794.5 MSP/3–1254

No. 748
Memorandum by the Acting Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (McClurkin) to Frederick E. Nolting, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Mutual Security Affairs

top secret


  • Military Assistance Program for Japan

With the signing of the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with Japan on March 8 and the recent submission to the Diet by, the Japanese Cabinet of a defense plan for the coming year calling for a moderate increase in Japanese defense forces, it would appear timely for the interested agencies of the United States Government to begin planning the military aid to be provided Japan out of FY54 and FY55 mutual defense assistance funds. The Diet must ratify the aid agreement before it becomes effective, but we anticipate favorable Diet action within three to six weeks.

In anticipating the signing of the aid agreement, NA has urged the working level of OMA to begin planning the FY54 aid program. [Page 1620] In spite of assurances during and since the Ikeda talks that the required aid would be forthcoming when the agreement comes into force, we are now unable to get from OMA any indication of the aid which can be made available to Japan during the balance of this fiscal year except aid for the ground forces which will be supplied from the previously authorized $528 million Army program. The reasons given at the OMA working level for their inability to move on the Japan program are: (1) FY54 requirements for Indochina, which have top priority, are still indefinite and this has necessitated a temporary freeze of all other Title III programs; and (2) Japanese requirements cannot be determined until the aid agreement is ratified1 and detailed discussions take place between the two governments on the Japanese defense program.

We fully appreciate the need for priority treatment of the Indochina program but we question whether a modest amount of FY54 funds could not be made available to meet the most urgent of Japan’s requirements. As to the second reason for OMA’s inaction, detailed discussions have been going on in Tokyo between the Far East Command and the Japanese for some months and the Command has made specific recommendations as to aid requirements for the Japanese fiscal year beginning April 1. Obviously no aid can be delivered until the aid agreement is ratified, but it is possible to take preliminary steps in anticipation of early ratification.

With respect to the Japanese Air Force, the Far East Command has made specific recommendations as to the number (166) and types (primarily trainers) of aircraft which the Japanese can utilize in the year beginning April 1. (See page 2 of attachment I).2 NA considers the Japanese Air Force program particularly urgent and strongly recommends that, pending ratification of the aid agreement, anticipatory steps be taken to develop an aid program for the air force along the lines of the Far East Command recommendations. As you may know, the Japanese at present do not have an air force but have included funds in their budget for the year beginning April 1, 1954 for a force of over 5000 men. With respect to the naval force, the JCS have indicated that certain vessels could be made available to Japan on a loan basis (see attachment II)3 and the Far East Command has recommended that this be done [Page 1621] (see attachment I). We understand that the cost of rehabilitating these vessels would be somewhat less than $10 million. The need for FY54 MDA funds for the ground force is less urgent in view of the present availability of army equipment procured with funds made available previously.

Our records indicate that on October 7, 1953 Colonel Anding, OMA, sent a memorandum to FOA4 requesting “conditional approval” of an allocation of $73.7 million of FY54 funds for Japan. This memorandum included the statement that such conditional approval would “permit initiation of supply action limited to procurement of items interchangeable within the MDAP”. In approving the FY54 MDA program (Def. Prog. Appr. No. 54–22, Oct. 30, 1953) FOA stated that approval of the Japan program “is withheld for the time being in view of the absence of the political and military understandings which would make the development and implementation of such a program possible”, (see attachment III).5 Apparently no action has been taken on the Japanese program since October 30. We feel that the “political and military understandings” have reached a point where Defense should now be in a position to renew its request for FOA approval of the Japanese program.

As to the FY55 program, as I said to you on the phone earlier this week, we believe it essential to include Japan for a specific amount in the illustrative program now being readied for the Congressional presentation. It is virtually certain that our military aid agreement with Japan will come into force before the end of this fiscal year and will require implementation on our part during FY55. It would be most damaging politically, after such strenuous efforts to conclude the aid agreement and our repeated assurances to the Japanese that aid would be forthcoming, if Japan were to be excluded from the FY55 program.

It would be appreciated if you could discuss these questions with General Stewart within the next few days. I would be happy to provide you with additional background on the Japanese program and to participate in your discussion with General Stewart if you wish.

  1. The MDA Agreement came into effect on May 1, the date of receipt by the U.S. Government from the Japanese Government of written notice of Japanese ratification.
  2. Telegram CX 67032 from CINCFE to the Department of the Army, Feb. 6, not printed.
  3. Telegram JCS 954933, Dec. 29, 1953; in it the JCS specified two 1600-ton destroyers, two destroyer escorts, one submarine, one minesweeper, and one minesweeping craft as the craft the United States would be willing to loan to Japan.
  4. Not found in Department of State files.
  5. Excerpt of a memorandum dated Oct. 30, 1953, from William M. Rand, Deputy Director of Foreign Operations, FOA, to Maj. Gen. George C. Stewart, Office of Military Assistance, Department of Defense, not printed.