The French Embassy to the Department of State


Aide Mémoire

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan sent to the Ambassador of France on August 2nd a note asking authorization, for the Japanese [Page 64] Government, to have troops intended to fight in China pass through Indochinese territory, to utilize the local air fields and to have forces stationed there, intended to assure the security of the same, and lastly, to be allowed to have the airplanes, ammunition and all matériel intended for the Japanese army pass through. This document also provided for economic agreements the consequence of which would have been the integration, pure and simple, of the Indochinese economy into the Japanese economy.

The Minister declared to Mr. Arsène-Henry that Japan had no territorial intentions with regard to Indochina, but he added that the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek constituted a vital necessity for Japan, that in order to accomplish it the army needed the Tongking route, and that in case of refusal the Japanese Government might find itself obliged to violate the integrity of Indochinese territory.

The Ambassador of France has received instructions to reply that the French Government could not accept such an ultimatum; that it was ready to examine, in a friendly spirit, the needs of the Japanese Government, in the course of a very general exchange of views freely entered into and pursued without haste; that, lastly, the exceptional facilities which might be granted to Japan in Tongkingese territory must have to offset them broader and more precise guarantees than a mere assurance of lack of interest in the territory.

The Ambassador of France at Washington has been instructed to inform the Department of State of the foregoing, as a very secret matter. He feels certain that he is not exceeding his instructions by emphasizing that, in case the affair could be handled by means of negotiation, the resistance of the French Government to the Japanese demands would necessarily depend to a large extent on the nature and the effectiveness of the support which the American Government would be disposed to give it.

Mr. de Saint-Quentin adds that the French Government has no objections to the information contained in the present aide-mémoire being communicated, still as a very secret matter, to the British Government.

  1. File translation revised by the editors.