The Secretary of State to the Ambassador of the Soviet Union (Novikov)44


The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and has the honor to refer to the previous agreement that all Japanese submarines and all Japanese combatant vessels larger than destroyers should be destroyed but that destroyers and surface combatant vessels of lesser tonnage should be divided equally among Great Britain, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China and the United States. The United States Government has been informed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers that certain vessels of the Japanese fleet are now available for division among the four powers mentioned above.45 The Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is therefore informed, as are the Governments of Great Britain and China in identic notes, of the following procedure:

Certain ex-Japanese navy ships within the Japanese Empire and classified as “combatant and of destroyer tonnage or less,” are either wrecked, sunk or require, with means available to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and without interfering with the utilization of those means for projects assigned a higher priority by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, more than 60 days to place in operable condition. Such remaining inoperable vessels will be scrapped. A tentative list of these vessels is enclosed, as Enclosure “A”.46
It is intended that arrangements be made immediately for the delivery with Japanese crews of those vessels now declared available and in good material and operating condition by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, at such times and at such ports outside of Japan as the receiving Governments may designate. In order to facilitate the delivery, it is requested that no port west of Singapore be designated and that each Government designate no more than one port. An accompanying vessel can be sent with each lot to repatriate Japanese crews if the receiving nation does not desire to assume responsibility for returning the crews. The receiving Government should reimburse the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in dollars or in kind for all expenses involving expenditures of United States supplies, such as fuel oil furnished these vessels on the outward voyage, as well as for fuel oil consumed on the round trip of repatriation vessels used to return the crews. The details of such [Page 363] arrangements should be worked out between the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and the representatives in Japan of the Governments concerned.
It is requested that your Government designate its representative in Japan to participate in the drawing of lots to determine which of the four equivalent lots of ships into which all allocable ships have been divided will become the property of each of the respective countries. The Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers will facilitate the inspection by representatives of claimant nations of vessels prior to their delivery. The Soviet Government is informed that all ships have been demilitarized and items of military equipment destroyed and that these ships cannot be remilitarized in Japan. A tentative list of the vessels to be delivered is enclosed as Enclosure “B”.
Delivery of additional vessels will be made as soon as they become available. A tentative list of the remaining vessels to be delivered is enclosed as Enclosure “C”.
It should be noted that since each of the tentative lists mentioned in the preceding paragraphs was prepared on 15 June 1946 the status of some of those ships may in the meantime have been changed or may be changed in the future due to damage or other exigencies.
It will be noted from Enclosure “B” that some sixty-four ships are now ready for delivery to the four Governments concerned. It would therefore be appreciated if the Soviet Government would inform the United States Government promptly of the port in the Far East to which it wishes its share of the ships to be delivered. Upon receipt of this information, and when the Soviet representative in Tokyo shall have been empowered to act on behalf of his Government, detailed plans for delivery will be carried out.47

This communication is transmitted to the Soviet Ambassador for his confidential information.

  1. Identic notes were sent to the British and Chinese Ambassadors.
  2. On January 29 SCAP had telegraphed that all vessels then available for release had been completely demilitarized; on February 11 SCAP requested that the three other powers be informed that all ships had been demilitarized and items of military equipment destroyed and that the ships could not be remititarized in Japan (894.30/5–847).
  3. Enclosures not printed.
  4. Revised lists were sent on April 1, with the comment that they might be further revised on receipt of additional information (894.30/3–2147). During 1947, four drawings of Japanese vessels took place (894.30/11–2847).