Statement Handed by the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Matsuoka) to the Ambassador in Japan (Grew), July 8, 1941


MESSAGE IN REPLY SENT BY H. I. M.'S FOREIGN MINISTER AT THE REQUEST OF THE PRIME MINISTER FOR DELIVERY TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.A., DATED JULY 7TH, SHOWA 16

[Translation]

At a time like this all sorts of rumours are abundantly bred not only in Japan but in all countries.

It is hardly necessary to state that the prevention of the European War from spreading to the regions of Greater East Asia and the maintenance and preservation of peace in the area of the Pacific have always been the sincere and genuine desire of the Japanese Government which have consistently contributed their earnest efforts toward achieving that high purpose.

The Japanese Government wish to state, in reply to the last paragraph of the Message, that they have not so far considered the possibility of joining the hostilities against the Soviet Union. The position of the Japanese Government vis--vis the Soviet?Axis war was made clear in the Oral statement of July 2nd, 1941 of H. I. M.'s Foreign Minister to the Soviet Ambassador in Tokyo. One can do no better than attach hereto a copy of this Oral statement for the President's perusal in order to bring home the course of policy Japan has been compelled to pursue in the present circumstances. Of course, it is understood that the American Government will treat it as strictly confidential. Incidentally, the Japanese Government would like to avail themselves of this opportunity for definitely ascertaining whether it is really the intention of the President or the American Government to intervene in the European war as they are naturally and very deeply concerned at the prospect, disturbed as they sincerely are, by reports reaching them from a variety of sources.

[Annex]

ORAL STATEMENT HANDED BY H. I. M.'S FOREIGN MINISTER TO THE SOVIET AMBASSADOR IN TOKYO ON JULY 2, 1941

[Translation]

I take pleasure in informing Your Excellency that Japan necessarily feels deep concern with the German?Soviet war that has unfortunately broken out. To be frank, Japan finds herself in the most awkward position faced with the war between Germany and Italy, her allies, on one hand, and the U. S. S. R. on the other, with whom she has but recently begun to improve relations in sincere desire to promote and maintain good neighbourliness. Japan is, therefore, most anxious to see the termination of the hostilities at the earliest possible date, earnestly wishing that they may at least be confined to regions not immediately adjacent to the Far East where she possesses vital interests.

The Japanese Government take this opportunity to state that they do not at present feel compelled to modify their policy towards the U. S. S. R. except to the extent of their natural desire not to give rise to misunderstandings to their allies. It is their sincere hope that they will be able to pursue a course of policy carefully calculated at once to serve their own interests and to preserve the spirit of mutual trust among the allies, while maintaining good relations with the U. S. S. R. I need hardly add that their Excellencies, Messieurs Stalin and Molotoff, may rest assured that I will do my best but that future developments will largely decide if the Japanese Government can consistently abide by this policy.

TOKYO, July 2,1941.


Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943), pp. 690-91


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