Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine)65

With regard to the attached memoranda containing an account of Mr. Hashimoto’s proposals with reference to the adjustment of American-Japanese relations,66 there are offered below comments and suggestions as follows:

From all evidence available it is believed that Mr. Hashimoto is a person of standing and influence in Japan, and there appears to be no reason to doubt his personal integrity and sincerity of purpose. At the same time he appears to be somewhat visionary and impractical in his outlook, and his very earnestness raises the question whether his judgment can be relied upon as to the likelihood of acceptance by Japan of the program he outlines. It is also not improbable that Mr. Hashimoto has been encouraged to come to this country and given support by persons who are less sincere than he is and who may either be motivated primarily by a desire to seek material which might serve as a basis for attacking their political opponents in office in Japan or think that his sincerity might be capitalized to persuade us to change our policy toward Japan without deviation on the part of Japan in its policy.

With regard to the merits of the proposals themselves, it is believed that although there are several points therein which should merit consideration in connection with any future settlement of Far Eastern and Pacific questions, the proposals, taken as a whole and in their present form, do not seem to offer a basis on which this Government could respond affirmatively to Mr. Hashimoto’s approach. Even apart from the questionable propriety of officers of the Department undertaking to express to a private Japanese citizen the views of this Government in regard to proposals in the field of foreign policy, certain [Page 28] of Mr. Hashimoto’s proposals appear clearly either to be impracticable or inconsistent with governmental principles and concepts underlying our foreign policy. Furthermore, it is doubtful whether it would be wise for this Government to take an initiative such as is called for in Mr. Hashimoto’s proposal in that such initiative if taken would tend to bring about a situation in which it could be made to appear in Japan that the present policies of Japanese leaders have been successful in bringing the United States around to assent to Japanese policies rather than the reverse. Under such circumstances no real regeneration such as would be essential to produce results of permanent value is likely to take place in Japan. If Japan itself should take an initiative Japan would be likely to feel a greater responsibility and would be more likely to observe commitments than if the United States had initiated proposals for a new course of action.

Nevertheless, it is believed that the situation calls for handling Mr. Hashimoto with delicacy and tact. If he should feel that he had been rebuffed it might have an unfortunate effect in strengthening the pro-German group in Japan. Accordingly, it is suggested that a reply be given to Mr. Hashimoto orally along lines substantially as indicated in the attached draft.67

So far Mr. Hashimoto has met in the Department only Mr. Hornbeck, Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. Ballantine. In view of the trouble he has taken to come to this country in connection with the matter in hand, it is believed that he and those associated with him in Japan would appreciate it if he could be received by a higher officer of the Department, and accordingly it is suggested that Mr. Berle68 might care to receive him. In this case, it is further suggested in view of the time that would be necessarily consumed in interpreting conversations, that Mr. Berle might prefer to confine himself to a few general observations and to indicate to Mr. Hashimoto that Mr. Ballantine has been instructed to communicate in more detail our views to him.

Although no specific objection is perceived to giving Mr. Hashimoto as a record of our oral statement an unsigned and undated aide-mémoire, it is believed, in view of the fact that Mr. Hashimoto gave us nothing in writing (although he did allow Mr. Ballantine to examine carefully Hashimoto’s prepared statement), it might be preferable for us to follow the same course. Mr. Ballantine could go over such draft in Japanese of any memorandum that Mr. Hashimoto might wish to make of the statement we make to him, and in this way [Page 29] we could be reasonably sure that he has understood correctly what we might say.69

  1. Initialed by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton).
  2. See memoranda of January 18 and 22, pp. 4 and 10.
  3. See oral statement of February 14, p. 31.
  4. Adolf A. Berle, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State.
  5. Mr. Hamilton added: “I favor giving him nothing in writing.” On February 7 Mr. Hamilton suggested that the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle) receive Mr. Hashimoto; Mr. Berle and the Secretary of State thereupon assented. On February 14 Mr. Berle received Mr. Hashimoto and Mr. Toda and indicated to them that Mr. Ballantine would present “a more detailed statement of personal views of officers of the Department on the subject of American-Japanese relations” (711.94/2032). See oral statement of February 14, p. 31.