Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)13

In the telegram here attached,14 Mr. Grew gives information and comment regarding the Cabinet changes in Japan.

I would call especial attention to the statement that there has been a contest between the Emperor’s personal advisers and the Army, the former having striven “to bring about the selection as Prime Minister of a general army officer in active service with a view to placing responsibility for the adjustment of pressing economic and military problems [Page 961] squarely on the Army, whereas it has been the tactics of the Army to avoid such responsibility”; and to the statement, “In the opinion of qualified observers, the Army must eventually assume entire responsibility for the conduct of the Government .…”15


In the light of the latter of these statements, a statement of opinion—in which I concur—I feel that we should regard the present Cabinet as one not likely to achieve great success and to live long. It may, as suggested further along in the telegram, “make a bold attempt to place the Army under the definite control of its more moderate elements”; but if it does that, the chances are that it will not succeed. I share Mr. Grew’s opinion that, “From point of view of our relations with Japan the appointment of Yonai is as satisfactory as could be hoped for”; also, I concur in his estimate that we need “not anticipate any immediate drastic revision of Japan’s objectives and actions in China”; but I do not share the optimism of his, “I look for steady and progressive moderation of scope and methods” (unless “scope and methods” be construed as referring only to small matters in the field of operations as contrasted with large matters in the field of objectives and major strategy). (One thing, we may reasonably expect: that Admiral Yonai will oppose entry by Japan upon courses of close cooperation with the axis powers or with the Soviet Union.16)

Stanley K. Hornbeck
  1. Noted by the Secretary of State.
  2. Telegram No. 20, January 15, 5 p.m., p. 957.
  3. Omission indicated in the original memorandum.
  4. See also Vol. i, section entitled “Relations of Japan With the Axis Powers and With the Soviet Union.”