Evatt to Makin and Chifley

Cablegram E48 WASHINGTON, 23 November 1945, 10.27 p.m.


Following is the draft statement referred to in my E47. [1]

Part 1. The Australian Government is vitally interested in the situation in the Netherlands Indies and in the future of Indonesia. The war against Japan has shown the importance of this region to Australia. We lost a large number of Australian troops when the Japanese captured Java and our mainland was bombed and otherwise menaced by the Enemy from bases in the Indies. Our forces played a prominent part in the fighting in the Indies and carried out the liberation of Borneo and Celebes, Flores, Timor and other places and played an indispensable part in the operations leading to the recovery of Netherlands New Guinea.

Despite our own shortages we have made available supplies for the rehabilitation of the Indies.

While vitally interested we feel we can approach the present involved situation in a disinterested spirit. We have no political stake in the internal affairs of the Netherlands Indies. We seek no exclusive advantages of any kind. Our interest in the region lies in security and also in order, provided it is founded on justice, welfare, progress and the satisfaction of legitimate political aspirations. We would hope to see the early beginning of an evolution in South Eastern Asia and Indonesia of a co-operative group of self reliant states linked with other States of the world by ties of trade, legitimate investments and political co- operation and Mutual Aid.

The Australian Government is ready to do what it can to help to bring about such a state of affairs. It has come to this decision in a spirit of good will towards both the recognised holder of sovereignty in the Indies and the legitimate aspirations of the peoples.

Part 2. Before the present difficulties can be solved, however, certain salient facts must be recognised. Some of these have recently been obscured; they must be acknowledged by all parties before peace, reconstruction, progress and freedom can be established. These salient facts are:-

(1) There is a large number of Japanese troops in Java, of whom only a small proportion have been disarmed. The Japanese, enemies of peace and progress, must be disarmed and removed and all items of their armament and equipment accounted for. This is a task for the Allied Forces of liberation, the forces under South East Asia Command, and is a part of the Military operations belonging to the conduct of the war against Japan. This is a paramount fact and no opposition to this operation can be countenanced.

(2) There is also a large number of Allied Prisoners of War and civilian internees in Java, only about half of whom have as yet been brought within Allied care. This also is an Allied Military responsibility, and its execution cannot be opposed with impunity nor without alienating the sympathy of the civilised world and the United Nations. The Allied Powers and the United Nations must hold the Indonesians collectively and individually responsible for each single prisoner and internee.

(3) The sovereignty of the Netherlands is a fact internationally recognised. The political forms by which this sovereignty is exercised in any part of the Netherlands territories are not immutable and the principle of development of Self-Government has been publicly recognised by the Netherlands Government.

(4) The question of sovereignty and the development of local Self- Government cannot be allowed to impede these forces in the fulfilment of their legitimate, urgent and paramount task of executing the Japanese surrender terms in respect of Japanese forces and Allied Prisoners of War and Internees.

(5) In the particular circumstances of Java, the questions of sovereignty and political reform have become involved with purely military task of the Allied forces. This has rendered difficult the early execution of these tasks.

(6) This situation would not be eased by the further early landing of Netherlands forces which would result in greater confusion and jeopardize the execution of the paramount military task of the Allied force.

(7) The setting up of a new Indonesian Cabinet, consisting of persons not identified with Japanese influence, has helped to clarify the situation as views of the Indonesian Nationalist movement can now be less prejudiced. The Cabinet has to some extent been recognized de facto by both the Allied Military Authorities and by the Netherlands Government. It would be helpful to all concerned, however, if this process of dissociation from Japanese influence in aid could be completed.

(8) Political aspirations of peoples who are fit for Self- Government but have not yet enjoyed it not only have the sympathy of the vast majority of the peoples of the democracies but the charter of the United Nations recognises the legitimacy of the claim for Self-Government according to the capacity of the peoples concerned, and imposes on the parent Nations a sacred trust to assist in this development.

(9) The people of the Netherlands have made a very great contribution to the development of the Indies, and people of other Countries have assisted in this development. These services should not be overlooked. The fact that they have been rewarded in the past would not excuse expropriation now and an equitable arrangement concerning investment and other property would be a necessary part of a settlement intended to be a basis for the future.

(10) The situation in the Indies has developed beyond a point where it could be regarded as solely a matter of domestic jurisdiction of the recognised sovereign state. The effective carrying out of the Japanese surrender in this region is involved, and this is a matter of direct interest to all Allied belligerents in the Pacific war. Forces of the Allied Command are engaged. It is no longer possible entirely to separate the military from the political aspect of the situation.

(11) It is clear that the efforts so far made have not produced an acceptable solution, and there is grave danger of a drift into large scale warfare in Java, leading to further loss of life, destruction, impoverishment of millions, dissipation of economic life, serious risk in the loss of many Allied Prisoners of War and internees, and a long delay in the task of rehabilitation and reconstruction which should have already been underway.

Part 3. The Australian Government believes the solution lies along the lines of the proposals set forth below. It is conscious that they ask a conciliatory attitude of the sovereign power, the Netherlands Government, but the Australian Government believes that the Netherlands Government will adopt them in a spirit of realism and magnanimity in the interest of peace, order and justice, and future stability in the regions in which both the Netherlands and Australia have so great a stake. They also make demands on the Indonesian Nationalists for moderation and respect for the sincerity and good faith of the Netherlands Government.

The Australian Government’s proposals are as follows:

(1) That an immediate truce of thirty days be declared throughout Java;

(2) That no Netherlands Forces be landed within that period;

(3) That Representatives of the Netherlands Government, the Indonesian Nationalist Movement, South East Asia Command, in respect of military matters concerning the Allied Powers, and the Australian Government meet within one week of the beginning of the truce and remain in continuous session during period mentioned, with the object of arriving at terms upon which the Government and Administration of the Netherlands Indies will be based, these terms to be the subject of a formal agreement between the Representatives of the Netherlands Government and the Representatives of the Indonesian Nationalist Movement;

(4) That an Australian force be landed under South East Asia Command to arrange and supervise the concentration and removal of all Japanese troops and Allied Prisoners of War and Internees, this force to have guarantees for the immunity of its personnel, and its task to be strictly limited to the purposes mentioned;

(5) That in regard to Japanese Arms and equipment, their disposition as between the Japanese and Indonesians to be frozen as at the time of the issue of this statement. The Japanese and Indonesian Commanders to be responsible that no arms or other equipment pass between their respective forces, that any contravention of this provision be a ground for an exception to the amnesty proposed in sub-paragraph 7 below and that the ultimate disposal of all Japanese arms and equipment be a matter to be determined by the Conference proposed in sub-paragraph 3 above;

(6) That in regard to Allied Prisoners of War and Internees not as yet under the care and protection of Allied Forces, the Indonesian Nationalist Leaders provide immediately for their complete protection and for their welfare, and undertake to hand them over without exception to an Allied Authority;

(7) That the Netherlands Government undertake to proclaim an amnesty covering all acts of war and placing activities on the part of any Indonesians, this amnesty, however, not to cover acts, proven by due process of law, to be war crimes or crimes punishable under ordinary criminal law, the interpretation of these clauses [and] the proclamation by the Netherlands Government to be determined by the Conference in sub paragraph 3 above;

(8) That adoption of these proposals be officially notified to the Australian Government within twenty-four (24) hours of the official publication of this statement, viz., at or before……..

hours on……… (date) ……, the thirty (30) days truce to commence from that time and to be officially and separately proclaimed by the four Authorities mentioned in sub-paragraph 3 above immediately on notification by the Australian Government of adoption of the proposals by the Netherlands Government and the Indonesian Nationalist Leaders.


1 Document 410.


[AA : A1838/2, 401/3/1/1, i]