811.3362i/10: Telegram

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

127. Department’s 75, June 13, 2 p.m.

While I entirely concur in the Department’s premises it should be remembered that the Japanese Government has in the past repeatedly refused permission to American naval vessels to visit the unopened ports in the Mandated Islands (Embassy’s telegrams numbers 40, April 19, 4 p.m., 1929;54 70, June 29, 10 a.m., 1929;55 and 236, December 4, 4 p.m., 193056). It seems highly unlikely that the Japanese Government will now change its attitude and I doubt whether even reciprocal treatment of Japanese ships in Alaska would serve to alter its intransigence. In this connection I have before me Department’s instruction No. 549, July 19 [16], 1934, and enclosures.57
My carefully studied opinion is that even should the Japanese Government acquiesce in the proposal little or no useful information in regard to naval preparations or fortifications in the Mandated Islands would be obtained while acquiescence would open the way to numerous demands on our Government that Japanese naval vessels be allowed to visit American unopened ports.
Moreover, our proposal and the almost certain refusal of the Japanese Government to consider it might find their way into the Japanese press and this would merely serve to intensify public suspicion on both sides of the Pacific.
Unless, therefore, the Department has some special reasons for wishing to reopen the question at the present moment it would seem questionable whether we ought to risk another rebuff coupled with the official and public irritation that might be caused by our making an issue of the matter.
So far as I can see the only likelihood of benefit from the proposed approach lies in the fact that it would serve to determine the present attitude of the Japanese Government in regard to closed ports in the Mandated Islands which might assist our Government in any future discussions of the question of fortifications in the Pacific after the expiration of the Washington Naval Treaty. If such a “show down” is desired our approach would no doubt bring it about.
If the Department still desires me to carry out the instructions under reference please specify whether the phrase “as on our own initiative” is intended to cover the whole or only the second part of the second sentence in paragraph 5 of the Department’s telegram.
  1. See despatch No. 1156, April 25, 1929, Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. iii, p. 256.
  2. Ibid., p. 258.
  3. See ibid., p. 262, footnote 39.
  4. None printed.