Memorandum by the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)

Calling by urgent appointment on the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the official residence at three o’clock today, I carried out the instructions contained in paragraph numbered 3 of the Department’s telegram no. 500, August 14, 11 a.m.92 I told the Minister that I was supporting the representations made by the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador in Washington on August 13, with regard to recent cases of interference with American rights and interests in Japan and in Japanese occupied areas in China and I thereupon read to the Minister and left with him a copy of the Department’s telegram with the exception of paragraph numbered three. I then discussed this situation at length, pointing out the fact that these cumulative interferences with American citizens and American interests were assuming a serious aspect both in Japan and in Japanese occupied areas in China and emphasizing the radical discrepancy between this treatment of American officials and citizens and their activities by the Japanese and our treatment of Japanese officials and subjects and their activities in the United States. I expressed the belief that relief from these interferences could be obtained only by the communication by the Japanese Government to Japanese authorities and Japanese sponsored authorities of categorical instructions to desist from the interferences and obstructions under complaint.

The Minister said that up to the moment of my presentation of the facts set forth in Mr. Hull’s telegram he had been totally unaware of them and he expressed regret that they had not sooner been brought to his attention. I replied that in cases of the nature under complaint it was the practice of our consular officials to endeavor in the first instance to seek removal of such interferences and obstructions by approach to the local Japanese authorities and that only when such approaches proved futile did we as a rule make representations to the Foreign Office. In the cases under consideration however, since our consular officials had failed to secure satisfaction by local approach, we had already brought most of these cases to the attention of the Gaimusho and I was surprised at the Minister’s unawareness of this fact. It was my practice, I said, to approach the Minister himself only in matters of prime importance or in situations such as the present one when no relief had been obtained in many individual cases the cumulative effect of which had taken on a serious aspect. The Minister said that he would immediately study [Page 912] this whole question and would use his best efforts to obtain a satisfactory solution.

I then said in this general connection that another serious matter was the inability of a group of some twenty-two American officials, as well as a considerable number of private American citizens, to obtain passage to Shanghai on Japanese vessels so that they could eventually depart from Shanghai for the United States. I said that applications for passages on behalf of this official group had been made many weeks ago and in spite of the fact that other people had only recently been given accommodations on Japanese ships to Shanghai our own officials were still being informed that all such ships were solidly booked and that no accommodations were available. The evidence in our possession made clear that discrimination was being practiced to the detriment of these American officials. I said that Mr. Terasaki was handling this matter, that I had entire confidence in his efforts and was convinced that he was doing his best so that my purpose in approaching the Minister himself was merely to seek his support of Mr. Terasaki’s efforts. The Minister replied that he was aware of the conversations between Mr. Terasaki and Mr. Dooman on this subject and he expressed the belief that our group of American officials would soon obtain accommodations.

The Minister then spoke of the Coolidge and his regret that it had not been found possible to arrange for her to come to Japan but he understood that we had wished her to come here only to take American officials and not private citizens. I expressed astonishment at the Minister’s statement and emphatically pointed out to him that it had been our particular desire that the Coolidge should take both officials and private citizens and that the condition limiting the passengers exclusively to officials in case the Coolidge should call at Yokohama had been laid down by the Japanese Government and not by us, and it was that condition that had wrecked the whole project. The Minister then passed on to another subject so that I was unable to gather whether he has been radically misinformed with regard to the negotiations concerning the Coolidge or whether his remarks had been thoughtlessly made. In any case, he could hardly have failed to grasp the point as explained by me.

Before terminating the interview, the Minister again referred, as in a previous conversation, to the unfortunate psychological effect on the Japanese public which had been created by the American order freezing Japanese assets in the United States,92a implying that the cases under complaint were due to the resentment in Japan caused by the American action. He said that the Japanese Government was doing its best to tone down the press and he hoped that we also would do what was possible to mitigate anti-Japanese sentiment in our country. [Page 913] In the meantime he repeated that he would make every effort to deal satisfactorily with the cases which I presented to him today. I said once again that I was merely supporting representations which had been made by Mr. Hull to Admiral Nomura. Admiral Toyoda thanked me for this attitude on my part which he said tended to simplify rather than to complicate the situation. I said that he could always depend upon me to endeavor to simplify rather than to complicate every situation and after some more friendly assurances on his part the interview terminated.

J[oseph] C. G[rew]
  1. Not printed.
  2. For text of order dated July 26, 1941, see vol. ii, p. 267.