316 Evatt to Beasley

Cablegram unnumbered [CANBERRA], 27 May 1947, 4.03 p.m.


Your 183.

1. It is satisfactory to note change in attitude to the proposal we originally made for early British Commonwealth talks on the Japanese Settlement. Nevertheless, essence of matter is speed. It is essential that talks should be held as soon as possible. Late August is too late and United States will meanwhile take some steps which will result in initiative being taken away from us.

For one thing, I shall be required to attend Assembly in September and for this reason also the aim should be to have talks in Australia in July at latest. If Addison or McNeil could come then it would be satisfactory as I am sure Fraser could come over from New Zealand.

2. But even that delay has its dangers and, if conference on Ministerial level earlier than August is not possible, it may be better to decide now on immediate conference in Australia at official level over which I could preside. There would be no final decisions but we could bring back Ball from Tokyo and United Kingdom officials could attend.

3. F.E.C. is wholly unacceptable to us as a peace-making body.

(Please see my telegram repeated to you No 186 giving general instruction to our representative on F.E.C. and quoting United States Note affirming this point of view.) Moreover, we must at this stage object to any idea of even a preliminary conference (your paragraph 7 of 183) connected with F.E.C. membership. A preliminary conference is in any case not necessary and we would suggest peace conference in several sessions, first of which would be by nature preliminary.

4. We must guard against attempt by the United Kingdom Government to monopolise the initiative in relation to this matter at Washington because in truth it is Australia particularly which has always had to bear the burden of these moves.

5. The occasion is one for plain speaking with a view to a fresh recognition in London of Australian responsibilities in this area in accordance with precedent established in relation to the Advisory Council at Tokyo. The United Kingdom, which cannot have a primary interest everywhere, should actively support Australian leadership in relation to Commonwealth interests in the Pacific.

6. In this connection you will have noticed instance after instance of United Kingdom Government decisions or commitments in relation to this area taken without consulting with, and sometimes without even informing, us. For example, the withdrawal from India, Burma and threatened withdrawal from Ceylon and perhaps even Malaya, without any adequate defence arrangements and without any arrangements to which we are a party, seems to follow the pattern which, as you know yourself, left Australia and New Zealand during the war with our overseas forces temporarily cut off, while United States had committed itself to the Beat Hitler First strategy. (See telegram 129 from Chifley to Attlee in reply to advice that Dominion status for India is being considered.) [1]

7. So, too, in relation to reparations against Japan, we now find United Kingdom seeking to receive third largest share, placing us fourth along with Philippines and India. This was an opportunity to demonstrate a recognition by United Kingdom Government of Australia's position not only in war effort in Pacific but also in representing British Commonwealth interests in this area.

8. There are other matters on which our advice should have been sought and adopted, for example, question of Japanese representation at international conferences (see D.464 and our reply 127). [2] 9. While United Kingdom Government has informed us that steps are being taken to ratify South Pacific Commission, there has been no attempt to hasten final acceptance. While I desire you to take this matter up separately, it is relevant to above matters as it is a further demonstration of hesitation in supporting Australia in this area.

10. The above should be a sufficient guide to you in presenting our case in relation to Japanese settlement in particular, but in relation also to the general question of Australia's part in representing British Commonwealth interests in this area.

11. I have spoke to Prime Minister regarding Addison's proposed visit. Addison would be welcomed but we feel he could only be invited now in connection with the matter in relation to which he was originally invited-that is, talks on Japanese Settlement-on which no doubt, he would have Foreign Office colleagues.

12. I am arranging to send you Heydon [3] as soon as possible and am confident that we can make greater progress under newer arrangement. You can help too by keeping United Kingdom and Australian press informed because English press is often unacquainted with Pacific and Asian problems and Australia's vital connection therewith.

1 Document 527.

2 Dispatched 23 and 26 May respectively.

3 P.R. Heydon took up his appointment as External Affairs Officer, London, in July.

[AA : A3196, 1947, 0.8409]