Byrnes Papers

No. 1244
Proposal by the United States Delegation1

Draft Proclamation by the Heads of Governments United States … United Kingdom … U. S. S. R. … China2

We,—The President of the United States,3 the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the Generalissimo of the Soviet Union, and the President of the Republic of China, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that the Japanese people shall be given an opportunity to end this war.
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 are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied nations to prosecute the war against Japan until her capitulation.4
The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will5 mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.
The time has come for the Japanese people to decide whether they will continue blindly to follow the leadership of those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether they will follow the path of reason.
Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.
There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.
Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, Japanese territory shall be occupied to the extent necessary to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.
The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.
The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.
We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. Democratic tendencies among the Japanese people shall be supported and strengthened. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.
Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.
The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.
We call upon the Japanese people and those in authority in Japan, to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.
  1. This document bears the following manuscript notation: “Handed to P. M. by U. S. Sec. of State.” This draft was not communicated to the Soviet Delegation.

    Truman (Year of Decisions, p. 387) states: “I waited until the Joint Chiefs of Staff had reached an agreement on our military strategy before I gave him [Churchill] a copy of the draft [proclamation] on July 24.” This document was returned to the United States Delegation, presumably when the British amendments were submitted (see document No. 1245), and was marked as follows in shorthand by Cassie Connor, Byrnes’ Personal Assistant: “Adopt all British suggestions”. The changes noted in footnotes 3 and 4, post, were apparently made after the return of the draft to Byrnes. At that time handwritten brackets were also introduced in paragraphs 1, 2, 4, 7, 10, and 13, but the changes contemplated were not written in.

  2. Punctuation as in the original.
  3. At this point the word “and” has been interpolated in Byrnes’ handwriting. Later in the paragraph the words “the Generalissimo of the Soviet Union, and the President of the Republic of China,” have been stricken from the draft.
  4. The last two words of this sentence have been stricken from the draft, and Byrnes has made the following manuscript substitution: “she ceases to resist”. Cf. document No. 1241.
  5. See document No. 1382, footnote 3.