740.0011 European War 1939/14094: Telegram

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

527. Your 1263, August 18, 5 p.m.40 Reports from Tokyo indicate that considerable emphasis continues to be placed by the Japanese press on the allegation that Japan is being encircled and that aid given Soviet Russia by this country constitutes a threat to Japan as a part of that encirclement.

You may wish in conversation with official and influential Japanese to refer to certain public statements made by officers of this Government which make it clear that the apprehensions entertained by the Japanese press are not justified.

The joint statement (Radio Bulletin 193, August 14) signed by the President and the British Prime Minister clearly reveals the absence of any desire on the part of this Government to threaten or intimidate any nation. That statement while emphatically denouncing Hitlerism should find favor with all Governments which do not participate in or support the program of Hitlerism or similar programs.

On June 23, the Acting Secretary issued a statement41 (Radio Bulletin 148, June 23, 1941) which clearly set forth the position of [Page 392] this Government in regard to the Russo-German war as follows: “Any rallying of the forces opposing Hitlerism, from whatever source these forces may spring, will hasten the eventual downfall of the present German leaders, and will therefore redound to the benefit of our own defense and security.”

Radio Bulletin no. 184 of August 4 contained the exchange of notes between the Soviet Ambassador and the Acting Secretary42 in which it was clearly stated that aid from this Government to Russia would be for the purpose of strengthening Russia’s resistance to armed aggression which threatens the security and independence of all other nations, and that, accordingly, such aid is believed to be in the interest of the national defense of this country.

On August 8 (Radio Bulletin 188, August 8) the Secretary in reply to a correspondent’s question stated that he knew nothing of the alleged encirclement of Japan and that there was no occasion for any law-abiding and peaceful nation in that part of the world to become encircled by anybody but itself.

The Secretary, the Under Secretary and other high officials of this Government have unequivocally set forth in official conversations with the Japanese Ambassador and members of his staff on repeated occasions the policies and purposes of this Government, and have distinctly and emphatically refuted the allegation of “encirclement” of Japan by this Government. On July 21, the Acting Secretary in a conversation with Mr. Wakasugi of the Japanese Embassy43 referred to statements previously made by the Japanese Ambassador of Japan’s feared encirclement and added that in view of the Secretary’s often repeated expositions to Admiral Nomura of the policies of the American Government, the Japanese Government could not even remotely have believed that the United States had in mind any such policy as encirclement of Japan.

In a conversation with the Japanese Ambassador on July 23,44 the Acting Secretary pointed out that the policy of the United States was entirely opposite from one of encirclement of Japan, and added that the Japanese Government had been fully informed by the Secretary through the Japanese Ambassador of this Government’s policy of non-aggression, of abstention from any political or physical force of world conquest and of maintenance of peace in the Pacific area.

On July 28, the Acting Secretary in a conversation with the Japanese Ambassador45 reiterated what the Secretary had often previously [Page 393] told the Ambassador, namely, that the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands and China could not possibly be regarded as having aggressive designs upon Japan.

It is readily apparent from the foregoing statements and in view of the traditional policies clearly and repeatedly enunciated by this Government that the United States has no intention or desire to pursue a policy of so-called encirclement of any peaceful and law-abiding nation. The fundamental purpose which this Government has in mind in any measures designed to aid Russia—as we aid other countries that are resisting aggression—is to defend and protect the security of this country and this hemisphere.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Department of State Bulletin, June 28, 1941, p. 755.
  3. Dated August 2; Department of State Bulletin, August 9, 1941, p. 109.
  4. See Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 520.
  5. See ibid., p. 522.
  6. See ibid., p. 537.