711.94/2065: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

598. For the Secretary or Under Secretary. 1. I have heard unconfirmed rumors that Matsuoka is considering a visit to Washington in the not distant future, obviously with the intention of attempting to offset in the minds of the American Government and public the effects of his visits to Moscow, Berlin and Rome. As a result of his achieving the neutrality pact with Soviet Russia18 his prestige in Japan is momentarily high and the desire to augment that prestige by creating in Japan the impression that he had likewise improved Japan’s relations with the United States would appear to be a logical ambition. If such a visit should materialize, Matsuoka would of course spread in the United States his general thesis that Japan seeks peace and that the southward advance is to be pursued only by peaceful means. He could be counted on to do a great deal of talking to the American public.

2. Whatever assuaging assurances he might convey to the American Government and public in the course of such a visit would no doubt be met with the reply that the United States must be guided by deeds rather than by words and with the thought that through long experience we must assume that in Japan “the government proposes while the military disposes”. But in the meantime the Minister would learn at first hand the temper and determination of the American Government and people in supporting American security, rights and interests and, as a corollary, in supporting the security of the British.

I am never certain whether Japanese Embassy in Washington is able to convey to the Japanese Government a true and adequate conception of that determination.

3. In case Matsuoka should broach to me his desire to visit Washington, I would be glad to know in advance your views and whether you would want me to encourage or to discourage such a plan or merely to remain noncommittal and to report such advances as he might make. [Page 170] You will readily perceive that to discourage such advances would injure the Minister’s amour propre and would be interpreted as a personal and political rebuff which might and probably would exert an unfavorable influence on Japanese policy. If such a visit were to materialize, it would be better that it take place in a welcoming atmosphere rather than in an atmosphere of merely grudging acceptance.

4. The foregoing is purely provisional and hypothetical as I have no good grounds for believing that the Minister will broach the subject of such a visit.

  1. See telegram No. 763, April 13, 11 p.m., from the Ambassador in the Soviet Union, p. 944.