Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The British Ambassador, the Australian Minister and the Netherlands Minister called at my request, the Chinese Ambassador joining us later on. I enumerated the high points in the conversations which I have been carrying on with the Japanese officials here since the spring of this year. They are fully set forth in records of my conversations during that time and need not be repeated here.

I concluded with an account of the Japanese proposal for a modus vivendi.67 I showed it to them to read, with the exception of the Chinese Ambassador who had not yet arrived, and then proceeded to outline my proposed reply in the nature of a substitute for the Japanese proposal. There seemed to be general agreement that a substitute was more desirable than a specific reply to the Japanese proposal, section for section. The substitute reply was substantially what is contained in the present final draft,68 which I am considering handing to the Japanese. Each of the gentlemen present seemed to be well pleased with this preliminary report to them, except the Chinese Ambassador, who was somewhat disturbed, as he always is when any question concerning China arises not entirely to his way of thinking. This reaction on his part is very natural. He did not show serious concern in view of the provision in our proposed modus vivendi which would block a Japanese attack on China in order to destroy the Burma Road. He inquired whether this would commit the Japanese not to further invade China during the coming three months, to which I replied in the negative, adding that this was a question to be decided under the permanent agreement now receiving attention. I made it clear that this proposal was made by the Japanese and that there was probably not one chance in three that they would accept our reply even though it does provide that this proposed temporary arrangement constitutes a part of the general conversations looking toward a general agreement on the basic questions.

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