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

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

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

7 December 1941

My immediately preceding telegram.

The following is the text draft of the note:

‘I have the honour to inform your Excellency that I have been instructed to make the following communication to the Imperial Japanese Government on behalf of His Majesty's Governments in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, who have followed closely, in consultation with the United States Government, the negotiations in which the latter have been engaged with the Japanese Government with a view to relieving the present tension in the Far East. His Majesty's Governments view with the same concern as the United States Government the rapidly growing concentration of Japanese forces in Indo-China, which prompted the inquiry addressed by the United States Government to the Japanese Government on 2 December.1 They have found the Japanese reply to that inquiry extremely disquieting.2 Whatever [group mutilated – may be?] the explanation in regard to [two groups mutilated – this concentration?]—as to which they expressly reserve their views—the reply entirely fails to explain the fact that the bulk of the Japanese forces are stationed in South Indo-China and are being constantly and heavily augmented.

‘There is no threat from any quarter against Indo-China, and this concentration is only explicable on the assumption that the Japanese Government are preparing for some further aggressive move directed against the Netherlands East Indies, Malaya, or Thailand.

‘The relations between the Governments of the British Commonwealth and the Netherlands Government are too well known for the Japanese Government to be under any illusion as to their reaction to any attack on the territories of the Netherlands. In the interests of peace His Majesty's Governments feel it incumbent upon them, however, to remove any uncertainty which may exist as regards their attitude in the event of an attack on Thailand. His Majesty's Governments page 101 have no designs against Thailand. On the contrary, the preservation of the full independence and sovereignty of Thailand is an important British interest. Any attempt by Japan to impair that independence or sovereignty would affect the security of Burma and Malaya, and His Majesty's Governments could not be indifferent to it. They feel bound, therefore, to warn the Japanese Government in the most solemn manner that if Japan attempts to establish her influence in Thailand by force or threat of force she will do so at her own peril, and His Majesty's Governments will at once take all appropriate measures. Should hostilities unfortunately result, the responsibility will rest with Japan.’

1 See No. 79.

2 See No. 90.