The Acting Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: In your memorandum to me of April 8, enclosing a memorandum handed to you by Dr. Soong, you asked me to speak with you about Dr. Soong’s memorandum before Tuesday the 14th.

I am returning herewith the original of Dr. Soong’s memorandum regarding which I should like to offer the following comment.

I fully concur in the suggestion that the United Nations, particularly the members of the Pacific War Council, should assist in organizing and equipping a Korean irregular army. Geographical factors would seem to make China the logical place from which such activity could best be carried on, with the suggestions and assistance of the United States and other military missions at Chungking. Should you wish me to do so, after the Pacific War Council has approved this suggestion, I shall be glad to take the matter up with my Liaison Committee in order that recommendations may be formulated by the General Staff and by Naval Operations for your consideration covering the practical steps involved.

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With regard to the suggestion that a fusion of rival Korean revolutionary parties be promoted and that recognition of a Korean Provisional Government be granted at an appropriate time, I am informed that the principal Korean revolutionary organizations are the one existing in Chungking (apparently supported by most of the Koreans in the United States) and the Korean bands in Manchuria and other parts of China. The latter have apparently no close connection with the organization at Chungking.

I have sent a telegram to our Embassy in Chungking26 asking for further information on this point and also asking for information from the Government of China with regard to its views concerning the possibility of a fusion of these groups.

With regard to an announcement by the Pacific War Council of its determination to effect the independence of Korea, in principle I am heartily in accord with such a step, but I question the wisdom of making an announcement of that character at this moment. If such an announcement were made today, it seems to me that the announcement would lack reality.

Temporarily the tide of war continues to be in Japan’s favor. No armed revolt in Korea against Japan can be expected at this time. Furthermore, the question of the independence of India has recently held and still holds the center of attention among the peoples of the Pacific area and the failure of the Cripps27 negotiations makes it unfortunately impossible for us to utilize the announcement of an agreement between the British Government and the peoples of India, providing for the freedom of India, as a platform upon which to base an announcement of broader policy.

If the Cripps negotiations had been successful, I would have recommended to you an announcement by the Pacific War Council affirming the determination of the countries represented to recognize the independence of the Philippine Islands and to bring about the independence of Korea and the expulsion of the Japanese invaders from all territories which they had temporarily overrun in order that the liberty of the peoples of those regions might be reestablished. In brief what I had in mind was to recommend the announcement of a broad policy of general liberation, insofar as the peculiar circumstances covering the Netherlands East Indies and Burma might make such an announcement possible, but, unfortunately, the breakdown of the Indian negotiations eliminates, at least temporarily, that possibility.

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My suggestions for the moment with regard to Dr. Soong’s memorandum would consequently be to do everything possible to further the organization and equipment of a Korean army and to further in every way possible, in consultation with the Chinese and the British, the fusion of the Korean revolutionary parties and to postpone until a more propitious time any recognition of a Korean provisional government and any announcement with regard to the future independence of Korea.

Believe me

Faithfully yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Sir Stafford Cripps, British Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons. For correspondence on his mission to India, see pp. 619 ff.