740.0011 PW/7–645

No. 236
Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State ( Grew )
secret

Memorandum of Conversation

Subject: Declaration of War against Japan

Participants: Italian Ambassador, Signor Alberto Tarchiani;
Under Secretary, Mr. Grew

The Italian Ambassador called on me this morning and took up with me the following matters:1

. . . . . . .

2. The Ambassador then read to me a secret paper2 concerning a declaration of war by Italy against Japan. He spoke of his talk with Mr. Phillips on this subject and said he knew that our Government favors such a step and that his own Government at a recent secret meeting had also expressed itself in favor of such a declaration of war. The Ambassador is aware that while such a declaration would be of especial interest to the United States nevertheless Sir Alexander Cadogan had stated that the British Government would interpose no objection to Italy’s declaring war against Japan. The Ambassador assumed that the Soviet Government might have to be consulted but hoped that no objection would be raised by the Soviet Union. He said he thought the matter was very urgent and that his Government would be especially glad to have the proposed step approved prior to the meeting of the Big Three. I said I did not know whether this could be done, and that it might have to be discussed at that meeting but that in any case I would explore the matter at once and would let the Ambassador know as soon as we are in a position to give him further information on the subject.

J[oseph] C. G[rew]
[Attachment 1]
secret

The Italian Ambassador has received instructions to ask for an audience with the President of the United States and to communicate to Mr. Truman, in a preliminary and confidential way, that the newly constituted Italian Government, in its recent secret meeting, has expressed itself in favor of the declaration of war against Japan.

[Page 299]

Such an initiative on the part of Italy intends to be, first of all, a gesture of solidarity towards the United States, a solidarity which would be concretely and actively evidenced through the effective participation of the fleet, aviation and a Corps of volunteers.

The initiative also corresponds to the political directives of democractic Italy to align herself against aggression and militarism, and to her desire to join the cause of the United Nations even when specific interests of Italy be not directly at stake.

The Ambassador has been directed by his Minister of Foreign Affairs3 to ask the Department of State to kindly see the possibility of giving some precise indications as far as the moment deemed most convenient and timely for the official announcement of the Italian declaration of war on Japan is concerned.

The Department of State will certainly appreciate that the Italian Government must be in a position to justify, at the proper time, its decision in front of public opinion, and to explain it, with clear and plausible reasons, as well as with motives of national interest.

The Ambassador has also been instructed to convey the deep feelings of gratitude of the Italian Government for the oral statements of encouragement and assurance made by the Department of State through Special Assistant Ambassador Phillips.

[Attachment 2]
secret

The Cabinet of the Italian Government has held, in the last days, a meeting in which took part all the Ministers leaders of the six parties forming the present Government. The Cabinet examined the Note of the Department of State of June 16th4 stating that the Government of the United States would welcome an Italian declaration of war on Japan, thus extending to the conflict with the common enemy in the Far East that solidarity with the United Nations which the [Page 300] Italian Government and People have recently demonstrated in the struggle against the common enemy in Europe.

It appears that two Ministers have represented their fear that, recalling the Armistice Terms,5 some major or smaller Power could interfere with the Italian initiative. The said Ministers were therefore deeming it indispensable that some assurances in the matter were given to the Italian Government at least on the American side.

As far as the substance of the question is concerned, several Ministers have shared the opinion that Italy should give an effective contribution to the war within her possibilities (Navy, Air Forces, Corps of volunteers).

Washington, July 6, 1945.

  1. For the paragraph omitted here, see document No. 468
  2. See the attachments, infra.
  3. Alcide De Gasperi.
  4. The text of the note referred to is as follows (file No. 740.0011 PW/6–1645):

    “The Acting Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of Italy and has the honor to refer to recent conversations between the Ambassador and officials of the Department on the desire of the Italian Government to declare war on Japan.

    “It is requested that the Italian Government be informed that the Government of the United States would welcome an Italian declaration of war on Japan, thus extending to the conflict with the common enemy in the Far East that solidarity with the United Nations which the Italian Government and people have recently demonstrated in the struggle against the common enemy in Europe.

    “In making this communication to the Italian Government, the Government of the United States wishes to make clear that such a declaration of war would involve no commitment on the part of the Allied Governments to provide resources or shipping for the prosecution by Italy of hostilities against Japan.”

  5. Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1604; 61 Stat. (3) 2740.