Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Castle) of a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi)

As he told the Secretary he planned to do, the Ambassador came to see me to discuss the Japanese exclusion question. Mr. Debuchi said he had come to Washington with the hope that he might be able to straighten out three matters, or at least help along those lines. One was naval rivalry, one was misunderstandings over [Page 316] China, the other the immigration question. The Ambassador said that the London Agreement4 had happily settled the naval question; that there seemed no longer to be any Chinese question between the two Governments. Japan’s attitude toward China was practically identical with that of the United States. There remained the immigration question. The Ambassador said that he had talked with a great many people while he was on the Pacific Coast and had found great friendliness, in fact had seen no one who was opposed to putting Japan on the quota. He said that he had always let other people bring the matter up and had not introduced it himself because he knew the danger of appearing to bring any kind of pressure. For the same reason he said that he wanted his talk with me to be entirely unofficial and secret, that he should not telegraph his Government anything about it, but would write merely a personal letter to Baron Shidehara.5 We discussed the matter from all angles. Mr. Debuchi thoroughly understands that it cannot be introduced in Congress by the Department of State; also that it should be brought up as originating on the Pacific Coast but he fears that no California Senator or Congressman will be prodded to introduce the matter and that it may simply go by default. He said it seemed to him that all the psychological elements were present to make a change in the law successful at the present time and that if it could not be effected in the next session of Congress he would feel there was little hope. I told him that he should not have this feeling because the next, or short session of Congress, which might well be very turbulent, was not a good time to get through legislation. I pointed out that obviously nothing must be done until we were sure of a favorable result since a reaffirmation of the exclusion would be worse than the original law.

I gained nothing new from this conversation, nor did the Ambassador, except I think that he realized, as he had perhaps not done before, that we were watching the situation carefully.

W[illiam] R. C[astle], Jr.
  1. Signed April 22, 1930; vol. i, p. 107.
  2. Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs.