Memorandum by Mr. Robert A. Fearey of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs
Notes on Conversation Among Ambassador Dulles, Australian and New Zealand Ministers for External Affairs, and Staffs2
Mr. Spender opened the discussion by stating that the Cabinet had met the previous evening and had concluded that Australia could not accept a treaty, such as outlined in the U.S. Provisional Memorandum,3 which imposed no limitations on Japanese rearmament, unless there were accompanying arrangements to ensure Australian [Page 157] security. In other words, he said, the nature of the security arrangements arrived at for Australia would condition its approach to the terms of a peace settlement with Japan.
The Cabinet had also noted that Australia’s capacity to live up to its obligations in the Middle East would directly depend on the extent to which it was secure in its own territories. The Prime Minister had said that he could not believe that the United States would leave Australia without adequate security guarantees while imposing no restrictions on Japanese rearmament. What was required was exploration of possible security arrangements within the framework of good will prevailing between the two countries. A tri-partite arrangement of the United States, Australia and New Zealand seemed best to Australia, but if a stalemate developed over the feasibility of this or alternative arrangements the Government could not approve a treaty permitting unrestricted Japanese rearmament.
Mr. Spender continued that Australia was one of the “wood and jerry” (pick and shovel?) boys. No one could challenge the fact that when war broke out, Australia was immediate in it with all its forces, but Australians feel that they have no say in discussions affecting their country’s security. Australia has no say in the North Atlantic Treaty organization. It is not a party to any continuous consultative security arrangements, and accordingly has no capacity to influence events which greatly affect Australia. If the nation is to discharge its obligations there must be some continuous mode of consultation.
Mr. Spender said that he had received a cable the previous day from Mr. Rusk in which the latter had said that he was impressed by the possibilities of achieving a three-corner arrangement.4 Last October, Mr. Spender continued, Australia put up a case for a Pacific Pact, but it did not know what, if any, progress had been made in that direction. The idea of a Pact seemed to have dissipated in the course of Ambassador Dulles’ travels. Mr. Spender said he was aware of the objections interposed by other countries to such an arrangement, but that he felt that Australia’s position must be recognized by the United States and in the end would, in fact, be recognized. If Australia were asked to accept a Japanese treaty without attendant security arrangements for Australia, it could not do so. Aside from the objective dangers of such a situation, there were political dangers of the most basic sort. Mr. Spender continued that the danger from the Australian point of view lay in three possibilities:
- The possibility of the Communists gaining control of Japan—Australia saw the need to attract Japan to the side of the free world. But doing this has dangers against which we must be prepared.
- Economic factors. Various of these had been cited by Ambassador Dulles the previous day, arising essentially from the problem of how Japan is to be kept economically on our side.
- The danger that Japan and China might find it easier to get together than Japan and the western world.
In short, Mr. Spender stated, we have felt that if we were to go to the people and the Parliament, and say that we must approve a Japanese treaty of the type desired by the United States, without a corollary security arrangement for Australia, it would mean political oblivion for our party. So we are seeking a formal arrangement. The talk about a white man’s treaty is “so much damned nonsense”. We cannot have one man in the world telling us what to do. We feel that some one of the various possible types of security arrangements can and must be concluded. The objections are not something to which we should bow; they must, and can, be overcome.
Mr. Spender stated in conclusion that he had endeavored as Minister for External Affairs to promote the closest relations between the United States and Australia. This policy reflected the deepest desires of the Australian people. If the United States were to go to war, Australia would be at war. But Australia could not accept a Japanese treaty which left it out in the cold.
The New Zealand Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Doidge, thereupon said that he was bound to say that the people of New Zealand would find nothing in the United States Provisional Memorandum to lull their fears or meet their desires. New Zealand was already committed to do much, and intended to fulfill its commitments. It felt that it had a strong case to make on the question of a Pacific security arrangement. The Government realizes that the Communist menace creates a real threat, but at the same time must consider possible safeguards against a resurgent Japan.
Mr. Doidge said that the remilitarization of Japan must happen, but that it must be limited. There must be more safeguards. New Zealand realizes that the initiative can only lie in the hands of the United States, but the United States must realize that Australia and New Zealand have a justifiable case. Japan needs to rearm, but once the rearmament is under way, it may have a momentum we could never catch up with. Citing the case of Germany after the last war, Mr. Doidge said that Japan, given the opportunity, could very possibly recover just as fast as Germany did. Given a chance to rearm Japan would probably do so in a spirit of revenge. New Zealand feels that Japan has a long way to go before it can be trusted. “Our view is much the same as Mr. Spender’s—we want peace with Japan, but we also want security.”
Turning again to the question of collective security, Mr. Doidge said that New Zealand did not wish to commit itself to defend areas it [Page 159] might find morally as well as strategically difficult to defend. New Zealand is working for the security of the Middle East. That is its major target. Ambassador Dulles, Mr. Doidge stated, had quoted General Slim5 as saying that the risk of attack in the Far East is remote. This may be true, but New Zealand cannot feel so confident. Clearly, however, the chance of trouble elsewhere is great. We are offering to others much more than they are offering to us. All we have, and we are very glad to have it, is verbal assurance from President Truman and Ambassador Dulles. But we have to convince our people. If we accept obligations both in the Middle East and in our own territories, it will be more than we can fulfill. We cannot do both. We are not asking for something and giving nothing. If we play our part in the Middle East, we feel justified in almost demanding something in return. We feel sure that the United States, in the spirit of fairness which it has always shown, will meet that demand.
Ambassador Dulles said that he did not remember quoting General Slim and he did not wish those present to think that he agreed with the opinion which the General had reportedly expressed. He said that he considered that there is a real danger of attack on the Far East and the South Pacific, and he did not know whether the danger was greater here or in Europe. Because the United States feels this, that the situation is grave and perilous, it considers it necessary to move with the greatest caution and circumspection. The importance of preventing a coalition of the USSR, Communist China and Japan cannot be overemphasized. The USSR and Communist China have much to offer Japan, more than anything we can propose. We can only offer Japan a precarious existence on its four main islands while the Soviets could offer an extremely attractive perspective. So we don’t think this is by any means a safe solution.
The problem is one which must be dealt with with extreme delicacy, the type of delicacy one would have to employ in landing a big trout with a light tackle. If too much strain is put on the tackle it will break and the fish get away. The problem of attracting Japan seems primarily one devolving on the U.S. Having that responsibility we have to use our own judgment on how best to discharge it. Mr. Spender and Mr. Doidge referred to the absence of any treaty limitations on the rearmament of Japan in the U.S. Provisional Memorandum. This is not because we don’t think there should be such limitations but because we feel that if they were expressed as treaty limitations they would defeat our purpose. We believe in limitations but we have no confidence in treaty restrictions subjecting Japanese sovereignty to limitations not suffered by other nations and publicly branding Japan as a third rate power.[Page 160]
Ambassador Dulles continued that Japan might revive as Germany had after the last war. But we do not wish to try to prevent this by the methods which failed so signally for Germany. General Foch6 wrote the military restrictions of the Versailles Treaty with professional thoroughness. The Germans could not even have shooting clubs. Such restrictions, however, are just an incitement to a nation to break them in order to show that it is as good as any other.
We have got to use delicate methods, a light tackle. We are absolutely confident that if Japan is basically committed to the free world and accepts U.S. troops in and about its territories we will have complete control over any rearmament plans Japan may adopt, A further factor will be international regulation of the flow of basic raw materials. Japan will not be able to get materials and produce arms except in accordance with these regulations. Every pound of iron ore would have to be accounted for and used to meet approved purposes. These two factors—the presence of U.S. troops and international raw materials controls—would seem to take care of the problem of a possible resurgent Japan better than any words which might be included in a peace treaty. We feel that Australia and New Zealand must trust us to some extent to carry out what we think best. The U.S. cannot carry out effectively policies in which it does not itself have faith.
Mr. Spender inquired what the attitude of the U.S. was towards strategic economic controls with respect to Japan such as are being applied in trade with Communist China. Ambassador Dulles replied that the U.S. did not foresee formal arrangements along these lines, but that he saw no difficulty to a policy of review of materials going to Japan, and that such review was indeed inevitable and indeed existed in some degree at the present time. Exports of cotton and certain other materials to Japan were already subject to allocation by the U.S. Government, which has been seeking an agreed program of international materials controls with the principal raw materials countries.
Mr. Doidge inquired whether Japan would be content with such a system after a treaty, to which Ambassador Dulles replied that it would have to be content. Mr. Doidge said that Japan, even if initially content might seek to throw aside the controls after the treaty. Ambassador Dulles reiterated that it could not throw them aside, that the free world controls the materials. When Mr. Doidge noted that the Soviets are fishing in the same waters, Ambassador Dulles said that there could be no guarantee that Japan would not go to the other side. We can only do our best to see that it does not. As long [Page 161] as there is international control over raw materials Japan would have only its share. The Soviets may be able to offer more attractions than we to get Japan on their side. If the Japanese peace treaty contains a lot of disabilities, Japanese pride will be hurt and they will become restive, making it more likely that they will go on the Soviet side. Pride is about all the Japanese have left. If you say that in the treaty we must destroy that too our task becomes impossible.
From a public relations standpoint, Ambassador Dulles continued, the kind of treaty I am talking about cannot be easily explained. The American people understand fairly well why a non-restrictive treaty is desirable, due to their experience with a restrictive treaty with Germany after the last war. Australia and New Zealand, however, were remote from the workings of the German peace settlement. We realize that this creates practical problems and are quite willing to discuss the matter on that basis. We wish it understood, however, that we are taking what seems to us the most effective way of keeping the situation under control. We have to drive with a light rein because the temptation for Japan to bolt and go over to the other side is great. Our proposed course is believed to be the only one which will over a long period keep Japanese rearmament on a modest basis and sufficiently unbalanced, i.e. not including naval and air forces. We have been trying to get over to the Japanese the idea that their security has now become a collective problem and that no nation should any longer have purely national forces. The Japanese people have accepted this concept sympathetically and are eager to become part of a collective security system so that they will not have to have national forces again. I am not taking at face value all that I saw in Japan. The Japanese attitude is one of extreme pacifism today but one cannot be sure that it will stay that way. I do think, however, that the Japanese are now in a mood which if taken advantage of could be used to shape their future on more healthy lines than ever before. We appreciate all these aspects of the matter, not because we are as close to Japan as you but because we feel a sense of responsibility and because we know that all would suffer from a resurgence of Japanese militarism.
As already stated, Ambassador Dulles continued, we recognize that our proposals are not easily saleable to your people. Much of what I have said cannot be explained publicly here and, if publicly revealed, would tend to destroy what we are trying to do in Japan. It is reasonable for you to want to have something to meet Australian and New Zealand public opinion. Mr. Spender wondered if the idea of a Pacific Pact had evaporated. When I left Washington it was with broad authority to make a security pact that would include Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, the U.S. and possibly Indonesia. I outlined our general thinking on it to Ambassador Franks in Washington but only when we got to Tokyo did we learn that the U.K. was [Page 162] strongly opposed to such a pact. This threw us off balance. The matter has now got to be reconsidered which will mean the reopening of a number of pertinent factors. We do not feel that we can deal with these factors here with finality since they were not fully considered by the Government before we left. We are, however, prepared to consider all possible suggestions. The principal possibilities appear to be (1) a series of bilateral arrangements between the U.S. and various Pacific island countries; (2) a triangular Australian, New Zealand and U.S. arrangement coupled with bilateral U.S. understandings with the U.S. and the Philippines or independently thereof [sic]; (3) a joint arrangement among Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and the U.S. plus a U.S.–Japan bilateral arrangement; (4) a joint arrangement participated in by all five countries. I want to make clear that there is no hesitation or reluctance on our part as regards the substance of what you want. We thought we had a generally satisfactory formula but the British did not like it.
Mr. Spender commented that it seemed somewhat surprising to him that the U.S. should have been so deterred by the British objections. Australia, he said, regards itself as the principal in this area. After all, he stated, the Australians live here.
Ambassador Dulles replied that he had not in any way indicated to the U.K. that the U.S. accepted its objections as valid. We do attach importance to them, however, and see difficulty in proceeding if the British continue to feel as strongly as they have indicated. We were told that the matter would be considered by the Cabinet last Monday,
Mr. Doidge said that he disliked the thought of an agreement of this type without the U.K. being a part.
Mr. Spender commented that he believed that the British objections would be met by a series of bilateral arrangements. He could not see how anyone could object to an agreement by the U.S. and Australia or agreements between the U.S. and other individual countries. He then listed and commented on each of the British objections as follows:
- That a pact would cut across New Zealand and Australian arrangements for the Middle East—Mr. Spender said that he did not see any conflict at all here and believed that the pact would on the contrary fortify these arrangements.
- That Indonesia’s adherence was unlikely—Mr. Spender said that he also considered that it was unlikely. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Indonesian Parliament had just publicly stated that Indonesia would have nothing to do with the pact.
- That the effect on non-Communist mainland countries would be unfortunate. Mr. Spender said that he agreed that this aspect of the matter presents difficulties but that he did not consider them insuperable. Sir Esler Dening7 had said that it was a drawback to the pact [Page 163] but not such, as to prevent its conclusion. He thought that it should be dealt with through parallel understandings. Sir [Esler] had also said that a three power pact would entirely avoid this objection.
- Mr. Allison said that if Japan were included it would be a member of the club and, if any program of rearmament, would have to obey the rules of the club, which rules Australia and New Zealand would help to make. Mr. Spender replied that he had told the Cabinet that Australia’s ultimate aim should be to attract Japan into our camp but that this was impossible politically now. Australia, he had said, should move to a state of peace with Japan, should work with Japan, and, if it finds that it is responding, should then bring Japan in. Public opinion toward Japan by that time would have become readjusted.
- That we have to keep in mind a pact which will include the whole of Asia—Mr. Spender said that he doubted that he would live this long and that he was more interested in the immediate problem.
- That the U.K. would not be a principal—Mr. Spender said that Sir [Esler] had told him that Britain did not want to be in the pact but at the same time would be unhappy if it were left out.
Ambassador Dulles said that from the point of view of the military defence of this area Japan is in a critical position. The attack may come from the south through Indonesia but is more likely in the north through Japan. Our military people feel that Japan is the anchor position, and that if it were lost it would make it difficult to hold the rest. So any commitments we made would from our standpoint have to be premised on the total view we took of the defense of the whole Pacific area. This does not mean that every country would have to be in the arrangement. It simply means that we would not be prepared to act except on the basis of the overall strategic picture. Mr. Doidge asked why we should not then have a tripartite arrangement of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. We would then have time to condition the minds of our peoples to the bigger concept.
Ambassador Dulles inquired whether Australia or New Zealand had any written outlines of various possible arrangements. He suggested that the substantive issues be studied, leaving the question of participation aside for a while. Mr. Spender suggested that the staffs work out some language that afternoon for consideration by the principals later in the afternoon8 or the next day. He said that he did not think that there were any basic difficulties and that it was just a question of how to accomplish the agreed objectives. He noted that the U.S. had referred to Article 2 of the Charter in its Provisional Memorandum and suggested that this article might be a useful source of words. Ambassador Dulles agreed, adding, however, that the U.S. did not contemplate anything as elaborate as the North Atlantic Treaty. Our thought is of something simpler, leaving development of the arrangement to a later time when it might be possible to bring in [Page 164] Japan and certain other countries, possibly including certain mainland countries. He suggested, however, that the Australians and New Zealand representatives draft the paper as they thought desirable.
Mr. Doidge said that the time was getting close to midnight.8 He suggested that the arrangement be made simple and easy to negotiate. Ambassador Dulles said that he was ready to work day or night during his stay.
- Sir Percy Spender states that the talks between himself, Mr. Dulles, and F. W. Doidge (New Zealand’s Minister of External Affairs and Island Territories) began with the arrival of Mr. Dulles in Australia February 14 and continued through part of February 18. No memoranda of conversations held in Canberra February 14–15 or February 18 have been found in Department of State files. Sir Percy describes the talks held February 14–15, as well as the conversations of the following days, in detail. Certain discrepancies, largely with regard to the sequence of discussions, exist between his account of the conversations of February 16–17 and that contained in this and the two following documents. (Sir Percy Spender, Exercises in Diplomacy: The ANZUS Treaty and the Colombo Plan (New York: New York University Press, 1969), pp. 112–133,147–161.)↩
- The usual list of persons is not included in the source text.↩
- Apparent reference to the Provisional Memorandum of February 8. See Annex I to Mr. Dulles’ letter of February 10 to Mr. Acheson, p. 875.↩
- Examination of all the telegrams sent from the Department of State to Canberra in February has failed to reveal a message of this description.↩
- Field Marshal Sir William Joseph Slim, Chief of the Imperial General Staff of the United Kingdom.↩
- Marshal Ferdinand Foch, in 1918 Commander in Chief of the French Army and of the armies of the Allied and Associated Powers in France.↩
- Sir M. Esler Dening of the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office, assigned to special duties in the Far East with the personal rank of Ambassador. Sir Esler was in Canberra during the visit of the Dulles Mission.↩
- The editors have noted, but been unable to account for, the discrepancy in references to time.↩
- The editors have noted, but been unable to account for, the discrepancy in references to time.↩