861b.6363/191: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman ) to the Secretary of State

859. For the President and the Secretary. Vyshinski87 handed me last night a statement which reads in paraphrased translation substantially as follows:

“I am instructed by my Government to advise you concerning the course of the negotiations for the liquidation of the Japanese coal and oil concessions in northern Sakhalin which are being carried out in Moscow with the Japanese Ambassador.88

“When the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact was signed on April 13, 1941,89 Molotov was informed by Matsuoka90 that the Japanese Government would undertake to settle the question of the liquidation of the Japanese concessions in northern Sakhalin within the next few months. The Japanese Government did not wish to initiate negotiations on the matter following the German attack of the Soviet Union. In the autumn of 1943 however the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow stated that his Government was willing to initiate negotiations on the liquidation of the concessions.

“Premier Stalin informed the American Ambassador on February 2 that such negotiations were in progress. At the present time the preliminary negotiations on the liquidation of the concessions conducted by Ambassador Sato and Lozovsky91 have terminated under conditions profitable to the USSR. During the first half of April it is proposed to sign a protocol.

“Negotiations on the continuation of the Fisheries Convention were carried on simultaneously.”

In reply to my question as to compensation paid by the Soviet Government for the return of the concessions Vyshinski stated that “the Soviet Government would pay a small sum for a large property”.

In reply to a further question he replied that he did not know the oil production of Sakhalin but that although it was not large in comparison with Soviet production it was of high benzine quality. In any event he stated that the Japanese would lose the oil.

Harriman
  1. Andrey Yanuaryevich Vyshinsky, First Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. Naotake Sato.
  3. Signed at Moscow; for text of the Pact, see telegram 763, April 13, 1941, 11 p.m., from Moscow, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. iv, p. 944.
  4. Yosuke Matsuoka was the Foreign Minister of Japan at this time.
  5. Solomon Abramovich Lozovsky, Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.