15 Bruce to Curtin
Cablegram   LONDON, 13 January 1944, 2.45 p.m.
Addressed to the Prime Minister. Proposed Japanese exchange.
Since despatch of the communication to Japanese Government with
reference to Japanese seamen (Dominions Office cable 368 7/12/43
) increasing concern has been felt both here and in America
with regard to Allied prisoners and internees in the Far East.
This feeling has been greatly stimulated by statements by returned
Prisoners of War from Germany and Italy which have been much
publicised, that their condition would have been desperate but for
Red Cross medicines and supplies.
As you know, the only method of sending these supplies to
prisoners and internees in Far East is by exchange ships.
America's view is that so urgent is the need that the detention of
any Japanese National which might prevent an exchange and the
sending of supplies on the exchange ship is not warranted.
American feeling on this point is strengthened by the fact that,
as you know, arrangements have now been. made by which supplies
going in either American or Empire exchange ships are being
The ship of the American exchange which recently returned to Japan
carried American supplies. The Americans are naturally looking for
further supplies to go in the ships of the British exchange. You
are aware that TIERA MARU may be withdrawn by the Japanese for
Naval use if negotiations for British exchange break down
(Dominions Office cable 393 24/12 ) that might jeopardise all
further exchanges, American or British.
Notwithstanding feelings and the view indicated above, it is
recognised both here and in America that military considerations
must prevail. I have ascertained, however, that both here and in
Washington it would be greatly welcomed if, owing to improvement
in the military situation or for any other reason, MacArthur was
able to modify views expressed by him (your cable 156 29/10/43
) so that Japanese seamen might be included.
Do you think there is any possibility of his doing so? If there
is, it is desirable that his revised opinion should be transmitted
as soon as possible so that immediate action could be taken upon
receipt of the Japanese reply to the communication sent to them
(Dominions Office cable 368) which there is little doubt will be
of negative character.
1 This cablegram was incorrectly circulated in Canberra as no.
485. See Bruce's version and the correcting cablegram of 13
January on files AA: M100, January 1944 and AA:A989, 43/460/10/2,
2 On file AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, ii.
3 On the file cited in note 2.
4 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VI,
[AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, iii]