793.94/16099: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

255. Chauvel has just informed me that Saint-Quentin has been instructed at 6 p.m. this evening12 to inform you of a proposal in the nature of a Japanese ultimatum with no time limit under which France would allow the passage of Japanese armed forces in Tongking and the use of Tongking naval and air bases on the ground that such accommodation is imperative because of military necessity looking to the early conclusion of the war in China. It appears that this proposition was discussed recently between the former governor of Indochina and Japanese military officers. The attitude of the governor in the matter displeased the French Government and as the Department is aware he was replaced by Admiral Decoux. Chauvel said that the idea originated with the Japanese High Command at Canton and that General Nishihara has been conducting conversations regarding it in Indochina.

Chauvel said that it is evident that Konoye has no control over the military and that Matsuoka13 has been ignored in the present instance. The present proposal made by note to Arsene-Henry in Tokyo in the greatest secrecy offers to France Japanese protection in the Far East and full economic cooperation in that area.

There is no doubt that the offer arouses in the French the greatest repugnance. Baudoin14 insisted that Saint-Quentin be advised immediately and instructed to ask our Government what support could be given France if it endeavored to resist with the military forces at its disposal in Indochina.

Baudoin suspects that the Japanese action is in concert with Germany. Therefore if France should attempt to resist the French Government may be faced with pressure from Wiesbaden15 which could be applied in any number of ways and which France obviously is unable to resist.

[Page 63]

Chauvel said that he is convinced that the Japanese fleet which pro-ceded south some days ago has for its objectives both Singapore and Indochina but which was first in the program he did not know.

The conversations on this subject have occurred in Tokyo. Sawada16 has not participated in them.

  1. See aide-mémoire by the French Embassy, August 6, p. 63.
  2. Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. French Minister for Foreign Affairs at Vichy.
  4. Location of German commission supervising the carrying out of terms of the armistice with France.
  5. Japanese Ambassador in France.