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

32 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand

page 41

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand

17 July 1941

Circular telegram. My Circular telegram of 12 July [No. 27].

All His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions have now concurred in our proposal to proceed at the appropriate moment with the denunciation of the Commercial Treaty. We are accordingly informing the United States Government that we propose to take this step immediately there is any overt act on the part of Japan.

2. The Commonwealth Government have stressed to us the importance of following up the above action with intensified economic restrictions. We fully agree with this view and hope to telegraph detailed proposals as soon as we have received a further indication of the United States Government's intentions; see my telegram M.158.1

3. In the meantime certain further possible measures have also occurred to us. They are:


The closing of the Japanese Consulate-General at Singapore;


The placing of Ishihara and Okura on the Statutory List.

4. As regards (1), we have ample evidence of improper activities of the Japanese Consul-General to justify this action and do not consider that it would lead to dangerous reactions in Japan. We are, however, as a first step obtaining the views of the Governor of the Straits Settlements. Subject to his raising no objections, we would propose to include this in the list of measures to be taken in the event of a Japanese move.

5. As regards (2), Ishihara is connected specially with Japanese enterprises in Malaya and has long been suspected. Okura has always had special connections with Germany, and even though the Vladivostok route is at present closed, there would we feel be ample justification for placing this firm on the Statutory List in view of its past behaviour. These firms are, of course, of much less importance than Mitsui and Mitsubishi and action could we think safely be taken against them without risks of adverse effect on the Japanese policy. We have not overlooked the fact that when the listing of Japanese companies was considered earlier in the year as a result of my telegrams [No. 22] and D.237,2 the proposal was regarded generally with disfavour, but in view of developments since that date (and of the desirability of

1 Not published. This telegram reported the United States Government's intention to impose an immediate embargo on exports to Japan in the event of ‘the contingency contemplated’. Discussion was to take place between representatives of the British Embassy in Washington and the State Department on the economic measures each government might apply.

2 Not published.

page 42 adding weight to the effect of the proposed denunciation of the Commercial Treaty) we hope that the Dominion Governments will now be willing to agree to this action, which we feel would have a good effect in the United States. We are consulting His Majesty's Ambassador urgently on this suggestion, and should be grateful for an immediate telegram indicating whether, if Sir Robert Craigie's advice is favourable, the Dominion Governments would concur in our taking this step.1

1 On 19 July the acting Prime Minister replied: ‘His Majesty's Government in New Zealand have no objection to offer to the step now proposed by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.’