840.50 UNRRA Personnel/5–1845

The United States Representative, Committee of the UNRRA Council for the Far East (Acheson), to the United Kingdom Representative, Committee of the UNRRA Council for the Far East (Butler)

My Dear Sir Paul: At the Lapstone meeting65 of the Committee of the UNRRA Council for the Far East, Mr. Abbot Low Moffat66 raised, on behalf of the United States Government, the question of extending the scope of UNRRA activities so as to include Korea, Formosa and Thailand. Because of his delayed arrival, it was impossible for several of the representatives to consult their governments on this subject prior to adjournment and he therefore did not introduce a resolution. But the representatives present personally were in favor of the proposal and it was agreed that the question should be raised at the next meeting of the Committee.

It is the view of this Government that it is highly desirable that the full scope of UNRRA activities in Asia should be determined as soon as possible, so that necessary planning may be undertaken by the Administration.

Korea is technically enemy territory, being part of the Japanese Empire. However, it was proclaimed by the Cairo Declaration of December 2 [1], 194367 that in due course after the war Korea should regain its independence. Its people, except for a relatively small number, are not Japanese, and victory over Japan will result in their liberation from Japanese domination.

Similarly, Formosa is technically enemy territory, but its restoration to China was also pledged in the Cairo Declaration. Of its six million inhabitants, less than three hundred thousand are Japanese. Furthermore, the Chinese plans for relief and rehabilitation already submitted to the Administration include relief and rehabilitation in Formosa.

Under Subdivision 3 of Part I of Resolution I,68 the Administration is precluded from operating in enemy areas without specific authorization of the Council.

Thailand is considered by this Government as a friendly country occupied by the enemy. We continue to recognize the Thai Minister in Washington, although we do not recognize the present government [Page 980] of Thailand.69 On the other hand, a state of war exists between Thailand and the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa and Czechoslovakia. We recognize that under these circumstances the Administration is also bound by the provisions of Subdivision 3 of Part I of Resolution 1 and may not operate in Thailand without specific authorization. There is mounting evidence of the desire of the Thai people to be liberated from the Japanese yoke and to aid the United Nations cause. Whether Thailand be regarded as a friendly country occupied by the Japanese or as an enemy satellite state, we believe that the UNRRA Administration should have the power to extend any needed relief to Thailand under the same conditions as apply to aid to other areas liberated from the enemy. In all probability, according to our information, medical supplies, which are not in short world supply, and clothing will be the only important items of relief required.

It is the view of this Government that it would be of great psychological value in the prosecution of the war against Japan if the United Nations declared that Korea, Formosa and Thailand, which are non-Japanese areas annexed to Japan or occupied by the Japanese, shall be considered as liberated areas for purposes of relief and rehabilitation by UNRRA. Furthermore, the actual relief of these areas following their liberation will be an essential factor in assuring stability and economic progress in eastern Asia.

As this is a matter of primary concern to the nations represented on the Far Eastern Committee of the Council, it is our view that a recommendation to the Council on the question of extending the scope of UNRRA activities in eastern Asia should originate in the Committee for the Far East.

Because of the differing relations which exist between Thailand and the several governments represented on the Committee, the language of the attached draft resolution has been neutrally worded so as not to prejudice the position of any government.

This draft resolution represents the view of this Government, and has been submitted to the UNRRA Secretariat for the agenda of the meeting of the Far Eastern Committee of the Council. This will presumably take place in London prior to the next meeting of the Council commencing July 16. I should appreciate immediately learning [Page 981] through you the views of your Government with regard to this resolution so that we may achieve unanimity of action at the next meeting of the Committee.

I am sending identical letters to the other representatives on the Far Eastern Committee and copies to the alternates who were present at the Lapstone meeting and to the Administration.70

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson

Draft Resolution

Whereas for the effective carrying out of its duties in the Far East, it is important for the Administration to know in what areas it should be prepared to operate; and

Whereas it is desirable that the Administration should be prepared to operate in Korea, in Formosa and in Thailand, which are non-Japanese areas annexed to Japan before the war or occupied by the Japanese during the war; and

Whereas Korea and Formosa are still technically enemy areas, and the Administration, pursuant to Part I of Resolution 1, is precluded from operating therein without specific authorization by the Council; and

Whereas a state of war exists between Thailand and certain member governments and similar specific authorization is required to enable the Administration to operate in Thailand;

Be it Resolved that the Committee of the Council for the Far East recommends to the Council adoption of the following resolution:

Resolved that Korea, Formosa and Thailand shall each, for the purpose of determining the scope of Administration activities with respect to such areas, be considered a liberated area within the meaning of Part I of Resolution 1, and the Administration is hereby authorized to operate in such areas upon the same terms and conditions as in other liberated areas.

  1. Meeting held February 15–20, 1945, at the Lapstone Hotel, Sydney, Australia
  2. Chief of the Division of Southwest Pacific Affairs.
  3. Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, p. 448.
  4. For text, see Woodbridge, UNRRA, vol. iii, p. 43.
  5. The Minister of Thailand was Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj. For the attitude of the United States toward Thailand after its occupation by Japan in December 1941, see Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. v, pp. 387390, 392393, 396, and ibid., 1942, vol. i, pp. 913 ff. For documentation on the attitude of the United States and the United Kingdom toward the post-war status of Siam, see ibid., 1945, vol. vi , section on Siam.
  6. Identical letters were sent to the representatives of Australia, China, the French Republic, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the Philippine Commonwealth. In a memorandum dated July 26, by the Chief of the Division of Southeast Asian Affairs (Moffat) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Clayton), it was stated that the United States, China, the Philippine Commonwealth, and France approved the resolution; Great Britain and New Zealand opposed inclusion of Thailand: no word has been received from Australia, India, or the Netherlands, but it was thought that they would support Britain (840.50–UNRRA/7–3045). French approval, however, did stipulate clearly that it would not involve any political commitment for France, which was still at war with Thailand (840.50 UNRR A/7–1245).