477 Ball to Forsyth

Memorandum TOKYO, 1 April 1947


The following is my comment on P.C.P.S. D/3. I am particularly interested in the line of thought on Page 7. [1]

During this year in Japan, the lack of United Kingdom interest in Japanese affairs has been very evident.

The small number of United Kingdom correspondents here is some indication of this. It is only during the last few months that the London Times has had its own correspondent here and it is at present the only English newspaper directly represented. The B.B.C. withdrew its observer nearly a year ago. When we made a survey of foreign correspondents in Japan in the middle of last year, we found that out of a total of seventy, two came from the United Kingdom, five from other parts of the British Commonwealth, seven from other countries and fifty-six from the United States.

The extraordinarily meagre reporting of news from Japan in the British Press is a natural consequence. I have likewise noticed that in the 'Chronological Events' published by Chatham House, the reports of Japan are scrappy and not always reliable.

On the official level in Tokyo, it has been evident that the senior men feel, as one of them expressed it recently to me in a letter, that 'Britain must keep to the side-lines in Japan'. This official appears to be dominated by the idea that they should support and praise at every public opportunity the American conduct of the Occupation. It is clear that Europe still remains for them the centre of gravity, and concessions to America here are more than worthwhile if they can produce a corresponding degree of American support for the protection of British interests in Europe.

I therefore strongly support Sir Frederic Eggleston's view that it would be dangerous for Australia to leave the United Kingdom the initiative in making British Commonwealth decisions about the Far East. I also agree with him that the United Kingdom carries more weight than Australia and New Zealand combined. It therefore seems particularly important that Australia should be associated from the beginning in any talks between Britain and the United States about the Pacific Settlement.

This association should be continuous. It would, I think, be unsafe for Australia to delegate responsibility. It is one thing for an agreement to be reached on the highest political level that a certain common line will be followed by the United Kingdom and Australia, and another thing to be certain that the United Kingdom officials responsible for carrying out this policy will always give full weight to the Australian point of view.

I think we should learn a lesson from our twelve months' experience of British Commonwealth representation on the Allied Council for Japan. While United Kingdom officials here have always behaved correctly in their relations with me and while, as individuals, they have always given me friendly help, I feel that the appointment of Mr. Gascoigne and the subsequent conduct of the political activities of the United Kingdom Liaison Mission makes it clear, that on all major issues in Japan, the United Kingdom has desired to follow an independent line. Perhaps the United Kingdom has only been able to give official support to the British Commonwealth member of the Allied Council because the Council's field has been so limited and because the British Commonwealth Member has conducted himself with such reticence and caution.

However, these are not necessarily qualities that the Australian representatives should exhibit at the Pacific Peace Conference.

1 This paper, prepared by Eggleston, examined the possible obstacles to Australia's direct involvement in the preparation of a peace treaty with Japan.

[AA : A5104/2, 13/1/1]