440 Makin to Evatt

Cablegram 686 WASHINGTON, 28 May 1947

Disposal of Japanese Fleet.

My telegram No. 616.

Minister today saw General Hilldring, Assistant Secretary of State, and Vincent [1], Director, Office of Far Eastern Affairs, State Department.

They said that Secretary of State had given careful consideration to our views. They felt that at this late stage, almost the twelfth hour, it was not practicable to reverse an agreement arrived at nearly 18 months ago and only after great difficulty.

This was one of the very few subjects concerning Japan where agreement between the Big Four had been possible.

Hilldring said he regretted that such an agreement had been made.

Australia should have weighed in then.

He also asked whether when we approached Marshall on the subject similar representations had been made in London and Moscow.

Stirling asked how far they had gone with the U.S. aide-memoire as to procedure for disposal of the ships? Was it not still a draft procedure and what difficulty would there be in holding it up for a few months? Neither Hilldring nor Vincent had any detailed information. They said that the other 3 Powers had agreed to the aide-memoire and they believed steps were being taken in Japan now to carry it out:

e.g. the various representatives had been designated and possibly the lots already drawn.

Hilldring said he wanted to emphasise that the distribution of the ships was entirely without prejudice to the State Department's appreciation of Australia's general policy as to participation in the Peace Settlement. He wanted you to be assured that 'Australia was well represented in the State Department, no country more so'.

But this particular case which was unfortunate had gone too far for reversal.

1 John C. Vincent.

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