Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)52

We are not informed regarding the authorship of this broadcast,53 but, from the internal evidence, it is clear that the author knows a good deal about Japan, Japanese personalities and Japanese politics.

In the light of what he says, especially on the last page (3), and of other evidence or testimony to the same general effect, it is altogether reasonable to believe that threat of assassination hangs over the heads of any Japanese high officials who oppose the militant militaristic leadership [Incidentally, Konoye is not really a leader—he merely has influence (more negative than positive) because he is Konoye];53a therefore, if and insofar as he advises or insists on a moderate or conservative policy and procedure, Konoye has been and is in danger of assassination; hence, the gesture of the proposal that he sail from Japan to meet with the President of the United States in [Page 399] conference does not necessarily create that danger for him; in fact, that gesture, if consummated, might be a way of escape. At any rate, a jump from frying pan into fire does not prove that he who makes that jump is exhibiting extraordinary courage.

Query arises whether, toward giving support to the efforts of whatever there exists of “moderate elements” in Japan toward, in turn, bringing about accession to effective power in Japan of a rightly minded control leadership (in place of the militant militaristic element), the kindest and the soundest course for foreign countries, especially the United States, to pursue would not be that of bending every effort toward ensuring a thorough defeat and a complete discrediting of the armed efforts of the military militaristic leadership. Any kind of a “peace settlement” or adjustment on any kind of compromise lines which leaves the armed militant militaristic leadership in control or even in a position of influence would tend to perpetuate a political philosophy and concomitant practices the outstanding features of which are use of force, direct action, resort to assassination, et cetera. So long as even the roots of a militaristic philosophy continue to flourish and have a popular place in Japanese political and social life, the nation will not be secure against the political machinations of the chauvinistic leaders in the armed forces, and officials will not be secure against the pistol shots or the sword cuts of fanatical self-chosen or group-chosen patriots who, frustrated in the field of intelligence and reasoning, resort to methods of assassination. For Japan to enjoy political health, may it not be, is it not, essential that the cancer of militant militarism which is deeply imbedded in the Japanese body politic be destroyed and eliminated?

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Noted by the Secretary of State.
  2. On August 16, there was picked up in the United States from Chinese Radio Station XGOY, Chungking, a broadcast which analyzed the position of Baron Kiichiro Hiranuma in Japanese political life and the significance of the recent attempt to assassinate him; transcript of broadcast not printed.
  3. Brackets appear in the original.