23. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State1

2490. Re Embtel 2487. 2 Despite solemn caution against premature publicity re Shigemitsu’s proposed trip all morning papers today carry lead stories stating Foreign Minister plans to leave for Washington [Page 35]during next week to be gone week or ten days. Purpose of visit is said to be explanation of Japan’s “new diplomacy” and to seek agreement on reduction of Japan’s share in joint defense costs.

This completely irresponsible action on part of Japanese Government places U.S. in most awkward position. If we now consent to receive Shigemitsu Japanese will gain impression they can act toward U.S. with impunity in any manner they see fit. If we refuse to receive Foreign Minister we will be charged with “insincerity”, with applying undue pressure (although in fact pressure is being applied by Japanese) and we can expect great upsurge of anti-Americanism.

In spite of this, however, I now believe that our best tactic would be to refuse to receive Shigemitsu until and unless some basis for agreement is reached by negotiations in Tokyo. If our action causes present government to fall, which it might, responsibility is clearly theirs. In view of Hatoyama’s recent actions I am not at all sure we should be worse off if he were to leave office.

I therefore recommend that I be authorized to tell Shigemitsu that while the President and the Secretary have long hoped to meet with him it is impossible for them to rearrange their schedules at such short notice. Furthermore, it should be made clear that Departments of State and Defense will not be in a position to discuss details and make any agreement unless negotiations in Tokyo with Ambassador and CINCFE have laid proper basis. Japanese should be left in no doubt that attempt to bypass officials on the spot can only delay matters.

Tani has just telephoned me to express his regrets at premature publicity after in his words “your solemn warning”. I told Tani that, while I had no instructions, in my opinion this publicity would make it most unlikely that my government could receive Shigemitsu. I pointed out that although there had been press stories for several weeks about a possible special envoy to U.S. that the American Government had not been approached officially or unofficially until less than 24 hours before published story that Shigemitsu was leaving for Washington. I told him I thought Japanese Government had acted in most irresponsible manner and that my government had been placed in extremely embarrassing position. I concluded by saying that while it still might be possible for President and Secretary rearrange their schedules and receive Shigemitsu I was not at all certain this would be case. Tani said he would tell Shigemitsu what I had said.

After talk later this morning with General Taylor I shall forward our combined views. 3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.9411/4–255. Secret; Niact.
  2. In telegram 2487, April 1, Allison reported learning from Shigemitsu that the Cabinet had decided to send the Foreign Minister to the United States within 2 weeks in order to get U.S. agreement to a reduction in the yen contribution to U.S. forces in Japan. According to the Ambassador, Shigemitsu stressed that failure of the United States to agree to this might lead to a left-wing government in Japan, while a successful negotiation would increase the prestige of the Foreign Minister and other pro-American conservative elements, and would, he believed, result in formation of a strong pro-American conservative government within a few months.

    The Ambassador stated he had replied it would be difficult to receive Shigemitsu on short notice and it would be dangerous for the Foreign Minister to go to Washington and perhaps return empty-handed. In asking Washington for instructions, Allison stressed these two negative factors and pointed as well to the precedent such a negotiation might set in bypassing himself and CINCFE. However, he also suggested:

    “There is, I believe, possibility that imaginative response to Shigemitsu plea might pay big dividends. Any such response should be agreed upon prior to departure of Shigemitsu for United States. His visit then could be short and primarily for purpose of placing outward stamp of approval on agreement. (Ibid., 033.9411/4–155)

  3. No message along these lines has been found in Department of State files.