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

Cablegram 100 12 August 1940,

MOST IMMEDIATE FOR HIGH COMMISSIONER SECRET

Your telegram No. 660 [1] and my telegram No. 97. [2] Australian Minister Tokyo.

Consul General Japan [3] made special visit to Canberra today on instructions of his Government to state that Japanese Government were anxious to finalize matter but had not yet received any request about agrement Australian Minister.

He was asked to approach authorities here to ascertain by what channel and by which means any request for appointment of Minister had been made.

Japanese Ambassador London [4] has received similar instructions.

As consequence of above it is clear misunderstanding has arisen.

Either (a) which is possible but not probable, Arita [5] in the stress of the formation of new government did not pass on to successor [6] Craigie's request [7] or (b) which is view of Consul General that when Arita expressed satisfaction and said formal reply would be given as early as possible he expected name to be submitted forthwith and meant that formal reply would cover both principle and acceptance name.

Consul General in support of this said Japan as far back as January had accepted principle and he had himself been asked to indicate this to the Commonwealth Government and to enquire when Commonwealth Government was in position to make decision as Japanese Government wanted to make provision in their Budget for reciprocal appointment.

Consul-General (was) informed of our understanding of stage actually reached namely that we were waiting on acceptance of principle before submission of name before your telegram was received. He was cabling this immediately to his Government and expressed hope that name would be submitted immediately so that Japanese Government could reply (both) questions. He made no mention of any conditions such as no appointment of Minister to China.

In the circumstances it is desired action as requested in my telegram No. 96 [8] be taken immediately.

In my view we have now gone too far to use delaying tactics even if such were desirable which I doubt. Indeed it seems to me that in the present somewhat improved atmosphere the exchanges might prove a real contribution all round amicable settlement. If we cannot obtain formal acceptance this week, retrospective legislation can be introduced or alternatively we can proceed without amendment of judiciary (Act) which is unnecessary on one interpretation.

MENZIES

1 Document 63 2 See Document 63, note 1.

3 Masatoshi Akiyama.

4 Mamoru Shigemitsu.

5 Japanese Foreign Minister until 22 July.

6 Yosuke Matsuoka.

7 See U.K. Dominions Office cablegram 245 of 21 July (on file AA:A2937, Legations: Exchange of Ministers with Japan) which reported that the U.K. Ambassador to Japan had informed Arita on 17 July of the Commonwealth Govt's desire to exchange ministers with Japan.

8 See Document 63, note 1.

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