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Japan (Reparations Material)

Volume 436: debated on Monday 28 April 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the order to General MacArthur to begin the removal of Japanese industrial equipment and material as reparations, issued by the U.S. Government on 3rd April last, was approved in advance by the Far Eastern Commission; if there was any prior consultation with His Majesty's Government; and if His Majesty's Government approved.

This order was an interim directive issued by the United States Government who, under the terms of reference of the Far Eastern Commission, were entitled to take this action without seeking the approval in advance of any other Government or of the Far Eastern Commission. On the other hand, the proposal embodied in the directive had been discussed in the Far Eastern Commission, who, though in general sympathy with its main objective, were unable to reach agreement on details.

Can my hon. Friend say whether instructions of this kind, on which action is taken by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, and which are unilateral instructions, are likely to weaken and destroy the authority of the Far Eastern Commission, which alone should be responsible for policy direction?

The proposal was discussed by the Far Eastern Commission, and the United States Government are entitled to issue interim directives of this kind on urgent matters.

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is about time that the British Government had more to say in affairs concerning Japan? Will he bring pressure to bear, and see that we have some say in these matters in future?

We have been, and are, making our views on this matter quite plain. We are fully in sympathy with the purposes of this plan, but we should have welcomed an extension to cover other British Commonwealth territories which were devastated by the Japanese.

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that a great deal of the material removed was not actually Japanese, but was previously looted from other countries? Can he say whether the Far Eastern Commission gave assent to its removal?