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MacArthur Telegram

By Douglas MacArthur II,

Control: 4/515
Date: April 27, 1960

Rptd info: Amembassy SEOUL 351
    For Assistant Secretary Parsons from MacArthur.
    Seoul for Ambassador McConaughy.

Now that we have prospect of new and democratic regime in Korea I strongly recommend that as
soon as possible we seize opportunity to try to bring about durable solution to Korea – Japan dispute.
As long as Rhee held power there seemed little chance of any solution but now we have entirely new
situation which could lead to liquidation of Korea – Japan controversy. Implications of Korea-Japan are not just bilateral between government of Japan and Korea but deeply and directly involve US and our inescapable responsibilities in Northeast Asia. As practical matter if reasonable solution is to be found it will be produced only by our good offices and working closely with both Korea and Government of Japan. It is of utmost importance that we identify and be prepared to move swiftly for solution those specific Korea-government of Japan problems which prevent progress toward basic settlement this festering dispute. We do not know what response Communists may make to new Korea regime and it is vital we try to
put Korea-Government of Japan house in order as soon as possible.
While Rhee regime violated most basic tenets of democracy in authoritarian police rule imposed on Korean people, it has also in past done violence to most fundamental principles of international conduct and morality by committing acts of piracy on high seas around Rhee Line and then imprisoning and holding as political hostage Japanese fishermen and by seizing and holding non-Korean territory by force. The uncivilized practice of hostage diplomacy is one of our serious charge against Communist China and if continued by Korea it will be a great liability to a new democratic Korea regime
I therefore recommend strongly that as soon as new regime is in control in Korea (whether or not it be of interim character) we use all our influence to persuade it (1) to release and return to Japan all repeat all Japanese fishermen hostage (including those who have not completed their sentences) who have suffered so cruelly from Rhee’s uncivilized and oppressive acts and (2) to cease practice of seizing Japanese fishing vessels on high seas. This would not only rid new Korea regime of liability of practicing hostage diplomacy but also more than anything else would lay foundation in Japan for really fruitful negotiations. At same time I would be prepared to press Kishi and government of Japan most strongly that in return for repatriation of all fishermen, Japanese would exercise self-restraint in their fishing operations in Korean Straits until reasonable opportunity had been given for negotiation of mutually agreed ROC- Japan fishing conservation agreement.
In addition to seizing Japanese boats in high seas and practicing hostage diplomacy, Rhee regime also seized by force and is holding illegally Takeshima Island which as always been considered as Japanese territory. This is very serious and permanent irritant in Japan-ROC relations and there can be no over-all ROC-Japan settlement until this island is returned to Japan. Therefore we should also press new Korea regime to return Takeshima to Japan.
If it is unwilling to do so pending satisfactory conclusion of over-all Korea-Japan negotiations, new regime should at least signify a willingness to withdraw from Takeshima as part of mutually satisfactory settlement of other outstanding issues between two countries. While we should press strongly for return of Takeshima to Japan, if by any chance new regime were
unwilling to do so we should, as very minimum, insist that they agree to submit matter to
International Court of Justice for arbitration.
Finally, we should inform new regime very clearly that it must be prepared to adjust its relations with Japan on terms of reciprocity, in such matters as diplomatic missions, visits by businessmen and journalists, commercial trade. Japanese have suffered Rhee’s occupation-minded approach for eight years and will be unwilling to accept such indefensible treatment from his successor. In its own interests, new regime should start with conformity with normal International standards of conduct, and could most usefully begin (in terms of Japanese and other free world opinion) by permitting Japanese diplomatic mission to enter and function in Korea on same terms Korea Embassy operates here.
If we now move swiftly with new ROC regime which should generally be receptive to our views because of our helpfulness, we may have initial opportunity, which may never reoccur, to influence its position on Japan-ROC problem. Japanese would certainly welcome warmly and reciprocate fully, measures indicating new ROC regime willing take “new look” at Japan.


D MacAurthur:mek POL:WHGleysteem DCMWmLeonhart

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