310 Evatt to Mackenzie King and Smuts

Cablegrams 7, 8 CANBERRA, 20 April 1947


You will have received the United Kingdom Government's suggestion of an early British Commonwealth Conference to discuss Japanese peace settlement.

2. Before receipt of this message, we had already suggested such a Conference to the United Kingdom Government following upon recent statement that, in our view, an early peace Conference was essential if we were to avoid the present unsatisfactory procedure by which matters are dealt with one by one-for example, disposition of Japanese fleet, disposition of Japanese Islands, reparations-and without the opportunity of effective participation being given to us and other major belligerents in the war against Japan.

3. After consultations with the New Zealand Government, we decided to suggest a Conference at Canberra. There have been many British Commonwealth Conferences at London and, in our view, Australia is the fitting site, being the primary base of operations in the war against Japan and having regard to the war effort of this country against Japan.

4. I hope we can look to your co-operation in urging that the Conference be held at Canberra because I am aware of your disappointment over procedures which have been adopted in relation to two European peace treaties. While Canada and South Africa have not been as directly concerned in the Japanese Control Council as Australia, both countries are very much concerned with the principles of decisions which might be taken in relation to a peace settlement with Japan and I would regard it as important and helpful that you should attend a preliminary conference such as we have suggested. [1]

1 Smuts had earlier cabled in reply to Australia's cable to Addison of 17 April that while sympathising with Australia's view, South Africa had no special interest in the Japanese settlement and would be unable to send a delegation to Australia. A note to Evatt through the Canadian High Commission, dated 21 April, suggested that it would be more convenient to continue informal discussions in Washington, where the possibility of transforming the FEC into a preparatory commission for the peace settlement might be considered.

[AA: A1068, P47/10/61, ii]