437 Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram 536 CANBERRA, 7 May 1947, 11.10 a.m.


Reference Dominions Office D.909 of 7th October, 1946 and subsequent telegrams; Dominions Office No.73 to Canberra of 14th April, 1947.

Disposal of Japanese Fleet

Please make representations to the United States State Department and protest in the following terms:-

1. Our view has always been that the disposal of the Japanese Fleet is a question which should be discussed at a peace conference.

When this matter was first brought to our attention in October 1945 the general purpose was to destroy the Japanese Fleet but failing that to reach agreement on a division. No indication was given as to any further negotiations until two months later at Moscow we heard there were negotiations up to the point of agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, China and U.S.S.R. on this matter. It will be recalled that in relation to the Moscow Conference our view was that any discussions on Pacific matters at Moscow should be purely preliminary and that, on any matter affecting the future of the Pacific, Australia should participate directly with other nations concerned.

2. On 14th April, 1947 we were presented with a fait accompli when we were advised by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, London, that the United States Government had presented an aide- memoire to the other three powers setting out procedures for the disposal of the Japanese Fleet.

3. In view of the possibility and desirability of an early peace settlement it is still our view that the disposal of the Japanese Fleet should be decided at a peace conference. [1]

1 Similar representations were made in London. On 13 May Makin and Stirling informed Marshall of Australia's view on the disposal of the Japanese Fleet. Marshall replied that he personally was 'not informed' but that he would give the question his immediate attention.

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