761.94/7–2145: Telegram

No. 1233
The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

944. Re my telegram No. 932.1

It goes without saying that the outcome of the Big Three Conference will be very closely connected with this subject. However, Churchill and Attlee are expected to return to England temporarily on the 26th and the conference will be recessed for a while. Thus, you should take advantage of this opportunity and, if necessary, go to a place selected as suitable by the other party, meet Molotov, and explain fully the intention of the Imperial Government of Japan. Even though Molotov may find it difficult to arrange a meeting, we believe that the request for a meeting with you would have a good effect in that it would impress them with the sincerity of our desire.
On the occasion of the meeting, as repeatedly mentioned in my previous telegrams, it should be pointed out that the Imperial Government has, first of all, requested the good offices of the Soviet Union and that the sending of the special envoy to the Soviet Union would enable Stalin to acquire the position of advocate of world peace. Also make it clear that we are fully prepared to recognize the wishes of the Soviet Union in the Far East (see my telegram No. 932, last paragraph). Let it be known also that should the Soviet Government [Page 1261] react coldly to our request we have no choice but to select other ways and means. Thus, you must work hard to induce the Soviet side to recognize these points and have the Soviet Union take positive action immediately.
Also, at the present time, as you are probably well aware, there are various arguments as to the substance of the demand for the unconditional surrender of Japan in Great Britain and the United States, particularly in the United States. A United States spokesman stated that: “As a rule, for the sake of formality, the Allies will hold fast to unconditional surrender until the end. However, should the Imperial Japanese Government surrender immediately, the Allies are actually prepared to modify the terms.”2 For instance, on the 19th [21st] Captain Zacharias—although a member of the United States Office of War Information he broadcasts to Japan as spokesman for the United States Government—disclosed the substance of surrender terms, saying that Japan had two choices to make.3 One was to submit to a dictated peace after the complete destruction of Japan; the other, to accept unconditional surrender and receive benefits under the Atlantic Charter.4 This is considered simple propaganda strategy. Although it is not definitely stated, this is to a certain degree understood to be a means of encouraging us to surrender. Nevertheless, special attention should be paid to the fact that at this time the United States referred to the Atlantic Charter. As for Japan, it is impossible to accept unconditional surrender under any circumstances, but we should like to communicate to the other party through appropriate channels that we have no objection to a peace based on the Atlantic Charter. The difficult point is the attitude of the enemy, who continues to insist on the formality of unconditional surrender. Should the United States and Great Britain remain insistent on formality, there is no solution to this situation other than for us to hold out until complete collapse because of this one point alone. On the other hand, since it is possible that the Governments of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States may exercise caution and suspect that our dispatch of a special envoy may be a peace plot, we have repeatedly advised that what is described above is not a mere “peace feeler” but is in obedience to the Imperial command. Also, it is necessary to have them understand that we are trying to end hostilities by asking for very reasonable terms in order to secure and maintain our nation’s existence and honor. Should things advance to the stage where we send a special envoy to the Soviet Union, undoubtedly these problems will have to be discussed [Page 1262] frankly. Because of the beginning of the Three-Power Conference and also in consideration of the development of the recent delicate situation in the United States, you should keep the above circumstances in mind and lose no opportunity to explain all this carefully to Molotov—if under unavoidable circumstances this is not possible, it will be well to consult Solomon A. Lozovsky, Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs—and inform us immediately by telegram regarding their attitude.
  1. Document No. 1230.
  2. The spokesman and the statement referred to have not been identified.
  3. See Ellis M. Zacharias, Secret Missions: The Story of an Intelligence Officer (New York, 1946), p. 421.
  4. Executive Agreement Series No. 236: 55 Stat. (2) 1603.