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

Cablegram 307 WASHINGTON, 7 October 1940, 9.08 p.m.

MOST SECRET

Secretary of State [1] told the British Ambassador [2] today that instructions have been given to American Consuls both in China and Japan to warn American women and children to leave both countries as soon as possible. Secretary of State further said that American forces in China (Shanghai etc.) would also be instructed to leave.

He said the United States Government had come to the conclusion that this was best way of bringing it home to Japanese that [United States] [3] meant business.

Secretary of State referred again to subject of Staff conversations to the effect that we should all consider joint forces which would be available for common defence in the Pacific and collation of our plans for defence so that prompt and wise action could be taken if the Governments wanted to co-operate for this purpose.

I would point out that at no time has the Secretary of State or other senior official here ever indicated to the British Ambassador or myself that the United States would fight in the Far East or give us armed support if attacked but with this proviso which I want to emphasize to you, it seems difficult to believe that they do not intend to see this thing through with us.

This Staff Conversations proposal would appear to be most important and far-reaching. Order for evacuation of American nationals also seems to me movement of first class importance. I got impression at Saturday's talk with the Secretary of State that he did not quite realize what an important gesture it was.

The British Ambassador in reporting his conversation with Secretary of State today goes on to say 'he does not believe that Japan would challenge the British and Americans in the Pacific until Germany and Italy had begun to win further victories in Europe or Africa which weakened position of Britain and United States in Atlantic sufficiently to compel the United States to move part of their fleet from the Pacific to Atlantic.' The British Ambassador continued that it seems to him that the fundamental purpose of German-Japanese pact is to compel the United States to face a serious menace both in the Pacific and Atlantic. If dictators force their way through Spain and take Gibraltar and North West Africa down to [Dakar] they would be able to challenge formidably both Britain and United States by threats to our communications in the Atlantic. This would be moment for Japanese to move in the Pacific.

The British Ambassador then makes the point that the Staff Conversations should be undertaken in respect of the Atlantic side as well as Pacific and he has opened this up with the Secretary of State and made suggestion to London.

I saw Welles [4] this morning and advised him your agreement with confidential Staff Conversations. [5] He is to communicate with me again on this tomorrow. Meanwhile I find officers could get here by air from Australia by Oct. 21st. Subject to talk with Welles tomorrow I would suggest that officers hold themselves ready to catch earliest flying boat.

I suggested to Welles and to the British Ambassador today that New Zealand be included in Staff Conversations.

British Ambassador's visit to London cancelled temporarily.

CASEY

1 Cordell Hull.

2 Lord Lothian.

3 Words in square brackets have been corrected from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 38.

4 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

5 See Document 151, note 4.

[AA:A981, USA 78, V]