Address Delivered by the Japanese Prime Minister (Prince Konoye) Before the Japanese Diet on January 22, 193869

The New Year is with us amid the storm and stress of the China Affair. Today at this session of the Imperial Diet which faces a momentous crisis of our nation, I have the honour to wish with you a long life to our Sovereign and prosperity and happiness to the Imperial House, before stating to you the views of the Government. I have been moved beyond words by the Imperial Message that was graciously granted at the opening session and by the deep concern shown by His Majesty over the present situation.

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It is scarcely necessary for me to say that Japan’s immutable national policy aims at building the edifice of permanent peace for East Asia on the unshakable foundation of close co-operation between Japan, Manchoukuo and China, and to contribute thereby to the cause of world peace. The adoption some time ago of our determined policy not to deal with the obdurate Kuomintang Government of China, and the exertion of ceaseless efforts towards the cultivation of friendly relations with the Powers, have been both dictated by this policy of the Government. We all rejoice for the sake of world peace that the tripartite Anti-Comintern Agreement between Japan, Germany, and Italy was completed through the participation of Italy last fall.70

It is now more than half a year since the commencement of the present conflict. The fields of hostilities have been extended from North China to Central and South China. The valorous and daring operations of the Imperial forces have brought us victory after victory. Nanking, the Chinese Capital, quickly fell into our hands. The situation is developing most favourably for Japan. While this is, of course, due to the August Virtue of our Sovereign, I am profoundly grateful for the loyalty and courage of the officers and men of the Imperial forces at front and for the ardour and enthusiasm of all our people at home.

Now the Government look forward to the emergence of a new Chinese regime which may really be counted upon to co-operate with Japan, and with such a regime they intend to adjust the Sino-Japanese relations and lend their hands in the rehabilitation of China, and in laying firmly thereby the foundation for a permanent peace of East Asia. Needless to say, there will be no change in Japan’s policy to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and the legitimate rights and interests of third Powers in China.

The mission of Japan as the stabilizing force of East Asia is greater and her obligations have grown heavier than ever. In order to fulfil this mission, and to discharge these obligations of ours, we must certainly be prepared to make hereafter still greater sacrifices than we have made heretofore. But unless we resolve to do this, we only lay in store misfortunes for the future. I believe that to bear such sacrifices is a noble duty that we of the present generation owe to posterity.

It is under a conviction such as this that our Government are striving with all their might to deal with the China Affair and to achieve the end they have in view. And for that they are working for the completion of the plans for the national mobilization both material and spiritual, and the execution of the various necessary measures. Under [Page 440] this policy, the Government realize the first necessity of replenishing armaments and filling the national treasury, and accordingly, emphasis has been placed on this point in regulating country’s economy and finances. As regards the budget for the coming fiscal year, it has been so compiled as to devote as much money and material as possible to the fulfilment of military requirements, and to curtail as far as possible the general consumption of the goods and funds having to do with military supplies.

In the field of industry, the basic principle of the Government will be laid in the increase of our nation’s productive power under the one comprehensive scheme covering Japan, Manchoukuo and China, and efforts are to be exerted toward supplying the articles needed for national defence, promoting all the important industries, and expanding our export trade.

As for our work at the home front, not only everything will be of course done in order to keep our officers and men at front free from all anxieties for those at home, but suitable and effective measures will be taken to provide for the relief of the families of those killed, wounded, or taken ill.

Far distant still is the end of the conflict. We should expect that it will be a long time before a settlement is reached. Ours is indeed a momentous task unparalleled in history. We shall never succeed in accomplishing the task unless all of us show the dauntless spirit of gladly and courageously offering ourselves to our country. Let me assure you that the Government, with patience and perseverance and a resolute will, expect to reach a settlement of the Affair.

In accordance with these views, the necessary bills together with the budget are being presented to you, on which I earnestly hope that you, appreciating the intentions of the Government, will give your approval.

  1. English text received by the Embassy in Japan from the Japanese Foreign Office.
  2. See vol. ii, p. 159.