393 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1512 WASHINGTON, 14 November 1947, 1.05 p.m.


FEC290. Reparations.

1. F.E.C. met 13th November. Plimsoll represented Australia. Made statement supporting United States proposal for division of shares and offering to return 5% to pool for redistribution on same terms as the 18% being returned by U.S.A. Stated that Australia was entitled to large share because of war effort, and this had been generally recognised by other countries in discussion. However, Australia was anxious to contribute to reconstruction and development of devastated countries of Southern and Eastern Asia and urged speedy acceptance by other countries of United States proposal. Australia like U.S.A. reserved right to withdraw offer if F.E.C. did not find proposal acceptable. Referred to claims for whaling equipment and ships. Stated that Australia still believed early peace settlement was desirable, but also wanted redistribution of reparations assets to needy countries.

2. Chairman of Commission on behalf of U.S.A. warmly welcomed Australian statement as generous and statesmanlike. French Representative asked to have recorded in minutes the appreciation of France for Australia's offer.

3. There was little discussion afterwards. Members wanted to consult their Governments in view of Australian declaration and therefore did not make any statements which might have been prepared earlier. Only other speaker was Netherlands who criticised smallness of Dutch share and felt that there should be further negotiations on actual percentage shares allotted.

4. United States State Department is elated at Australian offer, which they think may prove decisive in bringing other countries to agreement on reparations though U.S.S.R. attitude is unknown. They consider it came at right moment, and its boldness and generosity will greatly influence discussions. Chinese, Indian, and Philippines Delegates have all expressed their appreciation.

Australian prestige is very high.

5. Neither United States nor Australian offers are being made public at present, but a joint statement may be prepared in about two weeks time after other Governments have been given a further opportunity to accept the proposal.'

1 By the end of the FEC meeting on 18 December all countries had expressed their views on the US proposal. The Embassy in Washington informed the Department of External Affairs that Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United States and probably France accepted the United States schedule but India, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom opposed it. The matter remained on the agenda for further consideration.


In August 1946, without consulting the Allied Council for Japan, SCAP authorised a whaling expedition, manned by Japanese crew for the 1946-47season. Protests by Australia and others brought US assurances, inter alia, that Allied inspectors would be welcome (Australia sent K.J. Coonan of the Commonwealth Fisheries Office), that the expedition was a temporary measure to help relieve the world food shortage, and that the future of Japanese whaling would be a matter of Allied consultation. (See entries under 'whaling', in Volume X.) On 24 April, 1947, having learned that an expedition was proposed for the 1947-48 season, the Department of External Affairs directed the Embassy in Washington to warn the State Department of Australia's opposition.

[AA : A1838,479/10,iv]