San Francisco Conference

Treaty of San Francisco

Treaty of San Francisco
(San Francisco Peace Treaty)

Treaty of Peace with Japan
English Treaty of Peace with Japan
French Traité de paix avec le Japon
Spanish Tratado de Paz con Japón

The Treaty of San Francisco, or San Francisco Peace Treaty, between the Allied Powers and Japan was officially signed by 49 nations on September 8, 1951 in San Francisco, California. It came into force on April 28, 1952. Although commonly known as the 'Treaty of San Francisco', its actual name is Treaty of Peace with Japan.

This treaty served officially to end World War II, to end formally Japan's position as an imperial power and to allocate compensation to Allied civilians and former prisoners of war who had suffered Japanese war crimes. This treaty made extensive use of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enunciate the Allies' goals.

This treaty, along with the Security Treaty signed that same year, is said to mark the beginning of the "San Francisco System"; this term, coined by historian John Dower, signifies the effects of Japan's relationship with the United States and its role in the international arena as determined by these two treaties and is used to discuss the ways in which these effects have governed Japan's post-war history.

Attending countries

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam.

Burma, India and Yugoslavia were also invited, but did not participate. Neither the Republic of China in Taiwan nor the People's Republic of China in Mainland China were invited because of the Chinese Civil War and the controversy over which government was legitimate, and as a consequence of U.S.-U.K. disagreement over the Chinese participation, neither North Korea nor South Korea were invited. Italy was not invited either, notwithstanding the fact that the anti-fascist Badoglio cabinet had issued a formal declaration of war to Japan on July 14 1945, just a few weeks before the end of the war. Pakistan was a state that had not existed at the time of the war, but was invited since it was one of the successor states of British India; which was a major combatant against Japan.

Soviet Union's opposition to the Treaty

The Soviet Union took part in the San Francisco conference and the Soviet delegation was led by the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. From the start of the conference the Soviet Union expressed vigorous and vocal opposition to the draft treaty text prepared by the U.S. and Great Britain. The Soviet delegation made several unsuccessful procedural attempts to stall the proceedings. The Soviet Union's objections were detailed in a lengthy September 8, 1951 statement by Gromyko. The statement contained a number of Soviet Union's claims and assertions: that the treaty did not provide any guarantees against the rise of Japanese militarism; that Communist China was not invited to participate despite being one of the main victims of the Japanese aggression; that the Soviet Union was not properly consulted when the treaty was being prepared; that the treaty sets up Japan as an American military base and draws Japan into a military coalition directed against the Soviet Union; that the treaty was in effect a separate peace treaty; that the draft treaty violated the rights of China to Taiwan and several other islands; that several Japanese islands were ceded by the treaty to the United States despite the U.S. having no legitimate claim to them; that the draft treaty, in violation of the Yalta agreement, did not recognize the Soviet Union's sovereignty over South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands; and other objections.

Signatories and ratification

Of the 52 participating countries 49 signed the treaty. Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Soviet Union denied the treaty. Colombia, Indonesia and Luxembourg signed the treaty but did not ratify it.

The fate of Japanese overseas territories

The document officially renounces Japan's treaty rights derived from the Boxer Protocol of 1901 and its rights to Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), Hong Kong (a British colony), the Kuril Islands, the Pescadores, the Spratly Islands, Antarctica and Sakhalin Island.

Article 3 of the treaty formally put the Ryukyu Islands, which included Okinawa and the Amami, Miyako and Yaeyama Islands groups, under U.S. trusteeship. The Amami Islands were eventually ceded back to Japan on December 25, 1953 and in 1969 U.S.-Japan negotiations authorized the transfer of authority over the Ryūkyūs to Japan to be implemented in 1972. In 1972, the United States "reversion" of the Ryūkyūs occurred along with the ceding of control over the nearby (uninhabited) Senkaku Islands - without taking a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

By Article 11 Japan accepted the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and of other Allied War Crimes Courts both within and outside Japan and agreed to carry out the sentences imposed thereby upon Japanese nationals imprisoned in Japan.

The document further set guidelines for repatriation of prisoners of war and renounces future military aggression under the guidelines set by the UN Charter. The document nullifies prior treaties and lays down the framework for Japan's current status of retaining a military that is purely defensive in nature.

There is also some ambiguity as to over which islands Japan has renounced sovereignty. This has led to both the Kuril Island conflict and the Diaoyutai/Senkaku dispute.

Neither the Nationalist Republic of China nor the Communist People's Republic of China were invited to the San Francisco Peace Conference and therefore neither signed this treaty. The Republic of China, however, enacted a separate Treaty of Taipei with Japan on April 28,1952 just hours before the Treaty of San Francisco went into effect, which acknowledged the terms of the San Francisco Treaty but added that all residents of Taiwan, the Pescadores were nationals of the Republic of China. Since the Treaty of Taipei did not come into force until August 5, 1952, almost 3 months after the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force, whether the treaty of Taipei conclusively addresses the dispositon of Taiwan is disputed.

Some supporters of Taiwan independence argue that the Treaty of San Francisco justifies Taiwan independence by not explicitly granting Taiwan to either the Republic of China or the People's Republic of China. This legal justification is rejected by both the PRC and ROC governments, both of which base their legal claims on Taiwan on the Instrument of Surrender of Japan which they argue incorporates the Potsdam Declaration and the Cairo Declaration. In addition, in more recent years supporters of Taiwan independence have more often relied on arguments based on self-determination and popular sovereignty.

The Soviet Union refused to sign the Treaty of San Francisco. In October 1956 the Soviet Union and Japan signed a Joint Declaration which ended the state of war between the two countries and provided for the restoration of normal diplomatic relations. However, no separate peace treaty has been signed with Japan even after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. This has prevented the Russo-Japanese territorial disputes from being resolved.

Compensation to Allied civilians and POWs

Transfer of Japanese overseas assets

Japanese overseas assets refers to all assets owned by the Japanese government, firms, organisation and private citizens, in colonised or occupied countries. In accordance with Clause 14 of the Treaty, Allied forces confiscated all Japanese overseas assets, except those in China, which were dealt with under Clause 21. China repossessed all Japanese assets in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, which included mineworks and railway infrastructure. Moreover, Clause 4 of the treaty stated that "the disposition of property of Japan and of its nationals...and their claims...against the authorities presently administering such areas and the residents...shall be the subject of special arrangements between Japan and such authorities." Consequently, it is considered that Korea was also entitled to the rights provided by Clause 21.

Japanese overseas assets in 1945 (1945, ¥15=1US$)
Country/region Value (Yen) Value (US Dollars)
Korea 7,025,600,000 468,370,000
Taiwan 42,542,000,000 2,846,100,000
North East China 146,532,000,000 9,768,800,000
North China 55,437,000,000 3,695,800,000
Central South China 36,718,000,000 2,447,900,000
Others 28,014,000,000 1,867,600,000
Total ¥379,499,000,000 $25,300,000,000

Compensation to Allied POWs

Clause 16 of the San Francisco Treaty states:

As an expression of its desire to indemnify those members of the armed forces of the Allied Powers who suffered undue hardships while prisoners of war of Japan, Japan will transfer its assets and those of its nationals in countries which were neutral during the war, or which were at war with any of the Allied Powers, or, at its option, the equivalent of such assets, to the International Committee of the Red Cross which shall liquidate such assets and distribute the resultant fund to appropriate national agencies, for the benefit of former prisoners of war and their families on such basis as it may determine to be equitable. The categories of assets described in Article 14(a)2(II)(ii) through (v) of the present Treaty shall be excepted from transfer, as well as assets of Japanese natural persons not residents of Japan on the first coming into force of the Treaty. It is equally understood that the transfer provision of this Article has no application to the 19,770 shares in the Bank for International Settlements presently owned by Japanese financial institutions.

Accordingly, Japan paid £4,500,000 to the Red Cross.

Clause 16 has served as a bar against subsequent lawsuits filed by former Allied prisoners of war against Japan. In 1998, a Tokyo court ruled against a suit brought by former Allied POW's, citing the San Francisco Treaty.

Allied territories occupied by Japan

Clause 14 of the treaty stated that "Japan will promptly enter into negotiations with Allied Powers so desiring, whose present territories were occupied by Japanese forces and damaged by Japan, with a view to assisting to compensate those countries for the cost of repairing the damage done, by making available the services of the Japanese people in production, salvaging and other work for the Allied Powers in question."

Accordingly, the Philippines and South Vietnam received compensation in 1956 and 1959 respectively. Burma and Indonesia were not original signatories, but they later signed bilateral treaty in accordance with Clause 14 of the San Francisco Treaty.

Japanese compensation to countries occupied during 1941–45
Country Amount in Yen Amount in US$ Date of treaty
Burma 72,000,000,000 200,000,000 November 5, 1955
Philippines 198,000,000,000 550,000,000 May 9, 1956
Indonesia 80,388,000,000 223,080,000 January 20, 1958
Vietnam 14,400,000,000 38,000,000 May 13, 1959
Total ¥364,348,800,000 US$1,012,080,000

The last payment was made to the Philippines on July 22, 1976.

See also


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