500.A15A5/211: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis)

6. For Davis from the Secretary. Your 6, October 24, 7 p.m.50 This and the recent public utterances of responsible exponents of Japanese official and unofficial views indicate a rigid and uncompromising attitude on part of Japan. The scope and rigidity of the position which they take suggest that they are preparing the ground for a probable walk-out. Their evident unwillingness to discuss anything except what suits their own national aspirations, without regard to world conditions, implies throwing off all restrictions and abandoning all effort toward real cooperation in the field of international relations and machinery for peace. They offer no justification except the arguments of prestige and manifest destiny for their claim of paramount rights and responsibilities in the Far East and their demand for a change in the naval ratios and agreements entered into toward preservation of peace in the Far East. There is no sufficient reason why all the nations of the world cannot go along on the basis of peace and security agreed upon in the Washington Treaties, treaties for the principles and provisions of which this Government still stands. The Japanese plea of need of self-defense is similar to that which they made when beginning their military occupation of Manchuria and, in 1932, their attack upon the Chinese at Shanghai.51 There is no reason why the other countries of the world should accept the Japanese view of Japan’s rights and requirements or permit themselves to be represented as blocking the legitimate aspirations of the Japanese people. The publicity which they are giving to their line of exposition suggests that, expecting to walk out, they hope to create with the public an impression, which may be developed further at the moment when they so move, that they are forced to that conclusive action by indifference on the part of other countries to Japan’s necessities in the field of self-defense.

We will need to combat whatever efforts they may make to shift the responsibility for a break, if and when, from themselves to us and/or the British.

It is believed that the above given line of reasoning should guide us in contacts with the British conferees and with the press. It should not be made the basis of any official statement but might be borne in [Page 314] mind in the course of discussions or conferences where comment is required.

Following from Phillips Publicity here at present satisfactory from American viewpoint.52

  1. Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 254; for summary, see telegram No. 182, October 25, 7 p.m., to the Ambassador in Japan, infra.
  2. For correspondence, see Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. iv, pp. 464 ff.; see also Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, pp. 161 ff.
  3. This paragraph appears in ink in Phillips’ handwriting.