25 Cablegram from Spender to Watt

Cablegram, Ottawa, 3 November 1950


Re Japanese Peace Treaty.

I had a long discussion with Dulles and Rusk on Monday morning when I re-emphasized the dangers of a re-armed Japan which would probably result from the policy which United States was pursuing particularly the proposal to place no limitation upon her re-armament. This I stated was completely unacceptable to the Australian Government and to the Australian people. It was made clear by me that we did not trust Japan and that United States policy would place her in a position where, depending on the extent of her re-armament, she could engage in international blackmail if a global conflict should take place. A situation could easily arise in the future where Japan, avoiding association with any power grouping, would be enabled to turn to aggression without the capacity of United States or any other nation to prevent its commencement.

2. This they sought to counter by arguments with which we are already familiar, namely - (a) The need to attract Japan to our side. On this I said that only qualified support of this proposition could be forthcoming depending upon the extent to which control was exercised over Japanese re-armament and the extent to which Australia's security was safeguarded.

(b) Suggested parallel between ourselves vis-a-vis Japan and the French vis-a-vis Germany. To this I pointed out that the positions are in no way comparable for reasons which I need not elaborate in this cable.

(c) That Australia would be perfectly secure because United States forces would be retained in Japan, and we could, if thought fit, participate also in retaining forces there working under a unified command. On this I stated that this rested upon no sure foundation and that the position would accordingly remain fluid since the policy to retain troops in Japan assuming that they otherwise would be sufficient to ensure security could easily change.

3. Whilst they are clearly concerned about our attitude, I am satisfied that we will need to exercise the strongest pressure through Great Britain, if the United States is not substantially to succeed in the policy of a soft peace with Japan which it is presently pursuing. I fear that she will find support from Canada and may well receive no resistance from Great Britain, unless we can bring influence to bear upon her. I have discussed whole question fully with Tange who is handling the matter in New York and given him instructions accordingly. Further action can probably await my return to Australia.

4. Regarding the Pacific Pact. This matter was discussed fully substantively along the lines of my discussion with Allison. I found Rusk in particular more favourable to the general need of some arrangement than any with whom I have spoken so far. He made it clear as Acheson had already previously, that in the event of any aggression against Australia, United States could be relied upon to come to our aid. I said, however, that whilst I accepted this, I desired something of more substance. Other times, other tunes. Different suggestions were canvassed and Rusk and Dulles who emphasised the difficulties of any pact, promised to see whether some formula could be devised. The course suggested by Rusk was - (a) A declaration by the President in suitable terms;

(b) the setting up of formal military machinery on Pacific problems between United States with at least Australia and New Zealand;

(c) Political liaison between the Pacific area and the North Atlantic Organization so as to permit Australia to participate in global discussions.

5. The matter has been left at this stage with an agreement that I should communicate to Rusk the terms of a general statement upon my discussions in United States, which I would have in mind making to the House so that he might express any views thereon to me through the United States' Ambassador at Canberra before it was made.

6. Tange is also handling this matter in New York.

7. In my recent cable to the Prime Minister I stated that I did not think that any political decision[s] of any moment were taken at the recent meeting between MacArthur and Truman although this does not happen to be the view of a number of newspaper correspondents.[1] Rusk told me - (a) there was no decision arrived at in respect of the sending of additional armed forces to Japan;

(b) that MacArthur was quite confident that with existing forces Korea could be safely held;

(c) that United States' views on Formosa generally be accorded with our own.

They did not want to be bound by the Cairo declaration[2] which they regarded as invalidated by the events which have happened and expressed general agreement with the two objectives in respect of Formosa which I expressed in my cable to the Prime Minister before I left.

1 Truman had issued a communique on 15 October about his meeting with MacArthur on Wake Island where the principle topic had been the United Nations action in Korea.

2 See note 2 to Document 18.

[NAA : A1838, 535/6, i]