Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III
30 — The acting Prime Minister to the Rt. Hon. P. Fraser (London)
The acting Prime Minister to the Rt. Hon. P. Fraser (London)
You will have seen from our telegram dated 16 July to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs that the New Zealand Government concurred in the United Kingdom Government's proposal to denounce the Anglo-Japanese Commercial Treaty in the event of steps being taken by Japan to obtain bases in Indo-China. In the circumstances it was not possible to consult you before sending this reply. War Cabinet have, however, now given further consideration to the possibility of a Japanese southward move, and in this connection request you to draw attention to the proposal contained in telegram M.93 from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs of 22 May,2 namely, that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should make a statement on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom emphasising the identity of interests between the Netherlands East Indies and the British Commonwealth in any move likely to prejudice the security line which runs from Malaya to New Zealand through the Netherlands East Indies, and declaring that any attack on any part of that line equally concerned all affected parties and must be dealt with as an attack on the whole line. You will recall that I telegraphed you in Cairo informing you of this proposal and requested that you should publicly endorse on an appropriate occasion any such statement made by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. We were disappointed to learn from a further telegram from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, M.114 dated 19 June,3 that the proposed public declaration was being reconsidered in the light of the views expressed by the Commonwealth and Union Governments and on account of the situation which had subsequently arisen between Japan and the Netherlands page 40 East Indies. We are not aware of the grounds upon which the apparent objections of Australia and South Africa were based, nor does it appear to us that the ‘delicate situation which has since arisen between Japan and the Netherlands East Indies’ still constitutes a sound reason for withholding the proposed declaration. On the contrary, it would seem that the customary policy of saying or doing nothing which might be construed as provocative by the Japanese has resulted inevitably in the very situation we were at such pains to avoid. It seems therefore that, even at this late hour, the proposed declaration should be made, if possible in conjunction with the United States of America, and we would ask you on behalf of the New Zealand Government to urge the view, which we know you share, that such a joint declaration should make it clear that an attack on one would be regarded as an attack on all. We are telegraphing the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs emphasising these views.
2 Not published.
3 Not published.