711.94115 Exchange/115: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Harrison)

767. American Interests—Far East. Your 531, January 26. Department gratified to receive this report which again shows Gorgé’s tireless interest in further exchanges of nationals with Japan. Department offers following comments for Gorgé’s guidance and would be pleased to receive his further suggestions after he has had ample time to study these comments and explore their possibilities.

Geographical distribution. The Department hopes that discrimination on purely geographical grounds preventing the repatriation of some of the Americans detained by the Japanese may be terminated in all future exchanges and that all Americans, regardless where captured, may be treated on an equal basis. If this hope can be attained it would naturally be the Department’s desire in the next exchange to restore equilibrium by having the geographical quota for the Philippines and for those captured at Guam and Wake made as large as possible and that consideration be given to repatriation of Americans in Malaya, Singapore, Borneo, Netherlands Indies and Burma, (concerning whose safety the United States Government has not received any reassuring information), all within the scope of the priorities prescribed in the following paragraph.
Priorities. It is the desire of the United States Government that in future exchanges absolute first priority be given to unaccompanied women and children who are interned or constructively interned as that term was defined in Department’s 1311 and 1322 [1333] (May or June), 1943;57 after such women and children are accommodated it is the Department’s desire that remaining space be devoted to the accommodation of the seriously sick and seriously wounded, whether civilians or prisoners of war. In the opinion of the Department the determination of the sick or wounded individuals so to be accommodated should in the absence of finding by a Mixed Medical Commission rest with the committees in the various camps in consultation with competent medical opinion. It is hoped that the Japanese authorities will permit the committees to take appropriate [Page 1084] action in this matter and will concur in their findings. It is suggested that the determination of numerical quotas for the various camps be established in consultation between Gorgé and Japanese authorities only after nominations from the various camp committees have been received.
After due provisions for persons entitled to priority on humanitarian grounds under paragraph 2 above, it is the desire of the Department that any remaining spaces be made available to those individuals who in the judgment of the camp committees or responsible medical authorities appear least likely to be able to withstand the rigors of continued internment.
Gorgé will undoubtedly perceive from the foregoing that it is the Department’s desire to emphasize the humanitarian basis for forthcoming exchanges. To cover exceptional cases which may arise, Gorgé is hereby requested to include in the second category above any individuals who are so closely confined under perilous conditions as to warrant the assumption that their health is or may soon be impaired, and to refer to the Department for consideration the case of any family group containing an individual qualifying on grounds of ill health the repatriation of which group would otherwise be deferred.
It is of course understood that sick and wounded prisoners of war who are permitted to avail themselves of the transportation facilities of the exchange will be members of the armed forces of the United States or Canada, regardless of individual national status.
Department assumes that allocation of 1150 places for Hongkong in paragraph 4 of your 531 is error for 150. Department recommends that Gorgé avoid fixing geographical quotas for various ports of call until completion of exploration of broader aspects of the repatriation program.
Department is again requesting Spanish Embassy58 in charge of Japanese interests to ascertain wishes of Japanese Government with respect to preferences to be accorded Japanese nationals in next exchange so that appropriate facilities may be extended to Embassy in complying therewith.
  1. For telegrams 1311, June 2, 1943, and 1333, June 4, 1943, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, pp. 878 and 879, respectively.
  2. Memorandum of March 8, not printed.