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197 Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram 1538 CANBERRA, 4 November 1946


Japanese Antarctic Whaling.

Your F.E.C. 239. [1]

The Aide-Memoire received from the State Department on 26th September is understood as conveying the following assurances:-

(1) That the proposed expedition is an emergency measure confined to the coming season 1946/7 and in no way constitutes a precedent for the future;

(2) That the Australian Government will be fully consulted in connection with any future proposals concerning Japanese Whaling with which the United States is concerned;

(3) The question of the future of the Japanese Whaling industry is a matter for Allied consultation and decision;

(4) That the ultimate disposition of Japanese Whaling equipment and facilities is a matter for Allied consultation and decision;

(5) That the proposed expedition will be carried out in full conformity with all international conventions and regulations pertaining to whaling;

(6) That the expedition will not approach within twelve miles of any land after leaving Japan;

(7) That the expedition will be under full Allied control and that S.C.A.P. will screen thoroughly the Japanese crews;

(8) That all oil produced as a result of the expedition will be subject to allocation by the International Emergency Food Council.

2. While attaching much importance to these assurances the Australian Government is still most concerned at the prospect of Japanese personnel being permitted to enter the South Pacific and more especially waters adjacent to Australia or Australian Antarctic territory. Although unable to agree that the form of the proposed expedition is satisfactory we have arranged to provide one inspector for the expedition. [2]

3. In regard to the second of the above assurances the Australian Government wishes to make it clear that it would wish to be consulted on all aspects of future Japanese Whaling and not merely on those relating to security. The Government is strongly of the opinion that the Japanese should be prohibited from whaling in the Antarctic in future in view of their past record in that industry.

An indication of U.S. Government support for this view would do much to assuage the concern felt by the Australian Government in connection with the present proposals and would reinforce the first of the assurances mentioned above.

4. In connection with the fourth of the above assurances we note that S.C.A.P. order of 23rd August which gave the Japanese Government permission to convert a further tanker into a whale processing ship remains in force. We would welcome an indication that the U.S. Government would be prepared to support the Australian Government's claim to receive portion of the Japanese whaling equipment as reparations.

5. In connection with the sixth of the assurances mentioned the Australian Government would welcome information about the route to be followed by the expedition as soon as it is available.

6. With regard to the second paragraph of the State Department's Aide-Memoire under reference the Australian Government desires to invite the attention of the U.S. Government to the fact that the Supreme Commander in issuing his order on whaling to the Japanese Government on 23rd August acted contrary to the provision contained in section 5 of the Moscow agreement concerning the establishment of the Allied Council for Japan namely to 'consult and advise with the Council in advance of the issuance of orders on matters of substance the exigencies of the situation permitting'. [3]

1 Document 138.

2 K. J. Coonan, Commonwealth Fisheries Office.

3 An aide-memoire in these terms was presented to the State Department on 8 November. The U.S. Govt replied on 11 December, concurring in the Australian Govt's understanding, reiterating that the future of Japanese whaling was a matter for Allied consultation in the context of the long-range future of Japan's economy, advising that conversion of the tanker had ceased as its use for whaling operations had been found to be impracticable, and notifying the route, schedule and arrangements.

[AA:A1067, ER46/13/19/2]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History