450 Marshall to Makin

Note WASHINGTON, 12 February 1947

I have the honor to refer to your note of January 21, 1947 [1], commenting upon Mr. Acheson's note of November 6, 1946 with reference to the terms upon which the United States Government is prepared to place the former Japanese Mandated Islands under trusteeship.

The United States Government learns with satisfaction that it is the view of the Australian Government that the ultimate solution of the question of the Japanese Mandated Islands lies in their being controlled by the United States. It notes, however, that the Australian Government regards the question of the islands as an integral part of a comprehensive settlement of the entire Pacific ocean area, and that it feels that to isolate the question of the mandated islands from the settlement with Japan as a whole is an approach almost untenable both politically and juridically.

With regard to the procedure contemplated by the United States, this Government does not consider that there is any barrier to the placing of these islands under trusteeship in accordance with the Charter whenever the Security Council approves the draft agreement. The islands never did belong to Japan, which, moreover, as a result of the war, has ceased to exercise any authority therein. Further, it was agreed at Cairo and Potsdam, and reaffirmed in the instrument of surrender accepted by the Powers responsible for Japan's defeat, that Japan should be deprived of any authority in these islands. Moreover, practically all the states which might conceivably have an interest in the disposition of the Japanese Mandated Islands are either members of the Security Council or, as in the case of the Philippines and New Zealand, have been provided with information about the United States proposals. For these reasons, the United States considers that the conclusion of the trusteeship agreement for the Japanese Mandated Islands can be properly dealt with now by the Security Council in accordance with the Charter and does not depend upon, and need not await, the general peace settlement with Japan.

As regards the timing of its proposal, it is the view of the United States Government that formal presentation of its trusteeship agreement should be made to the Security Council at an early date. These islands were administered for nearly a quarter of a century under a mandate of the League of Nations and, therefore, they appear clearly to belong in the category described in Article 77(a) with regard to which the spirit and intent of the Charter indicated the early placing under trusteeship. Moreover, the General Assembly Resolution of February 9, 1946 expressly invites 'the states administering territories now held under mandate' to undertake practical steps to place such territories under trusteeship. The United States is not, of course, a mandatory over the former Japanese Mandated Islands, but it has been administering them de facto and, therefore, considers it a duty to do its part in giving prompt effect to the Assembly Resolution. The United States believes that it should proceed with this program in order that other governments and peoples may know the reasons underlying the United States proposal. There would also seem to be sound, practical grounds why, in the interest of the inhabitants and the general stability of this area, a definitive arrangement should be provided for as soon as possible rather than delay it to an indefinite date in the future. Finally, it will be recalled that the President, in his announcement of November 6, 1946, stated that the draft trusteeship agreement would be submitted to the Security Council for its approval at an early date, and any further delay might be likely to lead to misunderstanding.

In view of the foregoing, the United States Government believes that there should be no serious objection to its announced plan to make an early formal submission of the draft agreement to the Security Council, and hopes that the Australian Government will be convinced of the desirability of this course. After its proposal has been formally placed before the Security Council the United States would be quite willing to consider acceding to any reasonable postponement of consideration and action if this were deemed to be desirable or convenient by other members of the Council although, as stated before, it does not feel that action by the Council need necessarily be deferred until the negotiation of the Peace Treaty with Japan.

1 Conveying the substance of Document 448, paragraphs 1-3.

[AA : A3300/2, 493]