Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Burton Kitain of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs

top secret

Subject: 1) Formosa, 2) Sanctions against Communist China, 3) Japanese Peace Treaty and Pacific Pact.

Prime Minister S. G. Holland1 FE—Mr. Dean Rusk
Mr. A. D. McIntosh, Permanent Secretary of External Affairs FE—Mr. J. Emmerson
Sir Carl Berendsen, New Zealand Ambassador NA—Mr. U. A. Johnson2
Mr. George Laking, Counselor4 BNA—Mr. L. Satterthwaite3
BNA—Mr. B. Kitain
[Page 148]

[Here follows a section of the memorandum which is scheduled for publication in volume VII.]

Mr. Rusk then turned to the joint question of a Japanese peace settlement and the proposed Pacific pact. We realized that Japan posed a double-edged security problem: it must not be allowed to fall into Communist hands, but we nevertheless could not allow a restoration of aggressive militarism. Americans could not envision our troops being indefinitely committed to defending an unarmed Japan, nor did the United States relish the undesirable position of policing a Japanese arms limitation. Our experience indicates that the Japanese are reluctant to alter the constitutional restrictions on armament but would more likely be interested in participating in a collective security arrangement. At the same time Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines each want to be protected against a resurgent Japan. The question, therefore, of a Pacific security arrangement arises, bringing with it innumerable problems. There is little doubt but that the United States would consider an attack on Australia and New Zealand as an attack on itself without the existence of a formal agreement. The primary difficulty in attempting to formulate any Pacific pact, however, arises from the question of who should participate. Mr. Rusk then outlined the difficulties to be met should various combinations of countries be included, the principal stumbling blocks being the participation of the United Kingdom and probably France, the Netherlands, and Portugal—which would give it a colonial aspect. There are difficulties arising from the inclusion of nations whose primary interests center in Europe. It is undesirable to commit American forces to defend untenable Asiatic mainland points, or of appearing, on the other hand, to “write off” the mainland nations of Asia. Conversely, there might be an advantage in making public a commitment already deemed to exist which might act as a deterrent to a potential aggressor. These questions would be discussed at length by Mr. Dulles during his visits to Australia and New Zealand.

The Prime Minister stated that New Zealand already had a commitment to furnish within seventy days of the outbreak of war an augmented division of some 33,000 to 35,000 men—for the Middle East—that these would be volunteers, but that replacements would come through conscription. The necessary legislation for such a commitment already exists and it had the support of both major political parties. In view of the small population this was the maximum effort that New Zealand might make. She intended, as a matter of fact, to strip the country of all forces, not even reserving elements for anti-aircraft [Page 149] or port defense. The Prime Minister therefore wished to know whether this Middle East commitment for the general welfare of the West would be weighed on the scales with regard to Pacific defense. New Zealand, however, would be far less uneasy if it might have an advance commitment from the United States—that New Zealand would be defended by United Nations forces in the unlikely event of a direct attack. Mr. Rusk stated that he believed the United States considered the New Zealand Middle East commitment as adequate in view of the size of the country and that he would consult the JCS with respect to a United States recognition of this commitment and its relationship to security commitments in the Pacific. The Prime Minister agreed that if a discussion of the creation of a Pacific pact would be embarrassing it would be advisable to drop the idea, but that if such a pact were to be concluded, the United Kingdom would certainly have to be a member. He added that Australia is not wholeheartedly committed to the Middle East by virtue of its extreme fear of a resurgent Japan. The Prime Minister agreed with Mr. Rusk that Australian and New Zealand security might be obtained without the imposition of an arms limitation on Japan. It was for this reason, in view of New Zealand’s Middle East commitment, that a security arrangement was desirable. Mr. McIntosh indicated that a Pacific pact would be a source of security against both a Communist attack on New Zealand and an attack by a resurgent aggressive Japan. Mr. McIntosh agreed that should a local rather than a general war break out in the Pacific area the entire New Zealand concept of a Middle East commitment would have to be re-studied. Mr. Rusk then inquired whether a tripartite arrangement among Australia, New Zealand and the United States would not suffice to meet their security requirements. The Prime Minister, Mr. McIntosh and the Ambassador wholeheartedly agreed to this approach to Pacific security. Mr. McIntosh finally summarized the New Zealand position as follows: New Zealand was, despite its geographic location, part of the European system, committed to participate in military action in Europe and the Middle East without, however, having a voice in any of the security arrangements which might commit its forces. What New Zealand wanted was a reciprocal commitment by the United States to defend New Zealand in the unlikely event that it should become necessary and a voice in some body which had the power to commit its forces. The Prime Minister concluded by thanking Mr. Rusk for the cordial reception and the clarification of the United States position.

  1. A memorandum of the Prime Minister’s conversation held with Secretary Acheson February 6 is not printed. (Secretary’s Memoranda, Lot 53 D 444)
  2. Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs.
  3. Of the Embassy of New Zealand in Washington.
  4. Deputy Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs.