501 Burton to Shedden

Memorandum CANBERRA, 28 February 1947

With reference to Telegram 29 from the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Saving Telegram No. 3 from the Dominions Office, the draft telegram attached is forwarded by direction of the Minister for External Affairs for favour of your comments. [1]

Attachment

B.C.O.F.

Your 29.

1. We assume that you will be giving further consideration to this matter in light of the United Kingdom Saving telegram NO. 3 (Wellington No.4). Meanwhile we offer the following comments.

2. We appreciate the force of the reasons which incline your Government to reduce its contingent in Japan and we are considering the proposals in your telegram in regard to reduction of numbers.

3. We are disturbed, however, by your doubts as to the value of continued participation by B.C.O.F. in the military occupation. We feel as we have always felt that it is essential for our Governments to share in the obligations involved in the maintenance of security in the Pacific and that it is imperative to share in the military occupation of Japan, at least until the terms of the peace settlement and the future control mechanism in Japan are decided.

4. We feel for our part that any move in the direction of a withdrawal from the occupation now would weaken our undoubted claim and right to participate as a principal in the peace settlement, and would strengthen any tendency to under-rate our value as a factor in the development of security and welfare in the Pacific.

5. In the meantime we are concerned to make the best of F.E.C. and the Allied Council for Japan. We do not think that participation in the work of these bodies is of negligible value. The United States authorities have on occasions responded to pressure through those two institutions and the symbolic importance of membership alone is considerable. The willingness of the U.S. Government to pay attention to the views of other Governments on questions affecting occupation policy has undoubtedly been due in some measure to the fact that the occupation of Japan has not been entirely an American responsibility.

6. In regard to prestige in the eyes of the Japanese we feel that the long-term result may well depend rather upon the quality of our force than upon its size. We believe that from the point of view of general behaviour and bearing of the British forces have made a considerable impression upon the local population.

7. A long-term consideration of great importance which also affects our appreciation of the value of participating in the military occupation is raised by the United Kingdom Government in the telegram referred to above, in which it is suggested that the area under occupation by British Forces might well be extended to include an area of greater social, economic and political importance in the life of the country, such as Kobe. This port was the centre of approximately one third of Japan's pre-war foreign trade. The long-term economic and commercial considerations mentioned in para. 6 of the U.K. cable appear convincing. We would be glad to undertake negotiations with the United States authorities if General Robertson's report on the proposal were favourable.

1 This draft was not sent to Fraser but it was used as a Department of External Affairs' discussion paper by the Department of Defence which responded to it on 15 April.

[AA : A1838,481/1, ii]