40 Sir Henry Gullett, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Letter MELBOURNE, 5 February 1940

During the past week or two I have given much thought to the question of Commonwealth diplomatic representation in the Far East. My opinion now is that we should proceed immediately with the appointment of a Minister to both Japan and China.

I think much significance should be attached to what might be termed the urgent request of the Japanese that we should exchange Ministers. This desire taken with the present disposition of Japan to lean more strongly to the Allies than for some few years appears to me to present a really great opportunity to Australia.

I feel that an Australian could do much to assist in drawing Japan and the United Kingdom together again. Apparently Japan by its representations through Akiyama [1] entertains the same view.

But an appointment to China is, as I think you suggested, equally important at this time. We shall never grasp the real attitude and moment of the Far East towards Australia until we are intelligently represented in both Japan and China. An appointment to China following very soon after Japan would appear to me the right way to move.

Whatever may be the outcome of the international position between Australia and Japan and China, it is beyond question that from this time forward both countries will be a rapidly increasing factor in our trading relationships. Out of China, to say nothing of Japan, in the next ten years will come an incalculable flood of exports. The problem of high standard countries, and particularly Australia, in restraining this flood without creating grave international complications is obvious.

I do not wish to labour the matter, but I strongly recommend that we should proceed to take active steps to appoint a Minister to each country.


1 Japanese Consul-General in Australia.

[AA: CP290/2, 9]