861.77 Chinese Eastern/1241

Memorandum by the Minister in China (Johnson) 1

In the course of conversation to-day I asked Mr. Bogomoloff, the Soviet Ambassador, his opinion as to future developments here in the Far East.

He stated that the Soviet Government recognized the existence of two parties among the Japanese military. There was one party which believed that war with Soviet Russia was a possibility, but that this eventuality might be postponed or obviated by compromise. It was this party that favored the purchase of the Chinese Eastern Railway. There was another party, however, which believed that war between Japan and Soviet Russia was inevitable, and that the sooner this war took place the easier and better it would be for Japan.

Mr. Bogomoloff said that quite privately and personally it was his opinion that the absence of friendly relations between Soviet Russia and the United States made the position of Soviet Russia in the Far East very weak. It was also a factor of weakness in the position of the United States in the Far East. He thought, privately and personally, that the party in the Japanese Government which favored immediate war with Russia took into consideration the absence of friendly relations between Soviet Russia and the United States, believing that in the absence of such relations a war with [Page 378] Soviet Russia would more favorably redound to the interests of Japan in popular opinion in the United States, as the absence of such relations would give the Japanese an opportunity to persuade the people of the United States that Japan was fighting, not Soviet Russia, but the Soviet regime.

Mr. Bogomoloff stated that the Soviet Government appreciated only too well the weakness of its position in the Far East; that it was anxious to avoid any war with Japan, for it was afraid that under present conditions a war with Japan might be developed into a general war against Russia.

It was his belief that the Japanese under the leadership of the military were ambitious to annex Manchuria; that it was their desire to set up, as a companion to “Manchukuo”, a “Mongolkuo” comprising Chahar and Suiyuan and the rest of Inner Mongolia, under Japanese control and leadership. This would give them control over access to Outer Mongolia. He said that he also believed the Japanese hoped to organize the three northern provinces of China, Hopei, Shansi and Shantung, into an independent Government under Japanese influence.

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch No. 2227, August 1; received September 1.