Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Robert A. Fearey of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs
[Here follows an evaluation by General MacArthur of the situation in Korea.]
Ambassador Dulles thanked General MacArthur for his illuminating exposition and, turning to the problem of the peace settlement, outlined his conception of how he and General MacArthur should work together for the common goal of an early, well conceived treaty. Noting that the security proposals which the Mission would be presenting to the Japanese are directly based on a memorandum submitted by General MacArthur last June,1 he expressed the hope that General MacArthur would work in close cooperation and partnership with the Mission to secure Japan’s acceptance of these proposals, of which he was in fact the author. Considering General MacArthur’s assistance and support indispensable to the success of his mission, Ambassador Dulles said he did not propose to let General MacArthur off the hook. He neither intended to let himself move away from General MacArthur nor to let General MacArthur get away from him. He recognized that General MacArthur possessed Allied responsibilities as SCAP in addition to his purely U.S. responsibilities but hoped that in his U.S. capacity he would be willing to participate fully in the effort to achieve the desired understandings with the Japanese.
General MacArthur replied that he would be available to the Mission at any time day or night to contribute his advice and support. However, in order to avoid possible charges that he was employing his powers as SCAP to compel particular peace arrangements, he did not believe that he should participate in the day to day discussions but should remain available to throw his influence into the balance if difficulties developed. He went on to suggest that the Mission deal with the Japanese with complete frankness and honesty. Because SCAP Headquarters had followed this policy from the beginning it had won the respect of the Japanese: he was confident that Ambassador Dulles would find this approach more effective in dealing with a man like Yoshida than the sometimes devious practices of diplomacy.[Page 819]
Ambassador Dulles said that while he would prefer to have General MacArthur participate in all of the principal discussions he would accept his judgment as to the role which he could most effectively and properly play. He then went on to say that his goal on his present trip was to secure the agreement of the Japanese Government to the treaty concepts set forth in the U.S. seven-point statement of principles. He did not seek agreement down to the last particular but wanted the understandings to be sufficiently specific so that there would be no question but that final, detailed agreements could subsequently be signed. Once the United States and Japan had achieved a meeting of minds he planned to invite other concerned nations to join with the United States in concluding a multilateral peace on the basis agreed between the United States and Japan, making it clear, however, that the United States intended to go ahead whether or not the others joined it. It was his belief that if the United States left no doubt of its determination to proceed alone if necessary the Allies would follow. If, on the other hand, the United States revealed lack of determination and engaged in a hopeless attempt to negotiate a settlement which would meet the desires of all interested nations, we would never get a treaty. The success of this plan was entirely dependent, however, on our ability to secure Japanese agreement to the U.S. security proposals, and Ambassador Dulles accordingly inquired whether General MacArthur was as confident now as he was last June that these proposals would be acceptable.
General MacArthur stated that he had no doubts on this score. It was his opinion that Ambassador Dulles would find the reaching of satisfactory understandings with the Japanese the easiest part of his entire task. He had read the treaty draft prepared in the Department of State2 and considered it a model document based on the highest statesmanship. He anticipated no difficulty in securing Japan’s acceptance of it, but foresaw considerable difficulty with certain of the Allies, and wholly approved Ambassador Dulles’ plan of procedure with the Allies. The British can be expected to be implacable in their determination to handicap Japan as a commercial competitor. The Philippines, which appear temporarily to have lost their self-respect, will doubtless demand reparations, but, realizing that they can get nothing from Japan, may come along if afforded reasonable prospect of future aid from the United States, Australia with its irrational fears largely borne of its isolated position will be a problem but with patient handling may be brought along. New Zealand with its more enlightened attitude should cause little trouble. Nationalist China will approve [Page 820] almost anything we offer and Canada can be expected to be fully cooperative. India will probably also accept our proposals. Even the Soviet Union will find it hard to disassociate itself from any but the security provisions of so generous a settlement.
Commenting further on Ambassador Dulles’ plan of procedure, General MacArthur said that the United States had thus far failed to appreciate that an essential attribute of world leadership is the capacity to act arbitrarily and even ruthlessly when the circumstances require. The British understood this during their period of world dominion but the United States, showing an excessive politeness and consideration for the views of others, had failed to provide the firm direction smaller nations respect and desire and which can alone give order and cohesion to the free world.
Ambassador Dulles then said that he was anxious that the understandings he hoped to achieve be broadly based and not depend entirely on one political party which might lose power soon after the treaty was signed. He said that in spite of its generally liberal character the treaty would contain unpopular features, and that history indicated that unless the opposition parties could somehow also be committed in advance to the treaty they would be certain to attack the Government which signed the treaty and the United States for those features, with good prospect of driving the Government from power. Citing the political capital which reactionary elements were able to make of the harsher provisions of the Versailles Treaty in Germany after the First World War, he asked General MacArthur whether he could offer any suggestions on this score.
In his reply the General indicated that he did not wholly share Ambassador Dulles’ concern on this question. Although he had not discussed the matter with the Prime Minister, he thought it likely that Mr. Yoshida would call a general election “immediately after the treaty came into effect” (assumedly General MacArthur meant between the time of signing and ratification of the treaty) in which case he thought that the Yoshida Government would be returned by an overwhelming majority, in view of the great desire for a treaty and the generous nature of the settlement. He nevertheless believed that Ambassador Dulles should talk to the opposition leaders at some stage during his stay. He did not believe it advisable to leave the task of achieving nonpartisan support solely to Mr. Yoshida, though he thought that the Prime Minister might be invited to have his emissaries present at the discussions. General MacArthur was of the opinion that these discussions, and the liberal character of the treaty itself, would win the wide political support which Ambassador Dulles desired, but warned that [Page 821] there was no method by which that support could be guaranteed and a foolproof liaison between the United States and Japan established for the post-treaty period.
General MacArthur was emphatic in his opposition to what he understood to be the State and Defense Departments’ view, partly supported by Treasury, that Japan should pay 50 percent of the local costs for the support of U.S. forces stationed in Japan after the treaty. He fully supported a 50 percent pay-as-you-go arrangement for the coming fiscal year, which, since Japan is obligated under international law to pay all of the occupation costs, would be regarded throughout Japan as a generous and statesman-like gesture. In the post-treaty period, however, he believed it essential that arrangements for the support of our forces be the same as with other sovereign countries where our troops are stationed. Whatever the equities of a 50–50 division in themselves they must be subordinated to the precedents in other areas, and these, General MacArthur maintained, all call for the support of our forces entirely from U.S. funds. The Japanese would completely fail to understand why they should be treated differently. If a discriminatory arrangement is nevertheless to be insisted on it would be pointless for the United States to pursue a treaty, since a treaty including or accompanied by such a provision would fail to restore Japan to sovereign, equal status.
Ambassador Dulles replied that the State Department had not committed itself to the proposal, pending discussion of the matter with General MacArthur. He noted that the Treasury proposal, under which the U.S. would be able to collect even more than 50 percent of total local costs if Japan’s foreign exchange position permitted, was not closer to but actually further removed from General Mac-Arthur’s conception than the tentative State–Defense proposal, and that he had criticized it just prior to his departure for depriving Japan of any incentive to expand its foreign trade receipts.
General MacArthur said that having spoken at some length on behalf of Japan he now wished to present the other side of the coin by voicing his strong impatience with Japanese pleas that the Ryukyu Islands be left with Japan. When all that the United States asked in a treaty in every other respect a model of generosity was a chain of islands which had always been an economic drain on Japan and whose population was not Japanese, he believed that the Japanese should be prepared to grant the request. He recommended that the United States inform the Japanese that the matter simply was not open for discussion. It would be intolerable, he stated, for the United States to spend hundreds of millions of dollars transforming Okinawa into a [Page 822] great defensive base without assurance, which title can alone give, that the Japanese may not later require us to give the islands up.3
General Magruder then inquired whether General MacArthur approved a proposal to permit Japan to work off its GARIOA indebtedness through annual contributions to the support of our forces in the post-treaty period. General MacArthur said that he did not. Although it was to the credit of the Japanese, and an encouraging sign that they had not lost their self respect, that they had expressed an intention to meet all their foreign financial obligations, it was clear that they could not do so, and it would be best for the United States entirely to renounce the GARIOA claim.
Ambassador Dulles inquired whether post-treaty garrison forces would be stationed away from population centers. General MacArthur replied that it was planned to move our forces out of the Tokyo area after the treaty and to establish the Headquarters in Yokosuka. In general, however, the forces would remain in their present installations due to the great cost of building new ones. Strong opposition could be expected were we to attempt to move our forces out of the Japanese communities in which they are now stationed because of the business they bring to those communities.
- For General MacArthur’s memoranda of June 14 and June 23, 1950, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. vi, p. 1213 and p. 1227, respectively.↩
- Presumably that of September 11, 1950, Foreign Relations, 1950 vol. vi, p. 1297.↩
- In a memorandum of his conversation held with General MacArthur January 23, Mr. Sebald had written in part: “I told General MacArthur that Prime Minister Yoshida had suggested to me, last week at a dinner party, the desirability of the Ryukyuans retaining Japanese nationalty. General MacArthur said that the answer to this would be an unequivocal ‘no’. He said that he had flatly told Prime Minister Yoshida that he, General MacArthur, would be unalterably opposed to any arrangement which does not divorce Japan completely from these islands.” (Tokyo Post Files: 320.1 Peace Treaty)↩