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

Circular cablegram M20[3] [1] LONDON, 2, August 1941, 6.20 p.m.


My circular M.200. [2]

JAPAN (i) The possibility that the Japanese may be contemplating dangerous action in relation to Thailand, and a message now received from the Thai Prime Minister [3] have made it imperative that we should take up at once with the United States Government the advisability of a warning being conveyed to the Japanese before the latter are committed to a further move. We also wish to raise with the United States Government at the earliest suitable moment the general question of an assurance that in the event of war with Japan we may count upon their armed support, see my telegram to the Commonwealth Government 515. [4] A third approach is also necessary since such information as has reached us as to the manner in which the United States Freezing Order is to be applied (see my Circular M.1935) suggests that there has been a departure from the policy outlined to us before the freezing order was issued (see my Circular M. 173 [6]) with consequent risk that we and the other parts of the Empire may in practice find ourselves ahead of the United States in our restrictions.

(2) My three immediately following telegrams contain instructions which have now been sent to His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington [7] in regard to each of these aspects, viz.:-

(a) the question of an assurance from the United States;

(b) warning to Japan;

(c) freezing of Japanese assets. 8 The nature of the information reaching us about Thailand and uncertainty in regard to the United States policy over application of the freezing order make (b) and (c) very urgent. (a) is equally pressing but it is a particularly delicate question and informal discussions with the United States Ambassador here [9] have shown that the method of approach is all important. While, therefore, we have acquainted His Majesty's Ambassador very fully with the point of view of the Dominions and ourselves, we think it necessary as regards (a) to await his observations before giving him definite instructions to take action.

1 This cablegram was originally numbered M202. Cranborne advised later the same day that his cablegrams M201-5 should be renumbered M202-6 respectively. See unnumbered cablegram on file AA : A1608, A41/1/1, xxiv.

2 Dispatched 1 August. On the file cited in note 1.

3 Maj Gen Luang P. Pibulsonggram.

4 Document 19.

5 Dispatched 27 July. On file AA : A1608, A41/1/6, v.

6 Dispatched 22 July. On the file cited in note 5.

7 Lord Halifax.

8 Renumbered cablegrams M204-6 (see note 1) of 2 August are on file AA : A1608, G59/1/3, ii.

Cablegram M206 instructed Halifax to raise with the U.S. Govt the discrepancy between its originally reported intention to bring trade with Japan to a standstill and to issue only specific licences for particular transactions and its current practice of issuing licences automatically for oil, cotton and other exports.

Cranborne reported on 4 August (cablegrams M208 and M209 on the file cited in note 1) that the U.S. Govt had issued new and tougher guidelines for restriction of trade with Japan.

9 John G. Winant.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 174, ii]