Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hornbeck) of a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi)
At a certain point in the conversation of this date, record of which is given in a separate memorandum,59 Mr. Hornbeck said that he would like to ask an indiscreet question. The Ambassador said that he hoped that Mr. Hornbeck would ask any question which he felt disposed to ask.
Mr. Hornbeck said that he would like to have as far as the Ambassador might care to express them the Ambassador’s views with regard to the present Japanese-Russian situation.
The Ambassador said that he was frankly quite worried about this situation. He said that the Russian Government had published the alleged documents. That the Japanese Government had declared those documents a forgery. That his Government had declared to him that the documents were forgeries. That this made the situation one in which the Russian Government had shown itself definitely and deliberately unfriendly, even hostile. Even if the documents were authentic, the publication of them was distinctly improper and an act of unfriendliness; they would have had to have been stolen and that in itself would be a ground for great irritation in Japan. But, being fabricated and being published, the whole transaction indicated great unfriendliness and was occasioning excitement and bitterness in Japan—especially among the military element. In such a situation unpleasant incidents might easily occur. All of this makes the problems of people in authority who wish to maintain peace increasingly difficult. He hoped that the excitement would die down, but constant and recurring irritation and excitement were very disturbing.