740.0011 PW (Peace)/4–248

The Counselor of Embassy in the United Kingdom (Dickover) to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Butterworth)


Dear Butterworth, I had my first talk with Dening (Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Far East) yesterday afternoon. We talked for about an hour and covered, in general terms, most of the Far East. While most of what Dening said is undoubtedly known to you already, it might be well to summarize his remarks as constituting a general review of British thought.

Japanese Peace Settlement. Dening said that the Foreign Office desired as early a peace settlement with Japan as possible. This is desired for two reasons. The first concerned the rehabilitation of Japan itself. The Japanese cannot return to normal conditions and rebuild their economic and political structures until occupation is terminated and they are left to their own devices. Until that time, they will adopt a passive attitude, relying upon General Mac Arthur and American aid. Most competent Japanese will not come forward under present conditions to fill Government or industrial posts, because they feel that in the future, collaboration with the conqueror will redound to their discredit. As for the second reason, Dening said that Britain desires to resume normal economic and political relations with Japan. In this the Foreign Office is being pushed by the Dominions.

The opinion of the Foreign Office is that we (presumably the U.S. and the U.K.) should call a Japanese peace conference and proceed with the drafting of a treaty with our own terms of reference, re voting, etc. The U.S.S.R. should, of course, be invited and, if it does not choose to participate, should be kept fully informed of the proceedings of the conference. China will probably participate. This plan has the support of the Dominions but does not seem to be received with enthusiasm by the State Department. I pointed out that there are many dangers involved in such a scheme, not least of which is that the conclusion of a peace treaty without participation of the U.S.S.R. could be considered a violation of the Declaration by United Nations, which [Page 721] the U.S.S.R. would undoubtedly exploit to the full. I added that the State Department, as Mr. Dening was aware, is very reluctant to do anything which would weaken the U.N. Dening said that he did not believe the U.N. would object to the procedure, or consider it a violation of the Declaration, if the U.S.S.R. were given every opportunity to participate and were kept fully informed of the progress of the negotiations.

Far Eastern Commission. Dening praised the work of the F.E.C. and remarked that the principal task remaining to be performed is the fixing of levels of industry for Japan. The Japanese cannot proceed actively with the rehabilitation of their industries until they know what level is to be left after removal of reparations. Until they know that they will remain apathetic. Dening said he did not believe that there were any difficulties between the U.S. and the U.K. in this regard which could not be ironed out. I remarked that in the F.E.C. the principal difficulties re the Japanese level of industry arose from the opposition of China, and to some extent from the Philippines, to any considerable revival of Japanese industry. China opposed such revival partly because of their desire for military security and partly because they want time to build up their own industries without Japanese competition. Dening said that these reasons were fallacious. China for a long time to come would have to depend upon military assistance from the West for resistance to aggression. As for the industrialization of China, this could not be accomplished in the foreseeable future.

In fact, Dening said, there might well be two or three agreements to be considered in the Japanese peace conference—namely, the peace treaty itself, an agreement re the continued demilitarization of Japan, and perhaps a regional security pact within the framework of the U.N. I pointed out that the U.S. had proposed a 4–Power, 25–year agreement for the demilitarization of Japan but that it had not yet received much support. Dening did not reply.

[Here follow paragraphs on other parts of Asia.]

Sincerely yours,

Erle R. Dickover