793.94119/636: Telegram

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


349. Our confidential telegrams No. 227, April 2, 9 p.m., and No. 289, April 27, 2 p.m.46

1. I have been apprised by the British Ambassador of recent conversations which he has had with important Japanese regarding the prospects of direct negotiations between the Governments at Tokyo and Chungking. The Ambassador informs me that in each case of inquiry as to whether the British Government would be prepared to offer their good offices in that connection he has stated that “any action which my Government might contemplate would only be taken after consultation with the United States Government, whose cooperation [Page 333] would be essential to the success of any peace movement”, and that in each case his interlocutor has replied that “such consultation would be regarded in Japan as natural and wise”. The Ambassador commented to me further with regard to these conversations that, although this better tendency in Japan may be checked by news of German successes in Belgium and Holland, he felt sure that it would be revived “as soon as the situation is more promising”.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2. Yesterday a Japanese, who has repeatedly demonstrated evidence of being well informed of trends of thought within the Cabinet and the Army High Command, told me that there is a movement within the most influential circles for the calling of another conference before the Emperor to modify or withdraw the decision reached by the conference of January 18, 1938, “Japan would no longer deal with” Chiang Kai-shek. He said that those advocating the holding of such conference feel that the 1938 decision could be modified preparatory to negotiate on the basis of “changed conditions rising out of the European war” and would therefore involve no loss of prestige.

He said that the conversations now taking place in Nanking between General Abe and Wang Ching-wei had deteriorated into a hopeless haggling over terms. Although there was an ostensible observance of the Konoye conditions of “no indemnity and no annexation” every effort was being made by the Japanese to circumvent these conditions by demands for transfer to the Japanese of industries and public utilities and for the grant of rights for the stationing of troops. Wang for his part was seeking a settlement which would enable him to plead to the Chinese people that he had secured peace with the minimum of concessions to Japan. Our informant said that the idea of setting up an economic bloc in the Far East is rapidly losing ground in the Army High Command and that within the Cabinet the only person who is still an ardent advocate of the bloc is the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is our informant’s belief that the movement for the holding of another imperial conference is gathering momentum, and that if the conference is held Mr. Arita will be forced out of the Cabinet.

3. The trend reported in our 227 toward (a) negotiating with General Chiang, (b) accepting mediation of third powers and (c) revision of Japanese objectives in China along cooperative lines, in view of the information received by my British colleague and of that being received by me from various quarters appears to be reaching substantial proportions.

  1. For latter, see p. 514.