347 Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram 904 CANBERRA, 28 July 1947

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Japanese Peace Settlement

We are most concerned at reports that United States Government might favourably consider meeting of big four to discuss Japanese Settlement in response to Soviet reply. [1] Even though it is United States' present intention to go no further than this, such a step would naturally lead to further attempts to meet Soviet and to find compromise. Even a first meeting on this subject must be actively resisted. It is a complete disregard to Australian position in relation to Japanese Settlement and, as at Moscow, Australia must strenuously oppose any discussions on this subject unless we are a full party in them.

2. You should take first opportunity to point out that Potsdam Agreement has no relation to Japanese Peace Settlement. The Potsdam Declaration charges the Council of Foreign Ministers with the task of drawing up peace treaties with Italy, Roumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland. The Peace Settlement with Japan is not mentioned, and is certainly not a matter for C.F.M. but for the active belligerents in the Pacific War.

3. You should remind the State Department of their two assurances that Australia would be a party principal in the Japanese Peace Settlement. It is essential that there should be no weakening in the United States attitude at this stage, whether the Russian note is regarded as a counter-proposal or as a rejection of United States suggestion. We desire a firm assurance from the U.S. as otherwise it will be necessary to assume they do in fact contemplate separate discussions and reconsider our position accordingly. [2]

1 The Soviet reply to the US invitation stated that the question of convening a peace conference should be examined in advance by the Council of Foreign Ministers. On 25 July Evatt instructed Burton that opposition to the Soviet proposal should be 'prompt, direct and strong'.

2 On 30 July Hilldring cold Makin and Stirling that he had never heard of a suggestion that the United States might contemplate any meeting of the Big Four to discuss 'the Japanese settlement, and added 'speaking for himself only' that 'the idea is quite fantastic'.

[AA : A1068, P47/10/61, iii]