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

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

page 107

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

19 December 1941

Circular telegram. thailand.

The situation in Thailand is obscure. Secret information tends to confirm the sequence of events as described in my telegram of 9 December, but whether the Thai Government's attitude as reported in that telegram was genuine or purely tactical must remain a matter of opinion. From a broadcast by the Thai Prime Minister on 12 December, the full text of which is not available, and from other indications, it seems probable that a more far-reaching agreement has since been signed between the Thai and Japanese Governments providing for active military co-operation by Thailand. There is as yet no definite evidence of such co-operation, but a report has been received from Burma to the effect that there are indications that the Thais are making some concentration on the border of Burma.

2. Until the situation is clearer we are inclined to consider it premature to declare that a state of war exists with Thailand. We intend, however, to attack Japanese forces wherever we find them, and since they are in occupation of Thailand, we shall not hesitate to operate in or over that country and its territorial waters if it were desirable for military reasons to do so. We think, therefore, that our policy should be as follows:


Our forces should take no unprovoked action against the Thais; but


if the Thais attempt to obstruct the operations of our troops, or if in the opinion of local commanders the presence of Thai forces constitutes a threat to their security, they should be treated as enemies; and


that if any concentration of Thai forces indicates the possibility of a threat to the security of Burma, the Thai Government should be warned that such action will be regarded as a hostile act.

3. For the time being we are treating Thailand for economic warfare and other purposes as enemy-occupied territory and we deeply regret that the next step should be to withdraw His Majesty's Minister with his diplomatic and Consular staffs. The Swiss Government, who are prepared, subject to the consent of the Thai Government, to assume the protection of our interests, informed us on 13 December that His Majesty's Legation was closed and under guard of Japanese troops and that telephonic communication with the Legation was cut off.

page 108

4. The Netherlands Government informed us on 15 December that they were proposing to break off diplomatic relations with Thailand, but we understand that they are postponing action pending the clarification of our own attitude and that of the United States Government.

5. His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington has been instructed to consult the United States Government urgently and ascertain whether they have any further information or comments on our attitude and what action they have taken or propose to take.