793.94119/515: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State

217. My 211, March 27, 11 a.m.31 The Counsellor on March 27 confirmed to me that the French Embassy in Tokyo had transmitted the report of the intention of the Japanese Government to attempt peace negotiations at an early date. In regard to rumors of impending peace negotiations the Minister of Economics told me it was reported that Konoye would be sent to China for this purpose and that he would also proceed to the United States to promote American understanding of the Japanese “new system” et cetera. The Chinese informant said that with present conditions he could see no possible hope for agreement to end the hostilities and said resistance would continue indefinitely with Chinese confidence of ultimate success based partly on the increasing difficulty Japan experiences in meeting the tremendous expense. He said, however, that while Chinese expenditures were only a fraction of Japanese, nevertheless, the sufferings of China as the invaded nation were appalling and in this respect Japan had the superior position. Moreover, China’s resistance is severely hampered by obstacles to the export of goods and the importation of munitions in which respects Japan is free. He was most anxious lest pending American neutrality legislation, as reported to the Chinese Government, should further assist Japan whose ships touch at American ports to the disadvantage of China which has no such shipping. He earnestly hoped that nations sympathetic with China’s cause would delay no longer in applying some sort of economic pressure on Japan to procure the end of the hostilities. I thought it advisable to point out that while American sympathies were indubitably with China American popular sentiment is firmly against any action likely to [Page 153] involve the United States in war and that in reading reports of pending neutrality legislation he must remember that such enactments must receive popular approval.

Repeated to Peiping and Shanghai. Peiping repeat to Tokyo.

  1. Not printed.