The Ambassador in Japan ( Morris ) to the Secretary of State

No. 299

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, supplementing my despatch No. 285 November 5, 1918,1 a number of translations1 made in this Embassy of comments in the Japanese Press and current magazines on matters connected with the position of Japan at the forthcoming Peace Conference and other related questions. While these comments are of the same character and scope as the earlier ones that have already been forwarded they show more fully and definitely what the Japanese public expects and desires in the way of a settlement after the war.

Mr. Kiroku Hayashi, M. P., considers the disposal of Kiaochow Bay the foremost among the questions affecting Japan exclusively. The abandonment of this territory by Germany he declares is of paramount importance for the preservation and peace of the Far East. He is, however, one of those who believe that the question of restoring [it?] to China should not be left to the Peace Conference, as it is a matter that concerns only China and Japan.

Dr. Mutsumami, of the Imperial University, has no doubt that the two countries, being of the same race and having a common medium of writing, can reach a satisfactory solution by themselves as to its disposal.

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Dr. Terao, a leading authority on International Law, voices a widely prevailing desire in proposing that Japan secure a lease on Tsingtao for a certain period, keeping in mind the object of restoring it to China eventually.

Baron Shibusawa, Japan’s eminent financier, wants for Japan a recognized position of absolute superiority in China. He declares that, while the relations of other powers to China are those of interest, the relations of Japan are more vital, affecting her existence, and therefore she cannot place her interests on a par with those of other powers.

Mr. Oishi, a former leader of the Kenseikai Party, asks for special recognition only in respect to Manchuria and Mongolia, so that Japan can make herself secure from the possibility of post-bellum economic rivalries of the powers in those regions.

With regard to Siberia, the Yamato advocates that Japan insist at the Peace Conference on having Vladivostock converted into a free port; that the Chinese Eastern Railway be placed under Japanese control; and that other Siberian Railways under the joint control of the Allied Powers.

With regard to a League of Nations, Mr. Hayashi believes that, while it will be a gratifying achievement for the sake of the world’s peace, care must be taken to remove artificial barriers that may hinder the peaceful development of individual nations. The preservation of the territorial status quo indefinitely will be, he states, a source of affliction to nations with limited areas that contemplate future development, the progress of mankind and the development of states will thus be obstructed. Indeed the idea that the League of Nations will circumscribe rather than assist weak and poor nations in achieving their manifest destiny is widely prevalent among Japanese publicists.

The limitation of armaments does not meet with much favor in Japan. The Kokumin asserts that it is doubtful whether Great Britain and America will consent to break up their warships and use the steel for other purposes, and points out that the Japanese Army is to Japan what Navies are to Britain and America. Even Baron Shibusawa advises the nations to be ready for America, the Champion of Democracy, lest she make it a part of her policy to check Japan’s military expansion in the future.

There is in fact general fear of America’s growing power, and distrust of her motives. The Chuwo warns America that if she becomes conceited and attributes the defeat of the enemy to her own strength, assuming at the same time a positive attitude in world affairs, she will be doomed as Germany is now doomed. If she recklessly attempts to display her strength, this journal concludes, the result will be the unhappiness of mankind.

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The conviction is general that Japan has much at stake in the deliberations of the Peace Conference, not only in respect to the specific terms that affect Japan exclusively, but also in regard to general questions of post-bellum reconstruction. It is argued that Japan must take a leading part in the problems that affect the Far East, particularly in view of the fact, as the Kokumin points out, that the fate of the Yellow Race depends upon the attitude of Japan. While Japan has not been formerly [formally?] entrusted with representing the Race, this journal observes, it is a question whether China’s voice will be effective, because the value of her part in the war is not generally recognized, and also because her war aims are not clear.

I have [etc.]

Roland S. Morris
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.