Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 289 LONDON, 12 August 1945, 12.12 a.m.


I have seen telegrams Numbers 225, 226 and 229 [1] from your Government to the Dominions Office. We have done our utmost to keep you informed from hour-to-hour and to get your views. We are not responsible for the fact of publications made from the United States. You may be sure that at all times we desire to act in closest co-operation with you and to afford the utmost opportunity for consultation but events move fast and we are deeply concerned lest delay should lead to the unnecessary sacrifice of the lives of Australian, other British and Allied fighting men. Hours are of importance. We have therefore at times to take rapid action particularly in matters where as in this case the initiative lies with the United States of America.

I trust that you are in general agreement with the reply sent to the Japanese Government on behalf of the Allies by the United States to which we have agreed. We are impressed by the need of utilising the Emperor’s authority which is we understand absolutely necessary for this purpose to secure the surrender of Japanese forces in the outlying areas. Failing this, there might be in view of the fatalistic mentality of the Japanese and their religious beliefs long and arduous mopping up campaigns against men determined to sell their lives and dearly.

To have delayed the reply in order to obtain special reference to the culpability of the Emperor would in my view have been unjustifiable especially if it jeopardised obtaining an all-round surrender. The reply which was sent to the Japanese request leaves the ultimate determination of the form of the future Japanese Government to the will of the people which is in full accord with the democratic principles which we both are seeking to apply everywhere.

I hope therefore, that your Government will agree with the action we took which was directed in the best interests of our fighting men, our prisoners of war and our common purpose.

The detailed conditions referred to in telegrams Nos. 225 and 229 are matters appropriate for consideration by the Allied Governments jointly and we are anxious that Australia, in common with the other Dominions, should have their voice in this.


1 Documents 171, 174 and 176 respectively.


[AA : A1066, P45/10/1/3, ii]