740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–1346

Memorandum by the Secretary General of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission (Johnson)63


Interview With General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

Present: Major General Frank R, McCoy (U. S.)
Sir George Sansom (U. K.)
Lt. General Chu Shih-Ming (China)
Mr. W. D. Forsyth (Australia)
M. Francis Lacoste (France)
Mr. E. Herbert Norman (Canada)
The Honorable Tomas Confesor (P. I.)
Dr. A. D. A. deKat Angelino (Netherlands)
Sir Carl Berendsen (New Zealand)
Mr. R. R. Saksena (India)
Mr. Nelson T. Johnson (Secretary General)
General McCoy, as Chairman of the Commission, presented the Commission to General MacArthur and stated that they were very grateful for the opportunity which General MacArthur had offered of having this interview.
General MacArthur began the interview by stating that he had welcomed the visit of the Commission, that he looked upon the relationship between himself and SCAP and the Commission as a relationship of a team, and that he hoped that the Commission had been able to acquire as much of the information they wanted as was possible in the time allotted.
With reference to the question of reparations, the Supreme Commander stated that he himself was uncertain as to just how this very important question was to be handled or where jurisdiction was to be found. He said that it was his hope that, when the question was [Page 124] taken in hand and the policies decided, the execution of these policies would be left in his hands as Supreme Commander representing the interested Allied Governments. He felt that it would be disastrous to have an independent reparations body functioning in Japan alongside of SCAP. He stated that he was prepared to set up at once a Reparations Section in SCAP for the purpose of carrying out any policy in regard to reparations that might be decided upon. He discussed the interim conclusions of the Pauley Mission, and stated that there was a feeling in SCAP that the Pauley Mission set too high a value on machinery now in Japanese factories as an item of reparations. He remarked that at one time he had had something to do with the removal of factories, as he had been an engineering officer, and pointed out that it was not a simple thing to pick up a factory and move it from an environment in which it had developed to an entirely new environment and expect that factory to perform efficiently and well. And he thought that, before anything was done with regard to the removal of Japanese factories from Japan to the Philippines or to China, a very careful survey should be made by experts to determine whether such a moval would be in the interest of efficiency and whether the cost of such moval might not be so great in ships and personnel as to rob the factory of all economic usefulness in the new environment. He stated that it was the impression of SCAP that a great deal of the machinery now left in these factories had deteriorated from lack of care and use, or from abuse, to a point where its further usefulness was questionable; but, in any case, he thought that, before anything definite was done in this matter of using the surplus Japanese factory equipment for reparations, a most careful investigation or survey should be made.
With reference to the question of constitutional reform, the Supreme Commander stated that this matter had been taken out of his hands by the Moscow Agreement, and he did not know now just how that was going to be worked out. He pointed out that when he started out in Japan his original directive gave him jurisdiction in the matter, and stated that he had made certain suggestions and the Japanese had begun to work on these suggestions. A committee had been formed for the purpose of carrying out certain constitutional reforms, but insofar as his own part in this work was concerned, the Supreme Commander had ceased to take any action whatever. He said that he had issued no orders or directives, and that he had limited himself merely to suggestions. He pointed out that it was his hope that whatever might be done about constitutional reform in Japan this would be done in such a way as to permit the Japanese to look upon the resulting document as a Japanese product, for he felt that only in this way could the work be permanent. He stated that it was [Page 125] his belief, that it was his conviction, that a constitution, no matter how good, no matter how well written, forced upon the Japanese by bayonet would last just as long as bayonets were present, and that he was certain that the moment force was withdrawn and the Japanese were left to their own devices they would get rid of that constitution and get something in its place that would be as far from the discarded document as they could get, merely for the purpose of asserting and maintaining their independence of ideas that they had been forced to accept.
With reference to war criminals, the Supreme Commander stated that he was preparing to set up the international tribunal which would have jurisdiction over war criminals,64 that it was his purpose to turn over to the prosecuting personnel attached to the tribunal all the evidence that his organization possessed or might obtain. He stated that the war criminals now in custody were a preliminary group.
[This section not printed. In it, when discussing a possible trial of the Emperor as a war criminal, General MacArthur expressed views similar to those in telegram CA 57235, January 25, 1:45 p.m., p. 395.]
With reference to the question of trade, the Supreme Commander said that it was his belief that the sooner trade under proper controls was permitted, the better. He hoped that early steps would be taken in this matter. He stated that the only question of trade that had come up thus far was the question of the textile industry, and he had recommended that the entire available textile industry in Japan should be put to work and sufficient cotton be sent in to accomplish that, but that he had met with some opposition in regard to this; that his instructions called for only a part of the available machinery to be used, and he had amended his recommendations; and he understood that some cotton was being sent, and that as soon as it arrived it would be turned ever in order that Japanese textile mills could get to work. The only other imports have been some wheat from the Philippines, which had been brought in as a kind of reserve in connection with the food situation. He emphasized that from his point of view the sooner some trade could be started, the better, as it would give the Japanese an economy upon which they could begin to build and it would help to stabilize the situation.
With reference to the length of military occupation, the Supreme Commander stated that in his opinion one might state this in length of time as anything between three and five years. He referred to the fact that he had been associated with a number of military occupations and [Page 126] the accompanying phenomena. He stated that no occupation should be carried on longer than necessary and beyond the point where the occupying troops became tired and bored with their work and the attitude of the people to the occupying troops soured. Beyond that point military occupation was a liability.
With reference to the question of a peace treaty, the Supreme Commander stated that he considered this a most important matter before the Commission. He stated that he hoped it would receive the early consideration of the Commission. He did not know exactly how peace was to be brought about, whether by a multilateral peace conference or otherwise, but he thought that the Far Eastern Commission should quickly get to work to consider the terms of such a peace treaty, in order that the terms and conditions of the Peace might be determined. He felt that the Far Eastern Commission had an opportunity to lay down terms for a peace settlement in the Pacific which could serve as a model in similar areas elsewhere.
The Supreme Commander spoke feelingly about the international character of his mission, and pointed out that, while he was Commander-in-Chief of American Forces, he was also Supreme Commander for the Allies in Japan and that, as Supreme Commander for the Allies, was deeply conscious of his responsibility to each and every nation participating in the occupation.
In connection with the international character of his mission as Supreme Commander for the Allies, the Supreme Commander stated most emphatically that he welcomed the participation in the organization of SCAP of representatives of any of the Allied Governments. He remarked that few had thus far been offered or come forward. This seemed to raise certain questions in the minds of the Australian and the New Zealand delegates, and the Supreme Commander made it quite clear that help had been gladly given but that no general request for personnel had been made upon, the Allies; but he wanted it clearly understood that any personnel that might be offered would be more than welcome to him and to his organization; that the only condition that he imposed was that the individual be efficient and capable of doing the work for which he was assigned, and that he would not feel or act from a narrow, nationalistic point of view in an organization which was international and where all thought ability must be pooled for the common purpose.
Mr. Forsyth of the Australian delegation raised the question as to whether the Supreme Commander had any objection to the views which the Supreme Commander had uttered being communicated to their several Governments. After a moment of silence, the Supreme Commander stated that, of course, he had no objection to his views being communicated to Governments in the same confidence in which [Page 127] he expressed these views to the members of the Commission. He emphasized that he was talking to the Commission as a part of a team, that his views and opinions were personal, and that it would be tragic if he were to be quoted under such circumstances that he would have to in self-defense take steps to protect himself.
  1. Copy of memorandum transmitted on March 13 by Mr. Johnson to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Vincent) in a letter which stated he had “prepared this summary of what General MacArthur had to say for General McCoy as the American delegate, and not for the use of the Commission, so that it has not been read here on the Commission by anyone except General McCoy and members of his group of advisers. … It does not pretend to be a verbatim account of the conversation, but merely a summary based on memory, and should not in any way be considered as committing General MacArthur as he made it quite clear that these views were his personal ones and in no sense were committing him officially. In the interview he was attempting to answer questions which had arisen in the course of our trip and of which he had been given prior knowledge.” On March 25 Mr. Vincent transmitted the foregoing to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State; Secretary Byrnes made a penciled notation: “The President is going to send Pauley back to Manchuria & Korea to inquire as to reparations.” Edwin W. Pauley was President Truman’s personal representative, with rank of Ambassador, in matters pertaining to reparations. See also pp. 471 ff.
  2. For special proclamation by SCAP on January 19 on establishment of an International Military Tribunal for the Far East at Tokyo and for the Charter of the Tribunal (IMT), see Department of State Bulletin, March 10, 1916, pp. 361–364.