Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Dunn) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Acting upon your instructions, I called on the French Ambassador this morning and gave him the oral reply which you had formulated to the Ambassador’s aide-mémoire of August 6th, on the subject of [Page 65] the demands made by the Japanese Government upon the French Government with regard to authorization to send troops across Indochina, to use the local air fields in Indochina, to station forces at the air fields for the purpose of assuring their security, and to send planes, munitions, and all necessary material through Indochina destined to the Japanese Army.

I told the French Ambassador that we have been doing and are doing everything possible within the framework of our established policies to keep the situation in the Far East stabilized; that we have been progressively taking various steps, the effect of which has been to exert economic pressure on Japan; that our Fleet is now based on Hawaii, and that the course which we have been following, as indicated above, gives a clear indication of our intentions and activities for the future. I also raised with the French Ambassador the question whether it would be practicable for the French to delay discussions with the Japanese with respect to Indochina for a period. I furthermore told the Ambassador that the British Ambassador had been informed of this matter by you in a most strictly confidential manner and that if the British had any observations or comments to make we would transmit them immediately to the French Ambassador.

Count de Saint-Quentin stated that he felt that this reply to the French request for assistance and support in her negotiations with Japan would very probably not be considered by his Government as sufficient prospect for support to enable them to withstand the pressing demands made by the Japanese Government for the establishment of certain rights in Indochina in addition to the economic demands accompanying the former. He said that he did not think it would be practicable for the French Government to delay the negotiations because the Japanese had themselves stated at the time of making the demands that if the French Government did not acquiesce in the granting of these rights, the Japanese Government had every intention of taking the necessary action to acquire them. He went on to say that in his opinion the phrase “within the framework of our established policies”, when associated with the apparent reluctance of the American Government to consider the use of military force in the Far East at this particular time, to mean that the United States would not use military or naval force in support of any position which might be taken to resist the Japanese attempted aggression on Indochina. The Ambassador asked me to convey to you thus his construction of your oral reply conveyed to him through me this morning and his fear that the French Government would, under the indicated pressure of the Japanese Government, be forced to accede to the demands set forth in his aide-mémoire.

James Clement Dunn