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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III

489 — The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

page 518

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

1 September 1945

Your telegram of 29 August [No. 485].

We are very glad to learn that New Zealand can provide a brigade group to take part in the occupation of Japan.

We have been considering the position in the light of Australian Government telegrams Nos. 240 and 245,1 and while appreciating Australian wishes in the matter, we still feel strongly that the best interests of us all would be served if a joint Commonwealth force for service in Japan could be arranged.

I am therefore sending to the Prime Minister of Australia a message, of which the text is being repeated to you in my immediately following telegram,2 expressing the hope that Australia will agree to the constitution of a single British Commonwealth contingent, to be under an Australian officer as Commander-in-Chief of the whole force.

I hope very much that this suggestion will commend itself to you.

1 In telegram No. 240, dated 17 August, to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, the Australian Government stated that the Australian force to take part in the occupation of Japan should operate under an Australian commander and that it should not form part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. In telegram No. 245 of 21 August the Australian Government informed the United Kingdom Government that it had conveyed a direct request to Washington for United States concurrence in Australian participation as a principal in the Allied Control Council for Japan or any other similar body. The Australian view was that Australia should participate in the main act of surrender; that the Australian forces constituting part of the occupation forces in Japan should be accepted as independently designated Australian forces, subordinate only to the Supreme Commander; and that Australia should take a full part as a member of the Council of Foreign Ministers in relation to all matters affecting or concerning the Pacific and Far East.

2 Not published. In this telegram Mr Attlee said that if Australia agreed to a unified British Commonwealth contingent, the United Kingdom Government would welcome the appointment of an Australian officer as inter-service Commander-in-Chief. The Australian Government at first disagreed with this proposal but later reconsidered its decision. On 21 September Mr Chifley advised Mr Attlee that his Government was agreeable to participating in a British Commonwealth force subject to certain conditions.