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169 Shaw to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 282 (extract), TOKYO, 12 July 1949, 7.40 p.m.


(D) CONCLUSIONS[1] 1. The original source of disunity was the U.S.A. - U.S.S.R. division and both these powers continue to exercise influence in Korea.

2. Neither the United States nor the U.S.S.R. wish to make Korea an issue of war or of serious risk of war, but neither will lightly withdraw its present interest.

3. The influence of the United States and U.S.S.R. in Korea has been overplayed by the vested interests of the Koreans themselves in their own regime. Even were the United States and U.S.S.R. Completely disinterested, the basis of conflict among the Koreans themselves might still remain.

4. The United Nations Commission has failed to progress in its tasks of unification or even reduction of barriers.

5. It would be counter to the purposes of the General Assembly resolution and to the status of the United Nations, for the Commission, in its present strength and present disunity, indefinitely to remain in Seoul. Reappointment of the Commission would presumably be opposed by Soviet bloc.

6. Completed abnegation from the Korean issue by the United Nations would be acknowledgement of defeat. The immediate withdrawal of the commission coming on the heels of United States troops withdrawals, might be interpreted as abandonment of the South Korean Republic and have unsettling effects.

7. It would be unrealistic not to recognise that, despite U.S.S.R. defiance of the United Nations in not recognising the Commission, and despite North Korea's adamant refusal to receive the Commission, there exists in North Korea a de facto Government recognised by the six United Nations member states.

8. It would be unrealistic also not to take account of the fears of the South Korean Government that if they were forced to accept Communists into a coalition Government, the pattern of development might be the same as in Eastern European States with the ultimate emergence of a Communist dictatorship.

9. In the circumstances, it may be best to recognise the hardening of the division in Korea and to concentrate on reducing barriers and on maintaining peace. Ultimate unification might have to await the general easing of tension.

1. Report to the General Assembly might express regret for the hostile attitude of the North Korean regime to the Commission, and hopes for their future co-operation.

2. The Commission should express the view that an important means of contributing to the prospect of unification would be the achievement of a broader basis of popular support for the Government (this had already been included in report of sub-committee 1).

3. Following on conclusions 1, 2 and 3 above, I had recommendation included in sub-committee report adopted by the Commission that the General Assembly bring to the attention of the United States and U.S.S.R. their original responsibility for the division of Korea and exhort them continually to use their good offices to promote unification. (Such a recommendation does not shift total responsibility back to a formal conference of the big two).

4. Following on conclusions 4, 5 and 6. The Commission should recommend its withdrawal from Korea later this week and its replacement by a less pretentious body such as a good Offices Committee or Commissioner. Difficulties in reaching agreements in the present Commission would be an argument in favour of single Commissioner.

5. Arising from conclusion 6, the Commission might recommend that, to provide continuity, the present Commission or a quorum thereof should remain in Seoul until October-November by which time the Assembly should have considered the report.

6. Following conclusions 7 and 8, the new United Nations Commissioner's role would stress offer of Good Offices to assist in any reduction of barriers, rather than larger aim of unification. The use of the term 'Mediator' might be avoided as suggesting equality of status between North and South. His seat should not necessarily be in Seoul.

7. Arising from conclusion 9, the Commission should recommend creation of international observer groups functioning under the Commissioner of Good Offices. If possible on each side of the 38th parallel, their object would be to ascertain aggression by factual reporting.

1. I returned to Tokyo on 12th July. Discussion in the Commission in Seoul on the final chapter of the draft is due to commence on Wednesday, 20th July, please indicate your views to me prior to then for onward transmission to Jamieson. I would not, repeat not, propose to return to Seoul unless instructed.

2. Letter from Hood to Secretary-General on 13th June confirms me as continuing Australian representative and Jamieson as alternative, contrary to the suggestion in my telegram No. 266. Unless you propose that I spend some time in Korea, it would be more fitting for records to continue to show Jamieson as delegate in my absence at least. Please advise United Nations Secretariat.

[1] Conclusions to Shaw's summary of the commission's draft report to the General Assembly.

[AA : A1838, 3123/12]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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