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Historical documents

328 Shaw to Burton

Dispatch 54/1948 TOKYO, 19 March 1948


1. I refer to your memorandum No.84 [1] 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.

1 Document 327.

[AA:A1838/278, 482/2, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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