761.94/7–2145: Telegram

No. 584
The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)
very secret

1382. 1. Your telegrams No. 890 and 8911 were received on the 12th immediately after my reply No. 13812 was sent. I take it that the purpose of your telegram was to sound out the possibilities of utilizing the Soviet Union in connection with the termination of the war.

In the unreserved opinion of this envoy and on the basis of your telegram No. 885,2 I believe it no exaggeration to say that the possibility of getting the Soviet Union to join our side and go along with our reasoning is next to nothing. That would run directly counter to the foreign policy of this country as explained in my frequent telegrams to you. It goes without saying that the objectives cannot be successfully attained by sounding out the possibilities of using the Soviet Union to terminate the war on the above basis. This is clearly indicated in the progress of the conferences as reported in my telegram No. 1379.2

Moreover, the manner of your explanation in your telegram No. 891—“We consider the maintenance of peace in Asia as one aspect of maintaining world peace”—is nothing but academic theory. For England and America are planning to take the right of maintaining peace in East Asia away from Japan, and the actual situation is now such that the mainland of Japan itself is in peril. Japan is no longer in a position to be responsible for the maintenance of peace in all of East Asia, no matter how you look at it.

2. Although the Empire and its commanders have said, “We have no intention of annexing or taking possession of the areas which we have been occupying,” what kind of reaction can we expect when in fact we have already lost or are about to lose Burma, the Philippines, and even a portion of our mainland in the form of Okinawa?

As you already know, the thinking of the Soviet authorities is realistic. It is difficult to move them with abstractions, to say nothing about the futility of trying to get them to consent to persuasion with phrases beautiful but somewhat remote from the facts and empty in content. In fact, with reference to your proposal in telegram [Page 878] No. 853,3 Molotov does not show the least interest. And again, in his refusal he gave a very similar answer. If indeed our country is pressed by the necessity of terminating the war, we ourselves must first of all firmly resolve to terminate the war. Without this resolution, an attempt to sound out the intentions of the Soviet Union will result in no benefit. In these days, with the enemy air raids accelerated and intensified, is there any meaning in showing that our country has reserve strength for a war of resistance, or in sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of conscripts and millions of other innocent residents of cities and metropolitan areas?

3. Concerning these important matters, we here do not have appropriate or accurate information relative to our present armament production and therefore are not in a position to judge matters correctly. To say nothing about the fact that it was only by chance hearsay that we learned of the Imperial Conference which began in early June,4 at which it was resolved to take positive steps. And, if worse comes to worst and the progress of the war following the conference turns extremely disadvantageous for our side, it would behoove the Government in this situation to carry out that important resolution. Under these circumstances, the Soviet Government might be moved, and the desire to have it mediate will not be an impossibility. However, in the above situation, the immediate result facing us would be that there will be no room for doubt that it will very closely approximate unconditional surrender.

I have expressed my extremely unreserved opinion in the foregoing and I beg your pardon for such frank statements at this time. I have also heard that at the Imperial Court His Majesty is greatly concerned. I find these dreadful and heartbreaking thoughts unbearable. However, in international relations there is no mercy, and facing reality is unavoidable. I have transmitted the foregoing to you in all frankness, just as I see it, for I firmly believe it to be my primary responsibility to put an end to any loose thinking which gets away from reality. I beg for your understanding.

  1. Documents Nos. 580 and 581, respectively.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. The reference is apparently to the imperial conference of June 8. See Butow. Japan’s Decision To Surrender, pp. 99–101.