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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

British Government conceals that attempts were made by the Japanese government to surrender in July - August 1945

(PRO file PREM.8/486)

These extracts from British and American archives may contain phonetic or transcription errors. We invite comments, corrections and expansions. Please give details of item referred to. [comment]

In December 1946 Liberal M.P. Horabin proposed

"to ask the Prime Minister on what date overtures for peace were made by Japan before the offers of peace to Japan by the Potsdam Declaration of 26th July or whether any overtures were received before the first atomic bomb was dropped on 6th August."

The News Chronicle had reported an "offer of peace made by Japan on July 22nd."

Prime Minister Clement Attlee replied, Hansard vol. 431, col. 330:

"The Prime Minister in the House referred to the offer of peace made to Japan by the Potsdam Declaration on the 26th of July."

Horabin's Question was postponed to December 19, 1946, to allow consultation.

The F.O. notified the British embassy in Washington,

"We deduce, from his persistence, that he may have some reason to suspect that peace overtures were made. We also consider that we will find it desirable, in the future, to be able to refute a Japanese claim that they were defeated only by the atomic bomb and/or the intervention of the Soviet Union.

On both grounds we think it would be unwise to continue officially to conceal the fact that Japan had put out some peace feelers to the Soviet Government before the Potsdam Declaration of July 26th, 1945."

The F.O. suggested that Attlee reply:

"No overtures of peace were made by Japan to the countries with which she was at war, prior to her acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam declaration, which she did not communicate to us until August 10th, 1945, fifteen days after the declaration had been made and four days after the dropping of the first atomic bomb.

"It was known, however, that the Japanese leaders had previously been considering means of reaching a settlement more favorable to themselves than unconditional surrender.

"At Potsdam on July 28th, 1945 Generalissimo Stalin informed President Truman and me in strict confidence that the Soviet Government who had not at that time joined in the Far Eastern war, had received from the Japanese government a proposal that they should act as mediators between the Japanese Government and the British and United States governments ..."

The above material has been researched by David Irving for the third volume of his Churchill biography, "Churchill's War", vol. iii: "The Sundered Dream."

© Focal Point 2004 F Irving write to David Irving