740.00119 PW/9–2644

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The British Ambassador65 called at his request and left with me the attached copies of paraphrases of telegrams from the Foreign Office relating to a Japanese peace feeler. I thanked him and said the letter would receive appropriate attention.

C[ordell] H[ull]
[Annex 1]

The British Ambassador (Halifax) to the Secretary of State

Paraphrase of a Telegram From the Foreign Office, Dated September 24th, 1944

Please convey to Mr. Hull the contents of Stockholm telegram of September 24th66 and inform him that we propose to answer the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs66a that we are not in fact prepared to return any reply to the indirect approach from the Japanese. It will therefore be open to the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs to reply, if he so wishes, in the sense of the last sentence in paragraph 4 of the telegram under reference.

[Page 1184]
2.
Provided that the United States Government concur, I propose to inform the Soviet Government in accordance with the resolution adopted at the Moscow Conference October 194367 on the action to be taken in the event of peace feelers being received from enemy countries.
3.
Please inform me as soon as possible of the United States reply.
[Annex 2]

The British Ambassador (Halifax) to the Secretary of State

Paraphrase of a Telegram Received by the Foreign Office From Stockholm, Dated 24th September, 1944

The Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs sent for me this afternoon to communicate text of a telegram just received from the Swedish Minister at Tokyo67a whom he described as a man of calm and good judgment.

2.
The substance of the telegram was as follows:

Begins:

I learn from a very reliable source that in important civilian circles in Japan the peace problem is being discussed with increasing anxiety. A speedy German collapse is expected and it is not believed that Japan can then continue the war. It is therefore considered necessary to get peace as soon as possible before the country and towns are destroyed.

In order to obtain peace, Japan is prepared to surrender territories which during the war have been taken from Great Britain and to recognize all former British investments and interests in East Asia. It is also realized that all other territories occupied during the war must be restored to their former owners; it is even recognized that sacrifice of Manchukuo may also be necessary.

It is desired that London should be sounded on this question and it is believed that perhaps this could best be done through Swedish channels under a guarantee that no publicity whatever should be given. If any willingness appeared to exist in London the Japanese would be ready for preliminary discussions through Swedish channels.

Behind the man who gave me this message there stands one of the best known statesmen in Japan and there is no doubt that this attempt must be considered as a serious one.

Ends.

3.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs said he thought at first sight that it looked rather like an attempt by the Japanese to get at Great Britain behind the back of the United States. Of course he realised that you would wish to pass on this information to the United States [Page 1185]Government but he hoped you would impress upon them the importance of avoiding publicity and that even if any leakage occurred the name of Sweden should not appear.
4.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs quite realised that our terms were unconditional surrender. He told me that he would be grateful for your guidance as to how you would like him to answer the Swedish Minister at Tokyo. If you wished he could quite well reply that the Swedish Government considered it useless to deliver such a message to His Majesty’s Government.
5.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs added that his information from Tokyo all went to show that there was great anxiety and unrest in Japanese political circles and that the war was not popular in the country itself.
  1. The Earl of Halifax.
  2. Annex 2, p. 1184.
  3. Christian E. Günther.
  4. See Declaration of Four Nations on General Security, October 30, 1943, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 755.
  5. Widar Bagge.