Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton)99

An oral statement might be made to the Japanese Ambassador along lines as follows:

As the Ambassador will recall, both the President and I suggested during our conversations with the Ambassador that he might care in discussions with me to explore the question of improving relations between the United States and Japan; that such a procedure might involve a review of relations during recent years in an attempt to ascertain where and in what respects the courses of the two countries had diverged; and that this would be done with a view to ascertaining whether something practicable might be done toward restoring the relations of our two countries to that harmonious state which existed for so many decades. I refer to this again at this time because of the reports which have been coming to me that certain of the Ambassador’s compatriots have been working on formulation of proposals and plans for improving relations between the United States and Japan. I have been told that the Ambassador’s compatriots have been in touch with the Ambassador in connection with their proposals and that the Ambassador has participated in and associated himself with these plans. I of course do not know whether these reports are entirely accurate. As I have said previously to the Ambassador, we can deal only with the Ambassador in addressing ourselves to consideration of problems outstanding between our two Governments.

We are convinced that the best interests of Japan lie along the lines of the principles and policies in which this country believes and to which it is committed.

If the Ambassador wishes to discuss the question of improving relations between our two countries on the basis of the proposals mentioned or upon any other basis which the Ambassador may have in mind, I shall be glad to discuss the matter with the Ambassador.

With reference to the proposals under reference, some features of them would not seem to create any difficulty. Other features would, as far as my present study indicates, call for very careful consideration. Perhaps on some of those points a further clarification would suffice to remove the sources of possible difficulties.

[Page 147]

I repeat that, in view of these recent reports in regard to the activities of certain of the Ambassador’s compatriots and of the report that the Ambassador has been associated with these activities, I have wished to mention this matter to the Ambassador with the frankness which I am sure he would wish me to use.

It is suggested that during the course of the conversation some mention might be made of the various points which are fundamental in the foreign policy of the United States, as set forth in the memorandum handed the Secretary yesterday.1

It would seem advisable to postpone until a subsequent meeting discussion of specific features of the proposals. Should the Ambassador endeavor to engage in such discussion, he might be informed that, while there is no wish to delay discussion, the Secretary wished today, in order to assist him in his further consideration of the matter, to give the Ambassador an opportunity to make any statement which he might wish to make in regard to the status of the proposals.2

  1. Prepared for use by the Secretary of State.
  2. Ante, p. 135.
  3. See memorandum by the Secretary of State, April 14, 1941, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 402.