342 Makin to Marshall

Note 328/48 (extract) WASHINGTON, 2 September, 1948

2. The United States Government having approved of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, Indian and New Zealand contingents of the B.C.O.F. [1], the Force now consists of Australians, a few United Kingdom specialist personnel and some New Zealanders whose movement from Japan is now in train. The size of the British Commonwealth force proposed by the United States Government would involve a substantial increase in the present strength of the B.C.O.F.

3. The reasons given when the approval of the United States Government was sought for the complete withdrawal of the U.K. and New Zealand contingents from the Force are still applicable and so neither the Government of the United Kingdom nor of New Zealand is in a position to participate further in the occupation of Japan.

4. The situation in regard to Australian land forces is that despite every effort the numbers of recruits forthcoming have been insufficient to maintain even one brigade in Japan. Many personnel at present serving there are due for release from army service before the end of this year and the Government's service advisers have again reported that after December next it will be quite impracticable to provide and maintain in Japan a greater force than 2,750 all ranks.

5. The Australian Government regrets that the services manpower position in Australia leaves the Government no option but to request the United States Government to agree to the reduction of the Australian contingent of the B.C.O.F. to the maximum force which can be maintained in the present circumstances, namely, one infantry battalion, one air force squadron with the necessary administrative units for their maintenance.

6. It is noted that the United States is unable to provide additional troops to S.C.A.P. to take over the B.C.O.F. areas. The Australian Chiefs of Staff Committee is being requested to instruct the Commander-in-Chief to consult S.C.A.P. in regard to the area for which responsibility should be accepted which is consistent with the strength of the reduced force. [3]

1 Approval was given in 1947 for the Indian withdrawal, in January 1948 for the UK withdrawal and in May 1948 for the NZ withdrawal.

2 The reasons given were manpower shortages and, in the cue of the United Kingdom, financial difficulties also.

3 The Department of Sure replied in a note on 3 November renewing the request in Document 341 and adding that the US Amy was 'anxious that Australia should keep high-ranking officers; in Japan'. The Australian Government replied on 24 November that no change was contemplated in the position of the Commander-in-Chief, but should my be made, regard would be taken of 'the special nature and functions of the BCOF in determining the sums of a successor'.

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