Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine)24

Mr. Liu, Chinese Chargé d’Affaires, called at his request in regard to the receipt of an urgent telegram from his Government requesting that he obtain the views of this Government in regard to the significance of the Soviet-Japanese agreements of March 30. I told him that I would be glad to acquaint him informally with my own views which I had already discussed with some of my associates, which views I outlined to him as follows:

Japanese-Soviet agreements represent a completion of matters which have been pending in Russo-Japanese relations for some time. The contents of those agreements are, of course, of import to Russo-Japanese relations but so far as the general international situation is concerned it is not clear that they are of any significant import. Presumably, the Sakhalin Concessions had been of value to the Japanese and their cancellation would result in depriving Japan of a certain amount of oil and coal. Cancellation may therefore be regarded as a gain to Russia. In regard to the fisheries agreement, the fact that this agreement runs for a period of five years is an advantage to Japan but, on the other hand, there has been quite a contraction in the fishing areas which are available to the Japanese. The Russians have regained freedom of action in regard to the fisheries, which was restricted in previous agreements. On the whole, it appears that the Russians are the gainers by the two agreements.

Mr. Liu was inclined to question the accuracy of my estimate and he asked what had brought this agreement about just at this time. I then pointed out to him that, as stated in the Russian press release on the subject, the negotiations had been pending for a considerable time and the agreements therefore should not be regarded as a sudden development.

  1. Substance of this conversation was reported to the Ambassador in China in Department’s telegram No. 490, April 13, 7 p.m.