893.60 Manchuria/2–647

Memorandum by Mr. Philip D. Sprouse of the Division of Chinese Affairs to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Vincent)

It is believed advisable to initiate action at an early date to obtain the repatriation of the sizable Japanese armed forces, reported by Major Rigg, Assistant Military Attaché at Changchun,2 to be still in northeast Manchuria, for the following reasons: (1) The withdrawal of the United States branch of the Executive Headquarters and the plans for the withdrawal of the U. S. Marines from the Peiping-Tientsin area will remove a symbol of American force and authority which might be helpful in obtaining Chinese Government action for the repatriation of these Japanese forces and will serve also to remove a certain restraint on the National Government; (2) the possibility of the open use of these Japanese forces by one or the other of the two Chinese sides in the civil war constitutes an added threat to peace and stability in Manchuria and participation by Japanese forces in the civil war would afford a possible excuse for the entry of Soviet troops into Manchuria.

The question of the repatriation of these Japanese forces gives rise to several problems: (1) the disposal of their arms; (2) the port or ports through which they would be repatriated; (3) the possibility of the movement of the Japanese troops overland during the winter months into National Government territory for evacuation through a Chinese-controlled port; and (4) the possibility of clashes between the Chinese Communists and the Japanese troops if the latter, still in possession of their arms, began a movement toward National Government territory in Manchuria.

While the Chinese Government has failed to live up to its agreements for the repatriation of Japanese troops, the Chinese Communists [Page 990] apparently have some ulterior motive in not publicizing the presence of these Japanese forces in Manchuria, probably connected with the disposal of the Japanese arms. If the Japanese were evacuated through a Soviet port, the arms would likely come into Chinese Communist possession. Such a procedure would also require negotiation with the Soviet authorities by SCAP3 and there is no certainty that an agreement for the repatriation of these Japanese through Soviet or Soviet-controlled territory could be reached at an early date. Repatriation of these Japanese through a Chinese-controlled port would probably require them to move from their present locations under arm into areas in Manchuria occupied by the National Government and would probably result in clashes with the Chinese Communist forces. The latter procedure would, however, seem to offer the speediest action in this matter and by allowing for American participation therein would provide greater assurance of the effective completion of the repatriation of the Japanese forces involved.

In view of the presence of Major Rigg in Changchun and of his statement that a complete surrender of these Japanese units can be obtained in an estimated period of three months if the United States participated to ensure the fulfillment of the surrender terms, it is recommended that a telegram be sent to the Embassy, setting forth the Department’s views of the necessity for early action and of the desirability of repatriation through a Chinese-controlled port and asking for comments by the Embassy and the MA,4 including observations by Major Rigg, in the light of his previous statement. There may be factors involved in the movement of the Japanese forces which are unknown to us. A draft of such a telegram is attached.5

  1. Maj. Robert B. Rigg.
  2. Supreme Commander, Allied Powers in Japan.
  3. Military Attaché, Brig. Gen. Robert H. Soule.
  4. Draft telegram not attached to file copy.