The Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of State 87a

My Dear Mr. Secretary: As evidenced in the present war, the Japanese Mandated Islands bear a vital relation to the defense of the United States. Their assured possession and control by the United States are essential to our security. Together they constitute a single military entity, no element of which can be left to even the partial control of another nation without hazard to our control of that entity.88

The implication in the Australia-New Zealand Agreement89 that those countries are capable of defending all or any of those islands has no foundation in reality. On the contrary, the military capabilities of Australia and New Zealand not only for the present but for the future are so limited that they cannot assure the defense of their home territories against any one of the potentially strong Asiatic Powers.

The Japanese Mandated Islands should be placed under the sole sovereignty of the United States. Their conquest is being effected by the forces of the United States and there appears to be no valid reason why their future status should be the subject of discussion with any other nation.

Sincerely yours,

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
William D. Leahy

Admiral, U.S. Navy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy
  1. This letter was in reply to the request for comment contained in a letter from the Secretary of State to Admiral Leahy, dated February 5, 1944 (not printed).
  2. Earlier, on September 15, 1942, Admiral Leahy had written for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in response to a question from Norman H. Davis, Chairman, American Red Cross and Chairman, Sub-committee on Security Problems, Department of State Advisory Committee on Postwar Foreign Policy, as follows: “It is imperative that Japan be prevented from controlling the sea and air routes across the Pacific and the western Pacific and conversely, that these routes be controlled by the United Nations. This indicates the necessity of depriving Japan of all islands south of the latitude 30° north, with the possible exception of the Nansei (Ryu Kyu) Islands. This includes the Marshall, Caroline, Pelew, Bonin and Mariana Islands, and Formosa.” (894.014/9–1542)
  3. For correspondence on concern of the United States over the Australia-New Zealand agreement of 1944, see vol. iii, pp. 168 ff.