487 Evatt to Burton

Cablegram unnumbered TOKYO, 31 July 1947


For some considerable time we have known that Ball's continuance here was uncertain in duration. There were several actual or threatened resignations which were subsequently withdrawn. You will remember that both Attlee and Hector McNeil, the United Kingdom being interested with us jointly in Allied Council, protested against certain statements made by Ball and consequently from London and Paris instructions had to be given by me telling him to moderate public criticism. When the Prime Minister was here in the middle of last year he instructed Ball to work in closest harmony with General MacArthur.[1] Very recently Ball wished to have further public criticism at the Allied Council on the United States whaling decision but again we restrained him. There is a good deal to support the suggestion that he was opposed to my present mission. Further he informed us a month ago that he would stay only until my mission was completed. Ball has always been protected by me when any public criticism was made of his speeches.

At the last of three conferences with MacArthur I yesterday made a public statement covering general principles and procedures of Japanese settlement. This statement was most cordially welcomed by MacArthur whose attitude has been one of closest co-operation and comradeship. S.C.A.P. authorities generally have played the friendly relations up a good deal. It is now clear to me that Ball expected strong controversy between MacArthur and myself if he did not actively desire it and the opposite result has displeased and disappointed him. Last night he indicated that he would still persist in his intention to resign despite my desire that he should remain at his post. However he is apparently prepared to remain in charge of the mission 'for a few weeks'. In this period there does not seem to be an Allied meeting of any importance but any meeting could be attended by some other official such as Eckersley. Ball took particular umbrage at the story that General Robertson might act in his place temporarily or occasionally if he went away. How the story leaked out I cannot fathom for I merely asked Robertson in confidence whether it would be an improved settlement if he were to act after Ball went back to Australia.

I have not attempted in this telegram to give further details for the position will have to be reviewed when I return but Ball's disappointment of course may lead him to be troublesome in spite of the fact that every instinct of gratitude and decency should emphasize his indebtedness to us, it having been a very difficult struggle mechanically to get the United Kingdom to agree to his appointment.

After heavy strain of the week I felt very disgusted by the atmosphere of intrigue and jealousy which surrounds the Australian Mission. Therefore although I do not like the resignation Ball seems to me to have practically nullified his usefulness while he continues in his present indecision.

I am leaving Japan by Hobart very late tomorrow, Friday night or early Saturday and I have made the following interim arrangements pending for my return to Australia.

Ball will remain in charge of the Australian Mission for the time being. I propose this period may end in a few weeks but I should be home in any case in time to discuss new arrangements to Governments concerned.

2. Eckersley will attend Allied Council unless you direct Eckersley otherwise and he accedes.

3. Consideration might be given to the possibility of a successor of standing whom the four powers would accept. It is a very difficult choice but someone of Robertson's or Killearn's stature might be considered in special circumstances though these would require consent from others.

1 See Volume IX, in particular Documents 194, 202-3, 211 and 274.

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