49 Chifley to MacArthur

Cablegram 23 CANBERRA, 24 January 1946

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

We have now been informed that the United States Government has agreed to the participation of British Commonwealth Forces in the occupation of Japan on the basis of the agreement completed on 18th December, 1945, between yourself and Lieutenant-General Northcott [1], subject to the following provisos:

(a) Specific acceptance by the Australian Government of the provisions of Section 3(b) of the agreement which states that 'it is also understood that reductions will be made in the British Commonwealth Force from time to time in conformity with progressive reductions in United States Occupation Forces in Japan'.

(b) That it be made a matter of record that the size of the British Commonwealth Force shall be subject to re-examination in the light of any arrangements which may be made in the future relative to the participation of the Republic of China or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the occupation of Japan.

2. The Australian Government has informed the United States Government that this basis is also acceptable to the British Commonwealth Governments concerned. [2]

3. The United States Government has advised us that the right is reserved to make simultaneous announcements in regard to British Commonwealth Occupation Force from your Headquarters and from Washington at the same time as the Commonwealth Governments make their announcement although not necessarily in the same terms.

Subject to the concurrence of the United States, it is proposed to fix 0900 hours G.M.T. on Thursday, 31st January, 1946, as the time and date for the press release by the British Commonwealth Governments. This time and date will be confirmed to you when a reply is received from the United States Government. [3]

1 A tentative agreement, subject to approval by the governments concerned. An Australian note to the U.S. Govt dated 31 December 1945 had conveyed the participating Commonwealth countries' agreement to the arrangements and sought U.S. endorsement which was given on 22 January. Extracts of the MacArthur-Northcott Agreement are published in Volume VIII, Document 463.

2 i.e. the United Kingdom, New Zealand and India.

3 At the request of the U.S. Govt, the announcement was made at 1200 hours GMT to ensure good press and radio coverage in the United States.

[AA:A3196, 1946, 0.1698]