793.94119/733: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

71. Shanghai’s 189, February 14, 4 p.m., and 192, February 15, 10 a.m.98 The Embassy is in possession of no information which would tend to confirm that Chiang Kai-shek or other officials of the Chinese Government are now in communication with the Japanese authorities with a view to reaching a peace formula.

Chiang and other informed Chinese officials profess to believe that there are three groups in Japan who are espousing different plans of action: (1) the pro-German group will advocate temporary abandonment of the China campaign for an attack on Singapore and the Netherlands Indies in concert with the expected German offensive in Europe; (2) the navy group who advocate consolidation of present gains in Indochina and Thailand and the conduct of vigorous operations against Chinese communications while watching developments in Europe. Should Great Britain weaken permitting an attack on Singapore, should Great Britain hold out then consolidation of the Japanese position in Indochina and completion of the China campaign; (3) marked commercial group who advocate retrenchment, settlement of the China campaign, economic exploitation of Indochina and the fostering of friendly relations with the United States and Great Britain. All the foregoing groups are said to favor improved relations with Russia, all are awaiting the return of the Japanese military mission to Germany and all are equally awaiting the action of the American Congress in relation to the Lease-Lend Bill. Most Chinese appear to feel that Japan would be inclined to follow the plan advocated by the navy group; some feel, however, that the young officers’ group in the army may stage yet another coup d’état and launch an attack in the South Seas.

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In the light of the information supplied in Shanghai’s telegrams under reference it may be permissible to assume that Japan perhaps at Germany’s instigation might be prepared to grant liberal concessions to bring the disastrous and costly Chinese campaign to a halt in order to concentrate all resources on the all-out of the program of southward expansion. The Chinese would find it difficult to refuse liberal terms including the withdrawal of Japanese troops from China proper even though their leaders might feel certain of the probability that if Japan should consolidate its position in the South Seas it would feel free at a later date to renew its pressure in China.

Sent to the Department, repeated to Peiping and Shanghai. Shanghai please repeat to Tokyo.

  1. Concerning the latter, see footnote 84, p. 37.