Cranborne to Chifley

Cablegram D1245 LONDON, 17 July 1945, 9.25 p.m.


My preceding telegram, D.1243. [1] The following is the text of the Foreign Office telegram to Washington.


The American objectives as described in the preamble of the State Department’s document are unexceptionable. The question is whether the methods contemplated for their realisation are those most likely to achieve this aim. It may be assumed that some form of military occupation of Japan will be a necessary sequel of the military operations required for her defeat, if only for the purpose of implementing the purely military requirements of the Allies. But more than one view is possible regarding its scale and duration. The total and protracted military occupation, combined with the assumption of all the functions of Government, is likely to be a strain on both manpower and physical resources. Faced with a proud and stubborn race, likely to resort freely to assassination, a foreign military Government may require the backing of an Army much larger in proportion to the population than that required in Germany. This burden may have to be shouldered if it is the only way to render Japan permanently harmless. But is there no other way? Upon defeat Japan will be deprived of her overseas territories and will be in a position analogous to 1868. She will be militarily impotent and financially weak. A large part of her industrial equipment will have been destroyed and she will be unable to borrow capital. She will be dependent for her very existence on the resumption of international trade and it should be possible for the Allies, especially in the period immediately following her defeat, to decide and control the nature and extent of her exports and imports. The Allies will also be able to defer making new Treaties with Japan. Granted agreement between the major powers, including Russia, should it not be possible for them by exercising the positive power of controlling trade and the negative power of withholding Treaties to induce Japan herself to introduce such reforms in her Constitution and the working thereof, as will justify confidence in her future good behaviour? It is desirable also to consider what place in world economy is to be taken by Japan after defeat, to what extent, if any, Japanese productive capacity is to be used to supply the needs of, for example south east Asia, for essential consumption goods and what are likely to be the economic and political consequences, and, more particularly, the reactions on projects for the political re- education of the Japanese people and on the prospects of the liberalisation of Japanese politics if a large proportion of the urban population of Japan (more than 50 per cent of a total 76,000,000) is unemployed and inadequately fed.

It seems possible that the enforcement of the necessary economic controls might be achieved by the military occupation not of the entire country, but of certain easily held key points, by the presence of Allied war vessels at ports and by occasional demonstration flights of massed aircraft.

Might it not be preferable also for the Allies, instead of suspending the Constitutional Powers of the Emperor, to work through those powers or through whatever state administration they may find in being in Japan, using economic sanctions to secure compliance with such requirements as the repeal of obnoxious laws, the dissolution of political societies, the reform of education, freedom of speech and worship, etc.? If you see no objection, please make an oral communication on the above lines to the State Department, emphasising that it represents the preliminary departmental reactions of the Foreign Office only and is entirely without prejudice, not only to the laws of the Dominions (which must be expressly reserved) but also to the final conclusions of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom themselves.



1 Document 134.


[AA : A1066, P45/10/1/1]