"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Japanese-Soviet Negotiations, Memorandum of a Conversation

[Place] Secretary Dulles' Residence, Washington
[Date] September 7, 1956
[Source] Nichibei kankei shiryo-shu 1945-97, pp.376-379. FRUS: 1955-1957, XXIII, pp.227-232.
[Full text]

Memorandum of a Conversation, Secretary Dulles' Residence, Washington, September 7, 1956, 9 p.m.*1*


Japanese-Soviet Negotiations


Mr. Masayuki Tani, Ambassador E. & P., Embassy of Japan

Mr. Shigenobu Shima, Minister Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Japan

Mr. John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State

Mr. Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs

Mr. Noel Hemmendinger, Acting Director, Office of Northeast Asian Affairs

Ambassador Tani called at the Secretary's request at the Secretary's home at 9 PM.

The Secretary handed Ambassador Tani an Aide-Memoire*2*, copy of which is attached hereto.

The Secretary said that Ambassador Allison was making a similar communication in Tokyo at about the same time through Foreign Office channels. He said that the U.S. is willing that the Aide-Memoire be published, but suggests that until the Japanese Government has examined it and reached its own conclusions on this question, all knowledge of the Aide-Memoire should be held confidential. Ambassador Tani concurred.

The Secretary proceeded to make a number of other observations, following closely the attached "Oral Points", which he handed to Ambassador Tani at the close of the interview. The changes and interpolations which were made by the Secretary as he spoke are shown by brackets and underlining in the attached copy.

The Secretary then asked if Prime Minister Hatoyama was going to Moscow. Ambassador Tani said that there were news reports that a decision had been made that he should go and that the Position to be taken had also been reported, the so-called Adenauer formula, with conditions not only with respect to return of prisoners, but also support of Japan's entry into the United Nations and effectuations of the fisheries pact. He did not know whether these reports were accurate.

The Secretary asked how many prisoners the Japanese estimate still to be in Soviet hands. Ambassador Tani said that their figure is 11,000, but that the Soviet Union has confirmed only 1,000. As Minister Kono had said here, it appeared that many of them were untraceable. Recently a group of between 150 and 200 had returned from the USSR and there were some among them who were not on any Soviet list, which indicated that the Russians themselves might not know exactly how many there were. The Secretary commented that it is very difficult dealing with the Communists on prisoners, as we have found with respect to the Americans held by Communist China.

The Secretary went on to say in conclusion that the U.S. wants to be of help to Japan, and has no thought of making difficulties. Its only desire is to be helpful. His reference to Article 26, he said, had been entirely in this spirit, not with any idea of making territorial demands ourselves, but simply to give Japan an argument with the Russians.

Ambassador Tani said that he understood this and thought that while there had been some original misunderstanding, the Japanese press had gradually come to understand the Secretary's intent.

The Secretary said that he had, of course, written the treaty and had inserted this article for the protection of Japan, so that if other countries should make demands upon Japan, Japan would have a basis of resisting by pointing to the San Francisco treaty. All he had done was to recall the purpose of that article. The Ambassador said that he had read the Secretary's statement at his press conference on this subject and fully understood. Ambassador Tani referred also to public statements by the United States with respect to its administration of the Ryukyus and to the desire which has been expressed in Japan for some definition of the duration of U.S. administration as consistent with the fact that the U.S. is making no territorial demands.

Ambassador Tani called attention to the reference in the Aide-Memoire to the statement made by the U.S. Delegate at San Francisco that the sovereignty of territories renounced by Japan would have to be left to "international solvents other than this treaty". He understood, he said, that it would not be feasible to call an international conference at this time, but would appreciate it if the Secretary could indicate if he had in mind any other activities of a diplomatic character, for instance, which might be taken in the future when the situation might have changed. The Secretary said that this was a very hard question. He would say that the processes that he had in mind - and he of course had been the U.S. Delegate at San Francisco who had made the statement - are the whole series of processes that are under way at present. The negotiations between Japan and the Soviet Union are a part, as are our own efforts to assist together with any pressures which we may possibly be able to bring about from other governments. He recalled that the Potsdam declaration which had set forth the surrender terms for Japan had referred to limiting Japan's sovereignty to the

four main islands and "such other islands as we determine". That declaration was in the name of the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Soviet Union had claimed to accede to this document, but he believed the "we" referred to the three countries which had formulated the terms and that they were entitled to an exceptional voice. For instance, if the combined view of these three governments could be obtained and publicly stated that might have great weight. A full conference would open up other questions such as the status of Formosa, which did not appear wise.

Basically, the Secretary continued, the USSR is going to be guided by its estimate of Japanese reactions. If the result of Soviet toughness is to bring about increasing Japanese hostility, then the Soviets would be inclined to reconsider. If toughness increased Japanese sentiment toward conciliation with the Communists, obviously the Soviets would continue to be tough. The whole pattern of Soviet conduct was to compromise when met by strength and to remain tough when met by weakness.

Ambassador Tani said that personally he saw some possible advantage in an Adenauer

type formula in that perhaps it would avoid the recognition of Soviet sovereignty, leaving that for future settlement. There has been a considerable stiffening of Japanese Opinion but it may take more time, so that accordingly, the question of the northern territories might remain unsettled. It would be important during this period for Japan to have moral support of the free world to help prevent the Russians from continuing indefinitely to cheat. This issue was important for the Japanese nation and for the future of the whole world. The Ambassador recalled that he was in Tokyo as advisor to the Foreign Minister when consideration was being given to commencement of negotiations. Elections were in progress and there was a considerable public opinion in favor of normalizing relations with the Soviet Union. Shigemitsu had started the negotiations as a way of ventilating the issue, but unfortunately the political situation had deteriorated rather than stabilized. In his opinion, the conservative, constructive elements in Japan have no alternative but to bind themselves more closely to the U.S. and the free world and oppose the Communists. The Socialists say that if the U.S. is not helpful, they can turn to the continent. This is irresponsible and would mean ruin to Japan, but if the issues are to be ventilated, the support of the U.S. and the free world is essential so that there will be a political stabilization and firming of public opinion on Communist relations. It will be particularly important after the publication of the Aide-Memoire to handle public opinion in Japan and the world with great care.

The Secretary agreed with these last sentiments and said that he thought also that the Japanese should think in terms of hardening their position with respect to Communist China, because pressures to enter into negotiations with Communist China will be put on in turn.

Ambassador Tani recalled that he received in Tokyo a paper from Ambassador Allison upon instructions from the Department saying that the U.S. position was that we did not wish to interfere in the negotiations, but did expect Japan to respect the San Francisco treaty system, and that warning was given at that time to be careful about the implications for relations with Communist China. He could assure the Secretary that this had made a deep impression. The Ambassador recalled also that the Japanese Minister of Labor, Mr. Kuraishi, had given assurance to senior officers of the Department when he was here that Japan would not take steps toward closer relations with Communist China without first consulting with the U.S.*3* He felt, the Ambassador said, that this question in the long run was a more complicated and a more dangerous one.

The Secretary said that he believed that the normalization of relations was more important for the Soviet Union than for Japan. He could say the same things to his Japanese friends that he has had occasion to say to his German friends, that they did not yet realize their growing importance in the world because they have suffered defeat and had to work their way back. Japan should not be in a position of a suppliant. The Russians were anxious to establish diplomatic relations because it would give them through their Embassy Staff opportunities for infiltration and subversion. If, the Secretary said, you are going to allow them to come in to try to subvert you, you should make them pay a price for the privilege.

Ambassador Tani said that he agreed that subversion was very important in Soviet intentions and was convinced that it is important for Japan to strengthen its internal security. He referred to Mr. Kono's comments on this subject to the Secretary when he returned from Moscow.



(a) The Government of the United States has considered seriously whether a determination of the territorial questions could be assisted by an international conference of the interested powers, but has concluded that such a conference would not [conduce to a] promote a desired solution of the problem at this time.

(b) The information available to us does not permit a conclusion whether any further Soviet concessions would be made but our experience indicates that [only] patience and resoluteness can exact the final Soviet position. We recognize that Soviet strategic interest makes it unlikely that the Soviet Union will surrender control of Etorofu and Kunashiri, but this does not necessarily affect the possibility of a treaty formula by which Japan does not purport itself to relinquish sovereignty.

(c) It is not clear to us why the Soviet position on the availability of the Adenauer formula has so hardened and it appears possible that this is a bargaining device and that that door is not closed. Members of the Japanese delegation can probably judge this better, however, than we can. I do not see myself that this would be very advantageous for Japan, but I am not sure.

(d) The record of broken Soviet promises indicates that utmost caution should be exercised before assuming that Japan's desires on prisoners, United Nations admission, and fisheries would be met even if a treaty is concluded, or, I might add, even if an Adenauer-type formula were adopted. The United States regards Soviet actions on prisoners, United Nations admission, and fisheries as incompatible with the pretensions of the Soviet Union to friendship with Japan and believes they give ground for concern with respect to the manner in which the Soviet Union can be expected to conduct its future relations with Japan. I have often pointed out that the Soviet Union promised to return prisoners of war in 1945, by adhering to the surrender terms, and if these promises were broken they might be broken again.

(e) The United States desires to act in such a manner as Japan regards as helpful and is willing if the Japanese desire to make public its position as stated in the aide-memoire. In the meantime, we urge that decision on publication be carefully concerted and that there be no leakage until publication is agreed.

(f) In addition, the United States is willing, if the Japanese desire, to give diplomatic support to requests by Japan or other nations to make declarations along similar lines.

*1* Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.941/9-755. Confidential. Drafted by Hemmendinger on September 8.

*2* See supra.

*3* See Document 81.

*4* As noted in the memorandum of conversation, the Secretary's changes and additions are indicated on the source text by brackets and underlining. The underlining is printed here as italics.