756D.94/137: Telegram

The Consul General at Batavia (Foote) to the Secretary of State

38. Reference is made to my telegram number 30.61 The agenda of the conference has not yet been agreed upon and I have been informed that points upon which agreement has been reached are really inconsequential. Yoshizawa is making a tour of Sumatra, the Japanese delegation is being augmented by increasing numbers of army and navy officers and unconfirmed rumors are to the effect that the members of the Japanese delegation expect to return to Japan in the not distant future. Local officials who have been optimistic up to the present time now believe that a most serious situation will follow Matsuoka’s return to Tokyo.62 This opinion is based upon the following: increased espionage activities of Japanese agents; gradual but noticeable evacuation of Japanese women and children; replacement of Japanese merchant vessels with older smaller ships having the same names; if Japan does not strike now the most favorable moment will pass—and Japan cannot afford to lose further face; and German success [Page 127] in the Balkans will increase confidence in the Axis Powers. For the first time I am of the opinion that the situation is grave and that hostilities in the near future may be unavoidable.

  1. Dated March 27, 4 p.m., not printed.
  2. The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs was on a trip to Moscow, Berlin, and Rome. In telegram No. 744, April 11. 9 p.m., the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) reported a conversation with Mr. Matsuoka who “expressed the view that the alarmist reports emanating from London and echoes in Australia at the time were designated to induce the President and Mr. Hull to ‘take action against Japan’. He added that Japan had not at any time nor has it now the slightest hostile intentions against Singapore or the Dutch East Indies.” (740.0011 European War 1939/9900)