Mr S.M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 480 LONDON, 19 September 1939, 5.56 p.m.


TIENTSIN There is a division of opinion here down following lines:

(a) We should respond to Japanese ‘friendly advice’ of 5th September [1] by withdrawing troops from Tientsin as a gesture to Japanese whom it is essential we should placate. Those supporting this view argue position is an anachronism and continued presence of troops might lead to serious incident which would embroil us with Japan.

(b) Those taking contrary view maintain withdrawal would do nothing to improve relations with Japan but would be regarded as evidence of weakness and fear; admit anachronism but this not time to remedy it; stress that it would have most unfortunate effect in United States having regard to Secretary of State’s [2] strong words to Japanese Ambassador [3] 7th September and President’s statement to United Kingdom’s Ambassador (Dominions Office cable D.15 paragraphs two, three and four) [4] I have indicated I believe you would take latter view and emphasized importance you would attach closest possible cooperation with United States. If you desire to express any views cable urgently.



1 On 5 September 1939 Japan presented notes to representatives of Poland, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, advising them to withdraw their forces from China voluntarily in order to prevent any ‘untoward incident’ which might compel Japan to abandon her policy of non-involvement in the European war. Japan promised to protect the lives and property of citizens of any country which withdrew from China.

2 Cordell Hull.

3 Kensuke Horinouchi.

4 Document 231.


[AA:A1608, A41/1/1, iv]