236 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 172 CANBERRA, 24 July 1944

MOST IMMEDIATE AND SECRET

Your telegram No. 135 of 12th June. [1] Australian Government has carefully reconsidered question of inclusion of Japanese merchant seamen in proposed civilian exchange with Japan. In the light of views expressed in your telegram and in personal message received by Prime Minister from Mr. Churchill [2], and after communication with the Commander-in-Chief, S.W.P.A. [3], the Australian Government withdraws its previously expressed objection to inclusion in the exchange of the 331 merchant seamen in question.

We assume that proposals on this new basis will be communicated at once to Japanese Government. [4]

1 Document 193.

2 Document 222.

3 At Curtin's direction, A. J. Wilson discussed the matter with Lt Gen Sutherland. MacArthur had received a copy of Roosevelt's message to Churchill and, while maintaining his objection to the inclusion of the Japanese seamen on military grounds, 'realised that higher Governmental authority might feel that there were other considerations which outweighed his views'. See Wilson's letter to Hodgson, dated 20 July, on file AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, iii.

4 In the event, the exchange did not take place, because of the state of the war and the lack of suitable shipping.

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