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355 High Commissioner's Office in London to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 13133 LONDON, 20 November 1944, 6.35 p.m.

SECRET

Proposed American exchange Far East. Your 6724 of 10th July. [1]
First. The United Kingdom Government duly advised America that all
Empire governments welcomed any proposal to rescue prisoners and
internees in Japanese hands. They considered, however, that
proposal should be expanded into a single Allied proposal whereby
Japanese garrisons in the central and south west Pacific areas
might be exchanged for British, American and Dutch prisoners on an
agreed basis. [2]

Second. America has now informed the Foreign Office that United
Kingdom suggestion was referred back to joint Chiefs of Staff who
advised that from military point of view expansion of proposal to
include Japanese garrisons south west Pacific not acceptable for
the present, and considered proposal should be limited in scope to
Japanese garrisons in central Pacific mentioned in original
proposal for following reasons:

(a) Number of Japanese troops which would be affected by such
expansion is approximately 138,000 including some of best Japanese
field forces.

(b) Provision of shipping to handle such numbers might probably
seriously affect the support of prospective Allied operations.

(c) Assembly and actual embarkation of so many troops would be
difficult.

(d) Japanese Government would not care to 'lose face' by admitting
hopeless position of these troops, especially as their presence
requires large Allied forces to contain them.

(e) Such an extensive expansion of original scheme would probably
destroy chances of acceptance of any scheme of this nature.

Third. With a view to meeting the wishes of the Empire
governments, the Chiefs of Staff suggested that original proposal
be amended by excluding civilians and by including British and
Dutch prisoners of war without providing for any specific ratio
according to nationality, priority being accorded to sick and
wounded. [3]

Fourth. After consideration by War Cabinet, United Kingdom
Government advised America they were grateful for having amended
original plan on lines proposed and that they were consulting the
governments of the Dominions and India and would furnish a reply
as soon as their answers had been received. Your early views would
be appreciated. [4]

1 Document 218.

2 On 30 September Bruce had cabled that the U.K. Govt intended to
make a further protest to the U.S. Govt, on behalf of the Dominion
Govts, that the proposed exchange was being arranged without
consulting either the latter or the Netherlands Govt. See
cablegram 11143 on file AA:A5954, box 672.

3 On 18 December the Commonwealth Govt cabled Bruce that while the
inclusion of Allied prisoners of war went some way towards meeting
its objections to the original proposal, those objections would be
effectively met only if assurance was given that Australians would
definitely be included. See cablegram 12496 on the file cited in
note 2.

4 On 20 February 1945, Bruce cabled that the Japanese Govt refused
to consider the proposed exchange. See cablegram 2083 on file
AA:A1066, IC45/6/1/18.


[AA:A5954, BOX 672]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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