359 Department of External Affairs to

Sir John Latham, Minister to Japan

Cablegram 89 19 March 1941


Your telegram No. 120. [1] All instructions regarding control of exports by Governor in New Caledonia [2] are given by General de Gaulle [3] and suggestion that Commonwealth Government exercising influence in this connection can be definitely repudiated. In this connection, Japanese Consul-General [4] in January enquired of Department whether Australia had requested Sautot to prevent supply of raw materials from New Caledonia going to Japan and was informed that Australia had nothing to do with this matter.

Position regarding nickel is that whole economy of New Caledonia being dependent on satisfactory solution of nickel problem, Commonwealth Government has agreed to take output of nickel matte from Societe Le Nickel including matte produced from ore purchased from two independent companies under contract to Le Nickel. In addition we are taking matte from ore which it is necessary to purchase from certain small producers.

All of foregoing is for period up to June, 1941. In addition, Le Nickel is to purchase from small producers and store 1,000 tons [5] of ore. After 30th June, Commonwealth will be purchasing quarter by quarter equivalent amounts. We have arranged for sale of matte to Inco of United States and are now negotiating with Inco for purchase by them of further matte from New Caledonia.

Understand that present policy of New Caledonian administration is to permit export of ore within certain defined quota limits.

1 Dispatched 5 March. Latham reported that the Japanese Foreign Office had asked the Commonwealth Govt to use its influence with the New Caledonian administration to end the prohibition of the export of iron and nickel ore to Japan. See file AA:A981, Trade 87B, ii.

2 Henri Sautot.

3 Leader of the Free French movement.

4 Masatoshi Akiyama.

5 A note in the margin amended this figure to 10 000.

[AA:A981, TRADE 87, iii]