762.9411/78½

The Ambassador in Japan ( Grew ) to the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs ( Hamilton )

Dear Mr. Hamilton: Today is the “day after” Tokyo’s celebration of the signing of the Axis alliance, a celebration at which we had ringside seats but in which we were not included. One’s feeling is perhaps just a bit like that of a Harvard man after a Yale victory. It remains to be seen, however, whether this so-called victory may not ultimately end in ignominious defeat. It may be a diplomatic success for Germany but I cannot for the life of me see how it constitutes a diplomatic success for Japan.

The point which I raise is now purely of academic interest. During all the period that I was groping in the dark in Tokyo, conscious that something was developing but, owing to the veil of secrecy drawn over the Axis plans, unable to confirm and elaborate the reports and rumors that came to me, is it possible that the Department was receiving no pertinent information from Berlin or Rome or from any other source? My series of telegrams on this subject beginning with my No. 656, August 3,57 and carrying on with Nos. 867, September 20, 12 noon, and 876, September 21, 11 p.m.,58 must have shown how we were groping, and if at that time we could have received from the Department even the briefest of clues from other sources, how helpful such clues would have been! But we were, as usual, shooting from the dark into the dark, and if inconsistencies arose in some of our reports, as they inevitably did arise, the simple explanation is that we were given no yardstick by which to measure the value of the reports that reached us and we simply passed them on to be measured in Washington. Even up to the early evening of yesterday we, and all of our friends, thought that the Pact was to be signed in Tokyo, not Berlin.

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Merely to satisfy my personal curiosity I hope that you will be good enough to take a moment to tell me if Berlin and Rome were really silent during all the period that the Pact with Japan was developing59 and, if not, whether it was considered unwise to take me even to an infinitesimal degree into the Department’s confidence.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph C. Grew

P. S. I fully realize the great weight of responsibility which you in the Department are carrying just now and would be loathe in any way to add unnecessarily to your preoccupations.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Telegram No. 876 not printed.
  3. For text of Mr. Hamilton’s reply of November 2, see p. 672.