215 High Commissioner's Office in London to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 7908 LONDON, 5 July 1944, 4.25 p.m.

SECRET

Prisoners of War. Far East.

Proposed American Exchange.

First. Admiral Nimitz has proposed to the American Government that an approach be made to the Japanese Government for the possible exchange of 25,000 Japanese-held American prisoners for a similar number of Japanese troops and Korean labourers in isolated garrisons on Wake, Wotje, Maloelap, Mili, Jaluit, Ocean and Nauru who appear without hope of successful evacuation or supply. Nimitz considers that they are a military liability to Japan and debatable whether they can be induced to surrender even when it becomes apparent to them that all hope is lost.

Second. The American proposal is that the Japanese garrison personnel be exchanged rank for rank for American prisoners from Bataan, Corregidor, Guam, Wake and Tientsin. Such an exchange, it is said, would retrieve these unfortunate prisoners who are suffering from malnutrition and disease and thereby boost the morale of the American public.

Third. These proposals are to be discussed by the United Kingdom Government in the next few days. Meanwhile it is thought that you should have preliminary advice. Would be glad of early advice of your reactions.

Fourth. It is specially desired that no publicity of any kind be given to proposals at this stage.

Fifth. You will be advised of any later developments.

[AA:A5954, BOX 672]