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177 Commonwealth Government to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 788 CANBERRA, 10 December 1941


My telegram 783 of 10th December. [1]

We have no telegrams from Australian Charge d'Affaires, Tokyo [2],
since Saturday last except short notification in clear that Japan
had declared state of war with Australia received today. [3] We
have telegraphed Argentine Ambassador, Tokyo [4], direct informing
him that we have permitted Japanese Minister in Australia [5] to
communicate in plain English with his Government and asking him to
secure from Japanese Government permission to send and receive
messages on behalf of Australian Charge d'Affaires at Tokyo.

Meantime we assume that you will advise us of any proposals
regarding the evacuation of British, Commonwealth, American and
Japanese diplomatic and consular officers. We would suggest that
consideration be given to the possibility of evacuation through
some neutral South American country.

1 It reported that the Commonwealth Govt had asked the U.K.

Ambassador to Argentina, Sir Esmond Ovey, to request the Argentine
Gorr to take over Australian interests in Japan and Manchuria.

This arrangement had been agreed to in principle early in 1941
(see Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV,
Document 258), but on 17 December Cranborne advised that the U.S.

Govt, which hoped to bring Argentina into the war on the Allied
side, had suggested that the care of U.K. and Dominion interests
in Japan and Manchuria should be entrusted instead to the Swiss
Govt (cablegram D744). The Commonwealth Govt accepted this
proposal on 18 December (cablegram 809), but on 28 December
Cranborne advised that the Argentine Govt did not want to
surrender the responsibility and the existing arrangements would
therefore remain in force, at least until the results of the Rio
Conference were known (cablegram D778). On 1 April 1942 Cranbome's
successor, Clement Attlee, advised that the U.K. Govt was now
prepared to transfer the care of its interests in Japan and
Manchuria to the Swiss Govt (cablegram D183) and the Commonwealth
Govt replied on 15 April that it welcomed the proposal (cablegram
248). The Swiss Consul-General in Australia (Hans Hedinger)
assumed responsibility for Japanese interests in December 1941
(see Cranborne's cablegram 841 of 17 December and Commonwealth
Govt's cablegram 812 of 19 December). All cablegrams are on file
AA:A1608, D33/1/5.

2 F. K. Officer.

3 See Document 174, note 2.

4 Dr Rodolfo, Moreno. See draft cablegram on file AA: A981,
Consuls 7A, i.

5 Tatsuo Kawai.

[AA:A981, CONSULS 7A, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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