408 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 287 [1] WASHINGTON, 16 April 1941, 10.13 p.m.

MOST SECRET

I saw Sumner Welles [2] today.

I discussed proposal that had reached British Embassy from Commander in Chief of the Far East [3] through the Foreign Office that forthcoming Singapore conference should be given publicity subject to views of United States and other Governments concerned as useful offset to Japanese-Russian Pact. His first reaction was adverse due to the desire to avoid provocation to Japanese army and navy extremists. I think that his real reason is domestic politics here.

Sumner Welles has since telephoned to say that his colleagues agree that Japanese cannot fail to discover that the conference is taking place and that they believe that publicity would be provocative and might well have effect that we all take steps to avoid . [4]

I left with him copy of most recent public opinion poll results which reached me privately today. They show: (a) 73 per cent think that the United States will go into the war in Europe some time before it is over; (b) 69 per cent think it more important for the United States to help England win even at the risk of war; (c) 74 per cent think that they would be personally affected by German victory over England; (d) 59 per cent think that the United States should take steps now to keep Japan from becoming more powerful even at the risk of war; (e) 80 per cent think that the United States should defend Central and South American countries if attacked by a European Power.

Sumner Welles said all that they really know is that Japanese are ready with army and navy force at Hainan et cetera and with transports available, and that in spite of official Government spokesman's denial of current rumours about attack on Singapore, next fortnight will be anxious time.

United States Government have no proposals for any further immediate statements or gestures arising out of Japanese-Russian Pact or Far East situation generally.

1 The Washington copy, on file AA: A3300, 98, was numbered 288.

2 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

3 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.

4 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Dominions Secretary, requested the Commonwealth Govt's views on the question of publicity for the conference in cablegram 268 of 17 April. The Commonwealth Govt replied in cablegram 246 of 24 April that they agreed to publicity being given to the conference 'subject to concurrence of Governments concerned including those of the United States and Netherlands East Indies'. On 25 April Cranborne reported in cablegram 287 that since the U.S. Govt did not wish the conference to be publicised, it would remain secret. The three cablegrams are on file AA: CP290/6, 70.

[AA: A981, FAR EAST 26A]