239 Department of External Affairs to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Cablegram 54 15 May 1940, 12 noon


My telegram No. 53-NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES. [1]

Our information from London [2] is that, according to Dutch Minister at Tokyo [3], Japanese Navy putting strong pressure on Cabinet in favour of attack on Netherlands East Indies, arguing that from action in Netherlands West Indies and from alleged fact that Netherlands belligerent status may threaten Japanese supply of essential materials from East Indies. Dutch Minister gathered that latter point had theoretically won support of Army and industrial elements but that Prime Minister [4] and Minister for Foreign Affairs [5] strongly opposed.

British Ambassador, Tokyo [6], while not excluding possibility, has no confirmatory reports and is less apprehensive.

Japanese Government have been formally assured by Dutch Government that latter is absolutely certain that neither Allies nor United States would interfere with integrity of Netherlands East Indies or curtail oil supplies.

Following telegram gives in clear text of passage regarding East Indies in Minister's [7] statement given in House of Representatives today.

Glad if you would continue keep dose touch with Lothian [8] on this matter, and see that United States Government is advised above, if not already done. At the same time it is felt that if unguarded assurance could be obtained from and publicly stated United States of America is not prepared to entertain any attempt at intervention, it would be most beneficial and welcome. [9]

1 Not found.

2 See Bruce's cablegram 324 (incorrectly numbered 325) of 14 May 1940 on file AA: A1608, B41/1/9, i.

3 General J. C. Pabst.

4 Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai.

5 Hachiro Arita.

6 Sir Robert Craigie.

7 John McEwen. See Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 163, pp. 814-18.

8 U.K. Ambassador to the United States.

9 The last sentence of this cablegram was mutilated in transmission. No Canberra copy has been found.

[AA: A3300, 13]