The Ambassador in France ( Bullitt ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 11—11:55 a.m.]
263. [Here follows report on press comment regarding Japanese occupation of Hainan Island.]
Last night a pessimistic view of the matter was expressed to us by Lagarde who, as Chief of the Levant Section of the Foreign Office, is closely in touch with the Mediterranean problem. Lagarde said that in his personal opinion the occupation of Hainan constitutes the most sinister sign of recent weeks. He interprets this move by the Japanese, who he believes are well informed as to the Berlin-Rome time-table, as one of the final steps preparatory to the precipitation of events by Mussolini.5 He said that the French Government would probably make a strong protest jointly with the British Government but that as France has weakened her naval forces in the Far East to strengthen her position in the Djibouti area she could not at this time hope to speak to Japan with any effect.
- Italian Prime Minister.↩