504 Evatt to Paranjpye

Letter CANBERRA, 8 April 1947

Your request that the United States authorities be informed of the desire of the Indian Government to withdraw the Indian component of the forces of occupation in Japan has been given very earnest consideration. [1] Before action is taken, however, I should like to be assured that your Government has given consideration to implications which are not without concern to Australia.

It appears to us here that the withdrawal might well weaken the position of India (and the countries with which India is directly associated in the occupation) in relation to the peace settlement with Japan, and further that this might have effects on India's position in international relations generally, and particularly in the Pacific region.

As you know, the Australian Government is pressing for an international conference for the earliest possible conclusion of the present phase in Japan, and the settlement of outstanding issues of the Pacific war in which both our countries were heavily engaged. We would be happy to find India exerting its influence in the same direction.

If these efforts were successful-and there appears to be wide support for an early settlement-the question of forces of occupation might be regarded in a different light.

I would also add most confidentially that the New Zealand Government wishes to reduce but not to withdraw entirely its component of the occupation force.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would convey the sense of this letter to your Government and advise me of their views. [2]

1 In view of constitutional changes to take place in 1948 and consequent reorganisation within the army, the Indian Government proposed to recall all Indian troops serving overseas by the end of 1947. On 25 March Paranjpye handed Evatt a cablegram from the Indian Commonwealth Relations Department relaying India's desire to withdraw all Indian units from BCOF by 15 September. On 31 March he wrote to Evatt passing on India's request that Australia give six months notice of the proposed withdrawal to the United States, as required under the MacArthur-Northcott Agreement.

2 This reply was made in spite of the Defence Department view that any hesitation or representations to the Indian Government might be misunderstood and harm future relations between India, the British Commonwealth and Australia. On 9 April Moodie was instructed to inform Nehru that formal notice had been given to the US Government, and to convey Evatt's personal view that India's position with respect to the ultimate settlement with Japan would be weakened by withdrawal. Moodie reported the following day that Nehru had expressed his thanks but made no further comment.

[AA : A1838, 481/1/4]