180 Australian Government to Addison and Fraser

Cablegrams 371, 265 CANBERRA, 26 October 1946


Your D.909. [1] Japanese Fleet.

1. We cannot agree with the procedure which is being adopted regarding the disposal of the Japanese fleet and hope that even at this stage it will not be too late to alter it.

2. Our view is that the disposal of the fleet is one question amongst those which must be discussed at a peace conference and that such a conference will not be organised in the same way as the Peace Conference at Paris where it was practically impossible to vary Four Power decisions taken without Australian participation.

3. When this matter was first brought to our attention in October, 1945, the general purpose was to destroy the Japanese fleet but failing that endeavour to reach agreement on a division. No indication was given as to any further negotiations and it is a revelation to us that two months later at Moscow there were negotiations to the point of agreement between the Four Powers on this matter. You will recall that in relation to the Moscow Conference we expressed our view that Moscow discussions should, particularly on Pacific matters, be purely preliminary and that on any matter affecting the future of the Pacific Australia should participate directly with other nations concerned. See our telegram 455 [2] of 19th December, 1945.

4. We have always stressed that Australia must be a party principal in peace arrangements with Japan. See our telegram No.

205 of 27th July, 1945 [3], in relation to Potsdam meeting. We are, therefore, greatly concerned to find that at Moscow and since, there have been negotiations and even agreements on a matter related to the negotiation of the peace treaty with Japan without our knowledge and without our direct participation.

5. Australia may not claim a share in the Japanese fleet although this question will have to be submitted in due course to the incoming Cabinet. We are vitally interested in the disposal of the fleet. You will recall that in regard to the disposal of the Italian fleet at the Paris Conference, Australia put forward amendments which clearly indicated that we would prefer complete destruction, but if that were not acceptable an allocation should be made only after a plan for a system of regulation of armaments had been submitted by the Security Council to the United Nations in accordance with Article 26 of the Charter.

6. We are particularly disturbed at the suggestion that a proportion of the United Kingdom share of the Japanese fleet might be given to the Dutch. While it appears to us that no such suggestion could be made until the peace conference determines allocation we should be glad to have the opportunity to put our views before any approach is made to the Dutch.

1 In this cablegram, dispatched 7 October, the U.K. Govt indicated its intention to divide its share of the Japanese fleet with interested Dominion Govts and asked if Australia had 'any requirements'.

2 This presumably should read '465'. See Volume VIII, Document 464.

3 Volume VIII, Document 141.

[AA:A1067, ER46/13/15]