740.0011 P. W./191
The British Embassy to the Department of State 63
Telegram From the British Ambassador at Tokyo, to the Foreign Office, April 13th, 1941
Following information has been furnished by a reliable secret source … who has been accurate on two former occasions: (a) Hainan occupation two weeks before its occurrence, and (b) three weeks’ notice of Military Alliance under the Tripartite Pact.
According to the source a Japanese Expeditionary Force of 12 to 15 Divisions is now in Formosa and Hainan with transports standing by. Under the guise of manoeuvres and when foreigners were not allowed to disembark at Nagasaki about the middle of March, eight or ten Divisions had been sent to Formosa. These with three or more Divisions already in Hainan compose the force.
The plan is for direct attack on Singapore to synchronize with the blocking of the Suez Canal by German action so as to prevent the passage of our naval forces. The attack of “devastating” strength on the Suez Canal is said to be imminent.
The Japanese idea is that the United States will not be ready to intervene if Singapore is attacked soon because they are pre-occupied with the battle of the Atlantic, aid to Britain, submarine menace, etc., and opinion at home is not united. The Japanese however have light naval forces based on mandated island and a fleet at Formosa. They had abandoned the original plan of seizing bases in Indo-China as that would have warned the United States, which might have reacted. Their present plan for direct surprise attack in force on Malaya does not call for such bases.
American press-men had something on these lines last night but are unable to send the story out.
- Received in the Department on April 14.↩