761.94/7–2145: Telegram

No. 1256
The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Sato ) to the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Togo )1

1458. Re my telegram No. 1449.2

Although it is difficult to predict what the Soviet reply will be to our recent request,3 it is possible that the repeated request by the Japanese Government is regarded as merely seeking the good offices of the Government of the Soviet Union, since we failed to indicate on what basis such a request was made. Since the request does not even indicate an outline, the Soviet Union may find it impossible to decide its attitude so simply on such an important matter, and it is conceivable that the request may be turned down again. If, by chance, it does result in a Soviet refusal, I am deeply concerned lest this may force us into a very awkward position. It may also implicate the Imperial Household, since we have been ordered by the Emperor to end further bloodshed and are strongly urged to send a special envoy.

In presenting the request, as directed in your telegram No. 9314 regarding the mission of Prince Konoye, I have taken the precaution not to give the impression that the mission is to set forth the Japanese Government’s “concrete aim”, and not to present a concrete “proposal”. Lozovsky, however, stated that he understood …5 is to bring a “concrete proposal” and, as he hinted that he was expecting some form of concrete proposition, I believe we must pay special attention to this point.

In presenting a proposal to end such a tremendous undertaking as the present large-scale war, we do not, in the final analysis, have a definite proposition but are only explaining our intention in an indirect way. It is absolutely impossible to cause the Soviet Government to make a move with such a noncommittal attitude on our part. In this connection I do not have the slightest doubt that the straightforward attitude of the Soviet Union is designed to compel Japan to come out with a concrete proposal.

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The definitive joint declaration against Japan made by the leaders of the three nations—the United States, Great Britain, and China—at Potsdam on the 26th6 appears to be a big scare-bomb directed against us. It became very doubtful whether the Soviet Union would offer its good offices under this offensive started by the three countries. Then there is no doubt that the aforesaid tripartite declaration is a counteroffensive, with our trial venture to terminate the war as its target. According to a broadcast of the B. B. C. on the 26th, Lord [Louis] Mountbatten visited Potsdam on his return trip to England and is said to have reported to and consulted with the Big Three leaders of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union on the progress of the war in the Far East.7 We must take note of the remark that Stalin has for the first time participated in a discussion of the war in the Far East. For your information I make this reference, since this is also a matter which I fear may have some effect on the attitude of the Soviet Union in relation to our request for the Soviets’ good offices.

  1. See vol. i, p. 873, for a note concerning (a) the extent to which the contents of the papers of Japanese origin printed in this section were known to the United States Delegation at Babelsberg and (b) the translations here printed.
  2. Document No. 1235.
  3. See documents Nos. 1234 and 1235.
  4. Document No. 1229.
  5. At this point there is a garble in the original.
  6. Document No. 1382.
  7. See ante, pp. 375378, 381.