Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State to President Truman
In March the Italian Ambassador asked President Roosevelt and the Secretary of State what would be the attitude of this Government [Page 957] toward an Italian declaration of war upon Japan. In arriving at a decision on this question the Department sought the views of the War and Navy Departments through the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee. The views of the State, War and Navy Departments, as well as those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may be summarized as follows:
From the political point of view, the participation of Italy in the war against Japan along with the United States would further identify Italy with the United Nations and the victorious powers. The prestige of the present Italian Government would thus be strengthened and increased support for it acquired in Italy at a time when the North of Italy is being liberated and when the Government in Rome will require the greatest possible stability. Italy is trying to “work her passage” back to a respectable place in the family of nations. It has been given an opportunity to do this through its contribution to the war against Germany. Participation in the war in the Far East after the defeat of Germany will give the Italian Government and people an increased and prolonged opportunity to contribute to the common war aims of the United Nations and to increase Italy’s chances for an early and more secure place among them.
From the military point of view, Italy’s participation in the war against Japan would be of negligible, if any, advantage to the overall conduct of the war. It should be made clear to the Italian Government that United States concurrence in its proposal to enter the war against Japan would include no commitments of any kind involving Allied resources, especially with respect to shipping.
For political reasons it is recommended that the Italian Government should be informed that the United States Government would welcome an Italian declaration of war against Japan but that such action involves no commitments with respect to Allied resources or shipping. It is further recommended that the United States Government obtain the concurrence of the British and Soviet Governments to this policy before replying to the inquiry of the Italian Government.
If you concur with these recommendations, I will instruct our Ambassadors in London and Moscow to inform the Governments to which they are accredited of our position and to ask for assurances from the British and Soviet Governments that such a reply to the Italian Government would not be contrary to their views on this subject.