793.94/13792: Telegram

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

572. Our 494, July 27, 3 p.m.

In one of my periodic talks with the British Ambassador77 today he reverted to the five principal points of British desiderata in China which the British Government consider as representing its minimum requirements and regard compliance therewith as a minimum criterion of Japanese sincerity. As reported in my 543, August 18, 2 p.m., the Foreign Minister78 after having previously intimated that these points would be given favorable consideration said on August 17 that no concessions to Great Britain could be made at the present time owing to the threatening nature of statements in Parliament and suggested that Craigie come to see him again on August 31. This appointment was later canceled and the Foreign Minister now proposes to see the British Ambassador some time next week. In that interview unless the Foreign Minister is able to give satisfactory assurances for the future Craigie proposes to tell General Ugaki that his Government can believe no longer in Japan’s sincerity and that since his own efforts at friendly conciliation have proved abortive the British Government will now be obliged to adopt other methods. Craigie does not yet know whether these measures would take the form of help to China or retaliation against Japan. The decision must be left to his Government which is under constant pressure to take some action of this delicate nature.
In trying to estimate the reasons for the postponement of his interview with the Foreign Minister, Craigie is inclined to attribute it to Ugaki’s difficulties with the military or possibly to a desire to await the outcome of the present European crisis. He has been informed that the inept publicity that a series of “Ugaki-Craigie conversations[”] taking place has served to antagonize the army which believes that the Foreign Office is weak and inclined to make undesirable concessions to foreign interests. Craigie is informed that Ugaki’s prestige and influence have greatly weakened and that there is serious risk of some attack on him by young military officers of reactionary tendencies.
I am aware that such rumors are in circulation and that several of my colleagues believe that attempts on the lives of both Ugaki and Ikeda79 are likely to occur. I do not think that we can definitely rule out the possibility of such an incident and we feel a certain tenseness in the air but I understand that the authorities have sent most of the young malcontents to the front lines in China and it seems probable that the local authorities are in a position to control those who remain in Tokyo.
  1. Sir Robert L. Craigie.
  2. Gen. Kazushige Ugaki.
  3. Seihin Ikeda, Japanese Minister of Finance, Commerce and Industry.