498 Shaw to Evatt

Ministerial Dispatch 5/1947 (extract) TOKYO, 12 December 1947



I have the honour to submit the following notes of my interpretation of General MacArthur's views and policies on a number of topics. As you can imagine, it is difficult to recall exactly the Supreme Commander's flow of carefully selected words, and the expressions attributed to him below should be taken as a paraphrase only.

1. The Occupation General MacArthur's view, based on his reading of history, is that any military Occupation is apt to deteriorate after three or four years. The one example that comes to his mind of a successful occupation is that of Caesar's in Gaul. The Romans succeeded in imposing their institutions and ideas and a sense of loyalty to Rome, which lasted for centuries. Caesar accomplished his purpose by a firmness, tolerance and understanding and this would be the pattern which General MacArthur would like to think was being imposed on Japan.

General MacArthur believes that the Allied Occupation of Japan is not yet going bad in the sense that the Japanese are tired of it or the Allied forces becoming demoralised. With this view I would concur. The Occupation brings to the Japanese a great stock of material benefits including some $250 million of food and supplies each year from the United States, which far more than offsets the only real burden on the Japanese, namely, the provision of housing for the Allied Armies and their dependents.

General MacArthur fears, however, that if the Occupation lasts too long Japan might end by becoming an American colony. As he sees it, the United States might become an imperialistic power despite itself and without any positive wish of the people. If the Occupation dragged on as an international undertaking, it would be hard to continue to justify its cost to the American people and the tendency would then be for America to look for some concrete return.

The Supreme Commander remarked that should such a situation develop, namely, the Occupation of Japan as a purely American affair, he believed that Australia and the British Commonwealth as a whole would understand. Australia was closely linked with the United States politically and economically and, in any case, her main interest in Japan was a security one which would be well looked after.

I have learned confidentially, but on good authority, that the subject of the Emperor's most recent interview with General MacArthur, which was kept most secret, was the continuance of American interests in Japan. The leader of the Liberal Party, Mr.

Yoshida, had previously suggested bluntly to the Supreme Commander that America should sign at an early date and unilaterally a peace treaty with Japan with a provision under which the Japanese would call on America for armed support. I am told that the Emperor later made an impassioned plea for the same course of action. The suggestion was turned down but it was revealing of the opinion of conservative Japanese as to where their best interests lie. It is revealing also of the Emperor's conception of the functions of a constitutional monarch.

2. B.C.O.F.

On the subject of the continued participation of the British Commonwealth Forces in the Occupation, General MacArthur has stressed that the retention of these forces is essentially a matter for decision by the Governments concerned. He was careful to say that he could not be quoted as expressing a view which should be communicated officially. Entirely unofficially and personally, however, he said that he hoped that Australian Forces would be retained even though in a diminished form. He remarked that the United Kingdom troops were being withdrawn and that, of course, the New Zealanders could not stay without Australians. He realised that there were many people in Australia who opposed the maintenance of a standing army and that our budgetary commitments for defence had to be carefully watched. If an army were to be maintained, it might as well be in Japan. The headquarters establishment and the name BCOF could stand as a sign for the eyes of the world.

I believe that General MacArthur's views should be given due weight when the time comes for reviewing our Australian commitments in Japan. I am aware that it is the opinion of certain of the highest ranking Australian Army officers that the retention of the Australian forces in Japan serves no useful purpose. This view is based largely on the belief that the Japanese resent the presence of our troops and that the Occupation is burdensome. I would repeat that I have seen no evidence of active Japanese resentment over the presence of our troops who are, on the whole, extremely well behaved. I consider it important that they should be retained firstly, in view of our close relations with the United States and with General MacArthur and secondly, because of our particular interests in this area.

3. The Allied Council for Japan It is now apparent that the Occupation will continue for longer than had been considered likely four months ago and the functions of the Allied Council during the coming year require consideration.

I have discussed this question with General MacArthur and with the Chairman of the Allied Council, Mr. William J. Sebald. [1] General MacArthur had not given much thought to it as he did not, in the first instance, want the Council nor does he regard it as of any great importance. He claimed that he had tried in every possible way to make the Council a useful body but that it had become a mere sounding board for international differences. He said that this was due largely to the fact that the proceedings were public and therefore open to exaggeration by the press. He believed that the Council would be more useful if it met informally and privately in his own rooms. It would be impossible to alter the provisions in the Council's rules of procedure prescribing that formal meetings be held in public, (which, by the way, had been inserted originally on American initiative), but he thought it might be possible to cut down the number of formal meetings.

Discussions in his rooms would be on trends of policy rather than on details of administration. He expressed the view that the Council had been set up originally to advise SCAP on directives to the Japanese Government and that now the Japanese Government itself was functioning with only limited advice from GHQ, SCAP.

General MacArthur remarked that my predecessor had had an erroneous idea of the functions of the Council which, he had thought, should have had some functions of government itself. He said that Mr. Ball had, in effect, acted as a 100% opposition, even to the extent of obviating the need for the Soviet member to criticise. He said that there had been only one occasion on which he had received helpful advice from the Council and that was when he had called it together in his own rooms to ask their advice as to whether there should be a general election. This was shortly after he had prohibited the general strike. [2] General MacArthur said that while the Council had done no constructive work, it had done no harm. He went on to remark on the complete lack of interest in the work of the Council in America and elsewhere and said that the same thing applied to the F.E.C. The F.E.C. tried to perform many of the functions which the Allied Council for Japan might have carried out but the F.E.C. had now become a sort of representatives club which seemed merely to analyse and reword into Directives the policy which SCAP had already been following.

Mr. Sebald said that he had not discussed the future functions of the Allied Council with the Supreme Commander but he foresaw difficulties in altering the terms of reference, including the provision for meetings to be held not less than once a fortnight.

He personally held the view that it would have been better, if possible, to abandon the Council altogether but that the USSR would not agree to such a course.

Mr. Sebald revealed he had hoped to continue presenting to the Council a series of SCAP, GHQ reports on different aspects of development in Japan. The Supreme Commander had, however, been annoyed by the reaction of the Council to the last report on education which had been the subject of a long critical reply from the Soviet member. General MacArthur said he considered that the Council was merely setting forth national view points and not advising disinterestedly on policy.

Mr. Sebald concluded by saying that he was willing to try to continue to make a go of the Council and suggested that discussion should not be on details of administration but on general lines of policy. He said that he would be interested to hear if we had any views as to its future status and work.

The position now is that the Allied Council over the past three months has been fed with GHQ reports presented by the Chairman on which other members of the Council have expressed their views.

Apparently the comments made in the Council have been considered by the Supreme Commander as too critical and not sufficiently constructive. In my view, the Council discussions have served some useful purpose by acting as some stimulus not only on the Japanese Government, but on the particular Sections of SCAP, GHQ concerned.

Proceedings of the Council are reported at length in the Japanese vernacular press and I have noticed that Japanese political leaders and officials are always aware of what is going on at the meetings. So far as GHQ is concerned, I am told that a number of studies and projects have been altered and abandoned because of views expressed at Council meetings.

On the other hand, I am aware that outside Japan the proceedings of the Council (as other happenings in Japan) have little interest and that on the highest levels in SCAP the Council is regarded at the best as a necessary evil. It would, however, be both impracticable and undesirable to have any alteration in the terms of reference of the Council on the lines tentatively suggested by the Supreme Commander and the Chairman. It must be taken that the Council will continue to hold formal fortnightly meetings in public, whatever informal meetings the Supreme Commander should choose to call. Should SCAP persist in his present unwillingness to continue presenting detailed reports on aspects of the Occupation, the Council may well find itself -as it did on its last meeting on 10th December-with no business to perform. This meeting lasted only about 30 seconds. The question then arises whether the Australian Government or the Governments of the other British Commonwealth countries which I represent on the Council are prepared to take the initiative in bringing matters before the Council. On this question I would merely point out the proved sensitivity of the Supreme Commander to comment and criticism expressed in the Council. Any matter brought up would have to be a question of general policy and care would have to be taken to avoid the charge that national interests were being ventilated.

4. Peace Treaty On 9th December I called on General MacArthur at my own request before leaving for Australia. In discussing the Peace Treaty with Japan, he asked me to assure you that his view remained exactly the same as it had been four months ago. He talked of the difficulties which had arisen over the recent revelations of the attitudes of China and the USSR. He said that the Chinese were indulging in political blackmail and he was convinced that their bluff could be called. His view was that the State Department should go ahead with holding preliminary talks as planned.

Invitations should be issued to everybody and left open if certain people did not at once choose to attend. The preliminaries for a conference might take maybe six to nine months, during which time China and Russia could reconsider their viewpoints. He was sure that the Chinese would decide that they could not afford to stay out. As for the Russians, at present they saw themselves in the position of being able alone to hold things up completely and they also might change their minds after they saw that other people were determined to go ahead.

General MacArthur said that he would not yet give an opinion as to whether the Peace Treaty could be signed without the USSR.

Certainly the preliminaries could be carried out and a decision on the ultimate drafting and signature made later. There were pros and cons about having the Russians in, but it would be obviously better if they were included. On the other hand, it would be open to argument when the time came if they were still intransigent.

General MacArthur said that the only advice he could give to you was to tell you to keep up the pressure. He digressed at length about Secretary of State Marshall whom he described as a bottleneck. He said that Mr. Marshall all through his military career had had the same reputation. He was not able to concentrate on the salient points but had to wade through a mass of material.

He could only concentrate on one thing at a time. The question of the peace conference had therefore bogged down in the State Department through inertia. The only thing that moved Mr. Marshall was press opinion. The Supreme Commander said that his only advice could therefore be to keep public opinion and the press stimulated although he admitted that in America, as in Australia, there was little public interest in the question of the Japanese Peace Treaty. He repeated that you should know that his position was exactly the same as it had been four months ago and he thought that you should press strongly for immediate action by the State Department.

In referring to the location for a Peace Conference, General MacArthur said that Washington would be the worst possible place as the Russians would not go there in any circumstances. He brushed aside San Francisco and said that Pearl Harbour had too many bad memories for Americans. Shanghai, which I suggested, he said could not guarantee security or proper arrangements. Although he had once had in mind Tokyo, he now believed that a Conference would disrupt the Occupation too much, although some sort of concluding ceremony might possibly be held there. As a tentative position, he put forward Baguio in the Philippines as a suitable site. The present UNECAFE Meeting would have provided some experience in holding such conferences. No nation could object to a situation which was not the capital of any country and was in the centre of the area concerned. 5. U.S.S.R.

General MacArthur is much more restrained in his comments on the USSR than the majority of the members of his staff. He has, however, a deep underlying fear and suspicion of Russian ruthlessness and ambitions. His world viewpoint is very much an Asiatic one and he has even spoken of Europe as a western extension of the Asiatic continent. Seen in this perspective, Japan's role can well be regarded as that of a stabilizing force for the whole of Asia against what would be regarded as the destructive ideas of Russian Communism. General MacArthur once described what he called 'The Russian' as the most ruthless and efficient person in the world, the second of which adjectives probably would not bear too close an analysis. He regards the Japanese as ruthless only when wrongfully led, as they have been over the past decade.

Granted his fundamental concepts of the relations of the USSR and Japan in Asia, General MacArthur is comparatively free from the intemperate outbursts of other American military and political leaders. On the other hand, it must be recalled that shortly after the arrival of General Derevyanko in Tokyo, the Supreme Commander warned the Soviet member on the Allied Council that if he or his staff overstepped at all the limits of their functions they would 'be sent back to Russia in irons'. The Supreme Commander is convinced that what the USSR wants most in Japan is to remove him.

This he believes would be a strong motive in encouraging the Soviet Union to participate in talks for the early conclusion of a peace. The way would then be open for an increase in Russian propaganda activity which at the moment is rigidly curbed by the American forces.

1 Sebald was appointed Deputy for the Supreme Commander and Chairman and US member on the ACJ in September. He replaced Atcheson, who had been killed in an aircraft accident.

2 According to Ball's January report, a general strike for increased wages planned for 1 February and expected to involve four million workers was 'killed' when MacArthur directed labour leaders to desist from further action, and issued a statement predicting dire social and economic consequences, including starvation, from the proposed strike.

[AA : A4231, TOKYO, 1947, 1-6]