The Director of International Security Affairs (Cabot) to the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Burns)1


My Dear General Burns: Reference is made to your letter of February 20, 19512 requesting the reaction of the Department of State, from the political point of view, to the recommendations of the Chairman of the Munitions Board to the Secretary of Defense regarding the use of Japan as a source of supply of US military requirements.

The Department has given very careful consideration to the recommendation presented and recognizes the desirability of initiating industrial mobilization planning in Japan, with a view to the utilization of Japan as a supplemental source of supply for United States military requirements.

However, as you know, there are limitations on the use of Japanese resources to accomplish the purposes laid down by the Chairman of the Munitions Board. These limitations are contained in FEC policy decisions, of which the most important is the decision of February 12, 1948 entitled “Prohibition of Military Activity in Japan and Disposition of Japanese Military Equipment”. Paragraph 3 of that decision provides:

“3. The development, manufacture, importation and exportation of arms, ammunition and implements of war, and materials intended for military use should be prohibited for Japan, except for the importation of no more than the quantities of arms and ammunition necessary for the purposes mentioned in paragraph 2.”

(Paragraph 2 referred to in the quotation permits the Supreme Commander to authorize the use of small arms for the civil police and [Page 906] arms for hunters.) Another FEC policy decision of August 14, 1947 likewise is relevant to the consideration of the recommendation of the Munitions Board. This decision is entitled “Reduction of Japanese Industrial War Potential”. Paragraph 9(1), expressly prohibits “the development, manufacture or assembly of any combat equipment end-products, or their possession except as authorized by the Supreme Commander, after consultation with the Allied Council for Japan in accordance with the Terms of Reference of the Allied Council for Japan, for the purpose of the occupation.” In this connection, paragraph 10 provides that “The Supreme Commander should be authorized to except temporarily from the provisions of this paper particular primary war facilities, secondary war facilities and facilities in war-supporting industries, insofar as such facilities are required to meet the needs of the occupation. In such cases the Supreme Commander will, after consultation with the Allied Council for Japan in accordance with the Terms of Reference of the Allied Council for Japan, provide an explanation of reasons for retention and an estimated date of removal or destruction.”

Certain Japanese munitions plants are already being used for the production of material required in the Korean Campaign. The Department has supported this action on the grounds that SCAP was justified in making what use he might determine of these facilities in accordance with paragraph 10 of the FEC policy decision regarding “Reduction of Japanese Industrial War Potential” in view of the fact that at the time such action was initiated, North Korean aggression in addition to being in defiance of the United Nations represented a threat to the occupation of Japan.

The decision of February 12, 1948 does, however, impose a serious obstacle to the prospective plan of the Munitions Board insofar as that plan involves the export from Japan of equipment for military assistance programs in Southeast Asia and equipment for use of United States forces in areas other than Korea. It is clear that arms, ammunition and implements of war may not be manufactured in Japan for exportation to areas other than Korea. It is the view of the Department that the expression “materials intended for military use” the export of which is prohibited in the policy decision of February 12, 1948, would permit the manufacture and exportation of normal peacetime goods. The prohibition of export of “materials intended for military use” should be understood to refer to products which by their construction are designed solely for military purposes.

It is therefore suggested that paragraph 5a be amended to read as follows:

“Continued purchase shall be made of military equipment in Japan to supply the needs of the occupation, including material required [Page 907] in the Korean campaign; purchase of Japanese equipment other than arms, ammunition and implements of war, and products which by their construction are designed solely for military purposes, should be increased to supply the needs of United States forces elsewhere in the Pacific area.”

The Department has no objection to paragraph 5b as it now stands.

I would appreciate it if you would let me know if the amendment to paragraph 5a is acceptable.3

Sincerely yours,

Thomas D. Cabot
  1. This letter was drafted in the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs by Alice Langley Dunning.
  2. To Mr. Matthews, p. 887.
  3. In a letter of March 21 to Major General Burns, Charles A. Coolidge, Deputy Director for International Security Affairs, referred to conversations among the State and Army Departments and the Munitions Board subsequent to this letter and concurred on behalf of the Department of State in the original wording of paragraph 5a, “on the understanding that existing policy decisions of the Far Eastern Commission and directives to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers continue to govern the production and export of military equipment to and from Japan.” (Lot 55 D 598)