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77 Watt to Ball

Cablegram 84 CANBERRA, 20 August 1946


Japanese whaling in [Antarctica [']].

1. On receipt of your first report (your 13 of August 12th [2]) Dr. Evatt [3] replied on 13th August as follows:-

'I am greatly disturbed by report of resumption of Japanese whaling at the very moment when the Australian Government is proposing to embark upon the whaling venture. [4]

Please contact MacArthur and see if we cannot obtain a suitable ship and equipment for Australia.'

2. As we had learned of United Kingdom approach to State Department [5] and as matter was being considered here with P.M.

and interested Departments, transmission to you of Dr. Evatt's telegram was deferred.

3. We informed Dr. Evatt who replied as follows on 17th August:-

'(1) Urgency of this matter is shown by report received from Macmahon Ball and forwarded by you to Dominions Office. It was advisable for you to defer transmission of my personal message to Ball in view of United Kingdom approach to United States Government.

(2) I consider you should now forward my message immediately asking Ball to discuss matter with MacArthur along lines previously suggested and also with view to seeing if it is possible to secure deferment of final action at least until Australia and United Kingdom can act.' 4. Dominions Office on 19th August telegraphed as follows:-

'The United Kingdom Government are considering urgently the difficult issues raised but doubt whether a reply can be sent by 21st August though it will be done as soon as possible. Meanwhile we hope that Macmahon Ball will be able to keep the issue open'.

5. I suggest that you see General MacArthur and informally convey to him at least that Australia, United Kingdom and New Zealand are interested in whaling in [Antarctica] and that the three Governments are considering the matter urgently and hope it will be possible for him to defer further action until they have had opportunity to complete their consideration. Gascoigne should be kept informed.

6. Our telegram-of 19th August-indicates position you should take in event of matter being raised in Allied Council. [6] If in your judgment on the spot it would be preferable to omit reference to S.C.A.P. and Allied Council and base your remarks only on fact that matter is being considered by Governments you represent, there would be no objection provided the main object of preventing a final decision in favour of Japanese whaling in Antarctica is not prejudiced. [7]

1 The cited copy reads 'Australia'.

2 Document 63.

3 Evatt was attending the Peace Conference in Paris.

4 Cabinet had decided on 18 January to sponsor re-establishment of an Australian whaling industry and to ratify the international Agreement on Whaling of 1937 and the Protocols of 1938 and 1945, and had appointed a sub-committee to consider the extent of the Commonwealth Govt's role in Antarctic whaling.

5 In cablegram 1114 (FEC180), dispatched 12 August, Plimsoll reported representations to the State Department made that day by the U.K. member of the Far Eastern Commission that any whaling facilities now available should be operated by the Allies (chiefly British Commonwealth and Norway), that oil should be allocated by the International Emergency Food Council instead of by the U.S.

Govt alone, and urging the difficulty of imposing restrictions on the Japanese after resumption of whaling had been permitted.

6 Ball was instructed in cablegram 81 to state that it would have been proper for MacArthur to have consulted the Council before authorising resumption of whaling and that the governments which he represented felt they should have been consulted and were urgently considering the matter.

7 Ball received Watt's cablegram after the meeting and then sent MacArthur a note asking that a final decision be deferred until the governments concerned had considered the matter. On 22 August Ball reported (cablegram 15) a reply that MacArthur held himself 'completely amenable to any further directives' from governments concerned and that there was time for new instructions to be implemented before sailing time.

[AA:A1067, P46/10/10/3/1, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History