Skip to main content

Historical documents

112 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 99 LONDON, 16 November 1941, 6.20 p.m.


Your telegram 6735. [1]

I have given your message to the United Kingdom Government
stressing its importance and urging that the United Kingdom
Government endorse it, and in forwarding it to Craigie [2] should
instruct him to follow the line you recommend.

Your telegram is germane to questions which have for some time
been causing me great anxiety and on which I felt I should send
you my thoughts, as in regard to them there does not appear to me
to be sufficient clear thinking.

These questions are:-

(a) Are American conversations with the Japanese merely designed
to gain time or are they a serious attempt to find a basis for a
wide settlement in the Far East? At the Atlantic meeting the
atmosphere was that all that could be achieved by American-
Japanese conversations was to gain time, and no serious
consideration was given to the basis upon which a wide settlement
might be founded.

(b) If the atmosphere is now changed when did this occur and what
were the reasons for it?
(c) If, in fact, the United States is now seriously discussing
with the Japanese the broad lines of a comprehensive settlement in
the Far East, what are those lines, and what in the light of
conversations do the Americans judge to be the prospects of
Any settlement acceptable to United States public opinion and to
which the British Empire could be a party must involve such just
and equitable treatment to China and such guarantees of future
behaviour as would constitute a tremendous blow to Japanese
aspirations and prestige. Obviously these would have to be
compensated for in the economic field.

It is essential that what is contemplated should be known, so that
it can now be considered. Every opportunity in the past for
attempting to arrive at a settlement in the Far East has been lost
owing to the United Kingdom Government's refusal to face the issue
and determine its policy in the economic field.

Broadly I feel that the time has come for dropping the 'leave it
to your partner' attitude and having the frankest discussions with
Americans as to where American-Japanese discussions are getting
to. On wider aspect of Anglo-American relations in the Far East,
my views are set out in latter part of Page's statement to the War
Cabinet where he invites discussion of this question. From reading
Cabinet minutes I am a little afraid that this discussion got off
on the wrong lines and the actual question submitted did not
receive serious consideration. [3]

The above indicates the general line I have been following here.

Your views to me or, if you feel so disposed, to the United
Kingdom Government, either direct or through me, would be most


1 Document 109.

2 U.K. Ambassador to Japan.

3 See Documents 110 and 113

[AA : A981, PACIFIC 8, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top