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309 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 202A LONDON, 22 October 1943


My telegram No. 193A. of the 18th October-Japanese Exchange. [1] I
have now received the views of the United Kingdom Government. They
are as follows-begins-
The observations of your Government regarding inclusion of certain
Japanese merchant seamen in proposed repatriation exchange with
Japan have now been considered.

As arranged with you, we have consulted Admiralty on question of
security considerations involved in repatriating these Japanese
and the following represent Admiralty views on this matter.

On the question of usefulness of the men, they feel that it is
overstating case to argue that services of these particular
individuals will be of exceptional value to Japanese in view
extent of Japanese pre-war fishing industries. Moreover, we are
committed to view that utility for war effort shall not be a bar
to the repatriation of the individual concerned and this is
provided for in repatriation agreement. In fact, in earlier
correspondence Commonwealth Government have strongly maintained
view that it is proper to give high priority in repatriation to
persons whose services are required for war effort, and it is
clearly difficult to argue against this principle in the case of
Japanese for whom Japanese Government have expressly asked.

As regards question of security, Admiralty view is that there is
no real security objection to repatriation of these men, since it
is almost certain that all intelligence which they may have
acquired would have been transmitted to Japan before the outbreak
of war. Moreover, it is understood that the view of Commonwealth
Government now is that there is no serious and immediate danger of
Japanese operations for the invasion of Australia in respect of
which special knowledge which these men may have acquired would be
a dangerous asset to Japanese.

In general, having regard to Japanese attitude on this question as
set out in message from Japanese Government communicated in
Dominions Office telegram to Commonwealth Government No. 308 of
18th October [2], it is clear that the non-inclusion of these men
will prove an insuperable bar to completion of the repatriation
arrangements. In circumstances, the Admiralty view, which is
supported by other competent Departments of the United Kingdom
Government, is that it would be best to agree to the repatriation
of these 331 men, and we hope that, in light of these
considerations, your Government will find it possible to agree to
the Japanese request that these men should be included in the
proposed exchange. Ends.


1 On file AA:M100, October 1943. It reported that Bruce was
continuing to press the U.K. Govt to give its views on the
repatriation of Japanese seamen from Australia.

2 On file AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, ii. It transmitted a note from the
Japanese Govt contesting the Commonwealth Govt's view that
Japanese seamen interned in Australia at the beginning of the war
were prisoners of war, and hence ineligible for repatriation.

[AA:M100, OCTOBER 1943]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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