325 Shaw to Evatt

Dispatch 1/1948 TOKYO, 13 January 1948


I have the honour to report that in Section 3 of my dispatch No. 5 of 12th December, 1947 [1], I mentioned briefly the difficulties in maintaining the work of the Allied Council for Japan for the indefinite period which may elapse until the completion of the Peace Treaty. Following my arrival in Tokyo in September 1947, the Chairman of the Council, Mr. W. J. Sebald-the American Member, presented a series of SCAP reports on various topics of the Occupation. These reports formed the basis of discussion on the Council but the comments of the Members and in particular of the Soviet Member were considered by the Supreme Commander to be too critical and unconstructive. General MacArthur felt that the Council was being used as an instrument for national propaganda and that it was not advising him on aspects of the Occupation in a sufficiently detached manner. Accordingly I gathered that the Supreme Commander instructed Mr. Sebald not to proceed with the presentation of six further SCAP reports which might have formed the basis of discussion at further meetings of the Council. Since my return to Tokyo a few days ago I have suggested to Mr. Sebald that he continue the presentation of his reports in order to keep the Council going. It is clear that at the moment he is not prepared to do so. He personally would prefer to see the Council discontinue its work altogether, although he admits it would be impracticable to alter the terms of the Moscow Communique of December, 1945, under which the Council was constituted. It would appear that he is disposed merely to call meetings of the Council but not to give it any work.

2. I personally cannot see what topics for discussion I can usefully bring forward unless there are some matters which can be referred either by yourself or by the Far Eastern Commission. I have discussed the matter with the Head of the United Kingdom Liaison Mission [2] and he also has no ideas. His inclination as British Ambassador is to belittle the Council of which he is not a member and helpful advice on the Council's work cannot be expected from him.

3. So far as other members of the Council are concerned, the Chinese representative [3] plays a very negative role and it is hard to imagine that he will present matters for discussion despite China's close interest in this country and despite his very large staff of experts.

4. On the other hand, the Member for the Soviet Union might well feel it important to keep on the Agenda of the Council items under which some critical comment can be expressed of American Occupation policy in Japan. The terms of reference of the Council are wide and it would not be possible for the Chairman to prevent the Soviet Member from initiating discussion on a large number of topics. Our experience in the past few months has been that the debates have been acrimonious and often personal. The remarks of the Russian delegate would be extremely distasteful to the Supreme Commander but some useful views and information on the Occupation might be aired.

5. The last Meeting of the Council on the 7th January, which was reported briefly in my telegram of that date, was devoted entirely to a discussion under rules of procedure arising out of an effort by the Soviet Member to introduce a discussion on disarmament and demobilisation in Japan. Some days previously General Kislenko had written formally to the Secretary General of the Council requesting that an item be placed on the Agenda entitled 'Statement by the Chairman on the Progress of Demilitarisation and Demobilisation in Japan', and listing ten lengthy questions incorporating demands for information. Mr. Sebald took the view that an Agenda item calling for a report by himself was not in order and that many of the points covered by the questions had already been the subject of full reports by SCAP. On these grounds he rejected the item for the Agenda as proposed. In addition, I gather that he lectured General Kislenko, in General MacArthur's view that the Council should not be made a sounding board for critical comments on the Occupation, expressed from a national viewpoint.

6. The Soviet Member did not accept the rejection of his item and made a statement on the incident at the following Meeting of the Council on the 7th January. The verbatim minutes of this Meeting are attached, from which you will see that the American and Soviet Members engaged in acrimonious and often irrelevant controversy. I had not been prepared for the incident at all but it appeared that Mr. Sebald was within his grounds in rejecting the item for the Agenda in the form in which it was submitted. I have since discussed this with Mr. Sebald informally and he agrees that should General Kislenko list for discussion a report or statement by himself on the subject of the progress of demilitarisation and demobilisation in Japan it would have to be accepted even though he believed that it would be the starting point for another critical debate which, in his view, would be profitless. I was relieved to hear that he took this view as if the question had again emerged at the Allied Council under procedure it would have been clearly necessary for me to support the Soviet Member's contention that members should have the fullest right to submit items for discussion. I would assume from this that the Soviet Member would resubmit his item and that this will be accepted for discussion at the next Meeting. It is clear however that the American Member will take the view that the fullest information on this subject has already been widely circulated and that he will regard the Soviet Member's statement, no matter in what form it is presented, as an attack on the Occupation policy. In such an event, a further repetition of the rather barren controversy which took up the time at the last Meeting is an that can be expected.

In such a controversy there is little that I or my Chinese colleague could do.

1 Volume 12, Document 498.

2 Sir Alvary Gascoigne.

3 General Shang Chen.

[AA:A1838/278, 482/2, ii]