Lot 54D423: Office of Northeast Asian Affairs: John Foster Dulles Japanese Peace Treaty Files

Memorandum of Conversation, by Colonel C. Stanton Babcock of the Department of Defense


Participants: Mr. Yakov Malik, USSR
USSR Translator and Recorder [unnamed]
Ambassador John Foster Dulles
Colonel C. Stanton Babcock

The conversation took place at the USSR Mission to the United Nations, 680 Park Avenue, New York City. The proposal to meet had been made through Ambassador Gross1 on the preceding Thursday2 and had been accepted by Mr. Malik only on Saturday, presumably after Mr. Malik had communicated with Moscow.

Mr. Malik congratulated Mr. Dulles on his new appointment. Mr. Dulles stated that in that capacity he wanted to inform Mr. Malik that, having completed the first round of talks on a Japanese Peace Treaty with the nations represented on the Far Eastern Commission and with Indonesia and Ceylon, the United States now felt it proper to discuss this subject informally with representatives of the Japanese Government and perhaps other responsible representative Japanese. He was, therefore, leaving shortly for Japan for the purpose of holding [Page 798] such discussions. He emphasized that those talks would be merely for the purpose of ascertaining Japanese views and that no agreements would be reached. He went on to say that this procedure was in keeping with the United States view that Japan should be consulted with regard to the Peace settlement and that a treaty should not be arbitrarily imposed on her. Mr. Dulles said that he had given this information to the British and French ambassadors and that he wanted Mr. Malik to have the same information so that he would clearly understand the purpose of the Mission.

Mr. Malik asked why talks had been held with Indonesia and Ceylon which are not represented on the Far Eastern Commission while “a nation much closer to Japan and with great interest in Japan” had not been consulted.

After Mr. Malik had identified the “nation” to which he had referred as the “Chinese Peoples Republic”, Mr. Dulles said: “You know why we haven’t talked with them” but went on to point out that even though Communist China was not being consulted by the United States, he felt that there was nothing in the proposals which the United States had made in regard to a treaty to which any Chinese regime could take exception. He felt sure that all the Chinese people would want the peaceful and economically healthy Japan which we sought.

Mr. Malik agreed that all nations want peaceful and economically healthy neighbors and followed this remark immediately with the statement that an American newspaper (identified as a “small one”) had described the Dulles Mission as having for its purpose the “rearmament of Japan”. Mr. Dulles replied that that was not true. He asked Mr. Malik if his Government wished Japan to remain defenseless forever. Mr. Malik said that such were the terms of a “previous agreement”, the resolution adopted by the Far Eastern Commission. Mr. Dulles remarked that that resolution had said that Japan was to be disarmed, that she had been, and again asked if Mr. Malik felt that Japan should remain helpless for all time.

Mr. Malik did not answer directly but remarked that his country had suffered twice from Japanese invasion and many times from German invasions while the United States had never had such an experience.

Mr. Dulles said that there was no intention on the part of the United States to allow any resurgence of militarism in Japan nor was there any desire for a large military force among the Japanese. He pointed out that the Versailles Treaty, in spite of the care with which its military clauses had been written, proved that restrictive treaties alone [Page 799] do not guarantee disarmament. Mr. Malik countered with the statement that United States financial aid to Germany after the First World War had enabled Germany to rearm. Mr. Dulles pointed out very forcefully that there had not been one dollar of American aid after Hitler came to power and that had more aid been given the peacefully disposed Bruening Government, Hitler probably never would have come to power. He added that he felt no useful purpose could be served by discussing, during the current conversation, the German question which had many complications but that he did feel that if the Soviet Government really wished to promote peace it would cooperate in helping to settle the Japanese problem, and would not concentrate on raising obstructions to a peaceful understanding, and that there were no insuperable obstacles to reaching agreement on a Peace Treaty which would be acceptable both to the Soviet Union and to the United States, if there was a real will on the part of the Soviet Union. He said that such an agreement would help materially in easing the present strained situation and turning the world towards the road to Peace. He then reiterated firmly that the United States had no desire and no intention of following a course which would lead Japan to become aggressive or militaristic once more.

Mr. Malik repeated his concern over Japanese militarism citing several instances of past aggression on the part of the Japanese and then said that it was very difficult to draw a line between defense and militarism.

He then asked if the other nations with which the United States had consulted had agreed or disagreed with the United States views. He was informed that generally speaking there was agreement and that such differences as exist were of a kind that could be resolved if all concerned exercised good will.

Mr. Dulles then repeated his previous statement that his trip to Japan would result in no agreements and said that he wanted to be sure that Mr. Malik understood that point. He said that he would want to talk to Mr. Malik on his return and that he would be glad to do so again before leaving for Japan if Mr. Malik received any reaction from his Government in response to the last U.S. note. Mr. Malik replied that he would get in touch with Mr. Dulles if he received any word from Moscow.

Mr. Malik was friendly and polite during the discussion but showed obvious skepticism about the purpose of the Mission to Japan. He was more reserved than on the two prior talks about the Japanese peace.

  1. Ernest A. Gross, Deputy Representative of the United States to the United Nations and to the Security Council.
  2. January 11.