266 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister

Circular cablegram M17 LONDON, 3 February 1941, 7.10 p.m.

Following for the Prime Minister.

Telegram No. 5 to Canberra of 20th January from His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo. [1]

JAPAN The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs in an interview with Australian journalists on 17th January stated that the Japanese 'expansion to the south' would be peaceful and economic; no conquest of oppression or exploitation; and that everyone must participate in the economic developments of these regions. In reply to a question, Mr. Matsuoka stated-'when we speak of expansion southwards, we use the term in general sense: by "these regions" I mean the East Indies, Thailand, Burma and Indo China.' His Majesty's Ambassador believes this to be the first time a responsible Japanese statesman has publicly included Burma in the area of southward expansion. To pass over such a statement in silence would, in his view, only have been regarded as a sign of weakness in Tokyo and he accordingly raised the matter with Mr.

Matsuoka on the 23rd January.

The latter's reply was vague and lengthy and may be summarized as follows-'Japan's objective was to assist in peaceful and mainly economic developments of those regions in East Asia he had mentioned. She feels that at present she does not enjoy equality of economic opportunity in Burma and she seeks to obtain this and also if possible rational treatment. When the expression "leadership in Greater East Asia" is used, reference is made solely to spiritual and intellectual leadership.' His Majesty's Ambassador observed that the use of the word 'expansion' to describe this vague aspiration was bound to arouse hostility and resentment in countries which felt their interests to be threatened and that mention of British Territory in this connection was strongly to be deprecated, however inoffensive Japanese intentions might be. Mr. Matsuoka was however unrepentant.

1 This probably refers to Sir Robert Craigie's cablegram 00520 on file AA:A981, Japan 185B,i.

[AA:A1608, A41/1/6, iv]