793.94119/730: Telegram

The Consul General at Shanghai (Lockhart) to the Secretary of State

189. 1. The American educator80 referred to in Peiping’s 513, December 11, (1940) noon, to the Department,81 who is in Shanghai, informed me yesterday that a high ranking Japanese military officer82 (see second paragraph of Nanking’s confidential telegram No. 100, September 27, 6 p.m. to the Department,83 for name) who attended the recent military conference at Nanking, had come to see him and stated that 18 commanding officers in China attended the conference and that they were unanimous in expressing a desire to end the China conflict and were prepared to “recognize Chiang Kai-shek.” My informant stated that the officer informed him the Japanese were prepared to “guarantee China’s national independence” which, they realized, would mean the withdrawal of all Japanese troops south of the Great Wall. My informant, to my further surprise, also said that the officer mentioned stated that the Japanese were prepared to accept American mediation. According to my informant, one of the officers attending the conference is reported to be shortly proceeding to Japan to put before the authorities there the views above mentioned. My informant expressed to me his opinion [Page 37] that the problem, if the foregoing attitude was in fact adopted by the Nanking conference, is in Tokyo and not in Chungking.

2. I asked my informant what he considered would be the plan of the Japanese if some peace formula were found, to deal with the economic questions and other problems which have grown out of the Sino-Japanese war and he replied that the Japanese participating in the Nanking conference profess to believe that all those questions could be settled at a conference participated in by China, Japan and the United States.

3. Informant stated that his Japanese military confidant wished him to go to Tokyo in connection with above matter but that he would not do so unless asked by Chiang Kai-shek, with whom he expected to get into communication. He also said that both sides were anxious to come out of the conflict without loss of “face” and that the Japanese officer expressed the hope that President Roosevelt would take the initiative in finding a solution which would be satisfactory to both sides.

4. I submit the above as a matter of information and can only say that the Japanese officer has allegedly long desired the conclusion of peace with China and that my informant was impressed by what was told him and believes that the possibilities offered should be discreetly explored.84

Sent to the Department, repeated to Chungking, Peiping and Tokyo.

  1. Dr. John Leigh ton Stuart, president of Yenching University, Peiping.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. iv, p. 466.
  3. Lt. Gen. Seishiro Itagaki, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army in central China.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Consul General Lockhart, in telegram No. 192, February 15, 10 a.m., reported that Dr. M. S. Bates, American missionary at Nanking, had given him certain information obtained from Japanese sources, regarded by Dr. Bates as reliable, which tended to confirm “the more important statements” set forth herein (793.94119/731).