740.00119 Council/9–1345: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )

7974. Secdel 48. For Secretary of State.63 As a result of certain questions raised by the War Department in regard to Korea, it has become apparent that the British Government has not been informed of the plans for a trusteeship in Korea. The matter was mentioned at Yalta and later was discussed with the Russians by Mr. Hopkins64 in Moscow,65 when a British-American-Chinese-Soviet trusteeship was approved. The President mentioned the matter to Dr. Soong,66 who, it is understood, indicated his approval. In an informal discussion of this matter yesterday with an official of the British Embassy, an officer of the Department explained that there have been no official exchanges [Page 1047] between this Government and other interested governments on the subject, and that we had assumed that the British had been informed.

The understanding reached on May 28, 1945, when Mr. Hopkins visited Moscow, is understood to apply to an interim period, between the period of military government which presumably will be set up and the time when a Korean Government can exercise the full functions of independence, and does not necessarily apply to the period of occupation.

A statement has been drafted in the Department for the consideration of the President.67 This statement heralds the liberation of Korea; states that such Japanese as may be temporarily retained in the Government are being utilized as servants of the Korean people and of the occupying forces;68 confirms agreement on the part of the Big Four that Korea shall become free and independent; and indicates that time and patience will be required before the Koreans can assume the responsibilities of a free and independent nation.

It is contemplated that this statement will be issued coincidentally with instructions from the War Department to MacArthur relating to the removal of Japanese personnel from the governmental structure.

  1. Mr. Byrnes was attending the First Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers which met at London from September 11 to October 2, 1945. For documentation on this session, see vol. ii, pp. 99 ff.
  2. Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman.
  3. See memorandum of conversation of May 28, 1945, 6 p.m., Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. i, p. 41.
  4. T. V. Soong, President of the Chinese Executive Yuan (Premier) and Minister for Foreign Affairs in June 1945 when his conversation with President Truman took place.
  5. Post, p. 1048.
  6. In telegram 9635, September 18, from London, the Secretary of State suggested that the proposed statement would be improved if the words beginning with “such Japanese” were “replaced by something along the line of ‘Japanese are being removed from governmental positions as rapidly as possible.’” However, he was informed by Acting Secretary Acheson, in telegram 8281, September 21, 3 p.m., to London, that his “suggestion in regard to the statement on Korea was received in the Department approximately 10 hours after the White House had made the release”. (740,00119 Council/9–1845) For information on the release of the statement, see footnote 69, p. 1048.