J. C. S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

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1. Program and Procedure for the Conference

(C. C. S. 880/92 and 880/103)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved C. C. S. 880/10.

2. Estimate of the Enemy Situation

(C. C. S. 643/34)

Sir Alan Brooke referred to the last sentence on page 10 of the paper5 where the survival of the institution of the Emperor was mentioned. He asked whether the United States Chiefs of Staff had given any thought to the question of the interpretation of the term “unconditional surrender.” From the military point of view it seemed to the British Chiefs of Staff that there might be some advantage in trying to explain this term to the Japanese in a manner which would ensure that the war was not unduly prolonged in outlying areas. If, for instance, an interpretation could be found and communicated to the Japanese which did not involve the dissolution of the Imperial institution, the Emperor would be in a position to order the cease-fire in outlying areas whereas, if the dynasty were destroyed, the outlying garrisons might continue to fight for many months or years. If an interpretation on these lines could be found an opportune moment to make it clear to the Japanese might be shortly after a Russian entry into the war.

[Page 37]

The United States Chiefs of Staff explained that considerable thought had been given to this subject on the political level. One suggestion was that some form of agreed ultimatum might be issued at the correct psychological moment, for example, on Russian entry into the war, the idea being to explain what the term “unconditional surrender” did not mean rather than what it did mean.

Admiral Leahy suggested that as the matter was clearly a political one primarily, it would be very useful if the Prime Minister put forward to the President his views and suggestions as to how the term “unconditional surrender” might be explained to the Japanese.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of the estimate of the enemy situation in C. C. S. 643/3.
Invited the British Chiefs of Staff to consider the possibility of asking the Prime Minister to raise with the President the matter of unconditional surrender of Japan.6

[Page 38]

3. Progress Reports on Operations in the Pacific and Southeast Asia Command

(C. C. S. 892 and 8937)

Sir Alan Brooke said that the only area not dealt with in these two reports was the China Theater. The British Chiefs of Staff would welcome a report of progress in this theater.

General Marshall described certain features of the operations in the China Theater, particularly as to the effectiveness of Chinese troops when properly equipped. He further stated that a report of operations in the China Theater would be prepared and presented to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note:—

Of the progress report on operations in the Pacific and Southeast Asia Command in C. C. S. 892 and C. C. S. 893.
That the United States Chiefs of Staff would submit later a report on operations in China.8

4. Development of Operations in the Pacific

(C. C. S. 880/49)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of the memorandum on the development of operations in the Pacific in C. C. S. 880/4.

5. Report on Army Air Operations in the War Against Japan

(C. C. S. 89410)

General Arnold commented in detail on certain aspects of the report.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of the report on Army air operations in the war against Japan in C. C. S. 894, and of General Arnold’s explanatory remarks.

  1. Document No. 220, printed in vol. i.
  2. See vol. i, document No. 220, footnote 2.
  3. Not printed as a whole. Cf. footnote 5, infra. See also the first map facing p. 346, post.
  4. The reference is to the italicized sentence in paragraph 3 (italics supplied) of the following extract from the conclusions of a report by the Combined Intelligence Committee as of July 8, 1945 (C. C. S. 643/3):

    “13. Possibility of Surrender. The Japanese ruling groups are aware of the desperate military situation and are increasingly desirous of a compromise peace, but still find unconditional surrender unacceptable. The basic policy of the present government is to fight as long and as desperately as possible in the hope of avoiding complete defeat and of acquiring a better bargaining position in a negotiated peace. Japanese leaders are now playing for time in the hope that Allied war weariness, Allied disunity, or some ‘miracle,’ will present an opportunity to arrange a compromise peace.

    “We believe that a considerable portion of the Japanese population now consider absolute military defeat to be probable. The increasing effects of sea blockade and cumulative devastation wrought by strategic bombing, which has already rendered millions homeless and has destroyed from 25 to 50 percent of the buildup [sic] area of Japan’s most important cities, should make this realization increasingly general. An entry of the Soviet Union into the war would finally convince the Japanese of the inevitability of complete defeat. Although individual Japanese willingly sacrifice themselves in the service of the nation, we doubt that the nation as a whole is predisposed toward national suicide. Rather, the Japanese as a nation have a strong concept of national survival, regardless of the fate of individuals. They would probably prefer national survival, even through surrender, to virtual extinction.

    “The Japanese believe, however, that unconditional surrender would be the equivalent of national extinction. There are as yet no indications that the Japanese are ready to accept such terms. The ideas of foreign occupation of the Japanese homeland, foreign custody of the person of the Emperor, and the loss of prestige entailed by the acceptance of ‘unconditional surrender’ are most revolting to the Japanese. To avoid these conditions, if possible, and, in any event, to insure survival of the institution of the Emperor, the Japanese might well be willing to withdraw from all the territory they have seized on the Asiatic continent and in the southern Pacific, and even to agree to the independence of Korea and to the practical disarmament of their military forces.

    “A conditional surrender by the Japanese Government along the lines stated above might be offered by them at any time from now until the time of the complete destruction of all Japanese power of resistance.

    “Since the Japanese Army is the principal repository of the Japanese military tradition it follows that the army leaders must, with a sufficient degree of unanimity, acknowledge defeat before Japan can be induced to surrender. This might be brought about either by the defeat of the main Japanese armies in the Inner Zone or through a desire on the part of the army leaders to salvage something from the wreck with a view to maintaining military tradition. For a surrender to be acceptable to the Japanese Army, it would be necessary for the military leaders to believe that it would not entail discrediting [the] warrior tradition and that it would permit the ultimate resurgence of a military Japan.”

    The above passage is printed from “The Entry of the Soviet Union Into the War Against Japan: Military Plans, 1941–1945” (Washington, Department of Defense, processed, 1955), pp. 87–88. For the conclusions of the Combined Intelligence Committee with respect to the probable Japanese military and political strategy, see ibid., pp. 85–87. Further extracts from the Committee’s report are printed in John Ehrman, Grand Strategy, vol. vi (London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1956), pp. 280–283.

  5. For the text of a minute on this question which Ismay submitted to Churchill on July 17, see Ehrman, Grand Strategy, vol. vi, p. 291. Churchill discussed the subject of unconditional surrender with Truman on July 18. See post, p. 81.
  6. C. C. S. 892 is not printed. C. C. S. 893 is not printed as a whole, but is summarized briefly in Ehrman, Grand Strategy, vol. vi, pp. 258–259. For appendix A to C. C. S. 893, see the map facing p. 350, post.
  7. Not printed as a whole. For appendix D to the paper submitted, see the second map facing p. 346, post.
  8. Document No. 599, printed in vol. i.
  9. Not printed.