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

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

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

2 August 1941

Circular telegram. My Circular telegram of 1 August. Japan.

1. The possibility that the Japanese may be contemplating early action in relation to Thailand and the message from the Thai Prime Minister have made it imperative that we should take up with the United States Government the advisability of a warning being conveyed to the Japanese before the latter are committed to a further move. We also wish to raise with the United States Government at the earliest possible moment the general question of an assurance that in the event of war with Japan we may count upon their armed support—see my telegram to the Commonwealth Government, No. 515.1 A third approach is also necessary since such information as has reached us as to the manner in which the United States freezing order is to be applied (see my telegram M.193)2 suggests there has been a departure from the policy outlined to us before the freezing order was issued (see my telegram M.173)3 with the consequent risk that we and other parts of the Empire may in practice find ourselves ahead of the United States in our restrictions.

1 Not published. Discussed the difficulty ‘in the present circumstances’ of securing a guarantee of armed support from the United States.

2 Not published. Contained details of the steps being taken by the United States Government to control imports from and exports to Japan.

page 53

2. My three immediately following telegrams1 contain instructions which have now been sent to His Majesty's Ambassador, Washington, in regard to each of these aspects, viz:


The question of an assurance from the United States;


Warning to Japan;


The freezing of Japanese assets.

The nature of information reaching us about Thailand and the uncertainty in regard to United States policy over the application of (b) and (c) is very urgent; (a) is equally pressing, but it is a particularly delicate question and informal discussions here with the United States Ambassador2 have shown that the method of approach is all-important. While, therefore, we have acquainted His Majesty's Ambassador very fully with the point of view of the Dominions and ourselves, we think it necessary as regards (a) to await his observations before giving him definite instructions to take action.

1 Not published.

2 Mr J. G. Winant, United States Ambassador to Great Britain, 1941–46.