Lot 122, Box 53

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


Japan: Mandated Islands: Status of Military Government

I. The Problem

Does Japan’s violation of her international trusteeship carry any special implications for CAA? Does the League of Nations have any residual rights in the Mandated Islands which must be subserved by the military occupant? (Questions 4a and b)8

II. Departmental View

It will be recalled that the Government of the United States has consistently taken the position that its rights in certain former German [Page 1218]territories are equal to the rights of any other of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in whose favor Germany renounced her rights in those territories. That position has been made clear in official correspondence with other governments concerned, in our Peace Treaty with Germany of 1921,9 and in our Treaty of 1922 with Japan in which we assented to the mandate given to Japan.10

It is unnecessary to consider at this stage whether violation by Japan of the terms of the mandate ipso facto terminated the mandate because existence of the mandate does not present any legal obstacle to an American military administration of the islands during occupation.

The United States, as belligerent occupant of the territory, supersedes the Japanese Government as the actual and lawful government of the territory. There is no question of the lawfulness under international law of the American occupation.

Belligerent occupation is a temporary rather than a permanent status and does not transfer sovereignty to the occupant although during such occupation the belligerent occupant is entitled to exercise the rights of sovereignty subject to the rule of international law dealing with military occupation.

The fact of occupation does not operate to terminate the mandate although it may suspend its operation. The belligerent occupant is not subject to the terms of the mandate or responsible to the League of Nations. The military administration of the belligerent occupant is not bound by the mandate provision concerning the establishment of bases and fortifications and is not required to make reports to the Council of the League of Nations. Any rights of the League of Nations in the mandated territory are in abeyance during belligerent occupation and need not be of concern to the military administration.

The belligerent occupation does not confer United States nationality upon the inhabitants of the Japanese Mandated Islands. The mandate, however, did not confer Japanese nationality upon them. Native inhabitants, therefore, should not be treated as enemy aliens.

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

LA: ALMoffat (drafting officer) JA: ERDickover
TS: GHBlakeslee BRJohansen
HBorton FSWilliams
PRJosselyn CA: JCVincent
AVandenbosch ME: MB Hall
FE: JWBallantine FMA: CFRemer
ISO: QWright LED: JRFriedman
SFO: EHDooman