Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: At the Convention of the National Foreign Trade Council I gained among many impressions two which stand vividly in perspective:

From the platform and on the floor I heard everywhere statements indicative of hearty approval of the Government’s foreign policy in general and its commercial policy, with special reference to the trade agreements program, in particular.
There was no indication of dissatisfaction with or criticism of the principles which we have applied and the procedures which we have adopted in the handling of relations with countries of the Far East. I realize that there is a tendency on the part of individuals to refrain from expressing dissatisfaction or criticism directly to officials known to be participating in deliberations which lead to decisions which have been and are in effect, on such occasions. But, I have had over a number of years many contacts with some of the persons who were present, and among these contacts there have been and are some individuals who have never hesitated to voice to me expressions of dissatisfaction or of criticism of which they were conscious. At the Convention under reference these persons not only voiced no criticism but in some cases went out of their way to assure me that on their part and among their contacts there is practically universal approval of the course which we have followed; and they especially emphasized that this was the case particularly as regards recent application of material (economic) pressures against Japan, as regards aid to China, and as regards refusal to compromise. The one note of criticism which I heard offered, by several people, was in the nature of a misgiving rather than of a condemnation: several people asked me questions about the “exploratory conversations” with the Japanese; I invariably replied that this was a subject which I preferred not to discuss beyond giving assurance that the conversations have been “exploratory”; and then these persons expressed some apprehension lest our Government might be tempted into the making of some concessions and followed this with expression of the hope that no concessions would be made. I made it a point to seek out persons whom I have known to be substantially concerned with and involved in trade with Japan. I expected to find some of them bemoaning, at least mildly, the adverse effects of our action upon their interests. I found nothing of the sort. I found instead a certain amount of mourning over the general facts of [Page 505] the situation, affirmation of Japan’s culpability, affirmation that the Japanese have gotten into a tight position up a tree for which they have no one to blame but themselves, and an expression of opinion that it is the Japanese rather than we who should worry about what Japan may do next. Several of these observers asked whether some “face-saving formula” could not be devised which would make it possible for Japanese to “climb down”. When I inquired whether they had any suggestion of a formula to offer, each of them said “no”. When I asked whether they thought Japan likely to follow any course of desperate violence, they, one after another, said in effect “not against the United States”.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]