500.A15A5/184: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

200. Yoshida, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and son-in-law of Count Makino, called on me this morning and told me in confidence that Hirota had yesterday authorized him to tell the British Ambassador39 and myself that he hoped we would not be misled by the intransigent tone of the Japanese press or by the unfavorable atmosphere now prevailing in Japan with regard to the coming Naval Conference. Hirota said that he could not tell me this himself because his hands are tied until the Navy Ministry formulates its plans but he wished me to know that the Japanese position in the Conference would not necessarily be so rigid or inflexible as might be assumed from statements appearing in the press.

Yoshida said that 2 weeks ago Hirota had seemed very downhearted and pessimistic concerning the outlook for the Conference but that yesterday he had appeared greatly encouraged as a result of the last meeting of the Cabinet. Yoshida added that Prince Saionji40 had selected Admiral Okada as Prime Minister owing to the Genro’s desire to make the Naval Conference a success and because Okada had been helpful and ingenious in Tokyo in helping the London Conference through an important crisis. Yoshida believes that the views of Okada and Hirota are much the same and that the Navy Minister himself is not very far apart from them although he has to placate a strong group intransigent Admirals. “But,” added Yoshida, “minorities have sometimes won out over majorities.” In concluding, Yoshida warned me against too great optimism but at the same time not to judge Japan’s final position by the unfavorable atmosphere now prevailing in the press. He advised me to see Hirota in a few days after the press reaction to the recent Cabinet meeting have quieted down.

I shall take leave of Hirota next week before departing on leave of absence on September 19 and shall merely listen to and report any statement that he may make.

Repeated to Peiping by mail.

  1. Sir Robert Henry Clive.
  2. Kimmochi Saionji, last of the Genro (Japanese “Elder Statesmen”).