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Colvin R. de Silva

Against the Japanese “Peace” Treaty

(Speech Delivered During Debate on the Draft of the Treaty
in the Ceylon Parliament on August 23, 1951)

From Fourth International, Vol.12 No.5, September-October 1951, pp.132-138.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

At the San Francisco Conference this September which rubber-stamped the Peace Treaty with Japan, the American stage-managers of the Conference featured the approving speeches of Mr. J.R. Jayawardena, head of the Ceylon delegation and Minister of Finance in the Ceylon government. This was obviously done as an antidote to the extremely unfavorable reaction to the Treaty in the colonial world, highlighted by India’s refusal even to attend the Conference.

The subservience of the Ceylon delegation was played up to give the impression that it was truly representative of South-East Asian opinion. Actually powerful opposition to the Treaty with Japan exists not only in the rest of Asia but in Ceylon itself. The debates on this question during August in the Ceylon Parliament saw a strong bloc of members ranging from Independents to Trotskyists and Stalinists stand up – each group for its own reasons – against signing the Treaty. The elected leader of the opposition in the Ceylon Parliament is Dr. N.M. Perera, head of the Lanka Samasamaja Party, Ceylon section of the Fourth International. This is the second largest party in the Parliament, being exceeded only by the governing bourgeois party known as the United National Party. (The D.S. Senanayake, Prime Minister and also Minister of External Affairs, who participated in the debate, is the chief figure in this party.)

In the parliamentary debates on August 23 Dr. Colvin R. de Silva set forth the attitude of the Lanka Samasamaja Party toward the Japanese Treaty. We reprint herewith the main sections of his speech outlining the viewpoint of revolutionary socialists in Asia on this imperialist agreement. – Editor.

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DR. COLVIN R. de SILVA: ... In the first place, I wish to make a remark of a general nature. Judging from the news that we have had in the newspapers and in the international press, as far as we know Ceylon is the only Asian country that is going to San Francisco to sign this Treaty unreservedly. It is said that the Philippine Government, too, intends to sign the Treaty on the same occasion but the Philippine Government has expressly let it be known that it has certain reservations and important differences in respect of this Treaty but that it is signing largely under pressure from certain of the greater powers.

In the case of India, Indonesia [1] and Burma, it is now publicly known that they have not yet – let me put it mildly – made up their mind as to whether this Treaty ought to be signed. I do not propose to go into the reasons – some of them in our view good, some of them in our view not so good – which have motivated these states in Asia and in particular South-East Asia not to agree to sign this Peace Treaty at all or at least without reservations.

I refer to the matter for this reason. It is to me significant that Ceylon is apparently the only Asian state that intends and has announced that it will sign the Treaty without reservation and when we find that Ceylon, one of the states in Asia, is out of step publicly with other fellow Asian states then I think this honorable House would agree that everyone in this country would need to look with care into the question of why our country, our Government, is out of step with other Asian governments on so vital and important a matter. In our view anything that separates Ceylon from her fellow Asian states must be examined with care.

The right honorable gentleman as well as the propagandists of the international press who sponsor this Peace Treaty have particularly recommended the draft to us on the ground that it is not a punitive Treaty. It is said that the proposed signatories to this Treaty have, through the bitter experience of the period after the first imperialist world war, learnt that to impose upon a defeated country a peace which carries with it also the character of being the infliction of a punishment is in the long run only to inflict that punishment on themselves. Consequently it is said that it is intended in this Treaty to treat Japan – that is to say that State of Japan which is going to sign this Treaty, a State about which I shall have some words to say later – with generosity, it would almost seem with the milk of human kindness and even unwonted international forgiveness.

In the first place, I think I would be performing a service to this House and to the country at large if I examine the Clauses of this Treaty from the point of view of that claim to see whether in fact, the claim itself is justified. I shall examine the reason why there is any relenting on the part of the Allied Powers, as they are called in this Treaty, but more properly that section of the Allied Powers in the last war who are intending to sign this Treaty at San Francisco, the real reasons for that apparent relenting and then indicate the objectives and purposes which are being pursued by those apparently relenting. But I have no doubt in my mind that by referring to the actual Clauses of the Treaty themselves I will be able to satisfy this honorable House that, even in spite of the appearance of softness, the peace that is proposed is, to use language that is rather common, in fact hard, “punitive.”

Before I refer to a few articles in the Treaty which illustrate my point, permit me, Mr. Speaker, one little incidental reflection. In the movement to which we belong wars have always been characterised according to, shall I put it, the social structure of the countries which are engaged in mutual battle and according to the purpose which that social structure impresses upon that war. But today in current propaganda and particularly in association with the custom that has grown since the last war of dealing, under cover of legality, often with the utmost of illegality with those who are called war criminals, wars have tended to be analysed or characterised on the footing of moral considerations. Apparently those who have been carrying through a series of trials of various individuals who have been designated “War Criminals” have in their published statements and other publications looked to the question of what is called moral responsibility, and so there is a tendency to talk of good states, and bad, and the like; and that you can treat one group of states who are to be morally characterised in a soft way in the peace and another group who is differently characterised morally in a different way.

For instance, in connection with this Treaty, it has been publicly said in certain quarters that Japan under the administration of General MacArthur in recent times has reformed its ways and become more democratic in its outlook and co-operative with the rest of the world in its ways, and that for such good behaviour – that is again the very term – they should be rewarded. These are terms that are drawn from the field of crime, and from the field of punishment relating to crime. Here, in my view, those are not outlooks that are relevant to the consideration of the question as to What should be done in connection with the war that has taken place.

What Happens to Japan’s “Territories”

I said I proposed to point to certain articles in this Treaty which indicate that this is in fact a punitive peace. In fact, if I point to three articles, it would do. First, if you will look at Chapter II of the Draft Treaty – it is very properly headed “Territory” – you will find that the so-called Allied Powers have in fact stripped Japan of all her territories outside the area of the islands which are presumably said to belong to the Japanese. Now I point to this fact not, in order to suggest that Japan should have been allowed to hold colonies or to keep countries under colonial oppression in this Treaty, but in order to draw attention to a completely different aspect of the matter.

When Japan is stripped of these territories, the purpose, the entire character of such stripping of these territories could be properly inferred by asking “What is being done tc those territories?” And when you look at it that way, you begin to see at once that what has been done in the “territory” clauses of Chapter II is purely predatory. We say that all imperialist wars are robber wars. I will show a little later that we of our Party and movement characterise the war between the Anglo-American imperialist powers and imperialist Japan as an imperialist war and we say that all imperialist wars are predatory wars out of which could flow only a predatory peace. Here we see some straight stealing and a little crooked dealing.

I will explain. Had this Treaty said “Certain territories possessed by Japan are taken out of her control, and the people of those territories are left free in the exercise of their right of national self-determination to decide upon their own future,” there may have been something to be said for the point, but what is done here is as follows.

In the first place, certain territories by Article 3 are directly handed over to rival imperialist powers. Japan herself in the period of the last two imperialist wars exposed the sheer mirage of the system of so-called trusteeship. Japan in fact publicly announced at a certain time that there is a tendency in international affairs not to call things by their true names, and that when certain specific islands were handed over to her on a footing of trusteeship to be administered as a trustee power, that was merely the form and manner in which those areas were subjected to her.

If you will look at Article 3, you will find the following:

“Japan will concur in any proposal of the United States to the United Nations to place under its trusteeship system with the United States as the sole administering authority, Nansei State south of 29 north latitude (including Ryuku Islands and the Daito Islands) the Namp Shoto south of Sofu Gan (including the Bonin Islands, Rosario Island and the Volcano Islands) and Parece Vela and Marcus Island.”

Note, Sir, the next sentence:

“Pending the making of such a proposal and affirmative action thereon, the United States will have the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands including their territorial waters.”

This is the straight handing over of a group of subject peoples to a new imperialist subjection. I will not elaborate it further.

The other way is the indirect method of subjection known as trusteeship through the United Nations. In particular, one might see Article 2 (d) which reads as follows:

“Japan renounces all right, title and claim in connection with the League of Nations Mandate System, and accepts the action of the United Nations Security Council of 2nd April, 1947, extending the trusteeship to the Pacific Islands formerly under mandate to Japan.”

The one thing the unfortunate people of the Pacific Islands are apparently to be denied is freedom. Trusteeship as the form of subjection is one of the things embodied in this Treaty.

Secondly, in order to show from another angle that this Treaty is in fact punitive while purporting to be soft, I should like to point to another aspect which arises from Article 6. May I for the moment first draw the attention of the House to Article 6? Article 6 (a) reads:

“All occupation forces of the Allied Powers shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as possible after the coming into force of the present Treaty, and in any case not later than 90 days thereafter. Nothing in this provision shall, however, prevent the stationing or retention of foreign armed forces in Japanese territory under or in consequence of any bilateral or multilateral agreements which have been or may be made between one or more of the Allied Powers, on the one hand, and Japan on the other.”

Article 6 is, in form, a provision for the freeing of Japan from military occupation, because the first sentence refers to removing all military forces from Japan within ninety days. But the second sentence completely negates the first, for, once again in the form of a negotiated bilateral or multilateral agreement what is being arranged is that Japan can continue under the military control of those who are militarily controlling her now; only this takes the form not of an occupation as a result of conquest in war but of control as a result of a supposed voluntary agreement. Throughout South-East Asia in recent years we have had ample examples of this kind of indirect military occupation and control under cover of an agreement with a weaker power. I shall later show what kind of a Japan it is that they are making their agreement with, and, therefore, why it is easy to realize, that the second sentence is there for no other reason than to open the way to the continued military occupation of Japan by American imperialism.

As to Reparations

The third point is this. I want to refer to Article 14 (a). It is on the basis of Article 14 (a) that the right hon. Gentleman would no doubt say that we have a soft peace. But if one reads Article 14 (a) with some care, one would find that far from it giving up the principle of the imposition of reparations, it reaffirms on the contrary the principle of imposing reparations and then, by leaving vague the extent of the reparations to be imposed, it leaves the road open, if necessary in changed circumstances, as one might say, to turn the screw upon Japan. Article 14 (a) reads:

“It is recognized that, although Japan should in principle pay reparation for the damage and suffering caused by it during the war, nevertheless Japan lacks the capacity, if it is to maintain a viable economy, to make adequate reparation to the Allied Powers and at the same time meet its other obligations.”

In other words, as between the Allied Powers to whom Japan is undertaking other obligations of an extensive nature, it is understood that Japan cannot bear the further burden of assisting the reconstruction of economies which during the war she devastated. We do not know the extent and nature of these other agreements, but it will be .seen again that in terms of Article 14 (a) what is being covered is that heavy reparations have, in fact, already been drawn by certain Powers in political and military terms.

I also want to draw attention, as a fourth point, to Article 12 (b). These three Articles I have already drawn attention to, together with the fourth, will show how punitive is the complete military, political and economic stranglehold these Allied Powers will continue to maintain, and have in Japan, after the signing of this peace. Here is Article 12 (b):

“Pending the conclusion of the relevant treaty or agreement, Japan will, during a period of four years from the coming into force of the present Treaty: –

  1. Accord to each of the Allied Powers, its nationals, products and vessels –

    (i) most-favored-nation treatment with respect to customs duties, charges, restrictions and other regulations on or in connection with the importation and exportation of goods;

    (ii) national treatment with respect to shipping, navigation and imported goods, and with respect to natural and juridicial persons and their interests – such treatment to include all matters pertaining to the levying and collection of taxes, access to the courts, the making and performance of contracts, rights to property, participation in juridicial entities constituted under Japanese law, and generally the conduct of all kinds of business and professional activities;
  2. Ensure that external purchases and sales of Japanese State enterprises shall be based solely on commercial considerations.”

If one looks at this undertaking to give most-favoured-nation treatment and national treatment, on the one hand in respect of the taxation structure of Japan, and on the other hand especially in respect of shipping and navigation, it would be easy for anyone who remembers that Japan, just like our celebrated economy, is an export-import economy, to understand what a stranglehold by Treaty these Allied Powers are seeking to maintain over the Japanese economy in the future.

For these four main reasons, I submit that, although there are some other open signs of a certain softening of the terms, basically the peace remains predatory.

Why China Is Not There

I want to raise a different question which also covers the aspects that I have dealt with already but, in fact, raises questions of a far deeper significance. It is a very important question for us to say who is signing this Treaty, and with whom, at San Francisco. The most notable exception so far as we know at present, especially since the Government of the USSR has announced that it is sending a delegation to San Francisco, is the Government of the People’s Republic of China. There is no question that the countries called China and Japan and their respective States have long been at war – indeed for a much longer period than the Anglo-American imperialists were at war with Japan. What is the meaning of this alleged effort to pursue peace and security, which is referred to in the preamble, if the most important and today what I consider to be the major Power in Asia is not present at the making of the Treaty?

We know why China is not there. Those who really control the situation in respect of Japan and in fact are imposing this Treaty upon the Japanese people refuse to recognize the present Government of China, in particular the United States of America.

Consequently, a Government which America’s own intimate ally, Britain, has accepted publicly as wielding de facto power over the entirety of Chinese territory, outside Formosa, is not to be at the Treaty table, and not to participate at the signing of the Treaty.

This is indeed a queer way of entering into a treaty to settle all outstanding differences from the point of view of peace and security, especially when we know that the Government of China would have had some very important considerations to place before the other powers, and before the world, at the treaty table in respect of the rights of the Chinese Government and people against the Japanese imperialists.

What is the Government with which these Allied Powers are signing this treaty? Is it indeed a Government of the people of Japan, freely chosen by the people of Japan in conditions in which the freedom of choice could in fact be exercised by the people of Japan? Is this Government which at San Francisco is to set its signature to this treaty, in fact truly representative even of the interests of the Japanese people?

There cannot be the slightest doubt – I am keeping myself carefully within the proper limits in referring to a foreign state – that the present Japanese Government with which this Treaty is to be entered into, is nothing but the creature, the puppet, of the Military Occupation Authority in Japan.

Even the most casual readers of newspapers know that the true ruler pf Japan is the American General who heads the American Forces which are in occupation of Japan, allegedly on behalf of the United Nations and Allied Powers, but, in fact, largely on behalf of American Imperialism.

Even the Japanese press had come to the stage, in the case of General MacArthur, of referring to him as the American Mikado, and he, it is well known, used to conduct himself in a way that appeared to be a deliberate endeavor to obtain unto him the popular attribution of those very mysteries and qualities which the Mikado traditionally in Japan is supposed to have inspired. MacArthur out-Mikadoed the Mikado in his conduct!

Whatever the Allied Military Government passed on to whatever Japanese Government was allegedly in power, but only in office, that Japanese Government had to and has to do. It is in such a framework that the present Japanese Government, whose representatives are to sign this Treaty, came into existence.

To sign a treaty with your own creature and then to embody in the treaty a statement that it is a treaty as between equals is either to make the word “equal” unreal, or to indulge in diplomatic hypocrisy. Yet you will find in this very treaty that they have perpetrated a tragic diplomatic joke.If you look at the Preamble, line two, you will find this remarkable statement:

“Whereas the Allied Powers and Japan,” – not even the “Japanese State” or the “Japanese Government,” but Japan as a whole – “are resolved that henceforth their relations shall be those of nations which, as sovereign equals, cooperate in friendly association to promote their common welfare and to maintain international peace and security, and are therefore desirous of concluding a Treaty of Peace.”

According to this Preamble, this is a treaty between some Sovereign States. Has one ever heard of a Sovereign State which is in the military occupation of another? Has one ever heard of a peace that has been imposed by an Occupation Power after victory in war being the subject of a peace treaty which is signed as between equals?

I referred earlier to “political morals.” It would be much better for the sake of morals in international political relations, if what 1 have already characterized as a tragic diplomatic joke had not been perpetrated in this draft treaty. There is a further fact, not referred to in this treaty, which I want to bring out. I have been talking only of the political aspects of Japan and to the fact that the State is not really free but only a puppet of American Occupation Authorities. I want to point out also that the sections of Japanese society on which the present Japanese Government rests, are sections which, since the American occupation of Japan, are known have become interlocked economically in particular with monopoly American capital. In the days before the war we used to hear of the great monopoly combines of a family character which used to exist in mighty Imperialist Japan. We have heard of Mitsui and Mitsubishi and the rest of them, men who in their own spheres were equivalent to the great monopolists of Germany and America. Today the Mitsuis and the Mitsubishis, in so far as the newspapers and propaganda are concerned, may well be no more, but behind the scenes they are operating actively and working relentlessly and deliberately towards the restoration of their former economic power, even as the great German monopolists worked towards the restoraton of their own power which they finally reestablished through Herr Hitler in the period between the two Imperialist world wars.

The fact is that American capital has been steadily penetrating the Japanese economic system, entering into close partnership with old monopoly system in the economy in which however foreign American capital and local Japanese capital of a monopolistic nature now function as partners. I have not seen any figures which would enable me to decide as to who actually is the dominant partner, but, judging from probabilities one has very little, doubt, especially after Japan has suffered a tremendous defeat in war and especially after the experience we had in the twenties of this century of the penetration of German industry by American capital, that in fact in considerable sectors of major Japanese industries American capital is now dominant. Whether that be so or not, I have not the slightest doubt that they are in close partnership in that field.

Now let us take that fact with a very significant Article in this Treaty, namely, Article 14 (a), sub-head I, which starts with a “However”. After Article 14 has recognized that although Japan should in principle pay reparations nevertheless Japan lacks the capacity to make adequate reparations, it goes on to say:


I. Japan will promptly enter into negotiations with Allied Powers so desiring, whose present territories were occupied by Japanese forces and damaged by Japan.” – Please note these next few phrases – “With a view to assisting to compensate those countries for the cost of’repairing the damage done, by making available the skills and industry of the Japanese people in manufacturing, salvaging and other services to be rendered to the Allied Powers in question.”

This is one of those subtle provisions which in form appears to be an undertaking that the Japanese people will aid other people in the restoration of their economies, but, when one studies the realities and the relations within the Japanese economy, financial and otherwise, then one sees here that American capital already substantially in control of important sectors of the Japanese economy, has through this article provided itself with a legal channel for joining together with Japan and repenetrating with its own finance the very areas which it had penetrated before the war. The moment one looks at the fact that Japan is a political puppet and economically almost subordinate partner one begins to understand once again what is the meaning of this supposedly soft peace.

Historical Significance of Treaty

I shall now turn to that principle, as I shall term it, of relenting to some degree to a former enemy. What is the significance of the Treaty from that angle? That significance in my view must be sought historically and in the contemporary international situation. I shall content myself with making the following remark. Historically this Treaty constitutes the inevitable imperialist conclusion of what was utterly an imperialist war between the Anglo-American Imperialists and the Japanese. I have already adverted to that matter and I do not want to go into it again; but may I say this:

There can be no doubt that Britain and America on their side were and are imperialist powers. Not even those who disagreed with us as to the character of this war [2], during what we called the last imperialist war, will deny that these two powers are today imperialist. There can be no doubt that during and after this war they did not change their character and therefore, that the two powers, Britain and America, who went to war with Japan in 1941, on December the 7th, were imperialist powers. In the same way by any definition of imperialism, including the definition which has always mystified my hon. Friend the Appointed Member (Mr. Pakeman), who I am sorry to see is not here, there is no question that Japan, too, which went into the war, was an imperialist power.

When two imperialist powers clash, in our traditional literature from Lenin onwards, that has been defined as an imperialist war because those who go to war on the basis of that particular socio-economic structure cannot but have imperialist and territorial objectives. Do not be alarmed, as I shall not treat this House to a disquisition on what it is an imperialist war. I stated that for this reason. Now at long last the Anglo-American imperialists who conquered Japan during the last war and came into occupation of that country are imposing a peace which can only flow out of an imperialist war. I say that anyone who characterizes this Treaty as an imperialist treaty imposing predatorily certain terms upon the Japanese people must come to the position that this is also the crowning point, if I may use that rather improper term, of an imperialist war.

I have stated that matter because from the historical point of view that is one more reason why we give a certain significance to this Treaty. It is a completion of an imperialist war. But it is far more important to look into this matter from a contemporary point of view than to delve into the historical past. From a contemporary point of view what is important is to note that the international situation in its development itself has caused American imperialism in particular to soften up the terms of a peace which nevertheless, as I said, remains essentially and basically hard.

The present international situation is characterized not only by growing tension but by the growing open conflict between two power blocs which, though they do not exhaust all the major States in the world, nevertheless, drawing respectively a sufficient number of important States within their respective groups, make a clash almost inevitable in international politics.

There is what is popularly known as the Anglo-American power bloc which has gathered round itself a whole series of its own satellites. There are especially in South-East Asia various important countries which really do not. belong directly to either of the power blocs which center round American imperialism and the Soviet Union but which vacillate between the two and are sometimes flung about between the two.

You will find that it is precisely that group of States which thus do not belong, as I may put it, in a straight way to either of the power blocs which found certain difficulties in Asia about this Treaty for various reasons. One factor is however clear, namely, that throughout the world the power group which centers round American imperialism is building its bases and preparing its springboards for an imperialist attack upon the Soviet group, in particular the USSR and China. Incidentally, permit me to say in passing that we do not regard China as being in any manner a mere puppet of the Soviet Union. China we regard as an independent major power which within what is termed the Soviet bloc pursues its own interests. That is by the way.

Now, the whole meaning of this present Treaty, the whole significance of this Treaty, is to be found in the state of international relations. When you look at the military clauses, when you look at the economic arrangements, when you look at the intention to rehabilitate aspects of Japan’s economy under imperialist control and to give Japan a certain striking power both economically and militarily, then we can see that clearly the purpose and object of this Treaty is to convert the country known as Japan into an imperialist springboard of attack against the Soviet Union and China. That factor alone would have rnore than sufficed for our Party, and I think, for the Opposition as a whole, to refuse to endorse the signature of this Treaty.

May I turn to one or two positive matters and end? We say, therefore, that this Treaty is punitive. We say this Treaty is a sham basically in that it is signed between the imperialists and their own creatures. We say that the Treaty, far from aiming at international peace and security as stated in the preamble, actually carries the war plans of the imperialists against the Soviet Union and China an important stage further. For the various reasons I have given, we say it is an imperialist peace flowing out of an imperialist war and that we cannot, therefore, support the signing of that Treaty. From our point of view, the only peace or treaty that ought to be signed between us and Japan is a treaty which is denuded completely of this imperialist character to which I have been referring in some detail during my speech. That, cannot be achieved without certain prerequisites also being achieved. We say that in an imperialist war the demand we make even of the imperialists in respect of peace is a peace without reparations, without indemnities, without annexations, with the peoples of the various countries free to operate the principle of the right of self-determination of nations to achieve their freedom. But in the case of Ceylon and Japan what do we ask them to do? We say, the only thing that the Ceylon Government should do is to refuse to go – pardon me, Sir, if I at this stage use rather a harsh word – to this gathering of the “robber clans” at San Francisco.

THE RT. HON. D.S. SENANAYAKE: Russia will also go.

DR. COLVIN R. de SILVA: With regard to the Soviet Union coming there, it is not yet known whether it is to sign the Treaty. I think the right hon. Gentleman would be hard put to it to announce that the Soviet Union is going to sign this Treaty, and unless and until the right hon. Gentleman can declare to this country that he has been informed by the Soviet Government that it is going to San Francisco to sign this document, he has no right to say what he has said. Whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks the Soviet Union is a “robber power” or not, the right hon. Gentleman, as the Minister responsible to this country for the conducting of the external affairs of this country, has no right to say that when a Government announces its intention to be present at a certain gathering that it is going there to participate in a certain signing.

People of Ceylon Against Imperialists

Certain “robber Powers,” I say, are gathering in San Francisco in order to sign this Treaty. I invite the right hon. Gentleman’s Government not to participate in that “robber” process. We say, let the Government of Ceylon negotiate with a free and independent Japan freely and independently a treaty of its own. The only peace that we can expect is a peace without annexations and without indemnities freely entered into by an unoccupied Japan with a Ceylon which enters into negotiations on the basis of complete repudiation of the alliance with and commitments to imperialism both during the war and after. I say that even though the right hon. Gentleman’s Government, if it considers itself the heir of the Government that existed here during the war, participated in the last imperialist war on the side of one imperialist group, that the people of Ceylon, generally, showed clearly that they were against participation in that imperialist war. Today, the very people who dragged this country into this war not of its own making and to its own interests are meeting to impose upon Japan a peace which is only in their predatory interests. I say, let our country say, “We wash our hands of you in so far as this Treaty is concerned.” What is it that even from an ordinary material point of view, or from the right hon. Gentleman’s rather favorite recent spiritual point of view, that this Treaty is supposed to give us? I submit, nothing. It brings to the major powers that are imposing this Treaty on Japan certain economic and military advantages, and, by our joining in this signature, we are hitching ourselves into their schemes which are making it impossible for us to develop an independent policy.

For Independence of Small Nations

Finally, I want to make one general point. I have noted – I do not wish to be understood to be basing my remark on any interjection of the right hon. Gentleman – but I repeat I have noted in this House that whenever our Party speaks of independent action in the field of international policy there is a tendency rather to scoff at the idea. There is a tendency to talk of little nations on the assumption that they are bound to be corks tossed upon the waters of international diplomacy with no independent function of their own to perform, with a destiny which can only be defined as the inevitable subordination of themselves to one or other of the major states that exist in the world at any time. There is also a tendency nowadays in many quarters to talk of peace as merely having the content of an agreement between what are known as the Five Great Powers of the world. To neither of these ideas can our Party subscribe. We say that the little nations, individually, can perform an important function in the field of international relations and the little nations genuinely following the policies independent of power groups can come together to fight for important objectives.

Secondly, we say that it is impossible for any truly independent country to accept the thesis that the Five Great Powers are to be voluntarily accepted as the policemen of the world. The little countries in their struggle for freedom, even the larger countries in their struggle for social emancipation, will not allow any group of powers to intervene in their affairs with a view allegedly to keep the peace.

I want to say this: even in the United Nations Organization’s agreement which arose out of the last war and which all these Five Great Powers signed, there is embodied that idea that these Five Great Powers have a special interest and a special right over all the others. So long as that concept is ministered unto there will really be no chance of peace because every time the five policemen fall out and begin to use their batons upon each other’s heads, the little ones in between will get their heads battered, too, willy nilly. Therefore it is what we urge upon even this Government that it should in this particular case of a Treaty with Japan seek independent negotiations for an independent treaty. Until and unless such a treaty, born out of such processes as I have sought to indicate, is placed before this House, it will be impossible for our Party to vote for a treaty which is of a nature that is before us.


1. Indonesia also eventually signed the treaty with reservations. – Editor.

2. The reference is to the Stalinists.

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