740.0011 P. W./7–1645

No. 1274
The Secretary of War (Stimson) to the President1
top secret

Memorandum for the President

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Whether the Russians are to be notified of our intentions in advance in this regard,3 would depend upon whether an agreement satisfactory to us had been reached with the Russians on the terms of their entry into the Japanese war.

the yalta agreements

As for the Russian participation and the so-called Yalta Agreements,4 I believe that these agreements, so long as they are interpreted consistently with our traditional policy toward China, should not cause us any concern from a security point of view, assuming always we keep clear our control over the Pacific islands. By our traditional policy toward China I refer, of course, to the Open Door and the recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Manchuria.

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allied occupation of the main japanese islands

I would hope that our occupation of the Japanese islands would not involve the government of the country as a whole in any such manner as we are committed in Germany. I am afraid we would make a hash of it if we tried. The Japanese are an oriental people with an oriental mind and religion. Our occupation should be limited to that necessary to (a) impress the Japanese, and the orient [Page 1323] as a whole, with the fact of Japanese defeat, (b) demilitarize the country, and (c) punish war criminals, including those responsible for the perfidy of Pearl Harbor.

If the Russians seek joint occupation after a creditable participation in the conquest of Japan, I do not see how we could refuse at least a token occupation. I feel, however, that no prolonged occupation by the Soviet should be approved and, indeed, any occupation by any major ally which exceeds our own, either in the strength of forces employed or in duration. I would approve their occupation of the Kuriles or indeed their cession to Russia, but I do not relish Russian occupation further south. If there is to be occupation of the main islands, the conditions and terms must certainly be determined by us. If the Kuriles are to be ceded to Russia, we should retain permanent landing rights therein, as the islands are located in a great circle route to Japan from the United States, and would substantially shorten our mileage on air voyages following this route.

Henry L Stimson
  1. Submitted to Byrnes for transmittal to Truman (see document No. 1236).
  2. For the other sections of this memorandum, see the enclosure to document No. 1236, and documents Nos. 732 and 1212.
  3. i. e., with regard to issuing a warning to Japan. See the enclosure to document No. 1236.
  4. i. e., the agreement regarding entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan signed by Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill on February 11, 1945. For text, see Executive Agreement Series No. 498; 59 Stat. (2) 1823; Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 984.