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202 Commonwealth Government to Attlee

Cablegram 128 [1] CANBERRA, 28 May 1943


1. Your telegram No.100. [2] Priority. If system of priorities
were adopted we would desire inclusion in high priority of persons
who would be of use in war effort, especially men with experienced
knowledge of Japanese language of whom we are in great need. In
this connection we have noted remarks in annex 1 to memorandum
transmitted with your Circular Despatch D.31. [3] We believe
qualified technicians should be given a high priority. We would be
disposed not to submit any system of priorities to Japanese
Government thus leaving ourselves free to select persons by name.

This was the course adopted by the Japanese Government in
connection with first exchange. It was quite obvious that Japanese
selected key men in compiling lists of persons of whom
repatriation was requested.

2. You will recall that in our telegram No.16 [4] we requested
inclusion of all remaining Australian officials. We have noted
that Japanese Government refuses to enlarge the area to be covered
(except in regard to Hong Kong) but we have reason to believe that
many, if not all, of our officials from New Guinea and other
places have been transferred to the Japanese Empire proper or
Indo-China and we would insist on the repatriation of all our
officials now, or at any time before the exchange arrangements are
finalised, located within the area covered by the second exchange.

3. It is noted from your 115 of 24th May [5], that Japanese desire
repatriation of Japanese from Mandated territories interned in
Australia. We do not see why converse should not apply, i.e., that
Australians from those territories, interned by Japanese, should
be repatriated.

Apart from this we are of opinion that they should be obliged to
release all Australian officials wherever they may be located. For
our part we have already released all Japanese officials. The
argument in paragraph 2 also applies to all civilians transferred
northwards, and we would desire proportion of them to be included

4. There are 93 Australian officials from New Guinea, and 5 from
Nauru; and 174 civilians from New Guinea. In addition there are
600 missionaries, of whom, however, 367 are Germans.

5. As stated in our telegram 16 we would be prepared to release
from Australia a number of Japanese interned by the Commonwealth
equal to but not exceeding number of Australian nationals actually

6. We still feel that we must reserve the right to refuse the
repatriation of any individual Japanese held by us on behalf of
New Caledonia or other Pacific Islands not under Japanese
occupation on security grounds.

7. We would also reserve the right to refuse repatriation on
security grounds of any individual Japanese interned by the
Commonwealth Government.

8. We repeat that we do not accept the Japanese replies that
Bowden [6] and staff left Singapore before the occupation. We
received cable advice from him on the 14th February [7] and
reports right up to the occupation were to effect he intended
remaining at his post. We therefore press for them to be included
in list of officials to be exchanged.

9. We recognise that the successful negotiation of another
exchange may provide the only opportunity likely to be available
for some time for shipment of Red Cross Stores for relief of
Allied prisoners of war and internees held by Japan and have taken
full account of that important factor when formulating our views.

10. As you are aware we still hold 3,324 Japanese in Australia,
and regard it as reasonable that our requests should be strongly
pressed upon the Japanese Government.

1 Repeated to the N.Z. Prime Minister as no. 95.

2 Dispatched 10 May. On file AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, i.

3 Dispatched 15 April. On the file cited in note 2.

4 Dispatched 16 January. On the file cited in note 2.

5 On the file cited in note 2.

6 See Document 2, note 1.

7 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. V, Document

[AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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