The Chargé in Japan ( Dooman ) to the Secretary of State

No. 4149

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s telegrams nos. 484, September 19, 3 p.m.,92 and 489, September 22, 5 p.m., in regard to a recent profusion of articles in the Japanese press dealing with Japanese-American relations, and to enclose translations93 by the Embassy of representative selections of those articles.

[Here follows report on Japanese press views.]

It would appear that the prime concern of the Japanese with respect to Japanese-American relations at the moment is the possibility that the United States may impose embargo or similar restrictive measures against Japan after the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation lapses. They seem to be deeply aware that their chances of winding up the China affair in a manner favorable to themselves and accomplishing their program for the economic exploitation of China in the changed situation brought about by the European war now depend largely upon an assured supply of essential raw materials from the United States. Japanese anxiety with regard to the future attitude of the United States toward Far Eastern questions has been greatly increased by the belief only recently engendered that the European war not only offers an excellent opportunity to settle the China affair but promises if it is sufficiently protracted to redound greatly to Japan’s commercial benefit. In the background, of course, is the fear that the United States may enter the European war on the side of Great Britain and France at an early date, thus nipping in the bud any chance of Japan’s pursuing an “independent” or what might be less euphemistically termed a “take what you can get” policy which appears in the present circumstances to be so advantageous to it. Nor do the Japanese rule out the likelihood that the United States, following a traditional policy of over half a century, may take active and positive steps, not even hesitating to use force, to protect its interests in the Far East while sedulously maintaining itself in a state of isolation from European affairs. Despite the pessimistic tone in Japanese press comment with respect to the future of Japanese-American relations it is believed that there is a fairly deep conviction among the Japanese people that Japanese-American differences in the Far East are not irreconcilable and that they do not, as in the case of Anglo-Japanese relations, involve a frontal clash of interests. Moreover, there is still an undercurrent of opinion that believes that some new agreement can be reached with the United States before the present Treaty [Page 583] of Commerce and Navigation becomes inoperative. While it is still too early to forecast the exact mold into which Japanese public opinion vis-à-vis the United States will fall within the next few months, the appointment of Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, a man well acquainted with the American point of view and already possessed of a reputation for reconciling Japanese-American views, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, may be taken, it is believed, as a straw in the wind.

Respectfully yours,

Eugene H. Dooman
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