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488 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram ET9 LONDON, 13 May 1942, 10.20 p.m.


Following for Prime Minister from Evatt. [1]

Your S.L.12. [2] Exchange of officials with Japan. Following is
summary of views, as ascertained by Stirling, of Dominions Office
after consultation with Foreign Office officials.

Begins: On one hand, they point out that Japan-
(a) has refused to include American officials captured at

(b) is in extremely strong position, holding 555 British officials
and over 11,000 non-officials as against 250 Japanese officials
and under 5,000 non-officials held by United Kingdom and

They also point out
(a) if Australia is taken as a separate unit we have a strong
numerical advantage;

(b) although, as the Japanese imply in their note of rejection,
Singapore and Timor were not mentioned in the United Kingdom's
reply to the original Japanese proposals that reply reserved the
position of the Dominions by pointing out that their comments
would be communicated later;

(c) Japanese did in fact agree to include United States officials
captured in Hong Kong and British officials at Manila and it is
understood Canadian Government contemplating asking for the
inclusion of the Canadian Trade Commissioner [3] and Staff
captured at Hong Kong.

(d) Although the United Kingdom decided to waive the position of
their officials in Singapore, Bowden's [4] case is different, as
he is not a member of the Colonial Administration but the
representative of a sovereign power. Ends.

My own opinion is-
(1) that we should not yield over Bowden and Ross [5] under any
circumstances, even if it means our negotiating a new and separate
agreement with Japan:

(a) we are bound in honour to them to insist on their inclusion in
any scheme of exchange;

(b) both men will have information about the Japanese which will
be invaluable to us.

(2) I also think highly dangerous to return from Australia 1120
internees many of whom will be able to imperil our security during
the critical period of war.

1 Minister for External Affairs.

2 Document 482.

3 P. V. McLane.

4 See Document 333, note 1 and Document 482, note 4.

5 See Document 337, note 5.

[AA:A981, CONSULS 13, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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