500.A15A5/841: Telegram

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

249. Department’s 151, December 2, 6 p.m. My British colleague informed his Foreign Office in August of our belief that only a direct approach on the subject of 14- or 16-inch guns might elicit a definite statement as to Japanese intentions and that such an approach might appropriately be made after my return from leave of absence in November. The British Foreign Office replied that they felt the matter should be taken up more promptly whereupon Clive recommended that the subject be broached in London rather than in Tokyo. Accordingly the British Government approached Ambassador Yoshida on November 11th with a view to arriving at an understanding on the question of gun calibers. Yoshida replied that he thought it unwise to take up the subject with Tokyo himself because [Page 114] an impression that the British Government was exerting diplomatic pressure might thereby be conveyed and such an impression might impede rather than facilitate a favorable result. Yoshida recommended that it would be better for the British Admiralty to discuss the question directly with his Naval Attaché as a purely technical matter. Clive apparently does not know whether this has yet been done.

As Yoshida understands the psychology of his own naval authorities the Department may wish to consider whether similar procedure would be preferable to an approach through diplomatic channels provided that the Department’s instruction No. 1141 envisages such action. Should an approach through naval channels be considered logical I would suggest that it be made by our Naval Attaché here rather than through the Japanese Naval Attaché in Washington. The former enjoys friendly relations with the Navy Ministry here and would be in a favorable position to make at least a provisional and technical inquiry concerning Japanese intentions with regard to gun calibers.