740.00119 PW/7–2245: Telegram

No. 1243
The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State
top secret

99. From Grew for Byrnes.

OWI released to the press last night English text of broadcast to Japan in Japanese by Captain E. M. Zacharias, USN.1 The OWI release commenced with the phrase “An official spokesman for the United States Government today warned Japan etc”. Zacharias in actual broadcast did not identify himself as such.

Captain Zacharias began by reviewing points made in previous broadcasts. Japan, he stated, faced inevitable defeat. This situation resulted from bad leadership. Leaders continue to mislead people in stating that alternatives are victory or extermination. President Truman has made clear that this is not fact. Salvation of Japan lies in accepting unconditional surrender peace formula. The unconditional surrender formula is “humanitarian gesture of great constructive value”. Broadcast then continues to state that time has arrived when Japanese leaders should face fact realistically and without shallow emotion. Surrender is a time honored formula provided for in Hague Convention.2 Moreover American policy is derived from Atlantic Charter3 and Cairo Declaration4 and “both begin with the categorical statement that we seek no territorial aggrandizement in our war against Japan”. The leaders of the Japanese face two alternatives. “One is the virtual destruction of Japan followed by a dictated peace. The other is unconditional surrender with its attendant benefits as laid down by the Atlantic Charter”. Japan’s opportunity to think of these facts “is rapidly passing. As soon as our redeployment is completed, this opportunity will be lost to Japan: and as you know, it will be lost forever”. Broadcast states that “at present there are still some influential people in the United States who would not like to see the destruction of Japan. But our patience, too, has its limits and it is rapidly running out”.

Zacharias speech was prominently featured with banner headlines in the entire metropolitan press: Washington Star—“U. S. Warns Japs to Surrender Immediately as Only Salvation; Enemy Looks for Easier Terms”. Post—“U. S. Warns Japan to Quit Now, Escape [Page 1274]Virtual Destruction”. Baltimore Sun—“U. S. Again Calls for Japs’ Unconditional Surrender”. Herald Tribune—“Japan Told to Surrender Unconditionally or Face Inevitable Destruction: Official Broadcast Bids Enemy Leaders Yield Under Atlantic Charter”. New York Times—“Japan is Warned to Give Up Soon: U. S. Broadcast Says Speed Will Bring Peace Based on the Atlantic Charter”.

OWI spokesman last night told the press that there was no significance in making this translation available; that it was just one of a series. Press speculating widely on this matter along lines that this broadcast made available for domestic use in order to tell U. S. public just what our terms of unconditional Surrender are.

Particular importance is attached by U. S. press to statement in release that Captain Zacharias broadcast as “an official spokesman of the U. S. Government” and to the fact that the Atlantic Charter commits the signatory governments to permit peoples to select their own form of Government. This was interpreted as indicating formulation of American policy with reference to Emperor. Associated Press states that reports were circulating to effect that a statement clarifying Allied policy toward Japan would be issued within next few days by President and Churchill and possibly Stalin.

Department has been asked by press if broadcast was cleared with Department. Our answer has been that all major propaganda themes are discussed by the Department and other interested Government Agencies and the broad policy under which the OWI would conduct the campaign has been laid down. In no case, however, has the Department cleared any individual propaganda broadcast and was not informed that this broadcast was to be given to the American press.

Elmer Davis made following statement to press this morning: “Captain E. M. Zacharias has for some time been delivering series of broadcasts in the Japanese language for OWI to the Japanese leaders and people. These are all within the framework of U. S. policy as previously announced. No significance attaches to the fact that the twelfth of these broadcasts was issued to the press in response to requests. The text of all broadcasts has been available if desired and a number of earlier ones have been proposed [sic] in whole or in part.”

In view of the prominence given this broadcast by the American press, I believe it will not be necessary for me to answer the two press questions by the statement which you authorized me to make5 and I shall make no statement in the absence of specific instructions from you.

[Grew]
  1. For the English text of this broadcast, see Zacharias, Secret Missions, p. 420. Cf. ibid., pp. 373–375.
  2. Under article 35 of convention ii, signed July 29, 1899, and under the same article of convention iv, signed October 18, 1907. See James Brown Scott, ed., The Hague Conventions and Declarations of 1899 and 1907 (New York, 1915), p. 120.
  3. Executive Agreement Series No. 236; 55 Stat. (2) 1603.
  4. Of December 1, 1943. Text in Department of State Bulletin, vol. ix, p. 393.
  5. See document No. 1242.