404 Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 165 LONDON, 31 July 1947, 8.50 p.m.


The United Kingdom Embassy in Washington have now received a reply from the State Department to their protest against the decision of the United States Government to authorise a Japanese whaling expedition for the 1947/48 season. The reply is in uncompromising terms and indicates that the Americans are determined to proceed with this project.

2. We fully share your views on this unilateral American decision and propose to inform the United States Government that we cannot accept the arguments by which they endeavour to justify their action.

3. However badly we may feel about this whaling expedition, I suggest that we should consider it in the broad context of general relations with the United States and with due regard to the possible effects of any action taken now on the United States attitude at the Japanese Peace Conference.

4. You will be aware that the Americans have shown apprehension about the scope and purpose of the British Commonwealth meeting at Canberra and their proposal for a preliminary international conference as early as 19th August may have been considerably influenced by this factor. In spite of the assurances given by Dr.

Evatt and by ourselves they are still very sensitive on the subject and we are in fact still without any formal assurance that a date will be arranged which will not conflict with the Canberra meeting. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will, I understand, be telegraphing separately to you about this latter point.

5. If the whaling paper now before the Far Eastern Commission is pressed to a vote, the United States will unquestionably veto it;

(they have already given notice of their intention to do so). This would of course be the first use of the veto in the history of the Commission and that being so may well have consequence far beyond the particular question at issue. An open breach with the Americans coming almost immediately before the Canberra meeting and with the Japanese Peace Conference in prospect can hardly fail to have undesirable repercussions.

6. Moreover we cannot now prevent the 1947/48 expedition; and it is highly probable that we shall have an opportunity for a full discussion on this question in the Peace Conference before the next whaling season. In these circumstances we consider that we have more to lose than to gain by pressing the whaling paper to a vote in the Far Eastern Commission at any rate before the question of a date for the Japanese Peace Conference has been satisfactorily resolved.

7. We intend of course to press for the assurances referred to in paragraph (3) of our telegram No. 138. [1]

8. I shall be grateful for your views on the foregoing and I much hope that in the meantime you will feel able to instruct your representative on the Far Eastern Commission not to force this issue to a vote for the time being.

9. I am addressing a similar telegram to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

1 That is, a 'most formal assurance' that no further expedition be sanctioned without FEC agreement until the signing of the peace treaty, and that the second expedition abide by international whaling regulations and employ non-wasteful methods of catching and processing.

[AA : A1838, 479/3/4/1, iii]