Volume #13 - 145.|
JAPANESE PEACE SETTLEMENT
COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE, CANBERRA
Memorandum from Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
May 6, 1947|
JAPANESE PEACE SETTLEMENT|
In one of the informal meetings of the Heads of British Commonwealth Missions in Moscow held on April 7th Mr. Bevin expressed apprehension lest the United States suddenly announce its plans for the Japanese peace settlement before receiving the views of other interested governments. Mr. Bevin did not discuss this matter with General Marshall in Moscow.
2. Following on this statement by Mr. Bevin the United Kingdom issued an invitation on April 11th for an early meeting between Commonwealth Governments in London "to consider policy with a view to an approach to the United States Government as the next step."
3. On April 15th we were informed by our Chargé d'Affaires in Moscow that Dr. Evatt had told Mr. Bevin through the Australian Chargé d'Affaires in Moscow that he hoped to call a conference in Australia of those members of the British Commonwealth represented on the Allied Council for Japan. (Note that this would exclude South Africans and ourselves) Afterward it should be possible for agreed views to be submitted to Washington.
4. On April 17th we received a telegram from the Australian Minister for External Affairs stating that in view of the special position of Australia and New Zealand in relation to the settlement with Japan and Australian representation of common Commonwealth interest in Japan (Note: reference is to the Allied Council for Japan where we did not accept the principle of joint Commonwealth representation), Australia would prefer to invite the British Commonwealth Governments to Canberra for informal meetings during May in order to secure some agreement on procedure and perhaps the general lines of the settlement before the question is raised formally with the United States Government.
5. After seeking the advice of our High Commissioner in London and Ambassador in Washington, and with your approval, we requested our High Commissioners in London, Canberra, Wellington and Pretoria on April 19th to inform the various Commonwealth Governments that we favoured an informal exchange of views in Washington between the British Commonwealth representatives on the Far Eastern Commission. We entered the caveat that such meetings should be of an informal and private nature for the purpose of exchanging views, and should not be expected to lead to the formulation of a single Commonwealth policy to which all members of the Commonwealth would be committed in the later stages of the Japanese settlement.
6. The only reply we have received to date has been from the United Kingdom which stated that,
"In view of the importance of the issues involved and their significance to Australia and New Zealand in particular, it would be desirable, if practicable, to arrange for a meeting on a Ministerial level in order to ensure that there is the fullest mutual understanding of the respective points of view both as regards procedure and as regards the substance of a Japanese peace settlement."
The United Kingdom went on to say that they would find it difficult at present to arrange for suitable representation on a Ministerial level in Australia and it was for this reason that they hoped that the meetings might take place in London. They hoped that on further consideration, if it were found possible to arrange such meetings, the Canadian Government would also be represented.
7. In his memorandum to you on April 18th† Mr. Pearson stated that Dr. Evatt's request for the meeting of Commonwealth representatives to be held in Canberra would raise a difficult problem for us. There would be no particular difficulty with regard to an exchange of views on the substance of the settlement with Japan. We could probably arrange to send one of our Far Eastern experts for this purpose. The real difficulty would arise on the procedural side. Dr. Evatt has made public statements claiming the right for Australia to participate in drafting of the peace settlement for Japan at the highest level and we have learned from Washington that Australia has received assurance that the United States will back this claim. However, if owing to opposition from the U.S.S.R., Australia is unable to secure full participation in the treaty drafting at the highest level, she might favour the type of joint Commonwealth representation now employed in the Allied Council for Japan. Such a proposal would place us in a difficult position as we have not accepted the principle of British Commonwealth representation on the Allied Council for Japan and our stake in the Japanese settlement is not large enough for us to seriously consider a departure from our established practice if we were invited to accept joint Commonwealth representation in the Council of Foreign Ministers in passing on the drafts of the Japanese peace treaty.
8. These procedural difficulties would very likely come up for discussion at any talks held in Canberra. It would be asking a good deal of our new High Commissioner to Australia to enter immediately on ticklish discussions of this nature even if he were to reach Australia in time. I assume that there would be a good deal of difficulty in arranging for a Cabinet Minister to attend any such meetings in Australia in May or June. For this reason, it would seem undesirable to give any encouragement to the Australians at this stage to think that we would be in a position to accept their invitation to attend such talks in Canberra.
9. In view of our difficulty in attending talks in Canberra, we have been considering the desirability of throwing our weight now to the side of holding such conversations in London where we would be ably represented by Mr. Robertson. We have requested the views of Mr. Wrong and Mr. Robertson on this proposal before submitting it to you for your approval.
10. I am attaching for convenience of reference, copies of telegram† exchanged with our Acting High Commissioner in Australia on this subject. You will note that in telegrams No. 63 of April 2lst† and No. 68 of April 23rd† we are given some indication of the Australian views on the procedure and substance for the peace settlement.