793.94119/386: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Lockhart) to the Secretary of State

33. Tokyo’s 23, January 12, 2 [11] p.m., and 25, January 13, 6 p.m. If the Japanese are in earnest in wishing an early termination of hostilities, I am disposed to believe, without having any tangible evidence to support the belief, and in the knowledge that it may be too optimistic, that they will probably propose, and insist upon, a 5-provinee autonomous, or semi-autonomous, government in North China, fashioned on the plan of the present Provisional Government, as the minimum basis of negotiations, plus some arrangement for a demilitarized zone within a radius of 20 or 30 miles of Shanghai, plus an indemnity for property losses and an agreement regarding the suppression of communism. An area composed of Shansi, Chahar, Suiyuan, Hopei and Shantung would be about all that Japan, in addition to Manchukuo, could at this time safely undertake to control and even that would be likely to tax the resourcefulness of the Japanese selected to guide its destiny. Certainly the Japanese in Peiping are not finding it easy to discover the right type of Chinese willing to assume responsible positions in the government. To undertake such a task in wide areas in the Yangtze Valley and in the South, which areas are less responsive to control than the North, would be an undertaking from which they might well shrink. The reestablishment of a government at Nanking, with or without Chiang Kai Shek at its head, and one which would undertake to keep the peace with Japan, would seem to be within the realm of possibilities, if the Japanese desire for peace envisages moderation and some sense of the national pride and the rights of the Chinese. The Japanese would probably be reluctant permanently to occupy provinces south of Hopei and Shantung unless all hope of coming to terms with Chiang Kai Shek must be given up, in which case all of Kiangsu and Anhui, and perhaps even Honan and Hupeh, would come under Japanese domination. The persistent resistance of the Chinese and the prospect of a continuance of that attitude, coupled with what is believed [Page 27] to be differences of opinion among the Japanese military with regard to political aspects of the situation in China, are calculated to make it impossible for the Japanese to dictate terms which would embrace all that they would wish to exact from China as compensation for Japan’s unexpectedly large losses and the tremendous expense of the campaign.

As harsh as the possible basic terms suggested above may seem, it is doubtful whether the Chinese could obtain more favorable ones 3 or 6 months hence or even a year hence. I say this because I believe, without any tangible evidence to support the belief, that the Japanese are in a position financially, economically, and militarily, to continue the conflict as a cohesive military organization for a much longer time than can the Chinese, and because I do not feel that there is a likelihood of changes taking place in the near future in Japan, or of the intervention of any third power, which would make it impossible for Japan to continue to prosecute the war. Unless both sides can be brought to realization of the urgent need for an early and just conclusion of the conflict, the war will go on to add to the misery of many more millions of Chinese and to even more widespread economic dislocation, to say nothing of the tremendous loss of life and property which will ensue—and perhaps to no benefit—and ultimately lead to more serious disorder in the Far East and further international complications, a situation which might well add also to the confusion in other parts of the world.

Repeated to the Ambassador and Tokyo.