Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Leo D. Sturgeon of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs

Mr. Henry W. Kinney, with whom I have had long acquaintance and who is now attached to the Japanese Foreign Office, came to see me this morning and talked at length about Sino-Japanese relations. A number of remarks made by Mr. Kinney, some in response to my questions, contained substance of possible interest to the Department and are set forth below. Mr. Kinney has had important assignments as a publicist for the Japanese Government, enjoys acquaintance with the highest Japanese Government officials, and was called out of retirement for his present mission which is to make a survey of American opinion with respect to Far Eastern developments. Prior to making the present trip to the United States, Mr. Kinney apparently conferred with important members of the Japanese Cabinet and Government, and it is, therefore, possible that certain of his observations are entitled to more than ordinary notice.

Mr. Kinney stated in regard to the hostilities in China that the Tokyo Government was inclined to believe that the taking of Hankow by the Japanese forces would probably disorganize Chinese opposition and create dissension among its leaders, thus preparing the way for peace.

In regard to possible peace terms that the Japanese may present in the event of victory over the Chinese, Mr. Kinney observed that the reasonableness of Japanese demands might prove a surprise in many quarters; that actually it had been indicated to him by a high Japanese official that indemnity would more likely be sought in the form of economic concessions of various kinds than in money. Mr. Kinney added that the Japanese could not expect to get a large money indemnity from China when it was obvious that China was impoverished.

Mr. Kinney mentioned General Chiang Kai-shek and stated that he believed the General had at the moment greater prestige with the Chinese people than ever heretofore. This remark may represent a translation by Mr. Kinney of views of members of the Japanese Government.

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With regard to the British position in China, Mr. Kinney observed that the British appeared to desire peace possibly more than the Japanese. He thought also that the British would take part in any effort to bring about a peace conference provided there should be a Chinese Government in prospect that could practically be recognized. He added that he did not believe it mattered much to the British what the composition of this Government might be so long as it would work.

Mr. Kinney stated that the object of his mission to the United States was to take a cross section of American public opinion with respect to Japanese activities in the Far East, that he had been engaged in this task for some time, and that he proposed upon his return to inform the Foreign Office that Japanese efforts to win American support for their cause through propagandist activities should cease. He thought such activities were a waste of effort in the present temper of the American people, and that for some time to come the Japanese would have to give evidence of their intentions through actions rather than words.

Mr. Kinney made some attempt to establish that relatively the Chinese had offended against American interests in China to much the same degree as had the Japanese. When I indicated that our records did not appear to bear this out, Mr. Kinney dropped the matter, and it was evident that he had merely attempted a pretense, at which he is skilful.