793.94/7297: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Lockhart) to the Secretary of State

20. There is reason to believe that the Japanese civil and military authorities at home and in China have reached agreement with regard to Japan’s China policy to a degree not heretofore achieved. Recent Japanese press reports from Tokyo have stated that the chief authorities concerned have been working on the draft of such a policy and a Japanese official informed a member of the Embassy yesterday that the policy has been decided upon, that the policy has been communicated to the local Embassy but that its full purport is not clear. This last circumstance may have its explanation in a Tokyo press report which quoted a spokesman of one of the Ministries as saying if it were necessary to submit the policy to the Cabinet it would necessarily be abstract, moderate and lukewarm in tone and that although the policy will appear quite simple greater importance will be attached to its interpretation and practical application by the Ministries concerned.

There are indications that the Japanese intend to take important action with regard to China in the near future. These indications are (1) the tenor of Japanese press reports from Tokyo with regard to the new policy; (2) the recent statements of Isogai and Tada (see Embassy’s No. 10 and 12, September 25, 5 p.m. and September 26, 3 p.m. respectively) as well as comments made recently to American correspondents by Doihara and Minami; (3) the confidential statement of a responsible Japanese that he believes important action is imminent although he does not know what form it will take nor what extent; (4) statements of a leading Chinese civilian to the effect that this is the feeling of people in Peiping and that they believe the extent [Page 357]of action will depend on the Italo-Abyssinian situation; and (5) the expressed apprehension of an officer of the local Soviet Embassy of immediate important developments affecting the five northern provinces.
Confidential and reliable information has been received that Sakai, chief of staff of Tientsin garrison, has been seriously ill for 3 or 4 days and that some Japanese suspect that he has been poisoned by Chinese. If they should decide that this is the case new developments may be expected as a result.
A second of Sung’s four divisions was transferred on September 29 from Chahar to the Peiping area. General Shang has not yet withdrawn his troops from Tientsin. Although this increases the possibility of trouble between Shang and Sung and although it is understood that the Japanese military anticipate such trouble and expect to make use of it it does not appear to be imminent. By mail to Tokyo and Nanking.