240 Sir Frederick Stewart, Minister for External Affairs, to Sir John Latham, Minister to Japan

Cablegram 16 30 December 1940,

Repeated to External Affairs Officer, London [1], No. 187.

My No. 14. [2] Naval Board now advises that first report from Administrator Nauru [3] of attack on island stated that raider had Japanese name and marking. Subsequent report from Administrator in reply to request for details qualified original statement as follows: 'Raider did not (not) have Japanese markings or Japanese flag painted on her sides. She flew Nazi man-of-war flag and draped similar flags over each side amidships and bore name Nanyo or Manyo Maru.' Naval Board has corroborated evidence that German raider concerned named Manyo Maru had Japanese flags painted on sides when attacking shipping off Nauru 7th and 8th December and as late as 21st December. Presumably these markings were covered with draped Nazi flags when shelling Nauru on 27th December.

It would appear from above that so far as shelling of Nauru is concerned, there is no ground for approaching the Japanese Government on lines suggested in your No. 20. [4] Circumstances of attacks on shipping as related above, however, are a different matter. Consider you should concert with British Ambassador [5] in informing Japanese Government of facts as known to authorities here and requesting them to protest against misuse of Japanese colours in raider's attacks on British shipping on dates specified. [6]


1 A. T. Stirling.

2 Document 239.

3 Lt Col F. R. Chalmers.

4 Document 238.

5 Sir Robert Craigie.

6 On 3o December the Japanese Consul-General in Australia, Masatoshi Akiyama, under instructions from his government, requested detailed information about the attack on Nauru from the Prime Minister, R. G. Menzies. Details were sent to Akiyama on 30 and 31 December 1940 and 3 January 1941. See file AA:A816, 56/301/21.

[AA:A3831, 1940, 465]