112 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 99 LONDON, 16 November 1941, 6.20 p.m.

IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

Your telegram 6735. [1]

I have given your message to the United Kingdom Government stressing its importance and urging that the United Kingdom Government endorse it, and in forwarding it to Craigie [2] should instruct him to follow the line you recommend.

Your telegram is germane to questions which have for some time been causing me great anxiety and on which I felt I should send you my thoughts, as in regard to them there does not appear to me to be sufficient clear thinking.

These questions are:-

(a) Are American conversations with the Japanese merely designed to gain time or are they a serious attempt to find a basis for a wide settlement in the Far East? At the Atlantic meeting the atmosphere was that all that could be achieved by American- Japanese conversations was to gain time, and no serious consideration was given to the basis upon which a wide settlement might be founded.

(b) If the atmosphere is now changed when did this occur and what were the reasons for it? (c) If, in fact, the United States is now seriously discussing with the Japanese the broad lines of a comprehensive settlement in the Far East, what are those lines, and what in the light of conversations do the Americans judge to be the prospects of success? Any settlement acceptable to United States public opinion and to which the British Empire could be a party must involve such just and equitable treatment to China and such guarantees of future behaviour as would constitute a tremendous blow to Japanese aspirations and prestige. Obviously these would have to be compensated for in the economic field.

It is essential that what is contemplated should be known, so that it can now be considered. Every opportunity in the past for attempting to arrive at a settlement in the Far East has been lost owing to the United Kingdom Government's refusal to face the issue and determine its policy in the economic field.

Broadly I feel that the time has come for dropping the 'leave it to your partner' attitude and having the frankest discussions with Americans as to where American-Japanese discussions are getting to. On wider aspect of Anglo-American relations in the Far East, my views are set out in latter part of Page's statement to the War Cabinet where he invites discussion of this question. From reading Cabinet minutes I am a little afraid that this discussion got off on the wrong lines and the actual question submitted did not receive serious consideration. [3]

The above indicates the general line I have been following here.

Your views to me or, if you feel so disposed, to the United Kingdom Government, either direct or through me, would be most helpful.

BRUCE

1 Document 109.

2 U.K. Ambassador to Japan.

3 See Documents 110 and 113

[AA : A981, PACIFIC 8, i]