225 Chifley to Evatt [CANBERRA], 24 October 1947


I am attaching for your information copies of two despatches which I have recently received from Mr. Shaw at Tokyo. [1] I do not know what importance should be attached to these despatches, but have asked for an indication of the sources from which the information was obtained, and I have taken steps to see that there should be no distribution of these despatches.

The implications are, however, so serious that I thought I would send them to you, in order that you can find out whether the reported attitude of American officers at Tokyo in any way reflects official policy. Australian forces were sent to Japan for the purpose of maintaining control in Japan. Any other duties assumed by the American forces along the lines indicated in the despatch might easily involve Allied forces directly or indirectly, without the Governments concerned being fully consulted. If the reports are correct, and if the alleged instructions to the American forces at Tokyo have come from Washington, immediate consideration should perhaps be given to the withdrawal of Australian forces in Japan. It might easily be that the British withdrawal is in some way related to the type of information Mr. Shaw has sent down.

I have watched with interest New York reports and the growing tension, not only in New York, but in Europe. At the moment, attention is focused away from the Japanese area, but this might finally be the critical area. Looking ahead, we must be careful not to be placed in a position in which we have no free choice, but are led by a series of circumstances into political disputes which have a relatively indirect bearing upon Australia and perhaps even the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Before leaving the United States, I think you should endeavour to ascertain the mind of political leaders in America. I should be glad if you could let me know by letter your impressions after you have seen both Service and political leaders, and then perhaps some further discussions should take place in the United Kingdom.

1 Ministerial Dispatch 4/47 summarised strengths and dispositions of USSR and US-BCOF forces in the Far East.

[AA : A1068 T4, DL47/5/8c]