740.0011 PW/5–1745

The British Minister (Sansom) to the Chief of the Division of Japanese Affairs (Dickover)

Dear Dick: With reference to our conversation in which you informed me of some statements made in Tokyo to the Swedish Minister by certain Japanese individuals, I send you herewith the substance of a telegram just received from the Foreign Office.

You will see that the Foreign Office, like the Department of State, did not regard the statements quoted as amounting to a peace feeler; and that some additional information as to remarks made by Prince Konoye5 is included in their message.

We have just received your memorandum of May 14th6 regarding [Page 482] the views of the Japanese Counsellor at Lisbon, and have transmitted it to the Foreign Office.

Yours very sincerely,


The British Embassy to the Department of State

The Foreign Office received a similar report from the same source and through the same channels early in April, to the effect that the Japanese considered unconditional surrender dishonourable and would not accept any change in the constitution affecting the position of the Emperor.

According to the version received by the Foreign Office, the Japanese individuals in question said that suggestions mooted at the recent I.P.R.7 Conference that the Emperor and his family should be set aside, had created a very bad impression even among those Japanese who were most in favour of ending the war. The report added that the Japanese realized that the war was lost and that they would be prepared to accept far reaching conditions in a negotiated peace, but they did not believe that the Allies could occupy Japan.

The above views were not, in the report received by the Foreign Office, quoted as those of certain high ranking officials, but as representing the attitude of the Japanese people in general. There did not seem to be any question of a peace feeler, and consequently it was not thought worth while to notify the Department of State.

Subsequently the Foreign Office have received from the same source a report that Suzuki8 is in favour of making peace, but what kind of peace is not stated. This report adds that Prince Konoye, in conversation with the Swedish Minister, had expressed the view that the British must be getting very jealous of the Americans now that the latter had shown such extraordinary strength in both Europe and Asia.

The Swedish Minister is said to have answered that it would be foolish of the Japanese to count upon any disagreement between the United States and Britain.

  1. Prince Fumimaro Konoye, Japanese Prime Minister, June 1937–January 1939, and July 22, 1940–October 16, 1941.
  2. See footnote 97, p. 478.
  3. Institute of Pacific Relations.
  4. Adm. Baron Kantaro Suzuki, Japanese Prime Minister since April 7.