500.A15A5/396: Telegram

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

64. 1. Before the receipt of the Department’s telegram 49, March 26, 7 p.m., and without inquiry on my part, my British colleague17 told me that in a recent conversation he had informally expressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs18 his personal opinion that it would be disastrous to hold a naval conference unless the Japanese were prepared to offer some new proposition tending to meet the British proposals of last autumn. Hirota emphatically replied that the conference must take place this year and seemed surprised at Clive’s personal suggestion that it might be better to postpone it indefinitely.

2. The British Naval Attaché, however, has reported to Clive that the Japanese naval officers with whom he is in touch are absolutely intransigent in their stand for parity. Our Naval Attaché shares this view but has no concrete information because Japanese naval officers have shown reluctance to discuss the subject.

3. We have no indication of any change of attitude here and no indications concerning the German angle. Hirota’s remark to Clive may mean that the Japanese will insist upon the holding of a conference but I am inclined to think that Hirota was probably expressing his own views rather than those of the Navy.

4. I may add for what it is worth that in the course of a round of farewell dinners for our departing Assistant Naval Attaché, Lieutenant Smith-Hutton, the younger Japanese naval officers have freely spoken of eventual war with the United States as a foregone conclusion on the ground that Japan has certain definite policies in China which the United States will oppose and that the result will be an inevitable conflict. One of the officers who so expressed himself is aide to Admiral Kanji Kato. Repeated to Peiping by mail.

  1. Sir Robert Henry Clive, British Ambassador in Japan.
  2. Koki Hirota.