27 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Circular cablegram D354 LONDON, 17 July 1940, 4.25 a.m.


My telegram 14th July Circular D.345. [1]

JAPAN BURMA ROAD Before the fall of the Yonai Government, reports of which will, it is presumed, have appeared in the press, agreement had almost been reached on the following lines. We should undertake to suspend for three months the transit through Burma of arms, ammunition, petrol trucks and railway material- This prohibition would not apply to petrol required (a) by lorries transporting non-prohibited goods on journeys into China and back;

(b) by aircraft operating the Rangoon-Chungking airmail service.

Government of Burma would inform local Japanese Consular authorities of steps which they were taking to give effect to this prohibition.

These arrangements had been offered by us on the understanding that during these three months, special efforts would be made to bring about a just and equitable peace in the Far East and that at the end of this period we should remain free to continue or discontinue this arrangement in accordance with the conditions existing at the time.

The above agreement would be recorded in a confidential memorandum. We were therefore not pursuing the idea of issuing a joint communique. We were, however, impressing upon the Japanese Government the need for us to make an announcement, but assure[d] them that, while reserving full liberty of wording, we would take into consideration their susceptibilities as regards any public declaration implying that they had entered into compact with us to make special effort to conclude peace with Chiang Kai Shek. [2]

Hong Kong. We were taking steps to ensure implementation of assurances given to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs [3] in regard to prohibition of export of war materials by sea as well as by land. He had been willing that the Governor of Hong Kong [4] should communicate detailed arrangements to the Japanese Consul- General. [5]

As a result of the fall of the Yonai Government, the present position is not clear.

1 AA: A3195, 1940, 1.5425.

2 Commander-in-Chief of Chinese armed forces and member of Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang.

3 Hachiro Arita.

4 Lt Gen E. F. Norton was then Acting Governor of Hong Kong.

5 Katsuo Okazaki.

6 The Prime Minister's Dept inward cablegram register (AA: A3635) gave the number as 1.5539.

[AA: A3195, 1940, 1.5530 [6]]