Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: The designation of Admiral Yonai as Premier of Japan has probably been prompted partly by the need of having in that position at the present time a strong figure who can stand between opposing factions in the Japanese army. Recent reports indicate strong differences of opinion within the Japanese army as to the methods which Japan should adopt in its China policy. The selection of Admiral Yonai serves as a means of bridging these differences of opinion, and, moreover, indicates, in view of the record of the Admiral, that a cautious and moderate policy will be followed.

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Admiral Yonai enjoys general respect and admiration. Born an aristocrat, he has pursued the naval career with success and without becoming entangled in political issues. He has kept himself clear of extreme movements within the Japanese navy or the Japanese army and on several occasions when the country was shaken by sharp differences within the military services his moderation and equilibrium have served well.

Admiral Yonai has consistently opposed Japan’s entering upon a close alliance with Germany and Italy. On one occasion he went out of his way in conversation with Ambassador Grew to state his firm opposition to any such trend. Admiral Yonai has seen considerable service both in Germany and in Russia and his consistent opposition to Japan’s strengthening its political ties with the central powers is therefore significant.

Press reports indicate that there will return to office a number of statesmen who were in previous cabinets. It is therefore not likely that there will be any marked changes in the policy which Japan has been pursuing for the last two and a half years. It is also noteworthy that, according to the press, the new cabinet will include a stronger representation from the political parties than any cabinet in recent years. This has probably been prompted by the need of countering growing public discontent.

While it cannot be anticipated that the advent of the new cabinet will bring about any dramatic changes for the better in Japanese-American relations it can at least be expected that the new cabinet will wish to continue to explore the possibilities of a basis upon which relations with the United States might be improved.

J[oseph] W. B[allantine]