762.94/310: Telegram

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

161. Following is a paraphrase of a telegram sent to his Government by the British Ambassador reporting a recent talk with the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning the strengthening of the Anti-Comintern Pact:

  • “1. I reminded Mr. Arita that at our last interview he had stated that no negotiations had yet started for the strengthening of the Anti-Comintern Pact. What was the position today? He replied that negotiations had not started yet and that in any case Japanese Government remained firmly opposed to accepting any commitments or entanglements in Europe. On my pointing out that an alliance directed against U. S. S. R. was likely sooner or later to involve Japan in the very European entanglements to which the country was opposed, Air. Arita replied that if Great Britain were now to invite Soviet Russia to take part in any combination of powers dangerous repercussion on Anglo-Japanese relations was inevitable. I observed that it was Germany’s annexation of Czechoslovakia which has brought Russia into European politics again and that it was useless [Page 21] to blame us for the inevitable effect of this action. Soviet Russia had stood aside at Munich but this had not deterred Germany from tearing up the Munich Agreement. The right course for Japan was surely to keep clear of any further commitments at least until the present situation had cleared; otherwise I feared that His Excellency would be committing his country to entanglements which he might live bitterly to regret—entanglements with countries whose political and economic weaknesses and lack of reliability were daily becoming more obvious to the whole world. Mr. Arita adhered to his point that Japan was prepared to combat communism by all means and in association with powers holding the same views.
  • 2. Although Minister for Foreign Affairs was guarded in what he said, I was left with the strong impression that Japanese Government have now decided—or virtually decided—to convert the Anti-Comintern Pact into an alliance against Soviet Russia. I also learn from him that this project which at one moment seemed to have received its coup de grace has been renovated by the effect on the army of the ‘irresistible’ power displayed by Germany in the Czechoslovak coup.”

I am not yet in a position to substantiate Craigie’s impression and information as set forth above in paragraph 2 nor his belief that the coming negotiations will take place in Tokyo instead of in Berlin but shall follow developments as closely as possible.