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

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

page 78

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

24 November 1941

The views of His Majesty's Government in New Zealand on the points raised in your telegrams [Nos. 68 and 69] and M.3781 of 23 November are as follows:

1. They are, in general, opposed to any steps that would be regarded by Japan as an indication of any relaxation of our determined opposition to further aggression, of any sympathy with the Japanese New Order, or of her continued association with the Axis powers.

2. In particular, they would deplore any step taken in this connection which might have the effect of increasing the Japanese pressure upon China.

3. While they would regard the terms of the document handed to the United States Secretary of State by the Japanese Ambassador on 20 November as entirely unacceptable, they are generally in sympathy with Mr Cordell Hull's comments as set out in Circular telegram M.378, and would favour an attempt being made to reach a temporary understanding on the basis of those comments.

4. They are particularly impressed by the desirability of working in the closest co-operation with the United States Government, and if that Government wish to proceed on these lines they are strongly of opinion that the Governments of the British Commonwealth should concur. If such an arrangement were ultimately found to be possible (as to which they must express some doubt) then the general effect on the world situation of a Japanese withdrawal from Indo-China must be most salutary, while the prospect of a successful attack upon the Burma Road must be materially decreased. If it failed, the time that would be gained would be exceedingly valuable to our cause, provided care is taken to ensure that the negotiations are not accepted by Japan as a mark of weakness.

1 Not published. Contained Mr Hull's personal marginal comments on the Japanese document quoted in No. 69.