78 Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram 1215 CANBERRA, 21 August 1946


Your F.E.C. 180 Japanese Antarctic Whaling. [1]

Please discuss matter informally with the State Department and convey our views along the following lines:

(a) We are much concerned that such a wide extension of Japanese fishing operations has been authorised especially in waters of direct and permanent security interest to Australia without consultation with interested Governments notwithstanding the policy laid down by the United States in FEC.035.

(b) The matter appears to us to be one on which the Allied Council for Japan should have been consulted and asked to advise.

(c) If the United States Government were to approve this action of S.C.A.P. such approval might well be regarded as inconsistent with the agreement set out in Article IV of the final act of the November 1945 International Whaling Conference. [2]

(d) We consider that any whaling facilities and equipment in the hands of the Japanese should be made available for operation by Allied countries particularly the British Commonwealth.

(e) Whatever might be said now, a Japanese expedition would tend to establish a precedent and subsequent restriction of Japanese activities would be difficult. This is particularly important in the light of the Japanese past whaling record.

2. For your information only. Dominions Office have been informed that we intend to take action outlined above and we are consulting with them and New Zealand on the question of Australia sharing in the operation of the Japanese facilities in the Antarctic perhaps jointly with the United Kingdom, New Zealand and possibly Norwegian whaling interests. Macmahon Ball has been instructed to endeavour to prevent any irrevocable action being taken in Japan which would prejudice our interests until the British Commonwealth countries concerned have completed their consultations. [3]

1 See Document 77, note 5. The cablegram also reported State Department advice that MacArthur had acted in accordance with a U.S. Govt directive (FEC.035, 19 November 1945) which provided for rehabilitation of the Japanese coastal fishing industry to meet domestic consumption needs, with shortfall in minimum requirements being met by deep sea fishing where security and political considerations permitted, pending negotiation of international agreement for Japanese fishing in areas under Allied jurisdiction.

Fishing operations were to conform strictly to whaling and other international agreements to which the U.S. Govt was party, and export of surplus would be permitted to supply world needs for protein and oil, and to secure foreign exchange for esstential imports.

2 Japan was not a signatory of the 1937 Whaling Agreement. Article IV was intended to prevent transfer of whaling vessels and equipment to nations not party to that agreement.

3 See Document 77.

[AA:A1067, P46/10/10/3/1, i]