751G.94/15: Telegram

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

672. Department’s 293, August 6, 1 p.m.21 I called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs this afternoon and after bringing to his attention the reports that Japan has made secret demands of the French in regard to French Indo-China I conveyed to the Minister the purport of paragraph 2 of the Department’s telegram and expressed to him, as under instruction, the concern of the Government of the United States with regard to the reported demands.

After listening to my approach the Minister said that (1) he desired to reserve his comment, (2) that while it was a fact that certain demands had been made on French Indo-China he could not disclose their precise nature, and (3) that the points brought out in a recent article in the New York Times, a cabled report of which was before him, were in some cases highly exaggerated and in other cases devoid of any foundation. With regard to the two demands mentioned in the Department’s telegram, the Minister declined to comment.

I left with the Minister copies of the Secretary’s statements of April 17 and May 1122 and emphasized the fact that the attitude of the American Government towards preservation of the status quo with regard to the Netherlands Indies applied in equal measure to the entire Pacific area including French Indo-China.

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The Minister told me and authorized me to tell the Department in strict confidence that the French Government has already accepted in principle the Japanese demands.

The Foreign Minister subsequently sent an official of the Information Bureau with the message that the Japanese Government did not wish to disclose the object of my call and would inform the press that I had called in connection with the Shanghai gendarmerie case.23 I returned the reply that, although I felt certain that the Department would not betray any confidence, it might find it expedient to inform the American public that I had made an inquiry with regard to reported Japanese demands involving French Indo-China, and that I could not therefore be understood to have committed my government in any way on this point. I also pointed out that it would be untrue to say that I had called in connection with the Shanghai gendarmerie case and I suggested that the object of my call be given out as “various routine matters”. After further conversation by telephone the Foreign Office informed us that the press would be told I had called to inquire with regard to press reports published abroad concerning recent developments in relations between Japan and French Indo-China and that the Foreign Minister had replied that the reports were inaccurate.