393.115/1055: Telegram

The First Secretary of Embassy in China ( Smyth ) to the Secretary of State

15. Tokyo’s 1353, December 20, 7 p.m.88 Visit of Mr. Terasaki to China.90

Mr. Terasaki was scheduled to depart this morning for Nanking after 4 days in Peiping. Although he met the whole staff of this Embassy at a dinner given by his brother (Second Secretary Hidenari Terasaki recently transferred to Washington) he made no attempt to discuss international relations with any American at that or any other time so far as the Embassy is aware. The simultaneous presence here of the Chief of the East Asia Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Office and of the new “Ambassador to China” leads to the assumption that Mr. Terasaki came more for consultative and instructional purposes than to seek remedies for strained American-Japanese relations.

Admiral Nomura, new Japanese Ambassador to the United States,91 spent December 30 and 31 in Peiping on what the Japanese press described as a tour of inspection. He apparently made no attempt to [Page 779] obtain information from Americans relative to American interests in the occupied areas. At the request of the Japanese, Dr. Leighton Stuart92 called on Admiral Nomura and was greeted with the question, “Why are you Americans continuing to assist Chiang Kai-shek?”

Dr. Stuart reports that this question and the attitude of the United States toward communism appeared to be the only topics in which the Admiral was interested. Subsequently Mr. Wakasugi93 who is “adviser” to the new Ambassador and who will accompany him to Washington called on Dr. Stuart and had a long discussion; like the Admiral he was chiefly interested in the two topics mentioned above. Dr. Stuart states that the two gentlemen could only be described as “obtuse”.

Admiral Nomura apparently spent most of his time in Peiping with General Tada, commanding the Japanese North China army, and other Japanese military officials; it is probable that he was informed by them along the lines mentioned by Ambassador Grew in Tokyo’s telegram under reference and this no doubt was also the case with Mr. Terasaki. The Embassy here shares the skepticism of the Embassy in Tokyo as to the possibility of positive results from the mission of Mr. Terasaki. In fact from the point of view of improving American-Japanese relations it would probably have been far better if both Mr. Terasaki and Admiral Nomura had remained in Japan where they would not have been exposed to the persuasions of Japanese military in China.94

I paid a courtesy call on Admiral Nomura during his stay in Peiping but he like Mr. Terasaki did not mention American-Japanese relations.

Sent to the Department. Repeated to Chungking, Tokyo, Shanghai.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Taro Terasaki was Director of the American Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Office.
  3. Adm. Kichisaburo Nomura presented his credentials to President Roosevelt on February 14.
  4. American President of Yenching University, Peiping.
  5. Kaname Wakasugi, later Japanese Minister in the United States.
  6. For memorandum of conversation on February 6 by the Ambassador in Japan (Grew), following Mr. Terasaki’s return to Tokyo, see Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, Vol. i, p. 901.