740.0011 P. W./187: Telegram

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

568. 1. It is believed important at this time to take stock of expressed Japanese opinion concerning a policy of southward advance. While it is true that one does not see the reasons for Japan’s long term policy of expansion southward, there are two distinct schools of thought regarding the method and tempo of its execution.

One, represented by the pro-Axis group and therefore the more vocal, urges that the time is now ripe for a move southward while Japan’s position is still strong. The other points to the danger of becoming involved in Soviet Russia (in spite of the Neutrality Pact71) and the United States and advocates peaceful penetration. Tokyo has been plastered with posters sponsored by organizations representing both points of view.

[Here follows a summary of private, semi-official, and official opinion representing the two contrasting points of view.]

4. The conclusions which might reasonably be drawn from the facts above presented are that (a) notwithstanding the conclusion of the treaty with Russia little change is noted in the opposition to Japan’s taking the initiative in a policy of southward advance which continues to exist and to be expressed; and (b) the fact that the present Cabinet, in its pursuit of policies certain to bring Japan into armed conflict, continues to be guided primarily by the development of military events in Europe and the effects thereof on American policy. With regard to point (b), it must be admitted that the unfortunate trend of military operations in the eastern Mediterranean during the past two weeks has had noticeable repercussions in this country in a direction favorable to the position of the pro-Axis elements.

  1. Signed at Moscow, April 13; see telegram No. 763, April 13, 11 p.m., from the Ambassador in the Soviet Union, vol. iv, p. 944.