Commonwealth Government to Addison

Cablegram 230 CANBERRA, 12 August 1945


Your D.1415. [1] Proposed United States reply is much to be preferred in respect of requirement on the Emperor to sign the actual surrender. Such signature will not weaken but greatly strengthen the act for the purpose of immediate obedience by Japanese forces wherever they are. We are convinced of the advantage of associating the Emperor personally with the collapse and defeat of Japanese Militarism thus greatly helping to destroy any legend that he is outside and above responsibility for the conduct of the war and its ultimate disaster for Japan.

2. The amendment suggested by you in respect of more explicit orders to the Japanese Military, Naval and Air authorities is an obvious improvement, provided the Emperor is fully associated with the Act of Surrender.

3. As stated in our telegram yesterday [2] there must be clear recognition of supreme and exclusive Allied authority over Japan.

It is vital therefore to make it clear that from the moment of the signing of the surrender all the powers and prerogatives of the Emperor will lapse indefinitely and that all authority in relation to the Japanese Empire will be vested exclusively in the Allied Command and remain so vested until the final peace settlement.

4. Neither the United States draft nor your own comment on it meets point of prime importance implicit in the Japanese message, namely whether the prerogative of the Emperor includes immunity from charge and possibility of conviction arising out of Emperor’s responsibility for commencement of war of aggression and for atrocious methods used in the conduct of the war by Japan. Reply to Japanese message must therefore make it clear that every person to whom war crimes can be justly imputed shall be liable to punishment and that under the Potsdam principles no exception to this general rule is admissible.

5. There is undoubtedly a small but influential school of thought in some Allied countries which is prepared to save the face of the Emperor. To this view we are resolutely opposed. Even now the atrocities which have been proved in the Pacific Campaign through Japanese action cannot be fully known or appreciated by the Allied Governments. Even the ultimate fate of our prisoners of war who have been barbarously ill-treated under the Emperor’s orders is still unknown. In the circumstances we must appeal to you to undertake to resist any claim of the Emperor or on his behalf to immunity from punishment, to support us in bringing him to justice and to deprive him of any authority to rule from the moment of the surrender. We submit that any other course will effectually prevent the emergence of a democratic and peace-loving regime in Japan.

6. Our earlier messages on the above points have been unambiguous and we earnestly hope that they will be taken into the fullest consideration and given effect … both by yourself and the other governments with whom you are in communication in this matter.

However, we are left with the feeling that our views previously stated have not in fact so far had adequate consideration and could not in the circumstances have been taken into account by the other governments. Because of the time factor and the vital importance of this matter we are therefore making our views known direct in Washington, Chungking and Moscow.

7. If a final agreement is reached as to the proposed answer and our views as stated herein are accepted we would ask that Australia be expressly associated and by name with the reply.


1 Document 177.

2 Document 176.


[AA : A1066, P45/10/3, ii]