894.00/902: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

182. 1. Sir Stafford Cripps, well known member of Parliament who has been traveling in Russia and the Far East in order to familiarize himself at first hand with political and economic conditions, came to see me for a talk on March 15. On the following day I happened to meet Sir Robert Craigie17 who said that Cripps quoted me as predicting a military dictator in Japan. As Cripps had already left for Hong Kong whence he proposes to fly by clipper to the United States, I requested Craigie to rectify what appeared to be a mistake or misquotation of my remarks.

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2. Craigie has accordingly sent the following telegram to Cripps in Hong Kong:

“On my mentioning to Mr. Grew that you had understood it to be his view that in certain circumstances a military dictatorship might be established here, he gave me as follows his recollection of what had passed: he had given it as his view that at the present moment Japan appeared to be evolving towards a more liberal régime but he added that, if serious food riots or social disorders were to occur, a military dictatorship would be the most probable outcome. That this thought, if made a matter of record, would obviously require a degree of expansion in order to place it in proper perspective.

As the point is important Mr. Grew is anxious there should be no possibility of misunderstanding. I may add that I share my colleague’s views as so defined.”

3. In further elucidation of my observation to Cripps it may be said that in periods of momentous crisis in Japan, such as the great earthquake of 192318 and the “February 26 incident” in 1936,19 the military habitually assumes dictatorial temporary control. I do not predict a military dictatorship in Japan except under conditions of serious social unrest accompanied by riots or other forms of outbreak. In such circumstances the army, as the sole authority capable of dealing with the situation, would undoubtedly assume temporary de facto control of affairs, possibly accompanied by a declaration of martial law.

4. As Cripps is now on his way to Washington where he tells me that he expects to see the President, I consider it especially important that my views on the foregoing subject be placed in proper perspective.

Cipher text by mail Hong Kong.