740.0011 P. W./570: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

4979. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. A high official of the Foreign Office today handed an Embassy official the following memorandum of a plan for quick communication in the event of an [Page 525] emergency in the Far East, the need of which was realized following the staff talks at Singapore. He expressed the hope that we would place a corresponding plan into effect without delay:

  • “1. In the present situation in the Far East a threat from Japan might easily develop with very little warning and it is not possible to determine in advance what type of action by Japan would necessarily call for military counteraction. The British authorities concerned have accordingly been studying the problem of reducing to a minimum the delay which might be caused in such an eventuality by the necessity of intergovernmental consultation. A further problem has been to ensure that all British authorities concerned are simultaneously and immediately warned when a dangerous situation arises.
  • 2. The procedure which has been devised is outlined below. It is intended to be brought into immediate effect should any one of the authorities concerned receive information indicating that Japan is about to take or has taken action which in his view may necessitate immediate military countermeasures. The authorities in question are the four Commanders in Chief, i. e., Far East, China, East Indies and India; the Governors of Burma, Hong Kong, and Fiji; His Majesty’s representatives at Tokyo, Chungking, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Washington.
  • 3. In the eventuality contemplated, any such authority would at once telegraph, by the quickest possible method, a code word of warning to London. He would follow this preliminary warning by a second telegram reporting the facts on which he considered it necessary to base his warning.
  • 4. Any telegram sent under the above procedure would be repeated by the sender to all the authorities enumerated in paragraph 2 above and also to the Governments of Canada, New Zealand, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Union of South Africa.
  • 5. Special arrangements have been made in London for any telegram sent under this system to be immediately dealt with by the highest political and military authorities.
  • 6. His Majesty’s Governments in the Dominions are being invited to introduce analogous arrangements.
  • 7. On the receipt in London of telegrams of the nature contemplated in paragraph 3 above, the Foreign Office will notify both the United States Ambassador and the Netherlands Government by the speediest possible means.
  • 8. It is hoped that the United States and Netherland authorities will be willing to consider the introduction of corresponding arrangements whereby any information of threatening action by Japan which the United States or Netherland authorities in the Far East may receive may be immediately communicated not only to London but also on a basis of reciprocity to the British Commander in Chief Far East through the most appropriate channel.
  • 9. It is emphasized that the procedure proposed is merely one of urgent reporting. A decision as to action must, of course, lie with the Governments concerned.”