328 Shaw to Burton
Dispatch 54/1948 TOKYO, 19 March 1948
SUBJECT: ALLIED COUNCIL FOR JAPAN
1. I refer to your memorandum No.84  regarding the work of the Allied Council for Japan. I have taken up on an informal basis the suggestions you put forward which I discussed with Mr. Sebald yesterday. I told him the Department had been interested in the S.C.A.P. reports which had been presented to the Council last October and November and that your view was that the Council might be a source of useful advice to the administration of Japan.
2. The response to my remarks was as I expected. Mr. Sebald said that he appreciated our references to the reports which had been presented last year. He had had in draft form several more and had on the Agenda listed for discussion one on religious reform in Japan. The Supreme Commander had, however, objected strongly to the way in which reports were received in the Council. He said that on each occasion discussion had been adjourned but members had used their time for study to prepare highly critical statements on the Occupation policy. Mr. Sebald said that General MacArthur refused to proceed with supplying ammunition for unhelpful criticism.
3. That was the situation some months ago and the general background is obviously much more unhelpful now. In Mr. Sebald's view, the Council would only be used for airing national viewpoints for propaganda purposes. He said that he would mention to General MacArthur our continued interest in the Council and our appreciation of the past S.C.A.P. reports but he could not hold out any hope that there would be a change in attitude.
4. What Mr. Sebald had had in mind was the Soviet member's critical analysis of the S.C.A.P. report on educational reform and what he fears most is what he would call Soviet propaganda expressed at the public meetings of the Council. I know, however, that even the remarks which I and my Chinese colleague expressed occasionally at the meetings in October and November were not always received very happily by the Chairman or the Supreme Commander. In fact, anything short of a general laudation of the S.C.A.P. reports would be regarded as playing into the Soviet hands. You can see for yourself from the record of the meetings at which S.C.A.P. reports were discussed the nature of the comments to which Mr. Sebald and General MacArthur took exception.
5. I stressed to the American Chairman that my approach was an informal one and that Dr. Evatt had not himself expressly instructed it. I said that I would convey to the Department the gist of our conversation.
6. For two reasons it appears to me impracticable to make much of the Allied Council for Japan at present. Firstly, the international situation has so deteriorated that a body of this kind whose sessions are held in the full light of publicity has little chance of achieving a free and helpful exchange of views and advice. Meetings of the Allied Council are held in an atmosphere of extreme tension between the American and Soviet members. Secondly, General MacArthur's sensitivity to criticism of the Occupation will have increased now that he has notified his willingness to accept nomination for the American Presidency. His actions and words will be followed in the United States with an interest which will be by no means universally friendly. All that he does from now on must be seen not only in the light of his capacity of Supreme Commander in Japan but as a potential President of the United States.
7. Mr. Sebald and I agreed that it was highly embarrassing for us to have to sit at a Council which either did nothing or engaged in acrimonious wrangles on procedural matters. The American Chairman told me that of course, if I wished to bring forward topics for discussion he would only be too glad to receive them. The onus would be on me to prepare papers which, in the nature of things, could not be entirely laudatory of the Occupation policies and which we must be prepared to see evoke some displeasure on the part of the Supreme Commander. Whether for broad reasons you are willing, with that understanding, to go ahead, is a matter for you to decide. If you wish that I should endeavour to initiate discussion on some of the points mentioned in your memorandum I should like more explicit instructions.