400 Embassy in Washington to United States Department of State

Aide-memoire [WASHINGTON], 23 June 1947

The Australian Government learns with concern that the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers has authorized a further Japanese whaling expedition in the Antarctic in the 1947-48 season. The Australian Government greatly regrets that this step should have been taken in face of the strong protests of the Australian, New Zealand, Norwegian, and United Kingdom Governments. The waters of the Antarctic are of vital concern to the safety and welfare of Australia, and the Australian Government continues to oppose the presence of Japanese in those waters before the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan.

The difficulties of the United States Government in financing relief for Japan and the difficulties of the Supreme Commander in securing adequate supplies are fully appreciated. The Australian Government is prepared to play its part in relieving these difficulties. To this end it proposes that a factory ship and chasers should be made available to Australia immediately for use in the coming whaling season. The Australian Government is in a position to man these ships and operate them more efficiently than the Japanese, thus increasing the amount of oil available. The allocation of the food products to relieve the Japanese food shortage would be entirely a matter for determination by the Supreme Commander, and the oil would be allocated as at present by the International Food Emergency Committee, thus assuring supplies at least as adequate as those which would be obtained from the proposed Japanese expedition. The Australian Government is prepared to consider methods of payment which would avoid the cost being a charge on United States revenue. If a separate Australian expedition is not considered feasible or desirable, Australia is prepared to conduct the expedition in association with other Allies, in particular the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Norway.

The foregoing proposal was the subject of preliminary discussions by an officer of this Embassy [1] on 17 June and again on 19 June with Mr. R. H. Whitman, Associate Chief, Japanese and Korean Economic Affairs Division. Mr. Whitman stated on the second occasion that the proposal submitted at the first discussion was being actively studied in various divisions of the State Department, and that the views of the Department would be made known within a few days. The Australian Government forebore to go into detail at this stage, since it was desired to leave as much flexibility as possible so that full account could be taken of the views and practical problems of the United States Government and the Supreme Commander before a formal proposal in detail was submitted.

It is desired to protest most strongly at this authorization and public announcement of a second Japanese whaling expedition at a time when the Australian Government was making a sincere attempt to formulate an alternative which would meet the position of both Governments, when a proposal of this nature had been made officially, and at a time when it was apparently under active consideration in the State Department. It is assumed that the action in authorizing a further Japanese expedition was not intended to prejudice the consideration of the Australian proposal by the United States Government, and that the work now being undertaken in fitting those ships would not necessarily prevent their transfer to Australia if agreement on the Australian proposal can be reached. An assurance to this effect would be welcomed.

The Australian Government attaches the greatest importance to this question and is desirous of reaching an agreement that will pay full attention to the interests of the United States and Australian Governments and of other interested nations.

1 The officer was Plimsoll.

[AA : A3300/7, 747]