Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Merchant) to the Acting Secretary of State 1


Ratification of the Japanese Peace Treaty

FE believes that the best course to follow with respect to the ratification of the Japanese Peace Treaty is to suggest to the President that he transmit the Treaty promptly to the Senate with the recommendation that it be made the first order of business for the Senate at the new session of Congress. This course avoids a number of the difficulties inherent in a situation in which nobody wants to bear the responsibility for delay. Furthermore, if this course is adopted, it would be possible to provide evidences of positive action in the direction of ratification through such means as the commencement of hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or a subcommittee, and the sending of a commission partly composed of Congressmen to survey the problem presented by the Ryukyus.

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The question of the nature of the hearings appropriate for the ratification of the Japanese Peace Treaty may depend to some extent upon whether a decision is made to proceed at an early or late date with the ratification of the Treaty. On the whole, it seems unnecessary to have long drawn out hearings with a large number of witnesses.

Mr. Dulles has kept the Senate Foreign Relations Committee fully informed at all stages during the negotiation of the Treaty, and the presence in San Francisco of members of the Far Eastern Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee insures that they are familiar with the principal problems connected with the Treaty. It, therefore, appears sufficient to have Mr. Dulles as the chief witness before the Committee, supported by such representatives as the Department of Defense might wish to designate, and perhaps by one or two prominent, interested persons such as Mr. Dewey.2

In view of the reluctance of the Department of Defense to agree to an early ratification, it is most important that if the decision is made to proceed at once, the Department of Defense representatives be present in order that there may be no possibility of later charges that its point of view had not been fully considered. If early ratification is desired it would seem particularly unwise to attempt to call in outside, witnesses, such as educational or religious groups, as this might only provide the inspiration for other interested groups, such as the fishing and shipping industries, who would then feel it incumbent upon them to request an opportunity to testify against certain aspects of the Treaty.

Even if it is decided not to attempt to secure ratification until the beginning of the next session of Congress, it would seem preferable to make all reasonable efforts to keep the hearings down to a minimum. However, such groups as the West Coast fishing industry, the American Federation of Shipping, the National Foreign Trade Council and the Far East–America Council of Commerce and Industry may want to be heard. In addition, many members of the Senate, according to Francis Wilcox3 have expressed the opinion that this is such an important matter that all persons interested should have full opportunity to investigate various aspects of the Treaty and to make statements thereon. Consequently, the President or the Senate may want to utilize this reason as one of the main arguments with the public for delaying ratification until the next session. In that event, if it becomes apparent that a considerable amount of vocal opposition to the Treaty is developing, it may be necessary to reconsider our position [Page 1356] that our affirmative presentation of the Treaty in the hearings should be kept to the minimum.4

  1. Memorandum drafted by Mr. Allison and Robert J. G. McClurkin, Deputy Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs.
  2. Thomas E. Dewey.
  3. Chief of the Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  4. In a memorandum summarizing part of the Cabinet meeting held September 21, Mr. Webb stated: “The Vice President [Alben W. Barkley] raised with the President the question of the submission of the Japanese Peace Treaty and made a strong argument for not sending it up to this session of the Congress unless the President wished it ratified in this session. The final conclusion was that the President authorized the Vice President to say to the Senate leadership that he would not submit the Treaty during this session.” (694.001/9–2151)