Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hornbeck) of a Conversation With the Counselor of the Japanese Embassy (Taketomi)

At the conclusion of the conversation with regard to T. V. Soong’s plans (see separate memorandum of August 2594), Mr. Taketomi said that he would like to inquire with regard to the prospects of their [there] being action taken, along the line of suggestions made in recent newspaper reports, toward repeal of the Japanese exclusion provision of the Immigration Act (of 1924). Mr. Hornbeck said that he assumed that Mr. Taketomi had seen reports of the statement made by the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Shigemitsu. [Page 766] Mr. Taketomi said that he had that statement in mind. Mr. Hornbeck said that apparently the question had been brought up at the meeting at Banff of the Institute of Pacific Relations. Mr. Taketomi said that he had noted statements in the newspapers to that effect. Mr. Hornbeck said that, as the question was one which required action by Congress, it should be obvious to all and sundry who may be interested that the vital problem is that of the attitude, pro and contra, of the necessary majority of members of the House and Senators; that, the situation being what it is and the susceptibilities of the public, both in Japan and in the United States, being what they are, it would seem the part of wisdom to have this problem dealt with quietly in that quarter where consideration of it by the men who will do the voting when the matter comes before Congress will, of necessity, have most conclusive effect; that public agitation of the question, if it should lead to a proposal and a debate in Congress with the result of acrimonious discussion followed by an adverse vote, would have an utterly bad effect. Proponents of the idea ought, therefore, to direct their efforts to quiet discussion of the matter on its merits with members of Congress. To the best of Mr. Hornbeck’s knowledge, existing evidences do not warrant the assumption that there exists in Congress a majority sentiment favorable to altering the provision under discussion. Therefore it would seem advisable not to make the subject one of general discussion and public agitation at this time. Mr. Taketomi said that he quite concurred in that view.

Later, in conversation after luncheon at the Japanese Embassy, Mr. Hornbeck mentioned to the Ambassador the conversation of which record is made above, went over the points recorded in the preceding paragraph, and suggested that the Ambassador convey to Mr. Shigemitsu, perhaps informally, information with regard to what seems to be the situation, with appropriate suggestions. The Ambassador said that he felt that it would be well for him to do so.

(Note: Mr. Hornbeck was informed by Mr. Taketomi that Mr. Shigemitsu has been but once in the United States, some years ago, and then only for a period of three months during which he was on duty at one of the Japanese consulates on the Pacific Coast. Mr. Taketomi said that at present there is in the Japanese Foreign Office a preponderance of new personnel and that Count Uchida is the only one of the higher officers who has had any extensive experience in the United States).

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Ante, p. 512.