15 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram [4] [1] LONDON, 13 January 1944, 2.45 p.m.

SECRET

Addressed to the Prime Minister. Proposed Japanese exchange.

Since despatch of the communication to Japanese Government with

reference to Japanese seamen (Dominions Office cable 368 7/12/43

[2]) increasing concern has been felt both here and in America

with regard to Allied prisoners and internees in the Far East.

This feeling has been greatly stimulated by statements by returned

Prisoners of War from Germany and Italy which have been much

publicised, that their condition would have been desperate but for

Red Cross medicines and supplies.

As you know, the only method of sending these supplies to

prisoners and internees in Far East is by exchange ships.

America's view is that so urgent is the need that the detention of

any Japanese National which might prevent an exchange and the

sending of supplies on the exchange ship is not warranted.

American feeling on this point is strengthened by the fact that,

as you know, arrangements have now been. made by which supplies

going in either American or Empire exchange ships are being

pooled.

The ship of the American exchange which recently returned to Japan

carried American supplies. The Americans are naturally looking for

further supplies to go in the ships of the British exchange. You

are aware that TIERA MARU may be withdrawn by the Japanese for

Naval use if negotiations for British exchange break down

(Dominions Office cable 393 24/12 [3]) that might jeopardise all

further exchanges, American or British.

Notwithstanding feelings and the view indicated above, it is

recognised both here and in America that military considerations

must prevail. I have ascertained, however, that both here and in

Washington it would be greatly welcomed if, owing to improvement

in the military situation or for any other reason, MacArthur was

able to modify views expressed by him (your cable 156 29/10/43

[4]) so that Japanese seamen might be included.

Do you think there is any possibility of his doing so? If there

is, it is desirable that his revised opinion should be transmitted

as soon as possible so that immediate action could be taken upon

receipt of the Japanese reply to the communication sent to them

(Dominions Office cable 368) which there is little doubt will be

of negative character.

BRUCE

1 This cablegram was incorrectly circulated in Canberra as no.

485. See Bruce's version and the correcting cablegram of 13

January on files AA: M100, January 1944 and AA:A989, 43/460/10/2,

iii, respectively.

2 On file AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, ii.

3 On the file cited in note 2.

4 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VI,

Document 319.

[AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, iii]