711.94/1946: Telegram

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

151. Embassy’s 143, January 30, 7 p.m., final paragraph. Tonight’s Japan Times and Advertiser editorial column is devoted principally to a discussion of Foreign Minister Matsuoka’s remarks in the House of Representatives Budget sub-Committee meeting yesterday, reported in our telegram under reference. The Times interprets the Foreign Minister’s statement as a “specific warning” that through invocation of Article III of the Tripartite Pact Japan might receive military support from Germany and Italy in case of threat from the United States and Britain, such as establishment of bases in the Pacific under terms of the Lend-Lease Bill.44 Thus, according to the Times, the meaning of the pact has taken on a new character. Mr. Matsuoka’s remarks which were published only in the Nichi Nichi and the Kokumin are translated by the Japan Times and Advertiser as follows: “He said such operations in the Pacific were feared out of which ‘it is possible that we shall be warranted in concluding that a case has arisen which can be interpreted as coming within the scope of the Tripartite Alliance. The presence of Great Britain and the United States in China and the South Seas area is a matter of grave importance to our country …45 there is no excluding the possibility that we may have to make a supreme decision as a consequence of these British and American activities.’”

Because of its interest in revealing the interpretation which has thus been given to the Foreign Minister’s remarks, the following comment of the Japan Times and Advertiser is quoted verbatim:

“Two propositions immediately present themselves. One is that further help to Chiang will be accepted by the Tripartite Allies as [Page 20] invoking Article III, in other words as an attack upon their joint interests. Another is that American use of Singapore base and other facilities, and British use of American bases, would be regarded as hostile acts authorizing Tripartite retort with power. What Germany and Italy could do to assist Japan naturally is not divulged. At any rate the Minister’s emphasis appears as if Japan would not wait for a direct attack by any power, but would regard preparations to make such an attack more threatening, in the light of hostilities.

The phrase ‘supreme decision’ contains the gravest meaning. So far Germany has taken no action regarding American help for Britain, but apparently Japan is considering some forceful measures about foreign help for Chiang, or for Anglo-American preparations in or near Japan’s co-prosperity sphere. Nevertheless, there is a reassuring feature in Mr. Matsuoka’s previous statement that he considers the Tripartite Alliance an instrument for peace.”

No official version of the Foreign Minister’s remarks in the Committee session is available to the Embassy. The Japanese original of the final sentence of Mr. Matsuoka’s remarks as quoted in the press is somewhat vague and is identical in the Kokumin and Nichi Nichi. It is believed that the sense of the original is somewhat less strong than that conveyed by the Times.

  1. Approved March 11, 1941; 55 Stat. 31.
  2. Omission indicated in the original.