77 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, U.K. High Commissioner in Australia

Cablegram 279 LONDON, 20 August 1940, 3 a.m.


My telegram of 31st July, No. 250. [1] In his telegram 1563 of 14th August [2] (which was not repeated to Canberra) H.M.

Ambassador at Tokyo [3] urged that in view of torrents of abuse to which the United Kingdom is now being daily subjected in Japanese press and his fear that news of the appointment of an Australian Minister might be generally acclaimed in Japan as evidence that Australia is indifferent to Japan's inexcusable behaviour towards the United Kingdom, he should await a more propitious moment before actually asking for Latham's [4] agrement.

2. Since then events have moved fast, and appointment has now been made public. We feel, nevertheless, that it should be pointed out to the Commonwealth Government that there has been evidence for some time past of attempts on the part of the Japanese Government to indicate to the world at large that there is an absence of unity between Far Eastern policy of the United Kingdom and that of Australia and New Zealand. The eagerness of the Japanese to take up the appointment of Latham at a time when they are abusing the United Kingdom is a case in point. It seems to us important that, at a time when the interests, not only of the United Kingdom but also of Australia are endangered by Japan's southward expansion, the slightest suggestion that our two Governments are pursuing a divergent policy in the Far East should meet with most emphatic contradiction.

3. We presume therefore that when Latham proceeds to Japan to take up his post he will leave the Japanese Government in no doubt on the matter. But in the meanwhile it would be helpful in our common interests if continued publicity could be given to solidarity of the Empire in relation to its Far East policy. References to this important aspect of the new appointment were, we realize, made at Canberra recently at the time of the announcement, but we feel that this aspect should continue to be kept to the fore.

4. Should be glad if you would take an early opportunity of speaking to the Commonwealth Prime Minister [5] accordingly.

I have shown draft of this telegram to Bruce. [6]

1 See Document 63, note 2.

2 See Document 72, note 1.

3 Sir Robert Craigie.

4 Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

5 R. G. Menzies.

6 High Commissioner in London. At 9.25 p.m. on 19 August Bruce advised Menzies (see cablegram 700 on file AA:A461, A703/1/2):

'Reference No. 279 to Whiskard. I suggest you need not take it too seriously but possibly might send something reassuring with regard to the point in the last paragraph.'

[AA:A981, FAR EAST 14A]