File No. 861.00/1676
The French Ambassador (Jusserand) to the Secretary of State
Mr. Secretary of State: By order of my Government I have the honor to impart to your excellency the latest intelligence that has reached it on the question of Japan’s intervention in Siberia and to point to the consequences which we deem it proper to draw therefrom in the interest of the common cause.
In a general way, Japan, as your excellency knows, must and will intervene in Asia in defense of her present position and of her future. If she does so without our assent she will do it against us and there is some likelihood of her later arriving at an understanding with Germany. This of itself we would regard as a decisive consideration.
But it must be remarked, in addition, that an agreement of the Allies with Japan affords the only means of obtaining from her declarations expressly stating that she is acting as an ally of the moral person represented by Russia and is resolved not to encroach in the least on Russia’s right of self-determination in selecting this or that form of government, that she desires to help Russia out of the political and economic control of Germany and to assist in reconstituting Russia’s national unity, which necessarily implies the restoration of order which the Russians, in their present state of anarchy, are no longer able to achieve.
Negotiations with the Japanese Government will, in the second place, make it possible to call on it for public guarantees of territorial [Page 76] disinterestedness, which will go much farther than a mere reservation that the fate of the countries occupied by Japan shall be determined by the Peace Congress.
Lastly, with respect to the extent and effectiveness of Japan’s action, it also depends on us to have its reality clearly defined and to secure pledges in this respect. That is one of the main objects of the pending negotiations in Tokyo. In our opinion that action may be far-reaching.
Japan, a great power with a population of 56,000,000, an active army numbering 600,000 men and a reserve army of equal strength, has largely increased her wealth during the war; she is enjoying full prosperity and at the present time commands considerable financial resources. Even if it were not so, the Allies could if needed furnish the financial means she might need, although Japan did declare that she proposed to act unassisted, assuming the burdens and responsibilities of the undertaking.
Taken as a whole the plan, the adoption of which by Japan we are seeking and the scope of which would justify and effectuate her intervention, embraces the following points: First, occupation of the Trans-Siberian terminals at Vladivostok and Harbin for the preservation of our stocks and the maintenance of the regular ways of communication, both military and economic, with Russia; next, to secure the control of the Trans-Siberian Railway by occupying the Chita Pass, the key to the several railroads of northern Asia; to reinstate at Irkutsk and Tomsk the Siberian governments that have been driven out by the anarchists with the help of the German prisoners; to establish in Siberia a center of resistance and attraction for the sound parts of Russia with which relations may be entered into in southern Russia; to keep out of the reach of the Germans the stores of grain hoarded in Asiatic Russia as the yield of three crops, the fats which are there in large quantities, to prevent the outgoing of Turkestan cotton, that is to say, to bring into play an economic action that can be speedily exerted and the immediate importance of which is almost greater than that of political action.
Furthermore, this action would be complemented by shipping to Russia American and Japanese manufactures that are so urgently needed by our Russian allies.
This is the first part of the program which we believe to be to the interest of the Allies to propose to Japan, which the Russians, if enlightened by means of public declarations and of an explanatory propaganda to be plied on Russian opinion by the Entente and local newspapers, can not but recognize as beneficial and disinterested.
The resistance that may be offered by certain hostile Russian elements that are not qualified to represent the allied nation, or by indifferently trained and armed prisoners, is not likely to check for any length of time the methodical dash of the Japanese troops.[Page 77]
As for a more extensive and direct intervention of Japan against Germany in European Russia, of such a nature as to cause more concern to the Central Empires and compel them entirely to reconstitute their eastern military front, the question presented is obviously more complex and remote. It does not as such appear to be impossible of execution, but while it is advisable to consider it without delay, it would be inexpedient to burden the present negotiations with it.
In the opinion of my Government which hopes that it will be shared by that of the United States, in dealing with a country as sensitive as Japan, it is of great importance to avoid in the pending negotiations any step that might create an impression that there exists a feeling of mistrust, of apprehension that that country will not live up to its engagements or harbors intentions other than those it declares. I know from a remark recently made by your excellency that you fully appreciate the punctiliousness with which Japan strives to keep her promises and abide by her engagements.
I will add in conclusion that the Allies have conscientiously weighed the pros and cons of a Japanese intervention, in the light of all the available information gathered from the most reliable sources. They have come to the conclusion that the advantages outweigh the drawbacks by far arid that it is important to act as quickly as possible in the indicated sense and to cast aside any hesitation or regret apt to delay or restrict such action and thereby hamper its effectiveness without in the least lessening the apprehended objectionable contingencies.
Convinced that Japan’s cooperation which circumstances make desirable to us may be secured under conditions of security and effectiveness in keeping with the general interests of all the Allies, Russia and the United States included, the Government of the Republic would be particularly glad to hear that the United States Government upon a reexamination of the question will concur in our views and join in our action.
Be pleased to accept [etc.]