165 Mr P. Fraser, N.Z. Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered WELLINGTON, 20 April 1940, 2.30 a.m.


No. 125 Addressed to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs.

[1] Repeated to Prime Minister, Commonwealth of Australia.

'His Majesty's Government in New Zealand have now had an opportunity of considering Circulars D.123 and 124 of the 13th and 14th of April [2] in connection with which they wish to offer the following observations- (1) They have consistently held the view, and they still hold it, that it is both morally wrong and politically unwise to endeavour to treat with aggressor nations on the same terms as with those of good international standing, and for this reason they have deprecated any undue regard being paid to the susceptibilities of Japan.

(2) While they are convinced that the League and international reprobation of Japanese aggression against China has taken a form which is entirely inadequate to the situation, they are nevertheless impressed by the fact that, at the moment, the main enemy is Germany, and there is little to be said for any course of action at this juncture which might conceivably add another enemy to the Allied cause or otherwise disturb the status quo in the Pacific unless such a step is clearly warranted as a necessary measure in the war against Germany, (3) They gravely doubt whether, having regard to the facts of the case, the advantages to be gained by preventing a trickle of supplies to Germany through Russia from Japanese or other sources would outweigh the disadvantages that might result in the Pacific, and to the Allied cause in general, from the contemplated preventative measures which, rightly or wrongly, might be construed as inimical to Japanese or Russian interests or prestige. On the whole, while endeavouring to take the most realistic view of the situation, they are inclined on this aspect to feel that the advantages to be gained by the steps proposed are inadequate to the risks to be run.

(4) They agree generally therefore with the views expressed by His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia in the two telegrams which they have had an opportunity of perusing, dated 17th April, 1940. [3]

(5) On the other hand, they would wish His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to know that they would deprecate any attempt to make a bargain with Japan. They feel that such a bargain must have the effect in some degree firstly of strengthening Japan's position in her attack on China and secondly of alienating neutral sympathy, particularly in the United States of America. In particular, the course now proposed would appear to be in some degree incompatible with the American proposal set out in your Most Secret telegram No. 30 of 3rd February 1940 [4], to the encouragement of which His Majesty's Government in New Zealand attach great importance.

(6) Finally, His Majesty's Government in New Zealand see little prospect of success in the proposed negotiations with China which is under deep obligations to Russia, and the Netherlands, which is unlikely to take any steps which might antagonise Germany or Japan.' His Majesty's Government in New Zealand greatly appreciate the opportunity of perusing your two telegrams to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs of April 17th, with reference to the Pacific, and have today despatched the above to the Secretary of State.

1 Anthony Eden.

2 Documents 141 and 143.

3 The cablegrams printed as Documents 148 and 151 were repeated to the New Zealand Govt on 17 April 1940 with a request for comments on the issues raised therein. (See file AA: A1608, A41/1/1, viii.) 4 This cablegram was dispatched to the Commonwealth Govt as no. 28 on the same day (in series FA: A3195, 1.798). It referred to an informal United States approach to the U.K. and French Govts on the possibility of joint action to deny strategic metals to Germany, Japan and the U.S.S.R.

[FA: A3195, 1.2607]