303 Fraser to Evatt

Cablegram 77 WELLINGTON, 11 April 1947, 7.30 p.m.


Your telegram No. 90-Japanese Peace Settlement.

Prime Minister is of the opinion that as a preliminary step United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth Governments should be sounded to ascertain if they would be in a position to accept invitation to participate in immediate discussions at a non- ministerial level on matters related to the Japanese Peace Settlement. Although it would be inconvenient from the point of view of our staffing situation (since the senior officer, which would probably be charged with the responsibility for such work, is in Washington) we would, of course, be willing to cooperate.

2. We have, so far, hardly begun to formulate our views on the nature and substance of the Japanese Settlement. It has always been our intention that should it seem likely that a peace conference be initiated suddenly we would do our best to prepare for and participate in such a meeting. Nevertheless, we feel we have little to gain ourselves by pressing for an early treaty. We have taken this view not because we have been satisfied with the present control machinery but because of the likelihood under existing circumstances that the conclusion of an early peace treaty would be followed by the replacement of existing control with something still less effective. Meanwhile, provided that we participate in such policy decisions as are made concerning the future of Japan, it seems to us no great disadvantage in having these decisions made one by one according as agreement is reached between the participant countries on F.E.C. We take a very different view of any decisions affecting the Japanese Peace Settlement which are made without our active participation. It is in an endeavour to avoid such incidents arising that we had in mind action along the lines of our telegram No. 66. [1] Indeed, we still consider that there is something to be gained by having discussion in F.E.C. and my immediately following telegram contains the text of a message we would like to [send] to other British Commonwealth Governments. [2] It does not say that this proposal and your own desire for a conference in Canberra are, in any way, incompatible. [3]

3. On the proposals raised in your telegram No. 83 we cannot, at this stage, offer more than preliminary and tentative opinions as the matters in question are some of the most fundamental with which the treaty will be concerned. With the sentiments you express in paragraph 3 of your telegram, however, we are in general agreement. With respect to paragraph 4, it is clear that some provision will have to be made for a commission of control for Japan on which former active belligerents should have a continuing voice. However, since we should suppose that the functions of such a commission would be confined to the control of Japan it would seem inadvisable to call it a Pacific Regional Security Commission, as this would be either a misnomer or would have implications of a very far reaching nature. We should also like to consider further what should be the exact relationship of the Control Commission to the United Nations, as Articles 52 to 54 of the Charter appear to contemplate a regional arrangement mainly for the purpose of maintaining peace and security amongst United Nations members rather than specifically for the purpose of exercising corporate control over non-members. There may be no better alternative arrangement, though we are afraid the veto will intrude itself no matter what arrangement is advocated. Until we have given the matter further study we are reluctant to comment on what should be the functions and powers of the Control Commission, especially at present when the date at which it would be established must be very conjectural. In general, however, we agree that for some considerable time the control authorities should have powers which will enable them to eliminate obstacles to democratic tendencies.

1 See Document 299, note 1.

2 Fraser argued that the FEC appeared to be the most convenient vehicle for discussion on this preliminary question. New Zealand was considering inviting member governments to agree that the FEC formulate recommendations, (but not decisions) regarding procedures for negotiating the peace treaty.

3 The Australian Government agreed that the NZ proposals were not incompatible with its own but stressed that approach to the FEC 'should take place as a result of and not prior to proposed conference'.

[AA : A1068, P47/10/61, ii]