55 Sir John Latham, Minister to Japan, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 414 TOKYO, 1 September 1941, 3.55 p.m.

SECRET

My telegrams 404 and 409. [1]

I propose in the course of the next few days to seek an interview with the Minister for Foreign Affairs [2] and discuss the whole situation from Australian point of view. I would point out the absence of any foundation for the allegations of encirclement of Japan or of Australia being a party to any encirclement and that on the contrary Australian actions in reinforcing her air defences and helping to strengthen the garrison at Malaya have been brought about by Japan's successive moves southward, first into North then into South Indo-China, the latter after most categorical denials by the Foreign Office that such a move was contemplated. Australia has no desire to increase the tension or worsen the relations with Japan and it would obviously be foolish for us to seek to do so, but a move by the latter would be followed most certainly and naturally by counter moves by Great Britain [3] and her partners.

But if Japan ceases to make forward moves and shows willingness to discuss ways to relieve the tension she will find Australia very willing to cooperate. I will have no suggestion to offer beyond that withdrawal from South Indo-China would have of course very great effect in restoring the situation and that persistent southward advance propaganda is necessarily inimical to peace but will say I am very ready to receive and discuss any proposal the Minister for Foreign Affairs may wish to make.

I would be glad to have any suggestions as to any other points I might make.

LATHAM

1 Dispatched 25 and 27 August. On file AA:A981, Japan 185B, ii.

2 Admiral Teijiro Toyoda.

3 The original was here annotated 'word mutilated'.

[AA: A981, JAPAN 185B, ii]