HC Deb 07 February 1945 vol 407 cc2043-5
1. Colonel Sir Arthur Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has yet received a reply to the telegram addressed through the Protecting Power to the Japanese Government in July last suggesting that a further exchange of civilian prisoners should take place; and if, in order to relieve the anxiety of their relatives in this country, he will make a full statement on the up-to-date position.

The Minister of State (Mr. Richard Law)

As my hon. and gallant Friend will know, His Majesty's Government have been trying for some time to obtain an agreement with the Japanese to a second exchange of civilians; but I regret to say that no formal reply has been received at present.

16. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he now has any further statement to make respecting prisoners of war in Southern Asia occupied by the Japanese; and if he has any information regarding a change in the attitude of the Japanese Government to the demand for inspection.

Mr. Law

In the middle of December, the Swiss Government and the International Red Cross Committee communicated to His Majesty's Government a proposal from the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs agreeing under certain conditions to visits by representatives of the International Red Cross Committee to the Santo Tomas civilian internment camp at Manila, a prisoner of war camp at Singapore, and a prisoner of war hospital in Siam. This offer does not, of course, cover more than a fraction of the camps in the Southern area, but the Japanese have stated that they regard these limited visits as a first step. Meanwhile, as the House will have realised, American forces have taken the Manila camp. The Japanese offer was conditional upon representatives of the International Red Cross Committee being permitted to visit Japanese subjects held in British, United States and Allied countries, and, in particular, Japanese held in New Caledonia, Saipan, Tinian and Guam.

His Majesty's Government at once replied that neutral representatives have long been permitted to visit all Japanese held in the British Empire, and that full reciprocity therefore already exists as far as the Empire is concerned. The French Government have recently stated that they are prepared to authorise the sending of an International Red Cross delegate to New Caledonia. I understand that the United States Government have not yet replied in regard to visits to camps in Saipan, Tinian and Guam.

Mr. Sorensen

Is it not a fact that one of the reasons why this welcome development has not taken place before, is the refusal of the United States Government to provide these facilities for the Japanese? Will the right hon. Gentleman not use his good offices to see that that difficulty is overcome, so that this development will be continued?

Mr. Law

I understand that the United States Government have not yet replied. I can assure the hon. Member that they are in no doubt as to our view on the matter.