793.94119/378: Telegram

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

23. Our 20, January 11, 7 p.m. I am told by Fleisher30 who believes that he is quoting an absolutely reliable source that the purpose of the recent Imperial Conference was to approve revised and final peace terms to China and that these terms involving various unspecified concessions on the part of Japan were approved by the Emperor and would therefore become “immutable”. It was not expected that China would accept the original terms but if these revised terms are now rejected the campaign will then be pursued to a finish. Informant stated that the emphasis of the conference was therefore on peace rather than on war and that peace is greatly desired.

Informant stated that Admiral Suetsugu was alone in the Cabinet in favoring a declaration of war and that such a proposal therefore did not come before the Emperor. The Cabinet wishes at almost any cost to avoid involving the United States, a risk which a blockade of China would entail through the possible sinking of American merchant ships. The Lusitania31 was quoted as an example.

We are unable as yet to confirm the foregoing report but believe it to be plausible and it checks with the statement of the spokesman of the Foreign Office today that the “negotiations” with China are not [Page 16] finished. Fleisher received it from a close friend of Suetsugu who has previously advised him accurately on other confidential matters and who appears to be indebted to Fleisher for past favors. Fleisher expects to telephone the story to the Herald Tribune tomorrow. He is convinced that the story was not “planted”.

Repeated to Peiping for relay to Johnson.

  1. Tokyo correspondent of the New York Herald Tribune.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1915, Supplement, pp. 384 ff.