The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)
Washington, June 18, 1936—6 p.m.
79. Your 127, June 16, 9 a.m.
- There are two reasons in particular for the Department’s suggestion. First, desire to see something done toward alleviating suspicion and improving relations between the two countries. There is no connection with the problem of future discussion of the fortifications question. Second, the Navy Department, in light of persistent refusal by Japan to permit American vessels to enter harbors in the Mandated Islands, is increasingly inclined to urge refusal to permit Japanese vessels to enter certain of our harbors. In addition, we have in mind that, should the Japanese prove not responsive to the suggestion under consideration, your approach and subsequent evidence of disinclination on their part to adopt the suggestion would create a tactical situation affording a potential point of departure for denying (if such action should later seem advisable) to Japanese vessels permission to enter certain American harbors.
- Department takes into consideration all points mentioned in your paragraphs 1 and 2. Reference your paragraph 3, Department would not wish that this idea be put forward as a proposal. It would need to be put forward by you in the course of a visit on other business to the Foreign Minister and as a suggestion on your part. You might say that you had obtained permission from the Department but that it was not a proposal from or by your Government. You would point out that an invitation offered by the Japanese Government as of its [Page 987] own volition would serve toward dispelling suspicion abroad and improving Japan’s reputation in quarters where criticism of Japan’s attitude and actions prevails. Need it be feared that the fact of your having made such a suggestion would be made public? If Arita should feel it inadvisable to lay the suggestion before other Japanese authorities, would he not probably tell you that he feels the idea impracticable? If he should choose to lay it before them, would he not do it as on his own initiative? Would not this procedure serve toward preventing there arising questions of definitive refusal or rebuff? It is not our thought to make of the matter an issue. But, in course of time, if the Japanese persist in the attitude which you characterize as “intransigence”, there may occur a change in the attitude and practice of this Government toward admitting Japanese vessels to certain of our harbors. Would it not be better for them to take some step toward preventing any such possible development?
Please think the matter over with these considerations in mind and telegraph Department your further reaction for our guidance.