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

No. 5398

Sir: With reference to our despatch No. 5385, February 21, 1941,60 commenting upon a magazine article by Admiral Nobumasa Suetsugu in regard to various strategical and diplomatic factors which relate to the question of a possible American-Japanese conflict, I have the honor to enclose, as of possible interest to the Department, a translation,61 appearing in the February 20, 1941, issue of Contemporary Opinions, of excerpts from a book by the same author entitled Japan and Nazi Germany. The present discussion is principally devoted to examining the causes of Japan’s failure to bring the China conflict to a prompt and successful conclusion, but it also touches briefly on questions of Japanese defense strategy and the importance of establishing the “East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” as a means of freeing Japan from dependence on non-Asiatic sources for the supply of essential raw materials.

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From an examination of Admiral Suetsugu’s views, one gains the distinct impression that the Government, leaders and people of Japan have long since wearied of the protracted and profitless China venture and that they have now turned to a frantic search for an avenue of escape from this exhausting and inconclusive struggle. The prospect of richer immediate rewards appears to have diverted the focus of Japanese expansionist attention away from China to the mainland and islands of southeastern Asia. Moreover, it would be idle to expect Japan to overlook the advantage of prosecuting a vigorous policy in that region at a time when potential opponents of her program are engrossed with a European war. Viewed against this background, Japan’s desire to terminate the war in China, and thus put an end to this source of drain on her resources and military strength, becomes at once understandable and significant.

Respectfully yours

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not reprinted.