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China would be to continue guerrilla warfare in the hope that they could thus defeat Japan's will to conquer China or accept mediation through Germany and Italy, which would not be to the best interests of China or to a constructive solution. I told Mr. Koo that we were most desirous of doing anything we could within practical limits to bring about a cessation of hostilities and a peaceful solution by agreement; that I would talk the matter over when I got home, and by that time we could probably tell better whether Japan will be amenable to mediation.
I then remarked to Mr. Koo that I had been informed that he had said that the French had proposed to me at Brussels the imposition of an oil embargo against Japan, and that I had declined to consider it. He replied that he had made this remark and that two or three of the French ministers had told him they had made such a proposal. I told him that I was sorry to have to deny the accuracy of such a statement, but that no such proposal had been made to me, although if it had been made I would have had to decline to consider it, primarily because the Conference had not been called for the purpose of imposing sanctions but for the purpose of seeking a peaceful settlement, and that we were not prepared to consider sanctions. I told him I thought it was unfortunate and unwise for any power to try to place upon the United States the blame for its failure to do so. I told him that there had been some academic and theoretical discussion or speculation among various delegations as to the ultimate possibility of economic sanctions; that the small powers had particularly been concerned at first for fear that some such proposals would be advanced, to which they were opposed because they had gotten their fingers so badly burnt in the Ethiopian affair, and that they were relieved to be told that such a contingency was not being considered by the larger powers, or at least by the United States. There had also at some time been a reference as to the advisability or practicability of an oil embargo, but that it was never seriously proposed or considered, insofar as I knew. I also told him that if he would stop and think, he could easily see why it would not have been considered seriously, because in the first place it is probable that Japan has enough oil reserved to run her for at least six months, and in the second place that meant really Great Britain, the Dutch East Indies, and the United States; and in the last analysis the Dutch would not agree to this unless the United States and Great Britain would agree to guarantee the Dutch East Indies, which would mean a definite war measure, which I was sure no one was prepared to consider unless the United States would agree to assume the main burden; and that I certainly had no authority and no desire to consider it. I told him it was a mistake for
any power to impute blame to another, and that we must continue to work together to try to bring about a solution through peaceful means. I also pointed out to him that in the declarations which the powers had made at Brussels they had rendered a real service to China, particularly in reaffirming their adherence to the principles of the Nine Power Treaty, and insisting that this was a matter in which they have rights and interests which they are not prepared to surrender.
793.94 Conference/342 Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs
(Moffat) of a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Yoshida) 15
[PARIS,] December 2, 1937. I called on Mr. Yoshida at the Hotel Meurice by appointment and explained how disappointed Mr. Davis was at not being able to see him. The doctor, however, was adamant and refused to allow him to have any interviews and insisted upon his remaining in bed until his ship sailed.
Mr. Yoshida expressed great regret, the more so as he had come to Paris for the sole purpose of seeing Mr. Davis. He said that he was not allowing one day to go by without doing everything he could on behalf of peace. At the moment he, Ambassador Sugemura and Ambassador Kurusu were working in close touch with one another even at the risk of being branded as defeatists in their own country.
He said that a week or two ago he had seen Mr. Eden and Mr. Cadogan and had tried to convince them that the moment was ripe for British and American mediation, either joint or separate. Mr. Eden had immediately remarked, “I wonder what America would think of the idea.” In fact, said Mr. Yoshida, throughout all of his talks during the past few months Mr. Eden has been so preoccupied with American reaction to the Japanese problem that he sometimes jokingly questioned whether Mr. Eden was Foreign Secretary of Great Britain or the United States.
Mr. Yoshida regretted that Japan had rejected both the first invitation to the Brussels Conference and the second invitation to appoint representatives to discuss matters with a small group of delegates. He said, however, that the Japanese had developed a complex against conferences. They felt that every time they had gotten into an international gathering their delegates had lost out and he briefly reviewed the history of the gatherings at Washington and at London. But although Japan had rejected the two invitations,
15 Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chairman of the American delegation in his covering letter of December 16.
he insisted that this did not mean that she was no longer interested in mediation. He felt that the present moment was a peculiarly valuable one psychologically. Japan had won an enormous victory at Shanghai. She was moving on Nanking, which she could take very easily. If, however, it were possible to bring about a cessation of hostilities before Nanking fell, it would be much easier for China to "save face" than if she waited until her capital had been conquered.
As a matter of fact, sometime back Mr. Hirota had mentioned the subject of peace to both Mr. Grew and Sir Robert Craigie. Perhaps he did so in rather veiled terms, but nonetheless he had made his meaning clear. The Japanese were very disappointed that a few days ago, when Mr. Grew brought Ambassador MacMurray 16 to call on Mr. Hirota, he had not reraised the subject of peace or mediation. The fact that Mr. Hirota had sent a telegram to that effect to Mr. Yoshida struck the latter as significant. He had been casting around in his mind to think up reasons why we had not accepted the suggestion of Mr. Hirota and one reason which had occurred to him was that Ambassador Saito in Washington had not reinforced the suggestion in any talks with Mr. Hull. He said that, of course, Mr. Saito may have had his reasons, or he may have been just timid !! But [be] that as it may, Mr. Yoshida felt, speaking entirely personally, that Mr. Davis could do both countries a big service if he could help bring about closer and friendlier contact between Mr. Hull and Ambassador Saito.
Mr. Yoshida asked me if I knew of Sir Robert Craigie's talk with Mr. Hirota. I asked him which one. He said a recent talk in which Sir Robert Craigie, speaking entirely personally, had asked whether the Japanese would accept Great Britain not as a mediator but as an intermediary and would submit to him the Japanese terms of peace provided the Chinese would do the same to his colleague in China. After considerable thought, Mr. Hirota had declined this suggestion, pointing out that it would be impossible for Japan to negotiate at present except directly with China. Mr. Yoshida was afraid that Craigie might have taken this remark too literally. In Mr. Yoshida's opinion it would be necessary for political reasons to initiate direct negotiations, but he felt that once this first step were passed it would be an easy matter to enlarge this to include other powers having rights and interests in the Far East.
He then said that the British had shown considerable anxiety lest Japan's peace terms should prove unduly onerous. He felt that the world would be surprised at Japan's moderation. He said that Japan had voluntarily withdrawn from Shanghai in 1932 and he was convinced that she would do likewise in 1937. In the north of China the situation was more difficult and Japan might have to ask greater
John V. A. MacMurray, Chairman of the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs.
concessions, but the difficulty there arose from the fact that Nanking had been unwilling to recognize "Manchukuo” and the Japanese were forced further to protect "Manchukuo". As to economic terms, he thought that Japan would not only be liberal but positively helpful as she knew that her ultimate prosperity depended upon the creation of a rich and prosperous Chinese market for her exports.
He then came back and made another and most pressing plea that the United States and Great Britain, jointly or separately, should again suggest mediation. I asked if he could be a little more specific in describing how he envisaged such a move. Mr. Yoshida was vague, saying that the details were not the essential, but he left no doubt in my mind that what the Japanese thought when they spoke of mediation was that Great Britain and America, either jointly or separately, should persuade China to enter into direct negotiations with Japan, reserving the right later on to join in these conversations after they marked progress.
Mr. Yoshida throughout was perfectly frank in saying that he was not speaking on behalf of his Government but in a personal capacity. He said, however, that he had been studying the situation for years and that he was convinced that what he said contained so many elements of truth that the broad picture was undoubtedly correct. All Japan wanted peace, the public because it was unhappy over the dislocation of hostilities, the militarists because they were sufficiently realistic to know that the sooner they could close the present campaign the more certain they would be that the Russian menace would not materialize.
In closing, Mr. Yoshida again urged that Mr. Davis interest himself personally in the matter, and that, if he had any ideas or suggestions as to how he, Mr. Yoshida, could be of help in London, that he write him privately and off the record.
793.94 Conference/342 The Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis) to the Japanese
Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Yoshida) 17
PARIS, December 3, 1937. MY DEAR MR. YOSHIDA: It was a source of disappointment to me not to be able to see you yesterday, but I was under strict doctor's orders. Mr. Moffat, however, gave me a very full account of his interesting talk with you and I feel that I have a clear picture of the situation as you see it as well as the chances of a possible successful
Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chairman of the American delegation in his covering letter of December 16.
mediation by Great Britain or the United States acting either jointly or individually. I am sorry that the Japanese Government declined the two invitations to cooperate in our work at Brussels, as the purpose was definitely to be helpful and to bring about a peaceful settlement by agreement. The real crux of the difficulty throughout seems to be that the Japanese Government still desires to maintain the thesis that this is a matter that concerns only Japan and China, and that at least in its early stages it should be dealt with by direct negotiations between Japan and China. On the other hand, the powers with treaty rights and interests which are affected by the Sino-Japanese conflict are unable as a matter of principle to accept this thesis. Judging by past experience, they are unable to believe that it is possible for Japan and China to compose their differences and to reach a constructive settlement on a just and mutually satisfactory basis by themselves alone. Furthermore, it would seem that China is opposed to direct negotiation. As you realize, China and Japan have been trying for some years through direct negotiations to compose their differences in a peaceful way but armed conflict ensued which created a situation in which the rights and interests of other powers became directly involved. I realize to the full the local preoccupations of your Government in desiring only direct negotiations, but the importance of a combined effort is so vital that I hope that those who feel as you do will not hesitate to emphasize and re-emphasize it.
It is a comfort to know that you and many who think like you are actively working for peace. My own interests in this same problem will not flag and as soon as I reach Washington I am going to canvass the situation anew with my Government. Very sincerely yours,
NORMAN H. DAVIS
MEASURES TAKEN BY THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PROTECTION OF AMERICAN LIVES AND PROPERTY IN CHINA RESULTING FROM HOSTILITIES BETWEEN JAPAN AND CHINA 18
793.94/8953 Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs
(Hornbeck) of a Conversation With the Counselor of the Japanese Embassy (Suma)
[WASHINGTON,] July 22, 1937. Mr. Suma called at his own request at 3:30 this afternoon.
Mr. Suma said that in continuation of giving us such information as his Embassy had received he wanted to tell me that they had been informed of an apparent inclination on the part of the Nanking au
18 For related correspondence, see Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. I, pp. 487 ff.