The Chargé in Germany (Morris) to the Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Atherton)

Dear Atherton: I have to refer to my telegram No. 97 of January 10, 5 p.m.,73 regarding the projected visit in Washington of Saburo Kurusu, retiring Japanese Ambassador in Berlin, on his way back to Japan.

Kurusu will leave here in the next few days, embark at Lisbon on February 28, and will presumably reach Washington around the middle of March. I have talked with him again recently and he repeated his hope of having some talks with officials and others in Washington. He mentioned Joseph E. Davies, who was his colleague at Brussels. At the same time he repeated that his trip was unofficial and he remarked that his hope and project of having conversations presented a rather delicate problem. Japan had an Ambassador in Washington and he must be careful not to invade his sphere. Further, given the “personal” nature of his visit and the delicate situation, he could not, he said, “force himself” upon people. He felt rather pessimistic that any exchange of ideas could lead toward a solution of the intensifying difficulties of Japanese-American relations; possibly things had gone too far, but nevertheless he thought that men of good will with an understanding of the issues must explore every possible peaceful solution of the problem.

I of course cannot vouch for Kurusu in any way nor am I certain just what are the real purposes of his visit to Washington. Perhaps he merely hopes through conversations with officials in Washington to build up a position for himself when he returns to Japan. I must say, however, that my impression is that he has a sincere belief that Japan must—perforce—cooperate with the United States—that a war would be a disaster for his country. After all, in view of his marriage to an American woman, his own position in Japan and that of his family would presumably be tolerable only in a situation of good [Page 31] relations between the two countries. In any case, he is a highly intelligent man who has had opportunity to look behind the scenes here and something interesting would probably emerge from his conversation.

Sincerely yours,

Leland Morris
  1. Not printed, but see despatch No. 4198, January 10, p. 2.