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

49 — 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

27 August 1941

Circular telegram.

1. We have received from the United States Government information as to communications made by them on 17 August, i.e., since the President's return from his meeting with the Prime Minister,1 to the Japanese Ambassador2 in regard to the situation in the Pacific. The United States Government have particularly requested that these communications should be regarded as especially secret.

2. The first communication refers briefly to Japanese action in Indo-China and the attitude of the United States Government thereto, and closes with a warning in the following terms: ‘This Government now find it necessary to say to the Government of Japan that if the Japanese Government take any steps in pursuance of a policy or programme of military domination by force or the threat of force page 58 of neighbouring countries, the Government of the United States will be compelled to take any and all steps which it may deem necessary towards safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the United States and American nationals, and towards ensuring the safety and security of the United States’.

3. The second communication indicates the readiness of the United States to seek a general settlement in the Pacific area which would comprise equal opportunity of economic development for all, if Japan is ready to suspend her expansionist policy, readjust her position, and embark on a peaceful programme consistent with the principles to which the United States have long been committed. The communication indicates, however, that before negotiations on this basis could be resumed, it will be necessary for the Japanese Government to furnish a clearer statement than they have yet done of their present attitude and plans.

4. We are considering what further action we ourselves should now enforce in relation to Japan.

1 The meetings took place on 9–12 August on board HMS Prince of Wales and the United States cruiser Augusta in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.

2 Admiral K. Nomura, Japanese Ambassador in Washington, February–December 1941.