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November 9, 1945

Note Presented to V.M. Molotov by US Ambassador Mr. Harriman

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US Ambassador Mr. Harriman presented [this] to V. M. Molotov on 9 November 1945


translation from English





The Government of the United States has closely examined the changes to the proposals about the control mechanism for Japan and about the Far East Commission which Mr. Molotov presented to Ambassador Harriman on 5 November, and that it cannot agree with the situation which these changes would create.


In its changes the Soviet Government actually proposed that all action by the Government of the United States on the question of giving directives to the Supreme Commander be subjected to coordination with the decisions of the Far East Commission and that these decisions should be made with the unanimous agreement of the four main Allies. The Government of the United States is deprived of the right to give timely directives. Thus, the Government of the United States would be paralyzed if or until it could get the unanimous approval of the four powers, and also a majority in the Commission. In addition, if any of the other Council members expressed disagreement then the Supreme Commander is prohibited from issuing any orders on his own initiative on “questions of principle” until such question is handed over for the consideration of the governments or the Far East Commission and until unanimous agreement is reached among the four main Allies. Thus, it seems that the Government of the United States, which bears the responsibility for implementing the surrender terms for Japan and also for putting these terms into effect with the aid of its own military mechanism, will not be in a position to carry out this responsibility both through own governmental mechanism as well with the aid of the decisions of the Supreme Commander in Japan.


The impression is created that the changes proposed by the Soviet Government on 5 November are a complete retreat from the statement contained in Mr. Molotov’s 21 October letter that the Soviet Government was ready to follow the Romanian formula, and also a retreat from the statement of Generalissimo Stalin to Harriman on the same question. Generalissimo Stalin compared the situation in Japan to the analogous situation in Hungary and Romania, and not the situation in Germany, and agreed that the American Supreme Commander should have the final voice. However, the Soviet changes include in the control over Japan the same principles of unanimity which are employed in Germany, where the situation is completely different. From the very beginning the Government of the United States has clearly stated that such a regime is unacceptable to it. The Government of the United States and the armed forces of the United States have occupied Japan in the name of the United Nations. It bears responsibility for the implementation of the surrender terms and the occupation of Japan. Neither the Government of the United States nor the Supreme Commander of the United States [SIC] in Japan can be deprived of the responsibility for making and implementing final decisions. The Government of the United States has always desired to go far to ensure the Allies’ participation in the drafting of the main political decisions through the Far East Commission, and to also give its Allies the opportunity to give advice and consult about the means by which these decisions will be implemented through the Allied Military Council. In the opinion of the Government of the United States the practice and the procedures proposed by it in these two documents about the Allied Military Council and the Far East Commission are a significant step forward against the practice and procedures employed in the Balkan Control Commissions, in particular with respect to consultation beforehand, and are quite suitable for the situation in Japan.


The Government of the United States thinks that by virtue of these reasons the Soviet counterproposals of 5 November are not minor differences of an editorial nature about insignificant questions on which agreement could be reached, and therefore they cannot be accepted. They represent a negation of the principle of the main responsibility of the United States in Japan which, as the Government of the United States understands, was accepted by Generalissimo Stalin and Mr. Molotov. If the Soviet Government is ready to accept the principle of the main responsibility of the United States and the Supreme Commander in Japan, then many proposals contained in the Soviet changes either cease to be relevant or are insignificant editorial difficulties.


The Government of the United States does not think that the Soviet proposal that each member of the Allied Military Council can be accompanied by a corresponding staff presents any difficulty. However, it seems that all the other proposals contained in the Soviet changes have a close relationship to the main problem of the character and functions of both the Council and the Commission.


The Government of the United States does not see a reason for real concern by the Soviet Government with regard to the main questions such as the changes in the mode of control over Japan, or whether they could or would be made without comprehensive consultation of the Allies, inasmuch as questions of such a nature are precisely those questions which will be comprehensively examined in the Far East Commission.


The Government of the United States cannot make any substantive changes in the provision about the Allied Control Council; as regards the Far East Commission, it cannot agree to a diminution of the rights presented in 3 (2) to issue temporary directives in the expectation of action by the Commission. The other questions touched upon in the Soviet changes, in particular, the question of the voting procedure, can represent some room for negotiation.


In accordance with the proposal of Generalissimo Stalin up to the present time the Government of the United States has held these negotiations with the Soviet Government on an unofficial bilateral basis. Considerable efforts have been applied to prevent posing this question to the Far East Commission and thereby making these negotiations public. The Government of the United States is encountering ever-growing difficulties in maintaining such a position.


Therefore it considers it important in the highest degree for the Soviet Government to adopt the aforementioned main considerations.


Translated by Potrubach



The United States rejects the majority of the proposed Soviet changes to the control mechanism (Allied Military Council) and Far East Commission, expressing frustration at the Soviet Union’s unwillingness to commit to the American proposals in the unofficial bilateral negotiations.

Document Information


RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 98, ll. 0077-0079. Contributed by Sergey Radchenko and translated by Gary Goldberg.


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