740.0011 P.W./551: Telegram

The Consul at Hanoi (Reed) to the Secretary of State

149. 1. During a conversation late yesterday the Governor General expressed grave apprehension of future Japanese military activities in Indochina which might be preliminary to an advance toward the south and he cited a recent Japanese demand, which has been refused, for four additional air bases in Cambodia as indicating a Japanese desire to enlarge their military establishment in southern Indochina.

2. He said that under the terms of the agreement of September 194093 the Japanese were permitted to move Japanese troops across Tongking in the event that operations against the Chinese were envisaged—but never more than 25,000 in Tongking at any one time—he said that there were some indications that the Japanese intended to take advantage of this agreement. He doubted whether there would be operations against the Chinese even if these troops entered Tongking.

3. The Governor General complained that since the departure of Sumita there is no responsible Japanese authority in Indochina. He expressed the hope that Yoshizawa would have the authority to control the Japanese military but he was not entirely convinced that such would be the case. The recent activities at Hanoi and Haiphong he attributed in part to the desire of the Japanese Army to embarrass the conversations at Tokyo.

[Page 306]

4. He remarked that he understood that Yoshizawa’s departure for Indochina had been postponed.

The Governor General speculated whether [this delay?] was to give the Japanese military a free hand for the time being in Indochina. At the same time he was convinced that the uncalled for size of the Yoshizawa Mission is predicated on an ulterior motive which will be to the detriment of French interests in Indochina. He felt that the least that could be expected is a concerted effort to make Indochina economically dependent on Japan.

5. He referred to the subject mentioned in the last sentence of my telegram no. 143, September 27, noon, and said that that matter had been given much thought. He added that even the sending of a single well known personality “to investigate conditions in Indochina” might have a beneficial effect and deter the Japanese.

6. The Governor General expressed the hope that the conversations at Tokyo would not omit consider [consideration of?] the situation in Indochina and he pointed out the necessity of bringing about the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Indochina and thus removing the potential danger that the establishment of a large Japanese base in Indochina held for Thailand, Malaya, the Netherlands Indies and even the Philippines. He assured me that everything possible would be done to resist almost certain Japanese encroachment and attempted domination of Indochina but he admitted that little could be done without outside aid.

Sent to Cavite for repetition to the Department, Chungking, Peiping, Hong Kong, Shanghai. Shanghai please repeat to Tokyo.

  1. See telegram of September 22, 1940, 7 p.m., from the Consul at Hanoi, Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. iv, p. 141, and subsequent despatches.