751G.92/442: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Leahy) to the Secretary of State

516. Chauvel said this afternoon that the final agreement settling the Thailand dispute under Japanese mediation is being signed at Tokyo tomorrow and that the commercial agreement between France and Japan is being signed on the following day. As to the former, the French are “relatively satisfied” with the outcome of the detailed negotiations and with the Japanese attitude which has been “correct” and on certain points “cooperative”. He says that the commercial agreement which is quite outside his field and with the details of which he is not familiar does not recognize any privileged Japanese status in Indochinese economy but is merely “on a de facto basis”, thus avoiding any dangerous legal precedent for the future.

(We learn from the Commercial Relations Section that details of the quantities and products involved are not yet available in Vichy. Bousquet95 admitted however that probably most of the Indochinese minerals would be taken by Japan and said that the Japanese had agreed to pay in dollars for the Indochina rubber they are acquiring. Rice he said is the principal Indochina export involved.)

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Chauvel showed us several telegrams from Bangkok indicating progress in Japanese penetration in that area “on the model of German penetration of Rumania”, the forthcoming resignations of anti-Japanese or “neutral” officials, continual arrivals of Japanese war material, “tourists” and noncommissioned officers and the despatch of 90 Japanese airplanes towards the north to the Burma frontier. In fact the telegrams reported that Japanese interest appears to be directed now principally in the direction of Burma rather than to the south. His only explanation of this is that the Japanese may feel that perhaps a move against Burma at this time would be less apt to involve them in war with the United States than a move against Singapore or the Dutch East Indies. The British Minister, the Bangkok telegrams reported, is now thoroughly disillusioned with regard to his own blundering policy of attempting to offset Japanese influence by encouraging Thai demands on Indochina and he now feels there was nothing for the British to do but to strengthen their military defences and consider Thailand a Japanese puppet.

The Foreign Office has also received telegrams from Tokyo recently indicating a reluctance on the part of Matsuoka and the moderate elements to be pushed into action which might involve hostilities with the United States. The extremists are still striving “desperately” to bring about action in the south and one extremist newspaper is even advocating sacrifices to Russia in settling the Sakhalin and fisheries questions in order to free Japan’s northern frontier. These efforts, however, Ambassador Henry does not seem to feel will be successful and a telegram from the French Minister at Lisbon reports that the Japanese Chargé d’Affaires there on returning from Berlin said that Matsuoka has made no commitment to Germany for an active role in the war—much to the annoyance of the Japanese Ambassador at Berlin.

  1. Raymond Bousquet, temporarily in charge of the Commercial Relations Section of the French Foreign Office.