125 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 217 LONDON, 30 June 1945, 1.50 p.m.

SECRET

Your telegrams Australia No. 160 of 19th June [1], New Zealand No.

152 of 20th June. [2]

ITALIAN DECLARATION OF WAR ON JAPAN We fully appreciate your misgivings and the points raised by the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments were much in our minds when the United States proposal was considered here.

Indeed, we only agreed to the United States proposal with considerable reluctance. The fact is that as stated in my telegram to Australia of 28th April, number 131 [3], opinion in the United States in matters affecting Italy is liable to be worked on by Italian-American elements in, the population there and United States Policy therefore tends to be more favourable to Italian wishes than in our view is warranted by the Italian record in this war. We feel bound to take account of this fact and of the risk that British interests in Italy (and consequently in the Mediterranean) may suffer if we adopt an entirely negative attitude towards Italian requests of this kind when the United States Government for their part are sympathetic.

2. As regards your comments on Paragraph four of my telegram D No.

1005 [4] we would make the following further observations- (A) We have not joined the United States Government in inviting the Italian Government to declare war on Japan. We are only informing the Soviet, French and if necessary Italian Governments that having been consulted by the United States Government, we have agreed to the course proposed by the United States Government (see my telegram D No. 1072 [5]).

(B) We understand the United States Government's view to be that moderate elements in Italy would be strengthened not so much by any actual Italian achievements in the war against Japan, as by the fact that the United States Government had addressed their invitation to the Italian Government as to an equal.

(C) We could, no doubt, secure our requirements from Italy in respect of the war against Japan by insertion of appropriate provisions in the Peace Treaty. In general, however, peace terms are in any case bound to be unpalatable and will take some time to settle. If therefore there are matters in which we can equally well secure our requirements at an earlier date by other means we may as well take advantage of them.

(D) Italy having already become a co-belligerent against Germany, we do not think that our prospects of imposing satisfactory peace terms on Italy will be prejudiced if she becomes a co-belligerent also against Japan.

3. We shall of course, bear in mind Australian and New Zealand views as to keeping to a minimum Italian participation in the Pacific settlement. As stated in Paragraph 4 of my telegram D No.

1005 we are ourselves opposed to Italy's playing any part militarily or diplomatically in the Far East during or after the War. [6]

1 Document 117.

2 Repeated to Australia as cablegram 87. On file AA : A1066, H45/13/1/12.

3 Document 78.

4 Document 106.

5 Dispatched 18 June. On file AA : A1066, P45/144/1.

6 On 14 July the U.K. Ambassador at Rome, Sir Noel Charles, was informed that the Italian Govt intended to declare war on Japan the following day. It was explained that the action was prompted imminent meeting of the Big Three in Berlin and the desire to demonstrate solidarity with the United Nations. See cablegram D1230, dated 16 July, from Cranborne to the Commonwealth Govt. On the file cited in note 2.

[AA : A1066, E45/19/17]