Lot 122, Box 53

Memorandum Prepared by the Inter-Divisional Area Committee on the Far East


Japan: Occupation and Military Government: Composition of Forces To Occupy Japan

I. The Problem

The problem is to determine what countries should participate in the occupation of Japan and the kind of occupation which should be recommended. (Questions 3b 3c and 3r)90

II. Basic Factors

It is impossible to anticipate at this time the precise circumstances in which Japan will be occupied; it might be occupied as a whole following combat operations in Japan itself, or after Japan’s unconditional surrender, without there having been any such combat operations. Thus, the composition of the combat forces, on the basis of purely military considerations, in the first contingency might be different from that of the occupying forces in the second contingency. It might well be decided, for example, to limit the occupying force following combat to military units of only one nation and if occupation followed unconditional surrender to utilize forces from several nations.

In either case, however, it would be desirable for the military authorities to give the fullest consideration to political factors which may call for representation, in so far as compatible with military necessity, in the combat forces of units from those allied countries participating in the war against Japan. These political factors may he even more important in determining the composition of military government.

It is reported that the Combined Chiefs of Staff reached an agreement in January 1944 by which the British recognized that the Central Pacific area and Japan, for the purposes of prosecuting the war and for military government, came under the military and naval jurisdiction of the United States. The geographic position of the United States in relation to Japan, and the military and financial resources of the United States as well as events leading to the Pacific War—operate to place on the United States a primary responsibility for assuring the fulfillment of the terms of surrender and the operation of military government.

[Page 1203]

Among the political considerations which may affect the composition of this military government is the fact that Article 2 of the Four Nation Declaration of Moscow, November 1, 1943, provides that those of the signatories “at war with a common enemy will act together in all matters relating to the surrender and disarmament of that enemy”. Paragraph 3 adds: “They will take all measures deemed by them to be necessary to provide against any violation of the terms imposed upon the enemy.” The composition and command of the forces to be used for the occupation and military government of Japan would seem to be a problem which relates, in part at least, to the surrender and disarmament of Japan and consequently would call for joint rather than unilateral decision thus underscoring the possibility of occupation by combined forces.

There have been no public pronouncements by any of the United Nations on the subject of the composition of the occupation forces but the general statement issued by Churchill, Roosevelt and Chiang following the Cairo Conference, December 1, 1943 may have some bearing on the nature of this occupation. It read: “The three great allies (the United States, Great Britain and China) are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan.” There is reason to believe from statements of Chinese officials that they anticipate Chinese participation in the occupation of Japan. Dr. Sun Fo, President of the Legislative Yuan wrote in October 1943 that “the United Nations forces will land and occupy Japan”.

The Association of British Malaya has written to the British Colonial Office pointing out the desirability of Malayan regiments forming part of any army of occupation. Various influential Americans, including Hanson Baldwin,91 have expressed their opinion that occupation should be undertaken by national contingents drawn from the various United Nations.

If the forces occupying Japan, including the personnel of military government, are restricted to those of the United States, it would appear to settle the question as to whether or not this Government would be solely responsible for the enforcement of the terms of surrender. Such a solution would force the United States to bear alone whatever cost and effect were necessary for such control; a condition which the American people might support only grudgingly.

The presence of Asiatic units among the allied occupation forces and military government might well produce results more beneficial to American interests than if they were either exclusively American or Caucasian.

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The possibility of the use of allied rather than solely American forces for the occupation and military government of Japan raises the question of whether occupation should be by zones, either with or without a military council of United Nations membership, or according to other principles. The fact that Japan proper consists of four main islands might suggest the advisability of dividing Japan for purposes of occupation into zones corresponding to these geographical divisions. On the other hand, Japan proper is basically a single geographic, ethnic, sociological, economic and political unit. Centralization has been a predominant characteristic of modern Japan with the result that the inhabitants of northern Hokkaido or of southern Kyushu feel as closely controlled by the national government as do the inhabitants of the capital. The establishment of nine new administrative units in June 1943 is the first attempt of the Japanese to increase local autonomy in government, but even this change has not given these administrative units responsibility for purely national functions such as those of public order, transportation, communications, education, taxation and finance, and legislation on all matters of real significance. In the light of this situation, it is obvious that many difficult problems would arise if a zonal system of military government is superimposed on the national governmental structure.

When the scope and kind of occupation and the composition of the occupying force are decided, questions of importance to the future security and peace of the United Nations, and particularly the signatories of the Moscow Four Nation Declaration who are at war with Japan, will still remain unsettled. It will be necessary to recognize and answer these questions, whether the occupation is complete or partial and whether or not it is mixed. The views of the Department on these matters are in the process of being formulated and to the extent that they may affect military government, will be communicated at a later time.

The questions of the nature of the occupation and the composition of the occupation forces will be raised anew in the event that the Soviet Union participates in hostilities against Japan.

III. Recommendations

It is recommended that:

The forces to be used for combat purposes in Japan should include, if not prejudicial to the effectiveness of military operations, units of those allied countries which have actively participated in the war against Japan. It is assumed that all such forces will be under the command of the American theater commander.
During the operation of military government in the combat stages, there should be, if feasible, provision for representation in [Page 1205] civil affairs administration for any allied country participating in the combat forces.
With the completion of military operation and after the unconditional surrender of Japan, there should be, so far as practicable, allied representation by those countries which have actively participated in the war against Japan in the army of occupation and in military government. It is assumed that such representation will not be so large as to prejudice the dominantly American character of CAA.
The occupation of Japan should be organized on the principle of centralized administration, avoiding the division of the country into zones administered separately by the different national contingents composing the occupation force. Representation of these contingents might be provided, in addition to regular staff representation, through a council made up of the ranking officers of the respective contingents. Such a council should have advisory powers only. While the relationship between its members and the commander in chief of the occupation force would approximate that of staff officers to a commanding officer, the establishment of such an advisory military council would probably accord more closely with the dignity, position, and authority of the individuals concerned and of the governments they represent than through staff representation only.

Prepared and reviewed by the Inter-Divisional Area Committee on the Far East.

(Drafting Officers)
TS: HBorton
ISO: DCBlaisdell
JA: ERDickover
FSO: EHDooman
TS: GHBlakeslee ISO: CEagleton
AVandenbosch LA: AMoffat
FE: JWBallantine TA: WWilloughby
AHiss ME: MBHall
JA: BRJohansen FMA: CFRemer
FSWilliams LED93: JRFriedman
CA92: OEClubb
  1. Ante, pp. 1191 and 1192.
  2. Military editor for the New York Times.
  3. Division of Labor Relations.
  4. Division of Chinese Affairs.