1949 Willam J. Sebald's telegram

History of San Francisco Peace Treaty: Part Four
A telegram from William J. Sebald (1901-1980) to the Secretary of the State was sent from Tokyo on November 14th 1949. Seabald was the US Department of State's political adviser in Japan.

The Acting political Adviser in Japan (Sebald) to the Secretary of State

TOKYO, November 14, 1949.

495. For Butterworth: General MacArthur and I have
independently given careful study and consideration to the November 2 draft
forwarded under cover of your letter November 4, minus chapter 5 reserved
for security provisions. General MacArthur submits the following

a. That the provisions contained in Article 52 should
be eliminated as contrary to the concept of a definitive peace enunciated in the
preamble, and would be genarally construed by both Japanese and the outside
world as continuing restriction upon Japanese sovereingty, becoming a
psychological barrier to the prompt, orderly and progressive re-entry of Japan
into a diginified place within the community of nations.

b. That Article 39 and annex 7 should be re-examined in
the light of the bitterness which would be aroused if provision is made for the
partial recovery from Japan for losses sustained by United Nations nationals
resulting from damage to property in Japan, while losses sustained by United
Nations nationals in areas occupied by the Japanese or in areas of the former
Japanese empire to be ceded to other nations under terms of the treaty are
excepted from claim or recovery. That such provisions are entirely inconsist
with the intent and effect of Articles 31, 32 and 36 of the treaty draft and
could not fail to be challenged as a move designed to afford special protection
to British and American investments in Japan, providing the Soviet and a
Communist China with a major propaganda advantage. That the imposition of such a
burden upon Japan would most seriously impair the chance for her economic
rehabilitation and thereby eventually confront the American people with the
possibility of having to assume this financial burden either directly or

c. Article 41, paragraph 3 is considered unrealistic
for the reasons not only that the Japanese economy most probably could not stand
the tremendous drain consequent upon compensation for Japanese assets abroad,
but also because it attempts to legislate upon a matter which might better be
left for determination between the Japanese Government and its

I fully concur with General MacArthur's observations
set forth in a,b, and c above.

Although I propose to submit by airmail mission's
comments in greater detail and on an article by article basis, I believe it
might be helpful to give our tentative reactions: While the mission is agreed
that it would be preferable to have a shorter treaty with less emphasis upon
technical matters, we feel that to a large extent the problem is one that must
be solved in consequence of the needs, desires and recommendations of the many
Washington agencies concerned, as well as with a view to presenting an
acceptable draft to our Allies. On the other hand, we are somewhat concerned
that the November 2 draft seemingly represents the maximum conditions which the
United States seeks to place upon Japan, and that it leaves little room for
bargaining purposes should a "harder" treaty be desired by our Allies. We are,
of course, fully aware that the security provisions have not yet been formulated
and that revisions of fundamental provisions in the draft may be affected

The following are our preliminary comments concerning
those provisions which we consider of high importance:

Article 4: Presumably security provisions will efect
eventual determination Taiwan and adjacent islands. Suggest consideration
question of trusteeship for Taiwan consequent upon plebiscite.
Article 5, paragraph 2: Japan will unquestionably
advance strong claim to Etorofu, Kunashiri, Habomai, and Shikotan. Believe
United States should support such claim and due allowance made in draft for
peculiarities this situation. Consider problem highly important in view
questions permanent boundary and fisheries.
Article 6: Recommend reconsideration Liancourt Rocks
(Take-shima). Japan's claim to these islands is old and appears valid. Security
considerations might conceivably envisage weather and radar stations
Article 14: Query: Should Japan be committed to
recognize treaties of little or no direct concern to herself, or treaties which
have not yet been concluded?
Article 19: Stronglt recommend deletion this entire
Article 33 to 37, inclusive: Suggest single article
containing general statement referring these matters to annexes.
Article 38: Recommend deletion.
Article 41, paragraph 2: Consider this paragraph
Article 43: We are somewhat skeptical concerning
proposed arbitral tribunal by reason of its being an extension into era of
peace, presumably for many years, of forced means of adjudication.
Article 48: Reccomend deletion or rewording this
article to state a principle rather than an enforced administrative
Article 49: Question the necessity for this article.


[From Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS): 1949, The far East and Australia, Volume VII, Part 2; pp 898-900]

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Former drafts of the peace treaty included Liancourt Rocks to be in the list of islands which would be returned to Korea. Below is from the November 2 draft treaty which Sebald referred to in the document above:

Chapter II


Article 3

1. The Territorial of Japan shall comprise the four principal
Japanese islands of Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido and all adjacent minor
islands, including the islands of the Inland sea(Seto Naikai), Sado, Oki retto,
Tsushima, the Goto Archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands north of 29°N. Latitude, and
the Izu Islands southward to and including Sofu Gan (lot's Wife), and all other islands within a line
beginning at a point in 45° 45' N. latitude, 140° longitude east
of Greenwich, proceeding due east through La Perouse Strait (Soya Kaikyo) to
146° E. Longitude;

thence by a rhumb line in a direction to the west of south to a
point in 43° 45' N. latitude, 145° 20' E. longitude;

thence by a rhumb line in a southeasterly direction to a point in
43° 20' N. latitude, 146° E. longitude;

thence due east to a point in 149° E. longitude;

thence due south to 37° N. latitude;

thence by a rhumb line in a southwesterly direction to a point in
29° N. latitude, 140° E. longitude;

thence due north to a point in 33° N. latitude;

thence by a rhumb line in a northeasterly direction to a point in
40° N. latitude, 136° E. longitude;

thence by a rhumb line in a direction to the east of north to the
point of beginning.

All islands within said line, and all islands, islets and rocks
traversed by the said line, should there be such, with a three-mile belt of
territorial waters, shall belong to Japan.

2. This line of allocation is indicated on the map attached to the
peace treaty.

Article 6

1. Japan hereby renounces in favor of the Korea all rights and
titles to the Korean mainland territory and all offshore Korean islands, including Quelpart (Saishu To), the Nan How group (San To, or Komun Do) which forms Port Hamilton (Tonaikai), Dagelet Island (Utsuryo To, or Matsu Shima), Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima), and all other islands and islets to which Japan has acquired title lying outside the line described in Article 3 and to the east of the meridian 124°15' E. longitude, north of the parallel 33°N. latitude, and west of a line from the seaward terminus of the boundary approximately three nautical miles from the mouth of the Tumen River to a point in 37°30' N. latitude, 132°40' E. longitude.

2. This line is indicated on the map attached to the present Treaty.

FROM:NARA Records of Office of Northeast Asian Affairs, Relating
to the Treaty of Peace with Japan -- Subject File,1945-51 (Lot File 56 D 527) ,
Box no.6; Folder No.3
(Thanks to けぺ)

The telegram by Sebald became a start to re-examine the situation of the Rocks. It was a very important telegram. (Please see the next posting too.)


  1. Pacifist, Sebald's November 14th, letter was influenced by MacArthur's Policy of November 2nd.


    MacArthur wanted to incorporate joint trusteeships of former Japaanese islands into the San Fran Peace Treaty. This means it was in America's best interest to grant former Japanese outlying islands to Japan so the U.S. could set up bases in the region to help stem communist aggression in Northeast Asia.

    In other words, America's whole decision process regarding the disposition of former Japanese territories was based on military decisions NOT true historical title nor equitable solutions based on the geography or modern law. The San Francisco Peace Treaty was a failure because America's military brass tried to turn it into something it wasn't meant to be.


  2. Steve,

    Thanks for your opinion, but I couldn't find any relationships of MacArthur's policy with Sebald's telegram.

    It is natural for MacArthur to think strategically against USSR and Communist China, it was the beginning of the cold war era.

    But the sovereingty of small rocks in the Sea of Japan wouldn't be a big issue. If the rocks were Korean, or Japanese, they could used them in any case - so it was not a military reason.

    It was a good judgement of Sebald who had studied about Japan and was familiar to Japanese culture. He knew Japanese history well so that he could make a fair judgement.

  3. Pacifist, MacArthur's outline of policy predates Sebald's policy change only by a few days. Of course it's related, give your head a shake. Do you know anything about the history Northeast Asia at all? The Americans were negotiating the San Francisco Peace Treaty while the Korean War raged.

    Do you think the Americans would have had security arrangements on Liancourt Rocks had the islands fallen into Communist North Korean hands? Of course not.

    It's no co-incidence Dulles washed his hands clean of this dispute only months after the Korean war truce was signed. The truce was signed in July of 1953 and Dulles told the Japanese to take a hike in December of the same year. The American's played Japan and Korea. However, Korea was smart enough not to let any foreign nation dictate her territorial boundaries.

    Well done Syngman Rhee!! The Korean nation should be proud of this brave man.

  4. Steve,

    Even it was the time of Korean War, the sovereingty of two tiny rocks wouldn't be a big issue.

    Of course, the Korean War had strong effects on General MacArthur's policy and the drafts of Peace Treaty itself. But it had nothing to do with the two rock islets. It was Sebald's personal judgement who had long studied Japan.