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

26 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand — [Extract]

page 36

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

9 July 1941

Circular telegram. My Circular telegram of 5 July.

We have now considered what action should be taken in the event of a further move south by Japan. We have decided to recommend two measures accordingly:


Restrictions on Japanese shipping facilities in Malaya.


The possible denunciation of the Commercial Treaty.

2. We will telegraph separately in the near future in regard to (2). As regards (1), the Commanders-in-Chief in the Far East1 and China2 have represented that we run the risk of ‘Trojan horse’ activities by allowing the Japanese to load iron ore, etc., off the Malayan coast by night. The Commanders-in-Chief have accordingly advised that from sunset to sunrise all tugs and lighters should be required to lie inside harbour mouths on the east coast of Malaya and also on the west coast of Java, and in addition that no vessel over 1000 tons should be allowed to arrive at anchorage off these coasts between sunset and sunrise.

3. We have hesitated hitherto to enforce measures of this kind since, though outwardly non-discriminatory, they will entail heavy loss and delay to Japanese mining companies. The Governor of the Straits Settlements3 has, however, now been authorised to bring the measure into force immediately in consultation with the Commanders-in-Chief Far East and China, if and when the Japanese move towards Indo-China materialises….4

1 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, GCVO, KCB, CMG, DSO, AFC; C-in-C Far East, 1940–41.

2 Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, GBE, KCB, KCMG, DSO; C-in-C China, 1940–41; Eastern Fleet, Dec 1941–Mar 1942; Ceylon, 1942–45.

3 Sir Shenton Thomas, GCMG, OBE; Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Straits Settlements and High Commissioner for the Malay States, 1934–46; interned by Japanese, Feb 1942 – Aug 1945.

4 In the text omitted the Dominions Secretary discussed the likely effects of this measure on the Japanese iron and steel industry.