Memorandum by Mr. Eugene H. Dooman of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs
On the occasion of a call at the Japanese Embassy today on various official matters, I saw the Japanese Ambassador.57 I said to the Ambassador that I should like to present certain views which we had long held with regard to the employment by foreign political authorities of propangandists in the United States. I ventured the opinion that the moment was timely for presentation of these views, for the reason that, upon the recent death of George Bronson Rea, the Japanese Government would perhaps be giving thought to the appointment of a successor to Rea. I said that for purposes of clarity and convenience the views which I wished to communicate had been put on paper; and I handed the Ambassador as a record of an informal oral presentation a copy of the paper which is hereto attached.58[Page 783]
The Ambassador read this paper and remarked that Rea had been recalled last year to “Manchukuo” as the result of a recommendation made by the Ambassador, who believed that the cause of “Manchukuo” might better be presented in the United States by a Manchurian than by an American citizen. He stated that he would communicate with Ohashi, “Manchukuo” Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the sense of the statement which I had just presented.
I stated to the Ambassador that our views with regard to the employment of propagandists by foreign political authorities applied, not only to the “Manchukuo” government, but to the Japanese Government or to any other government employing propagandists in the United States.
I went on to say that there were, of course, various kinds of propaganda. The United States is constantly being visited by Britishers prominent in various walks of life who endeavor to present to the American public in as favorable a light as possible certain cultural aspects of British life. For the most part they refrain from touching upon political matters in controversy between the United States and Great Britain, and so far as we know they come to the United States on their own initiative and not as paid agents of the British Government. Propaganda could take, however, another and more objectionable form, and that is when efforts are made by a foreign government through the instrumentality of paid agents to persuade the people of the United States to bring pressure to bear upon the American Government to alter, to the advantage of the foreign government concerned, a position that has been taken with regard to a political situation.
The Ambassador again stated that the Japanese Government could do nothing to prevent the “Manchukuo” government from sending a publicity agent to the United States. I replied that this Government has endeavored during the past few years to avoid the raising of issues over the political situation in the Far East, and that it is our understanding that Mr. Hirota59 agrees with us in the belief that the cause of promoting friendly relations between the United States and Japan would not be served by permitting incidents to arise which would emphasize the political differences between the two countries.
The Ambassador stated that he did not look with favor upon the employment of American citizens as propagandists, but that if the “Manchukuo” government decided to send to the United States a Manchurian for publicity purposes there was nothing that the Japanese Government could do in the matter. I pointed out that if a “Manchukuo” publicity agent were sent to the United States and this Government felt disposed to refuse him entry, a most unfortunate [Page 784] situation would arise. The Ambassador seemed taken back for a moment, but he smiled and said that he understood.
As I rose to leave, the Ambassador expressed his appreciation of the informal and personal manner in which the matter under discussion had been presented to him.