Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs ( Hamilton ) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: Herewith another idea which might possibly be of constructive value in your discussions with the Japanese Ambassador. The proposal might cause Japan to feel that she was being given sufficient “face” to enable her to agree in good faith to remove all her troops from China.

At first blush the proposal may appear to represent “appeasement”. However, Japan would under the proposal sell to the United States ships which we very much need. Also, the sale by Japan of such ships to us at this time would mean a very practical step by Japan away from her Axis alliance with Germany.

The Australians and the Dutch would be perturbed by such a proposal, especially at first glance. However, it is also to their interest that additional shipping be made available to us and that Japan’s offensive striking power be lessened.

[Page 615]

We would of course have to discuss this with the Australians and the British (and the Dutch if their territory should be involved) before making any mention of the proposal to the Japanese.

I send this forward in the light of your request that we explore all possibilities.

M[axwell] M. H[amilton]

Memorandum Prepared in the Division of Far Eastern Affairs 37

Proposal for the Exchange of Certain Territories in the Pacific for Japanese Ships

Agreement might be reached between the United States and Japan (with the assent of the other countries concerned) along the following lines:

Japan to purchase New Guinea.

1. The western part (belonging to the Netherlands)


2. The southeastern part (Papua) (under the Government of Australia)


3. The northeastern part (now administered by Australia under a mandate from the League of Nations). (The mandate for this territory might be transferred to Japan, Australia being compensated for a relinquishment of its rights by Japan.)


All three.

The United States to furnish funds to Japan for the purchase of these territories.
Japan to reimburse the United States through the transfer to this Government of merchant ships or possibly certain categories of naval vessels.

Such an arrangement would of course be reached only in conjunction with an agreement on the part of Japan to withdraw its forces from China and to follow general courses of peace.

[Page 616]

Note in regard to the mandated territory of New Guinea: Neither the Covenant of the League of Nations nor the text of the Mandate for New Guinea contains any provision with regard to the manner of revocation of a Mandate or the transfer of a Mandate from one mandatory to another. The Mandate for New Guinea provides, however, that the Mandate may be modified with the consent of the Council so it would seem that the Mandate might be transferred in like manner by the Council with the consent of the mandatory. The Council is now in suspension, but if desired, a special session could probably be convened. Alternatively, it would seem that the mandate might be transferred—or sovereignty over the territory might actually be vested in Japan—by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers—that is, the United States, the British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan—these powers having conferred the Mandate for New Guinea upon Australia.

  1. In a memorandum dated February 5, 1946, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine stated that, according to their recollection, “no action was taken” on this document and that “We have consulted Mr. Hull who, according to his best recollection, confirms that no action was taken on the memorandum in question and believes that it did not reach the President.”