apply whenever appointment made but emphasised would be accentuated in existing situation between Japan and China.

Before acting on your cable felt desirable let you have above reactions.

BRUCE

1 Document 27.

2 Bruce in fact saw R. A. Butler, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on 2 February 1940 and in the course of the discussion mentioned that he himself had grave doubts that the time was right for an Australian appointment to Tokyo. The following day Butler gave Bruce in writing the views summarised in this cablegram. Copies of Bruce's note of the meeting and Butler's letter are on the file here cited.

[AA: A2937, LEGATIONS: EXCHANGE OF MINISTERS WITH JAPAN]