SECRETARY of State Marshall proposed a conference to draw up a treaty of peace with Japan in notes which he sent to China, Britain and the Soviet Union on July 21, 1947, about three months after the Council of Foreign Ministers at Moscow failed to reach any agreement over a treaty with Germany. He suggested that a conference of the 11 members of the Far Eastern Commission -- namely, Soviet Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Philippines -- be convened either at Washington or San Francisco. He asked that it should take decisions by a two-thirds majority rather than unanimously, as at Moscow.

The three countries addressed returned different answers. Britain expressed agreement with Secretary Marshall's suggestions, with the full concurrence of the Commonwealth nations which were then meeting at Canberra. In a later note of December 12, however, she desired to have Pakistan and possibly also Burma take part in the conference. The response from Moscow, which came promptly on July 22, was unfavorable. Soviet Russia maintained that the drafting of the Japanese treaty was the exclusive task of the four principal Powers -- the United States, Britain, China and herself -- and insisted that each should enjoy the right of veto. The view was repeated in later Soviet notes, though the last modified the earlier position in that Soviet Russia expressed a willingness to have the other Powers in the Far Eastern Commission take part in the conference as members of the various committees, in a purely advisory capacity.

The Chinese response has been and remains in the nature of a compromise. While agreeing with Secretary Marshall that decisions be by a two-thirds majority of the 11 Powers, China agrees with the Soviet Union that any decision must have the full concurrence of all the four principal Powers. In other words, each of these Powers should have the right of veto. There is thus a three-cornered disagreement which has remained substantially unchanged for some six months. Russia's insistence on the veto was, no doubt, expected, but China's probably was not. The failure of the London Conference in mid-December has tended to confirm certain aspects of the American position, since it is now plainer than ever that as long as there is the right of veto, which the Soviet Union exercises so generously, there will be no decisions in any international conference. Under the circumstances, then, an explanation of the Chinese view of the problems of a Japanese peace treaty may be useful.

The Chinese position is being taken independently of Russia, and is not a tactical move. It is dictated by a deep conviction that China's national security will be threatened by any arrangement which leaves her without the protection of the veto, since with the present alignment of the Powers she would certainly be outvoted on all major issues. The country is united in this stand. For three long generations, China's public enemy number one has been Japan. The war cost China $50 billion and the lives of 15,000,000 people; an additional 60,000,000 were left homeless. She will never consider the Japanese problem solved unless her fears are allayed and some of her basic desires met.

Let us then see how China is likely to stand on some of the concrete issues which will be brought up for discussion before the peace conference. The legal basis for the present occupation of Japan and the negotiation of the Japanese treaty is found in certain articles of the Potsdam proclamation of July 26, 1945:

There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest [and] . . . irresponsible militarism. (Article 6)

Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth. (Article 7)

[In accordance with the Cairo declaration] Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine. (Article 8)

. . . stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals. . . . The Japanese government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. (Article 10)

Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the payment of just reparation in kind, but not those industries which will enable her to rearm for war. (Article 11)

Taken together, these articles lay down the principles for the demilitarization and disarmament of Japan (both physical and psychological), post-treaty control, limits on Japanese territorial sovereignty, the determination of Japan's economic and industrial level, and reparations. I shall present what I believe to be the popular Chinese view on these subjects.

The Chinese regard the Potsdam proclamation as the foundation of Allied policy toward Japan and hope that all the Powers will abide by its letter and spirit. It requires that Japan's warmaking power be destroyed, that the authority and influence of irresponsible militarism be eliminated, and that "freedom of speech and religion and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights, shall be established."

1. Demilitarization and Disarmament. The complete destruction of Japan's military forces and of her war potential, essential as it is for peace and security, must be accompanied by a basic change in Japanese mentality. The source from which militarism in Japan derives its driving force and authority is the peculiar attitude of the people toward their emperor. The Chinese have had more experience with the Japanese than have any other people, and they feel that they know more about them. No one in China believes that democracy in Japan is possible unless the emperor system is eliminated, or at least changed much more radically than it has been to date. The emperor has been the symbol, the divine symbol, from which the Japanese militarists have received the inspiration and the religious sanction for world conquest. There is evidence to show that he cannot disclaim responsibility for the war, and it was he who decided, during the conference with his ministers on August 10, 1945, that the war was over. It is true that the divinity of the emperor is officially denied in an imperial rescript of January 1, 1946, but the rescript cleverly affirms the continuity of the present reign with that of Emperor Meiji.

When the treaty negotiations begin there will be sharp differences of opinion among the Powers as to whether it is possible to construct a democracy within the framework of the emperor system. The British will point to their own constitutional monarchy to suggest that it is. The Americans will support the reformed emperor system on the basis of the postwar record, which is almost entirely their work, and will say that the new Japanese constitution promulgated on May 3 of last year has made the imperial system innocuous. The Chinese will ask that the Emperor be treated the way Wilhelm II was after the First World War, and will maintain that the new constitution is merely a rehashing of the old one and is related to it in spirit. Soviet Russia will probably stand with the Chinese.

On June 21, 1946, the United States submitted a comprehensive draft treaty for the disarmament of Japan, covering the army, the navy and the air force, and aiming at "total disarmament and demilitarization." Article 1 describes at some length what it means by the prevention of the manufacture, production or importation of military equipment in Japan. The suggested treaty follows quite closely a similar treaty which was drafted for the disarmament and demilitarization of Germany. There is not likely to be much difference of opinion about the principles which it enumerates, except possibly on some minor details, but there may be much disagreement about Japan's war potential.

2. Post-treaty Control. Article 12 of the Potsdam proclamation says that the occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as the objectives have been accomplished and "there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government." The length of time needed to fulfill these conditions is usually estimated at from one generation to half a century. If the Powers were to coöperate, and if democracy were to develop in Japan, a 25-year occupation would probably be adequate, but the present friction among the Powers makes it impossible to tell when the goal can be reached. The Japanese unquestionably hope to play off one Power against another, as the Germans did after the First World War.

The Chinese doubt that the provisions of the Potsdam declaration are being enforced with sufficient thoroughness, noting in particular that the war criminals have not been prosecuted as expeditiously as those in Germany, nor punished as severely. Many Japanese who should be tried as war criminals are still at large; it is much too early to say that militarism in Japan is being pulled up by the roots. Moreover, the MacArthur administration is too generous in its treatment of the commercial interests which collaborated closely with the militarists before and during the war. The Zaibatsu, which included such great concerns as Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Kuhara, Okura, Yasuda, has been technically disbanded, but not dissolved as thoroughly as were the big German combinations. Not one Japanese industrialist was included among the war criminals of the first order, though the Zaibatsu virtually ran Japan from 1930 on. As influential a person as Prince Nashimoto was classed as a second-class war criminal and was released, with Kikoshi Goko, President of Mitsubishi, from Sugamo prison last April.

Japanese education must also be strictly controlled if Japan is to be transformed into a democracy. The United States Education Mission to Japan which published its report on April 6 of last year has done a good piece of preliminary work, and many of its recommendations will no doubt find a suitable place in the treaty. The Chinese Ministry of Education at Nanking recently established a committee of experts to help draft that part of the treaty which has to do with the future of Japanese culture, the use of textbooks and the curricula of schools and colleges.

Modern Japanese education was, of course, a handmaiden of militarism, and unless the poison is taken out of the educational system, democracy is impossible. Here the coöperation of the British, Americans and Chinese can be most productive, since the Chinese know Japanese language and history as if they were their own, while the Americans and the British can supply the content of a modern democratic educational system.

3. The Limits of Japan's New Territorial Sovereignty. This question is relatively simple; in fact, it has largely been solved. Article 8 of the Potsdam proclamation says: "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine." The Japanese want the "minor islands" to include the Liuchius (sometimes called the Ryukyu archipelago), a chain of small islands to the south which includes Okinawa, and the Katayama Cabinet has asked for joint control with the United States. There is little chance that the request will be granted, but it suggests the direction toward which a policy of leniency can lead. (Responsible Japanese have gone so far as to ask for a plebiscite in Manchuria and Formosa, as if the Cairo Declaration did not exist!) China is asking for the control of the Liuchiu Islands for historic reasons. As far back as the Tang Dynasty (618-906) the rulers of these islands were in the habit of sending tribute to the Chinese emperors -- the form in which Chinese sovereignty was then acknowledged. But the United States attaches great strategic importance to these small islands and will probably insist upon having a trusteeship over them under the United Nations.

4. The Economic and Industrial Level. This and the closely related subject of reparations form the core of the impending treaty negotiations. The decisions of the Allied Powers will determine whether Japan again becomes a military nation, and will also affect China's industrial development. A thorough discussion of the question of Japan's proper "economic level" would have to be buttressed with statistics for which there is no space in this article; but a few primary factors may be noted.

First of all, it can be pointed out that conclusions reached in the discussions for the German treaty can profitably be applied to Japan. Article 15, Section 2 of the agreement signed at the conference held at Berlin from July 17 to August 2, 1945, among Britain, the United States and Soviet Russia, published on August 3, says, among other things, that Allied controls shall be imposed upon the German economy, to the extent necessary "to assure the production and maintenance of goods and services . . . essential to maintain in Germany average living standards not exceeding the average of standards of living of European countries" meaning "all European countries excluding the United Kingdom and the U.S.S.R." This is a fair yardstick for Japan, and is, in essence, the recommendation of Mr. Edwin W. Pauley. It can be generally said that a "standard of living" is determined by the ability to purchase things over and above the bare requirements for food. In China the standard is very low, inasmuch as 80 percent or more of the earnings of the people are spent on food. A White Paper submitted to the Allied Commander by the Japanese Government, published on July 16 of last year, said that today the average Tokyo family spends from 66 percent to 73 percent of its income on food. In other words, the standard of living in Japan, even at the present hour of defeat, is higher than in China. (During the war, the Chinese people spent all their earnings on food and still did not have enough.) And the Japanese standard is undoubtedly higher than that of any of the countries in Asia which Japan invaded.

It is true that there is still a shortage of rice in Japan. If the population is taken to be 70,000,000, then it may be estimated that Japan needs something like $90,000,000 in foreign exchange to purchase rice. But Japan was able to sell nearly 300,000,000 yen worth of raw silk in 1934 -- the equivalent of $90,000,000 -- and a future sale of this commodity alone, in about this amount, would enable her to maintain a standard of living in which 70 percent of earnings was spent on food. To take the level of Japan's economy for a specific recent year as the criterion of the proper living standard, as is sometimes proposed, would be to abandon the principle that the level of her economy should not exceed that of the other Asiatic countries, and would open the door to re-militarization. In the year 1935, for example, Japan was able to export manufactured products valued at some 2.2 billion yen, as against only 540,000,000 yen worth of imported rice. The excess of more than 1.6 billion yen worth of foreign exchange was spent by the militarists and industrialists for the purchase of goods which were not essential for the maintenance of the living standard, but which went to strengthen Japan's war machine. The United States Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan, announced on September 22, 1945, said: "The Japanese people shall be afforded opportunity to develop for themselves an economy which will permit the peacetime requirements of the population to be met." That is the criterion that should be retained.

The Far Eastern Commission's proposal that the industrial level for 1930-34 be the standard for Japan in the future is far in excess of what may reasonably be called "the peaceful requirement" of the Japanese people. According to available statistics, the output for three heavy industries -- metal, machine tools and chemicals -- shows a steady increase during those years from about 2.1 billion yen to 4 billion. The proportion of total industrial output accounted for by those three industries increased from 37 percent in 1930 to 42 percent in 1934. In 1935 it went up to 48 percent -- the percentage now recommended by the Far Eastern Commission. These industries can easily be converted to war purposes.

Actually, the recommendations of the Far Eastern Commission are in excess of the level for the years 1930-34. They allow more than double the amount of sulphuric acid that was produced in 1934 (174,600 tons), for example. The quota of pig iron has been reduced to 2,000,000 metric tons, but 3,500,000 metric tons of steel ingots are allowed -- 810,000 tons more than the average for the years 1930-34. There is also an increase in the tonnage of shipbuilding. The average for 1930-34 was 103,000 tons annually, whereas the proposed quota is now 150,000 tons. All things considered, the recommendations of the Far Eastern Commission are nearer the level of 1935 than that of 1930-34, and it seems almost as if the heavy industries were being encouraged at the expense of the light industries necessary for the manufacture of food, clothing and of other essentials. At any rate, it is impossible not to conclude that setting an industrial level for Japan on the basis of the conditions prevailing in 1930-34 gives her a considerable war potential; the availability of chemical plants for the manufacture of ammunition is, for example, quite obvious. After the First World War the Allies not only permitted but financed the rebuilding of the German war machine. Is that blunder going to be repeated in Japan now?

Even in the matter of food, clothing and housing, the Far Eastern Commission is permitting Japan more than she actually needs for a decent living, and far more than she needs to match the living standards of the countries which she invaded. By 1950, Japan will have 4,450,000 spindles as against the 4,400,000 in China, where the population is more than six times as large. A total of 1,500,000 spindles, or at most 2,000,000, would more than meet Japanese clothing requirements. If the Allied aim in Japan is, in the words of the Post-Surrender Policy, "to bring about the eventual establishment of a peaceful and responsible Government which will respect the rights of other states and will support the objectives of the United States as reflected in the ideals and principles of the Charter of the United Nations," then it is best to place under firm control all the resources which might nourish the hopes of the militarists. The control can be relaxed when there are clear signs that democracy has really taken root in Japan, but it is very sanguine to think that Japan is developing into a real democracy in two years, after living under totalitarian rule for 2,000 years. In this connection we shall do well to keep in mind the cable sent on February 7, 1941, by Foreign Minister Matsuoka to Ambassador Nomura (introduced at the war crimes trial on November 5, 1946) to the effect that even if Japan were defeated she would break any restraints within 30 years.

Particular reference should, I think, be made to the problem of Japanese commercial shipping. According to a United Press dispatch of October 19, 1947, there is "wide disagreement between the Chinese and the United States on the merchant fleet tonnage which Japan should be permitted to have," and the reporter was scarcely exaggerating the situation when he described it in those terms. A dispatch dated October 23 pointed out more specifically that the United States desires to maintain Japanese shipping at between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 tons, whereas China vigorously insists that half that amount is more than adequate. It is important to recall that Japanese shipping totalled 3,000,000 tons in 1931, the year Japan invaded Manchuria; 4,000,000 tons in 1937, the year of the Marco Polo Bridge incident; and 6,000,000 tons in 1942 shortly after Pearl Harbor. Japan was able to add some 300,000 tons annually in new construction and repair. According to a plan which is being circulated in Tokyo among those who are interested in reviving the naval strength of Japan, the Japanese are now thinking of constructing 400,000 tons annually. If they do, they will have 4,500,000 tons of commercial shipping by 1958, more than they had in 1937.

The line that China is likely to follow in the peace negotiations in regard to Japanese shipping is suggested by the proposals of a Chinese writer in the influential newspaper Ta Kung Pao. He specifies that 1,000,000 tons of Japanese shipping be given to China, in two installments, half to be delivered now and the other half at intervals in the next five years. Strong exception is taken to the Pauley recommendations that Japanese shipping should in the future total 1,500,000 tons (the MacArthur proposal is 2,000,000 tons), that no ship should be over 5,000 tons, and that Japanese shipping should trade only in Japan's own waters and along the coast of China and Korea. The writer in Ta Kung Pao proposes instead that Japanese shipping should be used only within its own waters and for purposes of inland navigation, and that the total tonnage should not exceed 800,000 tons. He specifies further that no ship should be more than 3,000 tons or have a speed to exceed nine knots, that all dockyards capable of constructing heavy shipping should be either earmarked for reparations or scrapped, that all important naval institutions should be closed, and that all shipping construction should be placed under the supervision of the Allied Powers.

5. Reparations. When the Soviet representatives demanded payment from current German productions as the price for German economic unity at the recent Conference of Foreign Ministers, Secretary Marshall declared that this would make Germany "a congested slum or an economic poorhouse." Fortunately, the question of divided control does not exist in the case of Japan, and therefore the question whether or not she is to be regarded as a single economic unit will not arise. General MacArthur's order of August 25, 1947, dealing with the dissolution of "industrial and banking corporations which have exercised control of a great part of Japanese trade and industry," involved some 505 plants of Japan's largest and most modern firms in eight branches of industry. These concerns constituted one-third of Japan's total industry, and produced a large proportion of her pig iron, steel ingots, machine tools, ball and roller bearings, ships, chemicals and thermal electric power. It is the policy of the United States to break up the big economic and industrial concentrations into the largest possible number of small independent units. The Chinese view is that all the industries in Japan used directly or indirectly in the manufacture of arms, ammunition and other military equipment should be scrapped.

Reparations claims have been submitted to the Far Eastern Commission by 11 countries in terms of percentages of the total sum that Japan may be asked to pay. China asks 40 percent, a ratio that does not seem excessive considering China's sacrifices and the damage which she suffered. The United States asks 28 percent, Australia 28 percent, the United Kingdom 25 percent, the Philippines 15 percent, India 12.5 percent, France 12 percent, the Netherlands 12 percent, Soviet Russia 12 percent, New Zealand 2 percent and Canada 1.5 percent. Only the Philippines put a monetary value on its claims -- in round numbers $4.2 billion; if the various claims are in proportion to this one, they will total about $54 billion. Since these ratios come to 188 percent of the sum to be agreed upon, it is obvious that some adjustments are going to be made, and I shall not attempt analysis of reparations quotas or of the total. I should say, however, that in the Chinese view neither the reconstruction work which Japan undertook in occupied territories for the purpose of strengthening her control there nor any loans which she advanced to foreign countries for aggressive purposes should be considered "Japanese assets" abroad.

This, then, is the background of the coming negotiations for a Japanese peace treaty, seen from a Chinese point of view. The problems which I have briefly discussed are serious and difficult, but they are capable of solution in the spirit of the Potsdam proclamation and within the framework of the United Nations Charter. China believes that her stand on these issues is reasonable. Her attitude toward Japan is unequivocal. She desires to see Japan grow into a democracy with which she can live in peace, friendliness and mutual prosperity. Her wish to maintain the veto in the peace conference is an expression of that aim.

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  • CHANG HSIN-HAI, Dean of Kwang Hua University; formerly Chinese Minister in Poland; author of "Chiang Kai-shek: Asia's Man of Destiny"
  • More By Chang Hsin-hai