894.00/887: Telegram

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

9. Your 4, January 5, 2 p.m.

We are very glad to have the account contained in your telegram under reference of the report of the British Ambassador here, as communicated to the British Ambassador at Tokyo, of conversations held by him with various officers of the Department; also Craigie’s comments on what was reportedly said to the British Ambassador here and your own general comments.
The only conversations on Far Eastern matters which Mr. Welles or I have had with the British Ambassador during recent weeks which were considered to be of sufficient importance to make record thereof occurred on November 21,15 December 6,16 and December 15.17 Copies of the memoranda covering these conversations have been forwarded to you by pouch. The Department sent you no telegraphic report of the conversations because inter alia in the comments made by us there was nothing new as regards the attitude or policy of this Government.
With regard to the four points enumerated by Craigie, officers of the Department have, in the course of conversations with Lord Lothian here involving informal exchanges of views, made certain comments which would appear to have been made the basis for a part of Lothian’s report under reference. The four points numbered in your telegram under reference were not given the phrasing, the emphasis, or the “slant” which is attributed or attached to them in Craigie’s telegram as paraphrased in your report. We find no recollection anywhere of any statement comparing or contrasting forces of moderation in Japan with moderate elements in Germany. There was made a statement comparing the controlling elements. What one of our officers said with regard to the possibility of a Japanese drive southward was that he saw no reason for being immediately alarmed over that possibility while the Japanese continue to be heavily involved in China, while they possess substantial reserves of petroleum, while they have reason to desire to keep open their sources of supply from the United States, and while they have reason to believe that such a drive would involve them sooner or later in hostilities with one or more of the great powers. By no one was there made the statement which appears as point 4: question was raised whether the Japanese authorities were not calculating that by a settlement of the minor disputes they would be able to avoid necessity of meeting the desires of occidental governments with regard to matters of greater importance—a calculation which, if made, would be unfortunate in its effects and consequences.
Department is studying carefully the other portions of your telegram.
  1. See memorandum by the acting Secretary of State on November 21, 1939, Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. iii, p. 321.
  2. See memorandum by the Under Secretary of State on December 6, 1939, ibid., p. 96.
  3. See memorandum by the Secretary of State on December 15, 1939, ibid., p. 98.