Mr Masatoshi Akiyama, Japanese Consul-General in Sydney, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Letter 19 December 1939,

I have the honour to inform you that I am instructed by the Japanese Government to request you to be good enough to inform me of the final decision of your Government on the subject of the prohibition of the exportation of iron ore from Australia.

The Japanese Government feels impelled to ask for this information, on account of the growing anxiety on the part of the Japanese business interests concerned, who are intimating to the Japanese Government, which naturally understands and sympathises with their position, that it is a cause of great concern to them to have the large amount of their investments in connection with the Yampi Sound enterprise left in the present state of instability.

In this connection, I have the honour to refer to the promise given by your predecessor, the late Right Honourable J.A. Lyons, in his letter addressed to my predecessor, Mr T. Wakamatsu, and dated December 6th, 1938 [1], on the subject of the prohibition of the exportation of iron ore from Australia, to the effect that the Commonwealth Government would consider the views which my predecessor expressed in his letter dated December 3rd, 1938 [2], when the report on the survey on the resources of iron ore should be available-which, according to information supplied by the late Prime Minister in the Senate on November 18th, 1938 [3], would, it was anticipated, be towards the end of June, 1939.

I am also instructed to add that, should your reply be to the effect that your Government has reached the conclusion that it is not in a position to lift the embargo on the export of iron ore, the Japanese Government can have no alternative, in the circumstances abovementioned, but to take up the matter of the claim for compensation for the loss sustained by the Japanese interests on account of the above embargo. [4]



1 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. 1, Document 327.

2 ibid., Document 324.

3 Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 158, p. 1693 (Senator G. McLeay representing the Prime Minister).

4 Menzies formally acknowledged this letter on 28 December 1939 (see AA: A1608, C47/1/4, vii).


[AA: A981, AUSTRALIA 90]