363 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 835 WASHINGTON, 9 September 1949, 6.07 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

FEC 120. Thai Ambassador called on the Ambassador this morning and left a note of which the following is the summary:

The Thai Government has requested the United States to release to the Bank of Thailand certain gold bars owned by the Bank and deposited for safekeeping in Japan. The Bank of Thailand possesses receipts issued by the Bank of Japan, weight lists, certificates of inspection and other documents describing the bars by number and fine gold content. The bars are physically segregated from other gold in vaults in the Bank of Japan and suitably marked and identified. The gold constitutes a major part of the Thai currency reserve. Approximately one half of the gold purchased before the end of 1941 i.e., 31st December. The remainder purchased with balances which accrued in favour of Thailand during the war. The gold was earmarked between 2nd August, 1941, and 27th October, 1944-gold acquired during the war was purchased in an effort to maintain the integrity of the Thai currency system and avert financial and economic collapses. The Thai Government was obliged during the war to make available to Japan local currency considerably in excess of gold earmarked by Japan for Thailand.

Local currency was for purchase of rice and other commodities which were sent to Southern Regions occupied by Japan for civilian and military consumption. Only to a small degree was the Thai Government able to mitigate the acts of exploitation and spoilation of the Thai economy by the Japanese Government. 60% of the Thai currency reserve was accounted for by the gold held under earmark in Japan. The Bank of Thailand acquired a valid tide to the gold under established principles of both municipal and international law. its prompt release will promote stability in Thailand.

2. The Thai Ambassador requested that his representations be sympathetically considered by the Australian Government. The Ambassador took the opportunity of referring to Thailand's outstanding obligations to Australia.

[AA:A1838, 451/3/1/21