Department of the Army Files

No. 1241
The Secretary of War (Stimson) to the President
top secret

Memorandum for the President

Subject: Proposed Proclamation to Japan and [by?] Heads of State (JCS 1275/5 and 1275/61)

Paragraph (2) of the proposed warning to Japan reads as follows:

“(2) The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west [have now been joined by the vast military might of the Soviet Union and]2 are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the [Page 1272] determination of all the Allied nations to prosecute the war against Japan until her unconditional capitulation.”

I am troubled by the words “until her unconditional capitulation” in the last sentence of the paragraph. I suggest that these words be changed to read “until she ceases to resist”.

Such a change has two advantages: (1) It avoids repeating in other words the term “unconditional surrender” where it is not necessary to do so, and where failure to do so makes it easier for the Japanese publicly to recognize and Act upon the futility of further war; (2) It avoids a perplexing contradiction in terms. A capitulation is defined in the only dictionary I have at hand as “a conditional surrender; a treaty”. To call in substance, for an unconditional conditional surrender would be highly confusing and, as translated, possibly badly, into Japanese, the expression might well defeat our ends. The words I suggest avoid this difficulty.

I concur in the revised form of paragraph (12) suggested by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their memorandum to you of 18 July 1945.3

Henry L. Stimson
  1. Not printed as such. For the text of the draft proclamation studied by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and for the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs based thereon, see document No. 592 (enclosure 2), printed in vol. i, and document No. 1239, ante.
  2. Brackets in the original.
  3. Document No. 1239. Stimson’s diary entry for July 24 gives the following additional information on this subject: “… I then spoke [to Truman] of the importance which I attributed to the reassurance of the Japanese on the continuance of their dynasty, and I had felt that the insertion of that in the formal warning was important and might be just the thing that would make or mar their acceptance, but that I had heard from Byrnes that they preferred not to put it in, and that now such a change was made impossible by the sending of the message to Chiang [document No. 1246], I hoped that the President would watch carefully so that the Japanese might be reassured verbally through diplomatic channels if it was found that they were hanging fire on that one point. He said that he had that in mind, and that he would take care of it.…