Memorandum by the Secretary of State Regarding a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Horinouchi), [Extracts], [WASHINGTON,] July 10, 1939.

The Japanese Ambassador came in at my request.

He then referred to a conversation between Ambassador Grew and Foreign Minister Arita, before the Ambassador recently left Tokyo for America, in which Mr. Arita had brought up (1) the idea of our two countries exercising their influence toward avoiding war in Europe; (2) the reported apprehension of my Government that the Japanese occupation of the Hainan Islands is part of a plan of permanent military conquest; and (3) my Government's concern about the extent of possible injury and loss of American interests, including American trade, in China, by reason of possible permanent Japanese policies of control. He said he would be interested in anything I might have to say on these points.

Point 3. I said that, taking the last point first, I need not remind him that for six years I had been earnestly pleading with and urging upon his Government the view that there is enough room on this planet for fifteen or eighteen great nations like his and mine, and that by cooperating along progressive and mutually desirable lines, great progress of the entire world population would gradually follow, etc., etc.

Point 2. I said that, on the other hand, while present American interests and rights in the Far East are highly important, the big consideration relates to the question whether all of China and the Pacific islands skirting it is to be Manchuria-ized by Japan, with international law destroyed and treaty observation abolished and all other nations not allowed into that one-half of the world-the door shut and locked by Japan except over preferences for her own citizens. I added that if some one nation is to do this in one-half of the world, some other nation in the other half of the world might undertake to follow the same example, and nothing would be more absurdly impossible for the future progress of the population of the world, including the countries assuming this species of domination, than such attempted course. I proceeded further to say that the Ambassador might suppose an announcement that this hemisphere and a part of Europe would be foreclosed against his country in the sense of being Manchuria-ized, and added that I need not speculate on what his country would think and how it would feel. I said that such efforts at domination, with no facilities for financing and progressive development, and the going forward on such a huge scale, could only result in disaster for all concerned, speaking, of course, from my viewpoint, and that this general idea had been urged by me on his statesmen for six years.

Point 1. As to the question raised with Ambassador Grew by Foreign Minister Arita about the possible cooperation of our two countries to compose the threatened dangers of Europe, I said that the single test of my Government in dealing with other Governments relates to the question of peace; that we consider the preservation of peace so supremely important to the future of all nations that we draw the line between honest, law-abiding, peaceful countries and peoples, without reference to their form of government, on the one hand, and those who are flouting law and order and officially threatening military conquest without limit as to time or extent; that we will work in a friendly spirit with every peaceful nation to promote and preserve peace, without serious thought as to who they are; that while we have not the slightest alliance, or secret or other understandings with any nation on earth, and do not propose to have any, we will keep thoroughly armed and prepared to take care of our interests and rights; that we have, in the spirit I was describing, made every kind and character of plea to the countries of Europe to indicate a willingness for the peaceful settlement and adjustment of their economic and other relations, and we have indicated our readiness to cooperate in every feasible plan to restore international trade and finance to a normal basis; that, notwithstanding these earnest pleas, (which the Japanese Government itself might well have been making, if it; has not been doing so, or might well make now and persistently in the future,) nations perhaps could not but take notice that Japan herself is engaged in military operations for purposes of conquest, and that this situation might well call for an ending, if Japan were to exercise her fullest influence along with the United States and other countries in efforts to compose threatened military conquest in other parts of the world.

The Ambassador made no particular comment, except to state that there had been reports in this country to the effect that Japan might enter into a military pact with Germany and Italy, whereas the truth is that his country has no idea of doing so; that Japan, because of its proximity and difficulties with Russia, has been interested in the anti-Comintern policy of certain European states and in working with them against Bolshevism. I replied that, of course, this was primarily the business of his country; that my country . . . abstains from any entanglements or involvements with European countries; that, of course, if Japan desires to tie herself up with the horribly complicated European controversies, so as to make herself immediately involved in any European war, that still was her business primarily; and I might again reiterate that my Government is keeping itself in a detached position, with peace as its supreme objective, and with armaments sufficient for all purposes of security.


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. 464-467

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