157 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram M63 LONDON, 3 October 1940, 11.35 p.m.

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

BURMA ROAD Following for the Prime Minister:-

We greatly value the views which you have furnished in reply to my circular telegram M.58 of 4th September [1] and these have been most carefully considered. Since my telegram was despatched there have been two major developments- (a) The Japanese entry into Indo China, and (b) the German-Italian-Japanese pact;

and the matter has also been discussed in the light of these developments between His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington [2] and the United States Secretary of State. [3] The latter stated- (a) The United States Government hope that the road will not remain closed after 17th October;

(b) Cancellation of agreement before 17th October would be needless provocation; and (c) In order to avoid a second crisis 3 weeks hence the best course would be to notify the Japanese Government at once of our intention not to renew the agreement.

His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo [4] is in favour of this course and does not consider that it would lead to war with Japan. His view is that if the Japanese decide to challenge the British Commonwealth to war it will be on a wider calculation of issues than this.

The War Cabinet considered the matter to-day and came to the conclusion that in the present circumstances there was no alternative to adoption of this course. We are confident that your Government will concur in this view. It is accordingly proposed that the decision will be announced by the Prime Ministers in the House of Commons next Tuesday in the sense that the agreement was concluded for a [definite] 6 period and there had been no provision for renewal and in any case in view of the recent developments His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would have felt unable to agree to a renewal if this had been in question. [7]

1 Document 100.

2 Lord Lothian.

3 Cordell Hull.

4 Sir Robert Craigie.

5 Winston S. Churchill.

6 Corrected from the Dominions Office copy in PRO: DO 114/113.

7 The Commonwealth Govt sent its agreement to the proposed action on 7 October. See cablegram 518 on file AA:A1608, A41/1/1, xiv.

[AA:A1608, A41/1, xiv]