Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hornbeck)

Reference, memorandum of conversation between the Japanese Ambassador and Mr. Hornbeck, March 16, 1937,35 and subsequent papers.

[Page 818]

On March 16, 1937, the Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Hirosi Saito, informed Mr. Hornbeck orally and informally that the Japanese Government had instructed the Ambassador to request permission for the operation of a Japanese air line from Taihoku into Manila. Mr. Hornbeck inquired whether this request would imply and carry with it the principle of reciprocity. The Ambassador replied that it was his understanding that reciprocity was intended.

Under date March 31, the Department informed the Secretaries of War, Navy, Treasury, Commerce, and the Postmaster General of the matter under reference, with request for comments.

At a meeting of the Interdepartmental Committee on Civil International Aviation, early in April, this matter was discussed (simultaneously with discussion of the pending request of the Netherland Government to establish air line communication between the Netherland East Indies and Manila37), and there was arrived at a consensus of opinion unfavorable to the Japanese request: it was decided that the Department should inform the Japanese Ambassador that the American Government is not favorably disposed toward the proposal made.

By the end of April, replies had been received from the Secretaries of War, Navy, Treasury, Commerce, and the Postmaster General, unanimously unfavorable.

Mr. Hornbeck conferred with Judge Moore38 and it was decided that the reply should be given by Mr. Hornbeck, to whom the original inquiry had been addressed, in the same informal and oral manner in which the Japanese Ambassador had communicated the inquiry.

As the reply to be given was in the negative, and as the matter was in no way urgent, it was considered by officers of FE39 advisable to await, for the communicating of this reply, a favorable moment, preferably a moment when, some other matter being under discussion, communication of this reply might be made to the Japanese Ambassador casually.

On June 4, Mr. Kitazawa of the Japanese Embassy inquired of Mr. Ballantine40 when a reply might be expected to the inquiry which the Japanese Ambassador had made of Mr. Hornbeck (in relation to the matter under reference).

On June 5, Mr. Hornbeck informed the Japanese Ambassador orally and informally that, “this matter having been given consideration by the authorities concerned of this Government, he was under instruction [Page 819] to say that the American Government is not prepared to respond in the affirmative to the request under reference”.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Not printed.
  2. On November 9 it was decided to enter into negotiations with the Netherlands for a reciprocal air agreement between the Philippines and the Netherlands East Indies, but no results had been obtained to the time of the outbreak of war in Europe.
  3. R. Walton Moore, Counselor of the Department of State.
  4. Division of Far Eastern Affairs.
  5. Joseph W. Ballantine, of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs.