206 Commonwealth Government to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 611 24 November 1940,

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Japanese Consul-General [1] has informed us of intention of South Seas Trading Company to send party of commercial travellers to visit Papua, New Guinea and various Southern Pacific Islands including New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, New Hebrides and Solomon Islands, between December and March. Object of visit stated to be promotion of trade.

We propose to reply that present time is not opportune owing to difficult commercial conditions in South Pacific for the inauguration of new trading features [sic] and that it is the policy of the Commonwealth Government to discourage the purchase of anything but most essential goods and to limit the purchase of commodities to the sterling area as far as is reasonably possible.

Consequently we would wish this visit so far as it affects Australian territories to be postponed.

If you agree with this proposal it is suggested you advise the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific [2] to take similar action or alternatively advise us to reply on behalf of all the territories mentioned, As radio reports from Japan indicate that these missions are on the point of departure an immediate reply to the Japanese Government is essential.

You might consider it advisable to inform the United States Government of the proposal and of our attitude.

1 Masatoshi Akiyama.

2 Sir Harry Luke.

[AA:A3196, 1940, 0.9248]