Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine)

Participants: Mr. Hashimoto, Editor of Shiunso
Mr. Toda, associate of Mr. Hashimoto
Mr. Hamilton
Mr. Ballantine

Mr. Toda presented in English an outline of a proposal by Mr. Hashimoto for adjusting relations between the United States and Japan. Mr. Hamilton then suggested that Mr. Hashimoto go over with Mr. Ballantine in Japanese the proposal in fuller detail in order that as clear an idea as possible may be had of precisely what Mr. Hashimoto had in mind. This was agreed to and it was arranged that Mr. Ballantine would subsequently report to Mr. Hamilton what Mr. Hashimoto had said.

Mr. Hashimoto then made a statement to Mr. Ballantine substantially as follows:

In discussing the question of Japanese-American relations with Ambassador Grew, Mr. Hashimoto had been informed by Mr. Grew [Page 11] that there were certain factors in the situation which presented serious difficulties in the way of adjusting relations between the two countries. Mr. Hashimoto enumerated three factors, as follows: (1) Japan is attempting completely and permanently to eradicate American rights and interests in China notwithstanding assertions by the Japanese Government to the contrary; (2) under the slogan of “Greater East Asia” Japan is planning, judged from past experience of what Japan had already done in Manchuria and North China, to set up throughout the Far East an exclusionist and monopolistic bloc; (3) Germany has asserted its intention to encompass the destruction of Great Britain, following the accomplishment of which purpose Germany will attempt to subjugate South America. Consequently it must be considered that Germany’s ultimate object is the subjugation of the United States. Japan has now concluded an alliance with Germany in the pursuit of common objectives.

Mr. Hashimoto had replied to Mr. Grew in the sense that he recognized that Japan could not expect to assure its future prosperity so long as Japan did not change its attitude. With this background Mr. Hashimoto desired to lay certain proposals before us.

Mr. Hashimoto believed that there were three measures which might be taken whereby Japan could hope to assure its future position. These measures were: (1) a Pacific pact; (2) the United States to propose simultaneously peace in Europe and in Asia; and (3) an offer by the United States of good offices in the Sino-Japanese conflict, or the issuance by the United States of advice to the Chinese Government to propose an armistice to Japan.

With regard to his proposal of a Pacific pact, Mr. Hashimoto felt that unless this proposal was coupled with certain conditions to be arranged between the United States and Japan, which he would outline further on, the acceptance by Japan of such a Pacific pact would be interpreted in many quarters in Japan as submission by Japan to the United States and would invite attack by the pro-German group, as Shiratori25 and others of that group have been asserting that the German alliance is especially valuable to Japan to assist in Japan’s southward expansion and are in this way fomenting a clash between Japan and the United States. Mr. Hashimoto felt that if agreement were reached with the United States whereby they would pledge themselves to maintain the status quo in the Pacific by means of a Pacific pact, it would serve to check a southward expansion by Japan by armed force and would tend to nullify the positive character of the three-power alliance. Mr. Hashimoto believed that practically all members of the Cabinet were in favor of such a Pacific pact.

[Page 12]

With regard to the second measure, namely, an American proposal for peace in Europe as well as in Asia, Mr. Hashimoto felt that the United States, instead of being merely a friend of Great Britain, should take a stand as a friend of all humanity. The President should be an upholder of human justice universally rather than merely a defender of democracy. Mr. Hashimoto said he was not sure what the attitude of the Japanese Government would be to such a proposal, but he thought that it would be responsive. He felt, however, that if Great Britain and Germany failed to respond and the Japanese Government did respond, it would give the Japanese Government a basis for repudiating the alliance. If peace were restored in the Far East as a result of the acceptance by Japan of such a peace proposal the prospect of a Japanese southward expansion by force would be automatically averted.

With regard to the third measure, namely, American good offices in the Sino-Japanese conflict or advice to Chiang Kai-shek26 to seek an armistice, Mr. Hashimoto believed that although Baron Hiranuma27 would be opposed to American good offices, there were other Japanese Cabinet members who would not be so opposed. He thought that if the United States Government, after having assured itself of Japan’s intention to change its policies, took action in the form of voluntary advice to the Chungking Government, this might constitute one suitable way of dealing with this point. He added, however, that he did not insist on any one method, since the United States might have some other method to offer.

Mr. Hashimoto then proceeded to outline seven conditions to which he had already referred as matters to be agreed on between the United States and Japan and which he felt would serve to counteract the influence of the pro-German group. He also indicated that the acceptance by the United States of these conditions would enable Japan to overcome the difficulties standing in the way of effecting a change of course in Japan’s policy, as described by him on a previous occasion, and would enable Japan to repudiate its past exclusionist and monopolistic policies in China without loss of face and prestige. These points were as follows:

Recognition by the United States of Japanese leadership in East Asia, which would include a stipulation of non-recognition of any change in the status quo without Japanese concurrence—that is to say a “Monroe Doctrine” for East Asia in the exact sense of the original Monroe Doctrine. Such recognition by the United States would serve to thwart the ambitions of the pro-German group and at the same time it would give an impetus in Japan to the discussion of the [Page 13] subject of our Monroe Doctrine, which would serve to clear away existing misconceptions in Japan as to the true nature of that Doctrine.
Support by the United States for the establishment of Japan’s right to equality of commercial opportunity in respect to access to raw materials and markets.
The future good offices of the United States in assisting Japan to obtain a fair share in exploiting the natural resources of countries which have undeveloped and abundant natural resources.
A public statement by the United States condemning Chinese boycotts as illegal.
A public statement by the United States undertaking to cooperate with Japan in the retrocession of special rights in China.
The negotiation of a new commercial treaty with Japan and a public statement by the United States that pending the conclusion of the treaty normal and peaceful trade with Japan would be maintained. (Mr. Hashimoto said that this would not include trade in articles on which restrictions have been or may be placed under our National Defense Act.)28
Undertaking by the United States to make loans and credits to Japan.

Mr. Hashimoto said that he believed the seven points were entirely consistent with Mr. Hull’s fundamental principles of policy,29 in which he fully concurred. He hoped that, as time is the essence in the quickly moving situation in the Far East, we would give his proposals early consideration and agree to them.

On January 24 Mr. Toda showed Mr. Ballantine a written memorandum the purport of which he asked, on behalf of Mr. Hashimoto, to have incorporated in our report of his approach. A translation follows:

“Furthermore with regard to the conditions of a peace settlement with the Chungking Government on the basis of an arrangement with the United States, I believe that those conditions should be based on the nine articles of the treaty which was concluded on November 30 last by Japan with the Wang Ching-wei government.30 What is the American view on the matter?

“A minister in the Konoye Cabinet who is most pro-American and anti-German has said to me that the reason why Foreign Minister Matsuoka’s direct negotiations with the Chungking Government have failed is not that the Chungking Government is dissatisfied with the conditions offered by Japan, but because the Chungking Government is dissatisfied with (distrusts?) the Japanese leaders of today. I believe that this interpretation is in general correct, but I would like to know the views of the American Government.”

  1. Toshio Shiratori, formerly Japanese Ambassador in Italy and special adviser to the Japanese Foreign Office since August 1940.
  2. President of the Chinese Executive Yuan (Premier).
  3. Japanese Home Minister and formerly Prime Minister.
  4. Approved July 2, 1940; 54 Stat. 712; see also Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, pp. 211 ff.
  5. See statement of July 16, 1937, ibid., vol. i, p. 325.
  6. Signed at Nanking, ibid., vol. ii, p. 117.