441 Embassy in Washington to US Department of State

Aide-memoire 29 May 1947

A number of recent developments connected with the occupation and control of Japan have caused growing concern to the Australian Government, in that they seem to suggest that matters which should not be decided in advance of the Japanese peace settlement are being resolved unilaterally by the occupation authorities in the course of day-to-day administration.

A Kyoto radio broadcast of 13 May reported that, in order to assure the supply of rock phosphates for Japan, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers had decided that all work with regard to the management of the rock phosphate industry on Angaur Island in the Palau Group should be carried out at the responsibility of the Japanese Government under the Supreme Commander's control. This would be the first step since the end of the war permitting Japanese enterprise overseas. The Australian Government recognizes that the United States has the right under the Trusteeship Agreement to exploit the resources of the islands in the interests of the inhabitants as it sees fit, but would point out that the whole purpose of this agreement was to exclude permanently Japanese nationals from an area vital to the safety of the Pacific. Whether merely labourers on the phosphate deposits or not, the Australian Government cannot but regard with deep concern their reappearance in an area close to Australian fisheries.

Recent reports indicate that the Japanese have been invited to participate in international conferences abroad. A Japanese is reported to be attending, in an advisory capacity, the rice study group in India, and another is reported to have been invited to the World Federation of Trade Unions Conference in Prague next month. An invitation was also issued to Japan to attend the Union Postale Universale Congress in Paris. The Australian Government considers that the whole question of Japanese external contacts is a matter to be decided at the peace settlement and that in the meanwhile Japanese should be prohibited from leaving Japan. The Australian Government would urge that the Supreme Commander be instructed to proceed along these lines.

The Australian Government learned with great surprise on 27 May that the United States Government was contemplating another whaling expedition to the Antarctic in the coming season, using Japanese ships and equipment manned by Japanese crews under the control of the Supreme Commander. The Australian Government cannot believe that the United States would propose this year to sanction such an expedition in view of the strong protests last year by the Australian and other Governments, and in view of the support by all members of the Far Eastern Commission (except the United States of America) and by Norway of an Australian proposal that Japanese whaling in the Antarctic be forbidden at present. The Australian Government takes this further opportunity of reaffirming its strong opposition to any resumption of Japanese whaling in the Antarctic during the period of the occupation, even under the control of the Supreme Commander, and to reaffirm its view that the future of the Japanese whaling industry should be reserved to the peace conference.

The Australian Government takes this opportunity of assuring the American Government of its complete agreement with the views expressed in Article 1 (a) of Mr. Byrnes' proposed 25-year treaty for the disarmament and demilitarization of Japan. [1] The Australian Government has received reports that officials in the Japanese Foreign Office are preparing draft proposals to be submitted to the peace conference authorizing the retention of certain armed forces by Japan. Future control of Japan and military protection of Japan are of course matters to be decided at the peace conference, but the Australian Government would be strongly opposed to any suggestion to re-establish the Japanese Army, Navy, or Air Force. [2]

1 See Volume IX, Document 253.

2 Makin, Stirling and Plimsoll raised these matters with Acheson on 29 May. Acheson promised to look into the matter of Angaur Island, indicated that the United States would oppose permitting Japanese to attend conferences, and said whaling would solve the problem of Japan's food shortage. He added: 'the Japanese Foreign Office might try to frame proposals but that was something very different from getting them accepted'.

[AA : A3300/2, 457]