Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton)36

An Estimate of the Tojo Cabinet

The recently formed Japanese cabinet under the premiership of General Tojo appears to be a strong cabinet, predominantly military in character and with a large representation from among military leaders who have been directly involved in Japan’s program of aggression on the continent. It is believed that the new cabinet will emphasize in its policies military preparations, further mobilization of [Page 523] the national strength, and deployment of military forces and equipment on the perimeter of Japan’s defense areas.

Politically, the most important problem facing the new cabinet remains the settlement of the “China incident” and relations between Japan and the continent. Economically, the most important problem remains the securing of basic commodities, in particular oil and ferrous metals, and the breaking of the economic and commercial measures in restraint of Japan by the ABCD powers. Militarily, the most important problem remains the threat of hostilities with the ABCD powers, plus the grave danger of military cooperation between the United States and Soviet Russia against Japan.

It is not believed that the new cabinet will reject a negotiated solution of Japan’s international relations, but at the same time will take every measure possible to insure that, if such negotiated solutions are not forthcoming or are not successful, the opportunity for a solution by force will not be lost through lack of preparation or deployment of forces. It is probable that the Japanese Government will seek to recover an “autonomous” position in order to be able to take advantage of events or offers in negotiations.

The new Foreign Minister, Mr. Togo, is a career diplomat who has served as Ambassador both to Germany and the Soviet Union. His wife is German. It is reported that he has had unfriendly relations with former Foreign Minister Matsuoka but that he has maintained cordial relations with other Japanese who have favored cooperation between Japan and Germany. Mr. Togo, prior to his assignment as Ambassador at Moscow, was characterized as anti-foreign and particularly anti-American. However, his relations with Ambassador Steinhardt and the staff of the American Embassy at Moscow while he served as Japanese Ambassador there were marked by special cordiality. Mr. Togo’s reputation is that of an experienced, patient and capable negotiator. His appointment does not rule out hostilities between Japan and Russia and/or the United States, but at the same time it would appear to indicate that the Japanese Government may have in mind continued efforts towards a negotiated settlement with the United States and with Russia.

M[axwell] M. H[amilton]
  1. Noted by the Secretary of State.