740.00119 Control (Japan)/12–2449

Memorandum of Conversation, by Ambassador Maxwell M. Hamilton of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs

top secret
Participants: Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Maj. Gen. J. H. Burns representing Under Secretary of Defense Early
The Secretary, Mr. Rusk, G, Mr. Butterworth, FE
Mr. Howard, S, Mr. Howard, FE

The Secretary said he asked General Bradley and General Burns to come in in reference to the situation confronting us incident to the receipt of Secretary of Defense Johnson’s letter of December 23 on the subject of the essential security requirements of the United States in a peace settlement with Japan. The Secretary commented that he did not want to discuss the letter this morning but before passing to another aspect of the situation would simply state his reaction to one feature of the JCS memorandum enclosed with Secretary Johnson’s letter. In the JCS memorandum there was set forth the JCS’s estimate of military requirements postulating the continued presence of U.S. forces in Japan and in various islands. Those requirements we could appreciate. At another point the JCS memorandum contained the statement that an acceptable peace treaty with Japan must include both the USSR and the de facto government of China as parties to the document. In view of these two conclusions, the view expressed by the JCS that negotiations leading toward a peace treaty with Japan are premature represents, in the Secretary’s opinion, a masterpiece of understatement. The Secretary said that the JCS view really described a long-term, not a temporary situation. The Secretary continued that we would want to discuss this feature of the JCS memorandum and all its implications. This morning, however, he was merely calling attention to it.

The Secretary also pointed out that the JCS memorandum referred to one sentence in NSC 13/3 to the effect that this Government should not press for a treaty of peace at this time. The Secretary said he would like to read the whole paragraph in which this statement appeared. The Secretary then read paragraph No. 1 of NSC 13/3 as follows:

  • “1. Timing and Procedure. In view of the differences which have developed among the interested countries regarding the procedure and substance of a Japanese peace treaty and in view of the serious international situation created by the Soviet Union’s policy of aggressive Communist expansion, this Government should not press for a treaty of peace at this time. It should remain prepared to proceed with the negotiations, under some generally acceptable voting procedure, if the [Page 925] Allied Powers can agree among themselves on such a procedure. We should, before actually entering into a peace conference, seek through the diplomatic channel the concurrence of a majority of the participating countries in the principal points of content we desire to have in such a treaty. Meanwhile, we should concentrate our attention on the preparation of the Japanese for the eventual removal of the regime of control.”

The Secretary said that what we were doing was to follow out the procedure set forth in the above quoted paragraph. When Mr. Bevin was here in September, he and the Secretary had discussed the question of the Japanese peace treaty. As the procedure was so closely connected with the content of the treaty, it had been agreed that they would work toward an exchange of views on the content of a possible treaty. If they found that they could agree on the principal points of content, a procedure under which voting would be by two-thirds or by a simple majority might be feasible. This might eliminate the need for considering the veto. A conference might even proceed along prewar lines where each country would be free to accept the conclusions of the conference or not to accept them. The British, Australians, Canadians and others have consistently advocated an early peace treaty with Japan.

In the light of Secretary Johnson’s letter of December 23, we are obviously not going to be able to meet the time schedule contemplated when the Secretary talked with Mr. Bevin in September. Some ten days ago Mr. Bevin had telegraphed the Secretary asking whether the Secretary could not give him some indications of the U.S. position on the treaty. The British Ambassador1 had also been in to see the Secretary. The British Government was obviously embarrassed by the lack of information from us in connection with the forthcoming Ceylon meeting. If we furnish the British nothing by way of information, the result is certain to be that the United States would be blamed by some of the Commonwealth Governments for dragging its feet. This was quite likely to become a matter of comment in the press. It would get to Japan and would have an unfavorable reaction upon the Japanese people, who are eager for a treaty, and consequently upon occupation. This point was mentioned in the last paragraph of Secretary Johnson’s letter of December 23. Thus, if we do nothing, the result would pretty certainly be unfortunate. The Secretary therefore had in mind asking the British Ambassador to come in and reading to him a statement which had been drawn up for that purpose. Copies of the statement were passed to General Bradley and General Burns. The Secretary then read aloud the proposed statement.2 The Secretary then said he would like to have the benefit of General Bradley’s and General [Page 926] Burns’ views as to the proposed procedure and statement. General Bradley said he thought the statement expressed the situation very well and would be useful to pass on to the British Ambassador for Mr. Bevin. General Burns said he also liked the statement and fully concurred in the proposed course of action.

The Secretary said he was glad to know that their views coincided with ours and he would proceed as planned and ask the British Ambassador to come in, at which time he would read the statement to the Ambassador and perhaps hand him a copy, not as a formal communication but as an informal record of what the Secretary had said.

The Secretary explained that we hoped by this statement to get the Commonwealth Governments to appreciate the security problems confronting the United States and to become really concerned about these problems which had a direct bearing on their own security.

During the interchange of comment, General Bradley remarked that they of course wanted a peace treaty with Japan as soon as feasible. A military occupation began to run down hill after two or three years. At present there were many uncertainties in the military situation in the Far East both on the mainland and in reference to Taiwan. Possibly in six months or a year the situation would change in such a way that we would know better where we stood.

General Bradley referred in passing to the fact that it would probably be necessary at some time to let Japan have armed forces and that it did not make any sense for an independent nation of 80 million people not to have an army to defend itself. He indicated agreement that at the present it was not feasible to permit Japan to rearm.

In the course of the conversation, the Secretary said that in the paper he proposed to read the British Ambassador there had been incorporated some of the thought underlying the Department of Defense’s position. It was of course possible that something regarding the U.S. position would get in the press from the Ceylon meeting or from some of the attending governments. One of the reasons why the Secretary had asked General Bradley and General Burns to meet with him that morning was that he might acquaint them with that possibility. If some publicity resulted, the Secretary desired to have their concurrence in the procedure so that the Department of State would not be charged later by the Department of Defense with responsibility for a leak.

The Secretary thanked General Bradley and General Burns for coming in.

  1. Sir Oliver Franks.
  2. Infra.