24 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 486 [1] CANBERRA, 30 July 1941


Your telegram 515. [2]

Now that joint action has been taken by the United States and British Empire countries, I urge that the position that will arise if serious Japanese reactions are provoked should at once be taken up and pressed with the United States.

We feel that this is a matter which does not permit of delay and that everything should be done to make it clear to the United States Administration that we all regard the question as of vital importance.

If the Americans feel in their hearts that in the event of war- like retaliation by Japan they could not remain aloof from the conflict, surely they can be made to see that a plain indication by them to Japan at this stage would probably avoid war.

I recognise the traditional reluctance of the United States to enter into outside commitments in advance, but where the commitment seems inevitable there is everything to be gained by promptly accepting it and everything to be lost by delay.

There is an apprehension in our minds and in the minds of leading members of the Opposition that the dangers in the Pacific are more dimly perceived elsewhere than by ourselves. We, vividly conscious of those dangers, are still convinced that the United States Administration is in the best position to dispel them. The faintest drift in our handling of the Japanese problem may mean that Japan will engage in policies from which at a later stage she cannot withdraw without a serious loss of face. [3]


1 Repeated to the Canadian and South African Prime Ministers and to the N.Z. Acting Prime Minister as nos 6,61 and 285; and to the Ministers to the United States and Japan as nos 82 and 9. Menzies also instructed the High Commissioner in the United Kingdom (S. M.

Bruce) to see Cranborne's copy (see cablegram 4107 of 30 July on file AA : A1608, A41/1/1, xxiii) 2 Document 19.

3 On receiving a copy of this cablegram R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, showed it to Lord Halifax, U.K. Ambassador to the United States, and suggested a joint approach to Roosevelt to raise the possibility of a 'discreet warning' by the United States to Japan 'that American interest in the status quo in the Far East was unlikely to be limited by the degree of action that has already been displayed'. See Casey's letter of 31 July to Halifax on file AA : A3300, 98.

The U.K. Govt (cablegram 541 of 2 August on file AA : A1608, A41/1/1, xxiv) declared itself 'in general agreement' with the policy advocated in cablegram 486 and Bruce described it as most timely', since instructions to Halifax had not yet been issued and Bruce believed they would be influenced by the Commonwealth Govt's views (see cablegram 603 of 31 July on file AA : A981, Japan 185B, ii). The South African Govt (cablegram 53 of 31 July on file AA :

A981, Japan 185B, ii) also shared the Commonwealth Govt's views.

[AA : A981, PACIFIC 8, i]