740.00119 Control (Japan)/1–1946

The British Embassy to the Department of State 71


Ref: 500/2/46

Lord Halifax addressed a Note to the Secretary of State on the 5th December72 about the eventual disposal of the Japanese fleet. [Page 474] No reply to the Note has yet been received from the Secretary of State.

At an informal meeting held at Moscow during the Conference of Foreign Ministers73 on December 24th, M. Molotov74 raised the question of the disposal of the Japanese naval and merchant fleets. During the inconclusive discussion which followed, Mr. Byrnes was understood to say, in reply to a question from M. Molotov, that he regarded the question of the Japanese Navy and Merchant Fleet as settled but that he could not say offhand whether the Merchant Fleet included the Fishing Fleet.
As His Majesty’s Government are unaware of any discussions regarding the disposal of the Japanese Merchant and Fishing Fleets, they are uncertain what Mr. Byrnes may have had in mind. His Majesty’s Government would expect to receive a fair share of the Japanese Merchant Fleet under whatever scheme of disposal might be decided upon after consultation. They would also reserve their right to a share of the Fishing Fleet in the event of its division, but they consider that its continued use by the Japanese, under suitable control, is necessary for the maintenance in Japan of essential food supplies and they hope that no division of it will be made. His Majesty’s Government would be grateful for a clarification of the views of the United States Government on these points.
  1. Handed on January 19 to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Vincent), by Frederick C. Everson, First Secretary of the British Embassy.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vi, p. 1003.
  3. For documentation on the meeting of Foreign Ministers in Moscow, December 16–26, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, pp. 560 ff.
  4. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.