740.0011 PW (Peace)/3–1948

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Hugh Borton, Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Butterworth)


Mr. Graves1 called at his own request to present informally, under instructions from his Government, certain suggestions in reference to the Japanese Peace Conference, Mr. Graves stated that he would appreciate our comments on these suggestions as they anticipate queries in Parliament in the near future and as there was considerable opinion in England that we should go ahead with at least one of the treaties where it seemed possible agreement might be reached.

U.S. Approach to Chinese Government

Mr. Graves reported that his Government was of the opinion the U.S. was in a strong position to approach the Chinese Government and to suggest that it abandon its former position of demanding a veto at the Peace Conference. On the assumption that the FEC countries were willing to proceed with a peace treaty without the participation of the Soviet Union, it seemed obvious that the Chinese position had been the real reason for the delay in beginning negotiations on the treaty. Consequently, Mr. Graves emphasized that an approach by us now to the Chinese might break the deadlock. Any objections by the Chinese that their vital interests would not be protected unless they had a veto could be met by pointing out that any country has in fact a veto through its ability to refuse to sign a treaty or to ratify it. Furthermore, the Chinese could be told that the other Allies were approaching the question of the treaty in a rational manner and if China could make a strong case on any particular point, the other Allies might be [Page 686] persuaded to accept China’s position. As for voting, Mr. Graves stated that the two-thirds majority vote was still the method which they preferred. Mr. Graves added that the present moment was the most advantageous for approaching the Chinese because of our plans to give them aid. He concluded that if a peace treaty is indefinitely postponed it is possible that conditions in China will deteriorate to such an extent that the Chinese Government will collapse and hence it would be impossible for the Chinese to participate in the treaty negotiations. Obviously, a treaty without both the Soviets and the Chinese would be of little value.

Deleterious Effects of Prolonging Occupation

Mr. Graves raised a question as to whether there might not be harmful effects from prolonging the occupation of Japan now that the surrender terms have been largely complied with. It was his estimation that at least 90 or 95 percent of the various provisions of the surrender instrument had been carried out, so the immediate need for the occupation no longer exists. In view of the great skill with which General MacArthur had administered Japan, and of the fact that the Japanese had developed such great respect for him and for the American occupation forces, Mr. Graves concluded that it would be unfortunate if we underestimated the possible injury to Japanese sentiment by continued prolongation of the occupation.

Development of Japanese Self-reliance

Mr. Graves stated that it was important for Japan to rely increasingly less and less on American assistance and resources and to learn to get along on its own. By assistance and resources Mr. Graves referred both to the intangible assistance which the occupation authorities are giving the Japanese through their supervision over and guidance of the Japanese Government and the tangible goods which we are importing into Japan. While he admitted it would be necessary to provide Japan with material goods to assure its rehabilitation, on the other hand any program for Japanese rehabilitation should be based as much as possible on existing and potential Japanese skills and materials. In other words, Japan should be made as independent as possible of the United States. This suggestion implied, he stated, that his Government was thinking in terms of loose international controls over Japan after the treaty, such controls to be limited to supervision of such things as imports and exports and the prohibition of primary war industries.

For notes on these three points see the attached which Mr. Graves left with me.2

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Political Advantages of Early Withdrawal of Occupation Forces

Mr. Graves introduced his remarks on the political advantages to the Allies of early withdrawal of the occupation forces by saying that he realized the problem was a difficult one and merely wished to make certain comments for our consideration. From a strictly military point of view, he clearly saw that it would be to our advantage in reference to our position toward the Soviet Union to leave our military forces in Japan for the immediate future. From a political point of view, however, he was of the opinion that the withdrawal of United States occupation forces from Japan would contribute to the alignment of Japan with the Western democracies. He saw no real danger of Japan becoming Communistic, after the withdrawal of the occupation forces, even in view of the Communist influence in the transportation and communication labor unions, because of the inherent dislike of the Japanese for Communism. He argued that if Japan were left a master of its own political future, Japanese political leaders would then take a strong stand against Communist elements in Japan. The permanent effect of such military withdrawal on Japan’s alignment with us would, in his opinion, be far more to our advantage than any possible dangers which might result.

Mr. Graves said that Mr. Gascoigne,3 British representative in Tokyo, had already raised some of these questions with Mr. Kennan.

Mr. Graves concluded this part of the conversation at 3:35 p. m. and then discussed the interest of the British Government in an FEC decision on level of industry in Japan. These remarks are contained in a separate memorandum.

  1. Hubert A. Graves, British Counselor of Embassy.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Sir Alvary Gascoigne, head of United Kingdom Liaison Mission in Japan, with rank of Ambassador.