693.001/461: Telegram

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

16. 1. My British colleague59 has received from his Government and has given me the text of a proposed note to be presented to the Japanese Government along the general lines of our note of December 30.60 He says that this note was drafted in London before his Government had knowledge of our note. He was instructed to consult my opinion as to the advisability of this step and after examining the text I told Craigie that in my personal opinion the action was advisable but that of course I was not speaking for my Government. The French Ambassador expressed the same opinion and is recommending similar action by his own Government.

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2. Craigie proposes to recommend to his Government various inconsequential alterations in phraseology and also to recommend prompt publication in London on delivery. There will therefore be some delay in presenting the note to the Japanese Government so that if for any reason unknown to me the Department should disagree with my personal opinion as expressed to Craigie there will presumably be time for the Department to communicate with me.

3. Craigie is not aware whether the provisional text of the note which runs to approximately 4 pages of foolscap has been shown to the Department. I therefore give a brief résumé as follows:

Japan’s new policy as publicly stated is regarded by the British Government with uncertainty and grave anxiety.
Assumes that Japan-China-Manchukuo bloc will form a single economic unit with supreme authority vested in Japan and that economic activities of other powers will be restricted as required.
Cites terms for settlement of Sino-Japanese hostilities as enunciated by Prince Konoye61 emphasizing proposed complete Japanese military control of Inner Mongolia.
British Government cannot understand how such terms can be reconciled with Prince Konoye’s assurances that Japan respects the sovereignty of China and seeks no territorial gain.
British Government cannot recognize or accept conditions brought about by force and cannot agree to unilateral modification of Nine Power Treaty62 to whose principles it intends to adhere. Beneficial effects of that treaty were being steadily realized until outbreak of present hostilities. Cannot agree that treaty is obsolete or that its terms no longer meet situation except insofar as the situation has been altered by Japan.
British Government does not contend that all treaties are external [eternal?] and would consider constructive and concrete suggestions for modification by negotiation.
Abolition of extraterritoriality and foreign concessions in China would entail small sacrifice on the part of Japan when in control of China. Negotiations for abrogation of British extraterritorial rights were nearly completed in 1931 and suspended owing to disturbed conditions following seizure of Manchuria63 but British remained ready to resume negotiations on this and other similar questions with a fully independent Chinese Government after restoration of peace.
British Government would welcome a more precise and detailed exposition of Japanese policy toward China and of Japanese conditions for terminating hostilities. Any misinterpretation of intentions of Japanese Government is due to ambiguity of official utterances.

  1. Sir Robert L. Craigie, British Ambassador in Japan.
  2. Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 820.
  3. Statement of December 22, 1938, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 482. Prince Konoye was Japanese Prime Minister.
  4. Signed at Washington, February 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 276.
  5. See ibid., 1931, vol. iii, pp. 716 ff.