793.94119/620: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

13. The following is a summary of information from Chinese sources close to the local Provisional Government and is presented as of possible interest.

The Japanese military leaders in China with the possible exception of the “old rascal” group led by General Doihara which is now in the background since the death of their favorite Wu Pei Fu20 earnestly desire peace but are split into two factions. One faction may be described as the “army” group led by Generals Nishio and Itagaki supported by General Hata21 in Japan; the second faction described as [Page 259] the “Asia Development Board” group is led by Generals Kita and Yanagawa backed by some older generals including Minami, Terauchi and Sugiyama, also supported by important Japanese business and financial leaders.

Although both factions desire peace and the end of the “incident”, their plans for accomplishing these ends are different. The “army” faction feels that to negotiate directly with Chungking would be an admission of the failure of the Japanese military campaign in China and so they propose to set up a central government under Wang Ching Wei22 and let that government negotiate with Chungking; then, even if severe terms are demanded by Chungking and conceded by Wang Ching Wei’s government, the army’s “face” will be saved. The second or “Asia Development Board” faction, however, does not believe that Wang Ching Wei will be able to make peace with Chungking and wishes to deal directly with Chungking; this faction is not concerned with the army’s “face” as it holds the army responsible for getting into the present “mess”; this faction has been for some time and is now secretly negotiating with Chungking for [an end to the war].

The “Asia Development Board” faction late last year started a movement to overthrow the Abe23 Government in order to facilitate peace and because they felt that the proposed central government would only delay peace; they wanted a government under Ugaki24 or others who would adopt a positive policy towards peace. The Abe Government alarmed at this movement discussed the matter with the “army” leaders and is now endeavoring to inaugurate the new central government as soon as possible in order to prevent further pressure by the “Asia Development Board” group. This is described as the “last desperate measure of the army group”. Due to pressure from the second group the “army” faction is believed now to have conceded much more to Wang Ching Wei than was previously the case.

Although it is probable that the “army” faction will succeed in inaugurating the new central government under Wang Ching Wei, this move will only delay peace which otherwise might be possible this spring.

It seems significant that the local Japanese controlled Chinese language press in Peiping has recently been permitted to publish reported statements by Wang Ching Wei in regard to “lofty principles” and “mutual concessions” by China and Japan for peace which would not have been allowed a short time ago.

Repeated to Chungking and Shanghai, code text by airmail to Tokyo.

  1. Marshal Wu, retired Chinese officer, died at Peiping in December 1939 without agreeing to Japanese inducements.
  2. Gen. Shunroku Hata was Japanese Minister of War.
  3. Deputy leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) at Chungking until December 1938, and since in Japanese-occupied China.
  4. Gen. Nobuyuki Abe, Japanese Prime Minister since August 30, 1939.
  5. Gen. Kazushige Ugaki, former Japanese Minister of War and of Foreign Affairs.