402 Makin to Evatt

Cablegram 869 WASHINGTON, 3 July 1947


Whaling Expedition.

Your telegram No. 758.

I went to see Secretary of State this afternoon accompanied by Minister.

It had not been possible to see him earlier owing to Paris Conference.

I put our case to Marshall orally, conveying the very deep concern which Government and whole Australian people shared on proposed expedition from Japan. The proposal was I said 'wholly unwarranted' in view of our offer.

As for the expense side I stressed that this could easily be arranged to our mutual satisfaction so as to avoid any further burden upon American taxpayer. Also that there would be no delay in making necessary arrangements and that our methods of whaling would undoubtedly guarantee a greater supply of oil.

I brought out the ready convertibility of whaling ships to naval use and urged most strongly the potential threat to our security.

I told him that in last 15 years the presence of Japanese ships and in particular the pearling fleets in neighbourhood of Australia had been synonymous with spying.

With the memory of the Japanese invasion of New Guinea and Timor, and the destruction of our northern port of Darwin fresh in mind, the Australian people could only regard the presence of Japanese ships whether whalers or pearlers or otherwise in the seas adjacent to Australia with the deepest resentment and apprehension.

I reminded him that a second visit of Japanese ships and Japanese crews following on that of last year would give great encouragement to the Japanese in a direction which we could only regard as most undesirable.

I emphasised our concern that an enemy country should be considered in this way contrary to the interests of an ally, recalling the treachery of the Japanese to both Australia and United States.

I told him of our deep concern because this question of the expedition appeared to have been settled unilaterally at the very moment when the matter was coming before the FEC.

After making these and other points I urged on Marshall our hope that the Government of the United States would be prepared to review this matter which from our point of view was one of major importance and which had deeply stirred the whole Australian people.

Marshall listened attentively. Although I covered a wide field I was brief and he thanked me for my consideration in this regard at a time when he was greatly preoccupied.

He said: 'I will of course consider all you have said very carefully and you will understand if I make no further reply at the moment.' General Hilldring, Assistant Under Secretary, who with Borton [1] was present at interview and who to my regret is shortly leaving State Department spoke to me afterwards most warmly of Australian friendship and added:- 'Your case was very dramatic and you could not have covered it more fully had you taken two hours'. [2]

1 Hugh Barren, Chief, Division of Northeast Asian Affairs, Department of State; Special Assistant to Director, Office of Far Eastern Affairs, from October.

2 An aide-memoire, received from the Department of State on in July reaffirmed the United States decision to authorise the expedition and its view that the expedition was necessary to the rehabilitation of a self-supporting economy for Japan.

[AA : A3300/7, 747]