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

50 — 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

28 August 1941

Circular telegram. My telegram of 27 August.

We have now given further consideration to the question of the action which it would be appropriate for us to take in respect of Japan to reinforce the warning which has been delivered to that country by the United States Government. In his broadcast of 24 August the Prime Minister made it clear that we should range ourselves at the side of the United States if the latter became involved in war with Japan, but we feel it is desirable to warn the Japanese Government on our own part, and directly, that apart from our support of the United States, we should be compelled in the interests of the security of our own territories to take counter measures in the event of further Japanese expansion.

We should prefer to link our own warning specifically with that given by the United States, but this, we feel, would require the concurrence of the latter. We should also prefer adherence to the wording elaborated at the Prime Minister's recent meeting with President Roosevelt unless the United States Government see serious objection. In these circumstances His Majesty's Minister at Washington1 has been instructed to inform the United States Government that we should propose to request His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo to page 59 address the Japanese Government in the terms of Formula 1 contained in my immediately following telegram. If the United States Government, on the other hand, would prefer that we did not specifically mention the warning conveyed to Japan by them, we should propose that our communication should follow the terms of Formula 2, the text of which is also contained in my immediately following telegram. In either case it is proposed that communication should be made orally, though an aide-memoire of what is said might be communicated to the Japanese authorities.

We are making it clear to the United States Government that our communication would be subject to the concurrence of His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions. We hope the Dominion Governments would agree in principle with the line which we propose to take, and would also be prepared to make similar communication to the Japanese Government or authorise us to do so on their behalf.

We will telegraph further as soon as we receive a reply from His Majesty's Minister at Washington as to the United States Government's attitude. In the meantime I should be grateful to learn whether you concur generally in the action proposed.

1 Rt. Hon. Sir Ronald Campbell, PC, GCMG, CB; United Kingdom Minister in Washington, 1941–45.