by Kyle Catarata
As President Trump and First Lady Melania visited Japan last week as the first state guests in the Reiwa period, we decided to do a review of the history of the US-Japan relationship after WWII.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty (SFPT) was an agreement, made by 48 nations, that came into effect on April 28, 1952. This treaty was a bilateral decision that inevitably helped secure the enduring relationship between the United States and Japan. The treaty included the termination of the Imperial Japanese Empire, Allied occupation in Japan, and detailed territorial as well as postwar mandates Japan had to follow in order to conclude the nation’s gloomy past (citation). It was a way to create a form of international rules not through conflict and terror, but through peaceful dispute and deliberations.
After the conclusion of the Pacific Theater, America occupied Japan to rebuild the nation through assistance and instilling Democratic ideals. Though grateful for the latter economic miracle Japan gained thereafter, Japan was still disgruntled. Not because they lost the war, but due to the western occupation. Flashback to a half a century prior, even during the conclusion of the Edo period, when Tokugawa opened the ports to the west from the pressure coming from Matthew Perry. He did so conscientiously as he feared Japan’s occupation by Western imperialism like the other Asian countries. From the moment Japan opened its doors, the nation was in a hurry to demonstrate that Japan could become an equal power to the Western nations. He wanted to illustrate that Japan did not need coercion nor occupation, as seen in China by Britain, as Japan was well ahead of its neighboring countries. The SFPT helped to establish just that. It solidified and declared Japan’s sovereignty from America’s post-war quasi-occupation.
Out of the 51 participating countries that were included in the SFPT, only 48 signed and ratified the document, with a few countries creating their own bilateral agreements for reparations with Japan. These countries agreed with the SFPT included: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam and Japan. Just by looking at the list, you may see a predominant Asian country that is missing from the signatory list – China, specifically the People’s Republic of China (China) and the Republic of China (known as Taiwan). Both Taiwan and China were excluded from the agreement as arguments arose regarding which nation is legitimate China. Thus, the Treaty of Taipei was created and signed into date hours before the SPFT. The Treaty of Taipei was later rescinded and by the Japan-China Joint Communique, signed in September 29, 1972.
However, China was never included in the peace treaty after the war. During the signing of the treaty, the Secretary of the United States at the time, John Foster Dulles expressed deep regret to not include the Chinese. “China suffered the longest and deepest from Japanese aggressions,” he stated.
In addition to the exclusion of the ROC and the PRC, Korea was not included in the creation of the SFPT. Likewise, North Korea was never included, South Korea was considered in the treaty, however John Dulles, former Secretary of State and co-author of the SFPT, decided that South Korea’s deep, rooted, history with Japan’s imperialistic history would greatly affect and disrupt the conference, moreover America’s plan in the Pacific.
From an educational stance, since the United States was going to war with the USSR, via Communist China and North Korea, the inclusion of both Koreas into the SFPT would simply make the war against Korea inconceivable as the country itself would be included into the peace treaty. Likewise, the inclusion of the PRC into the SFPT would be redundant as the United States would be fighting not only communist Russia and Korea, but China. By excluding China and Korea, as well as passing the SFPT, the United States was able to build an alliance with Japan, which would ultimately help them justify their involvement in the Korean War.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty was a way to not only recognize Japan’s sovereignty, rescind American occupation in Japan, terminate Japan’s imperialism, but also created a solid, long-lasting relationship that would assist both economies in future wars, such as the First Indochina War and the Korean War. The treaty was more than a sign of peace and rebuilding for Japan, but a step toward not only the military industrial complex for the U.S., as seen with the Korean and Vietnam War, thereafter, but also as a way to contain the sphere of Communism, prevalent in East Asian countries during the war.
For more information, please check out our latest project: sfpeacetreaty.org where we outlined the treaty.
“TOKYO HIGH COURT, JUNE 12, 1980.” Taiwan Basic, taiwanbasic.com/insular/tokyo-1980.htm.
“Treatment of Takeshima in the San Francisco Peace Treaty.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan , 30 July 2015, google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjS7s-vur_iAhUjMX0KHWBpCMcQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https://www.mofa.go.jp/a_o/na/takeshima/page1we_000062.html&psig=AOvVaw1Ig36xeHAuX9doGnuVuJjA&ust=1559175194045673.
“Treaty of Peace with Japan.” WayBackMachine, WayBackMachine, web.archive.org/web/20010221045459/http://www.taiwandocuments.org/sanfrancisco01.htm.
“What Was the San Francisco Peace Treaty?” SF Peace Treaty, Pacific Atrocities Education, www.sfpeacetreaty.org
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