The Counselor of the British Embassy ( Makins ) to the Acting Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Grew: In the Ambassador’s absence I am passing on to you a personal message which Mr. Eden22 has asked Lord Halifax to convey to Mr. Stettinius. The message is as follows:—

“I am disturbed at divergence of views between us with regard to Japanese offer23 to allow International Red Cross Committee representatives [Page 323] to visit a limited number of camps in areas hitherto unvisited in return for similar visits to Japanese held in Allied territory. I appreciate the force of American argument that since Santo Tomas offer is now valueless the Japanese should replace it by an equivalent. I also agree that the Japanese offer is very limited in scope, but I must point out that it constitutes not merely the first indication of Japanese withdrawal from their previous uncompromising refusal to allow neutral visits to these areas but specifically states that these limited visits are a first step.

“I fear that if Geneva Convention is made the subject of bargaining it will destroy the line both Governments have hitherto taken with the Japanese, namely that the Convention and in particular the admission of neutral inspectors to all camps is test of proper conduct. I feel sure that our two Governments should continue as in the past to apply the Geneva Convention without reservation and to press on all suitable occasions for full reciprocity. Otherwise the Japanese can be expected to retort that the Allies only comply with Convention obligations when it suits them and that our strong and persistent criticism of their breach of the Convention was mere propaganda.

“I am afraid that if attempt to bargain results in withdrawal of Japanese offer to visit prisoners in Thailand the effect on public opinion here, already gravely disturbed at conditions in camps in Thailand, will be deplorable. Deep anxiety amongst relatives of prisoners in the Far East continues to cause concern to this Government and to those of the Commonwealth.

“I therefore very much hope that while leaving the Japanese in no doubt about United States standpoint on obligation of both parties to allow visits, you will not allow these negotiations to break down by using United States obligations as a means of pressure on the Japanese.

“The Japanese are not really concerned about the treatment of their nationals in Allied lands but they will seize any opportunity of promoting disunion between us and we must avoid this at all costs.”

Yours sincerely,

Roger Makins
  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. See telegrams 8204, December 18, 1944, and 8235, December 20, 1944, from Bern, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 1012 and 1013, respectively. For Department’s statement of February 8 on the Japanese proposal, see Department of State Bulletin, February 11, 1945, p. 191.