500.A15A5/603: Telegram

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

7. Department’s 2, January 7, 7 p.m.23

1. The Embassy has no knowledge of the treaty negotiations indicated. (See, however, Embassy’s 232, December 7, noon.24)

2. The Chinese Chargé d’Affaires in Tokyo about 10 days ago is reported to have proposed to the Japanese Foreign Office a meeting in Nanking to discuss the Sino-Japanese situation. The Foreign Office before acceding desired a list of the points to be discussed which the Nanking Government has not yet produced. Suma [Consul General] in Shanghai [Nanking], has come to Tokyo for consultation and Ariyoshi25 is reported due here on January 20.

3. My comments on Craigie’s ideas as personally expressed to Davis are as follows:

The Japanese military program in North China has not been moving smoothly. The attempt to include the five provinces in the autonomy movement failed. The professors and students movement has manifested a solidarity and determination which took the military by surprise and although they allegedly discount its importance it has caused embarrassment. The Japanese have failed in their immediate objective. Their determination eventually to dominate North China is no less strong but they do not visualize accomplishing this end by military occupation which would greatly increase expenses and would necessarily weaken their defensive manpower in Manchuria against Soviet Russia as well as inviting possible sanctions by foreign powers. It therefore appears possible that their tactics may now assume a different form in which the conclusion of a nonaggression pact entailing Chinese acceptance of the status quo in Manchuria with perhaps some separate agreement for the acceptance of one or more Japanese military advisers at least in Hopei might eventuate. The foregoing is however pure conjecture based on recent developments. I am sceptical as to the likelihood of the conclusion of such a pact.

If such a pact should materialize the present treaty structure in the relation of the powers to China would presumably in effect have become obsolete. It would then be the better part of wisdom to shape our policy having in mind the long future rather than the past and immediate present—in other words to secure the most effective guarantee of the future protection of our interests in the Far East in general and of our relations with Japan in particular.

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I am not prepared without further study to evaluate all the implications of a non-aggression pact with Japan which would presumably be based on the fundamental principles already subscribed to in the Kellogg-Briand Pact. If however as Craigie opines the present naval status quo might be secured through the conclusion of bilateral pacts between Japan, Great Britain and the United States, I do not think that the idea should be turned aside without the most careful consideration. The time is obviously coming when we must seriously reconsider our whole future outlook and policy in the Far East and although such a reconsideration may raise questions which now, as Davis stated, appear insoluble I am inclined to feel that their alleged insolubility is predicated more on the difficulties of adjusting ourselves to new facts and conditions, however unwelcome these facts and conditions may be, than upon insuperable obstacles. If the Chinese Government should enter such an agreement as Craigie believes “probable in the near future” the new facts and conditions suggested above would then seem to have definitely materialized.

Repeated to Peiping.

  1. See telegram No. 4 of the same date to the Ambassador in China, p. 3.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Akira Ariyoshi, Japanese Ambassador in China.