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:: Nuclear Weapons History Pre Cold War Secretary's Staff Committee

Minutes of the 133d Meeting of the Secretary's Staff Committee

[Extract]

Top Secret

Minutes Secretary's Staff Committee Saturday Morning, July 7, 1945 at 9:15 a. m., in the Secretary's Office

Present: The Acting Secretary, Mr. Grew (presiding)
Messrs. Acheson
Dunn
Hackworth
General Holmes
Messrs. MacLeish
Pasvolsky
Rockefeller
Thorp (for Mr. Clayton)
_______

Benninghoff
Lewis
Yost
Absent: The Secretary
Mr. Clayton

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See Also
The Decision


The Committee met at 9:15 a.m.

Urgent Business

Terms of Japanese Surrender

Mr. Macleish discussed a memorandum which he had submitted to the Secretary on July 6, setting forth his point of view regarding the proposed statement to clarify the meaning of unconditional surrender as it applies to Japan.

The Acting Secretary explained that the proposed joint statement was one which he had been charged by the President to work out with the Secretaries of War and the Navy. The statement (in the form of a proclamation by the United States, Great Britain, China and possibly the Soviet Union) had been completed on July 6 in time for the Secretary to take with him to Berlin. He said it had been approved by Secretaries Stimson and Forrestal, Admiral King, and probably General Marshall. The Acting Secretary then read to the Committee the draft statement.

The Committee discussed the arguments for and against the issuance of such a statement, particularly those relating to the question whether this Government should be placed in a position of supporting the retention of the institution of the Emperor. The Acting Secretary reviewed his arguments in favor of such a statement, including his belief that it is absolutely impossible to abolish the institution; that it is the military element and not the Emperor which had been responsible for the war; an d that what is most important is to eliminate the military machine and the big industrial families of Japan. He emphasized again that such a statement could in no way be interpreted to be a modification of the terms of unconditional surrender.

Mr. MacLeish referred again to his feeling that the institution of the Emperor was an implement which the military machine had found useful in controlling the Japanese people. Mr. Acheson said he could not understand why, if the Emperor had no importance in Japanese war-making capacity, the military element in Japan should be so insistent on retaining the Emperor. He said there must be some reason why the people now in control consider the institution to be vital to them.

Mr. Pasvolsky raised the question how large an army would be needed to control the Japanese people if the throne were abolished. Mr. MacLeish pointed out that the political institutions of Germany had been abolished and we were proposing to control the situation there. Mr. Dunn asked whether it was necessary to go beyond a statement that the Japanese would be permitted to form a government which would be peaceful. Mr. Hackworth asked why the statement could not merely say (1) that we propose to get rid of the military control of Japan, and (2) we will give the Japanese people the opportunity to develop a government of their own choosing. The Acting Secretary asked Mr. Hackworth to write out this suggested formula and to present it at the next meeting of the Committee. He suggested also that Mr. Dunn might bear in mind the Committee's discussion when he goes to the forthcoming Berlin meeting.

Mr. Acheson said he hoped there was nothing in the record of this Committee to indicate that the Committee had approved the proposed statement. The Acting Secretary said there was not, and that the Committee was not involved or responsible in any way for the statement which had been submitted to the Secretary on July 6.

Source: FRUS: Conference of Berlin (Potsdam) 1945 , volume 1, 900-901