711.94/2340a: Telegram

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

632. For the Ambassador and the Counselor only. I gave the Japanese Ambassador on October 2 a statement88 dealing with the Japanese proposals of September 6,89 and with subsequent communications from the Japanese Government. In that statement there is reviewed briefly the exchanges of documents and messages on August 17, August 28 and September 3,90 and there is reaffirmed the desire of this Government that there be worked out a peaceful settlement of Pacific problems on the basis of practical application to the entire Pacific area of the fundamental principles which we believe constitute the only sound practicable basis for stable relations between nations. There is expressed the gratification of the President and the Government of the United States at receiving on August 28 the message of Prince Konoye and the statement of the Japanese Government, setting forth a desire and intent on the part of Japan to follow courses of peace in harmony with basic principles to which this country and people are committed and also the statement of Prince Konoye to you on September 691 that he fully subscribed to the four principles which have on several occasions been enumerated to the Japanese Government. The observation is made that this Government has not sought to undertake discussion of details but has requested certain clarification in the belief that efforts toward a meeting of minds would thereby [Page 495] be expedited. It is pointed out that such developments and assurances precedent to the Japanese proposals of September 6 seemed to justify a conclusion that adherence to and practical application of a broad progressive program for the entire Pacific area might be expected from Japan; but that we were disappointed that the proposals of September 6 and subsequent communications from the Japanese Government, in our opinion, served to narrow and restrict application of basic principles and various broad assurances given by the Japanese Government.

It is noted that there may arise in some minds questions regarding Japan’s purpose in circumscribing its assurances of peaceful intent with qualifications which would seem to be unnecessary. Reference is made to Japan’s restriction to the southwest Pacific of economic non-discrimination (Section V of the draft understanding92) and to the introduction of unspecified reservations and vague desiderata based on Japan’s propinquity to China. The undesirability of either the United States or Japan pursuing one course in some areas and an opposite course in other areas is set forth. It is pointed out that the procedure of insisting, while in military occupation of parts of China, upon the right to station troops in China would not seem to be in harmony with progressive enlightened courses and principles under discussion and therefore would not, we believe, be likely to contribute to stability or peace. Appreciation is expressed of Japan’s further step toward solving the difficult question of its attitude toward the European war and request is made for further study. The suggestion is offered that Japan might go far toward disarming possible critics and making clear its intention and desire to follow courses leading to peace and stability by a clear-cut manifestation of its intent toward withdrawal of troops from Indochina and China.

There is pointed out our impression that the Japanese proposals of September 6 and subsequent communications appear to disclose divergence in our Governments’ concepts—we envisage a broad-gauge program of uniform application of liberal and progressive principles throughout the whole Pacific area; but from what we have thus far received from the Japanese Government, Japan seems to envisage certain qualifications and exceptions to any such program.

The question is asked whether, providing the impression of divergence in concepts of the two Governments is correct, the Japanese Government feels that a meeting of the heads of state would serve to advance the high purposes sought by both countries. This Government’s belief is expressed that renewed consideration of fundamental principles already referred to may helpfully advance our common [Page 496] efforts to reach a meeting of minds on essential questions and thereby provide a firm foundation for a meeting between the President and the Prime Minister. Reference is made to the continued and active interest of the President in this subject; and, in conclusion, it is stated that the President earnestly hopes that discussions of basic questions may be developed so that such a meeting can be held and that the Japanese Government shares the conviction of this Government that, if both Governments resolve to give practical and comprehensive application to the principles mentioned, there can be worked out a rehabilitation of relations between the two countries and contribution can be made to stable peace in the entire Pacific area with order, equity and justice.

After reading the statement the Japanese Ambassador said that in view of the very earnest desire of the Japanese Government to hold the meeting, he feared his Government would be disappointed. The Ambassador assured me of the lack of ulterior purpose and the complete sincerity of his Government in this matter, but added that internal difficulties in Japan might in his opinion render his Government unable to modify its position further at this time. I replied that I was entirely convinced of the sincerity of the Premier and others in the Japanese Government and mentioned that this Government also faced difficulties, and that it was not easy to satisfy objections of critics, in the light of past developments. I added that this situation made it highly desirable that any agreement should be of such a character that both Governments’ purpose to pursue consistently peaceful courses should be self-evident from the agreement itself.

I emphasized that we had no desire to cause any delay, but that the objective of establishing peace in the Pacific area could not be achieved by any patchwork arrangement. I added that we were already in position to gauge public reaction to the proposal of an agreement as a result of there having already been allowed to transpire the fact that exploratory conversations were proceeding, and that it was now important to insure success of any meeting by endeavoring to reach a meeting of minds on essentials.

In emphasizing my belief that no country stood to gain more than Japan by universal application of the principle of non-discrimination in economic affairs, I mentioned my desire to give the Ambassador a report of the Lima Conference and the resolutions on economic matters adopted there92a in the belief that the Japanese Government might consider adopting similar policies in the Far East.

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The Ambassador mentioned measures taken by other countries, such as Empire preferences adopted at Ottawa92b as having given rise to ideas of a regional economic bloc. I replied that I had been fighting such measures as were taken at Ottawa and that in the fight for liberal economic policies I would like to have Japan ranged with this country.

  1. Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 656.
  2. Ibid., p. 608.
  3. Ibid., pp. 556, 557, 572, 573, 589, and 591.
  4. See memorandum by the Ambassador in Japan, September 6, 1941, ibid., p. 604.
  5. See text of September 25, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, pp. 637, 639.
  6. Resolution on the reduction of trade barriers, adopted December 16, 1938, by the Eighth International Conference of American States, Department of State, Press December 24, 1938, p. 473.
  7. Imperial Economic Conference held at Ottawa in 1932. For texts of agreements, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxxxv, pp. 161 ff.