352 Cabinet Submission by Evatt

Agendum 1377 CANBERRA, 13 August 1947



British Commonwealth Conference Representatives of the following British Commonwealth countries will meet at Canberra on 26th August to discuss the question of a Peace Settlement with Japan:- Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Burma.

Provisional Agenda As it stands at present the provisional Agenda of the conference, as agreed after the exchange of views between the Governments, is as follows:

(1) Procedural questions.

(2) Basic objectives.

(3) Control or supervision of Japan.

(4) Territorial provisions.

(5) Disarmament and demilitarisation.

(6) Political provisions.

(7) Economic and financial provisions.

(8) Reparations.

My notes on the Agenda are submitted for the consideration of Cabinet. They are necessarily subject to modification in the light of discussions at the Conference, but in principle they are in accord with the policies already outlined in Cabinet and also in the House of Representatives from time to time. [1]

American Sponsored Conference The United States Under Secretary of State proposed at a meeting of the eleven countries represented on the Far Eastern Commission that a conference of representatives from the eleven states should meet on 19th August, to discuss the Peace Treaty for Japan. This meeting was to consist of deputies and experts, and was to take place at or near Washington or San Francisco.

The Australian view of this proposal was as follows: Australia accepted the principle that the eleven countries represented on the Far Eastern Commission who had been active belligerents in the Pacific war should meet to discuss the preliminary stage of the Japanese Peace Conference, if possible during this year. Each country, however, should be free to determine its representation at this preliminary stage, and Australia, for its part, would wish to be represented by the Minister for External Affairs. A meeting of experts or deputies would not be in order until the principles and directions had been decided at the highest level. 19th August was an impracticable date in view of the arrangements for the Canberra Conference. San Francisco or Pearl Harbour were considered preferable to Washington. Australia agreed to the United States suggestion that the voting procedure should be by simple 2/3rds majority.

Indications now are that the Conference convened by the United States will be held early in September, possibly September 10, and that it will take place in Washington. All the countries represented on the Far Eastern Commission have agreed to the United States proposal with the exception of the U.S.S.R., which has made a counter proposal for a preliminary meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the Japanese Settlement.

The Soviet reply is being treated by the U.S. State Department as 'non-acceptance' rather than 'refusal'.

General Policy The general policy in relation to the Japanese settlement which has been followed up to date may be summarised as follows:-

1. There should be no delay in going ahead with the Japanese Peace Conference. In the absence of a peace settlement there will be increasing tendencies for major matters of permanent importance to be dealt with on a piecemeal basis or to be postponed.

2. Australia's war effort entitled her to be recognised as a party principal in the peace settlement. Australia has earned this position by her war effort which, in General MacArthur's words, 'contributed immeasurably' towards Pacific Victory.

3. Australia accepts the democratic principle that despite their varying contributions to the common victory all nations which played any substantial part in the Pacific war should be represented at the peace conference.

4. The voting procedure suggested by the United States (i.e. two third majority) is just and democratic and any attempt to apply the veto system would be unjust and must be resisted.

5. The peace settlement for Japan need not be a long drawn out affair but could be completed in 1948. Indeed its fundamentals have already been accepted in the basic policy formulated in the Far Eastern Advisory Commission and later confirmed in substance by the present Far Eastern Commission which was a development of the broad principles of the Potsdam declaration. The foundations of the peace have also been laid through the constructive pioneer work already performed in Japan by General MacArthur, as a result of which military disarmament is now practically completed.

6. The basic policy of the Far Eastern Commission prescribed certain measures which were the physical disarmament of Japan, the removal of militarist and Fascist elements, the trial and punishment of war crimes and the destruction of Japan's capacity to wage war.

7. The basic policy of the Far Eastern Commission also laid emphasis upon the positive tasks of building a peaceful and democratic Japan. This called for reform of the social, political and economic life of Japan. For example trade unions should be actively encouraged and the educational system liberalised. These positive tasks are necessarily long-term in character.

8. The settlement must take account of South and East Asia and the Pacific as a whole. A peace should be established in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations Charter-a peace which should give security from future aggression and at the same time help to raise the standards of living of all the peoples of South and East Asia and the Pacific. The gradual economic development of Japan should be part of a general plan for the economic betterment of East and South East Asia and the Pacific as a whole. It would be unjust if her population obtained privileges and benefits denied to the countries which she has devastated.

9. In order to achieve these objectives, an Allied supervisory authority should be established in the treaty of peace in order to consolidate the important gains already made and ensure a bona fide observance of the treaty provisions and especially to prevent any re-establishment of a war potential. In addition, the supervisory authority should have as one of its functions, the coordination of the Japanese economy with those of the Pacific and East Asiatic regions.

10. The future of Japan depends first upon the determination of the Allied power to pursue vigorously the objectives laid down by the Far Eastern Commission, and secondly upon the energy, sincerity and cooperation of the Japanese themselves in carrying out the great reforms already planned.

11. The peace treaty should therefore be not vindictive but just and firm. Australia desires to achieve by democratic procedures of peacemaking a stable and lasting peace in the Pacific based on security from aggression and the welfare of all Pacific peoples.

This great objective will be assisted if the peace conference is expedited, thereby furnishing an example of Allied cooperation which should also assist in the final European settlement. [2]

H.V. EVATT Minister for External Affairs

1 Not published here. These notes were re-drafted by Plimsoll, reviewed by the PCPS on 19 August, further revised by Evatt and finally produced as 'Outline Notes on the Provisional Agenda'. See Document 355.

2 On 16 August Cabinet authorised Ministers to proceed in accordance with the principles outlined in the agendum.

[AA : A2700, VOL. 35]