75. This morning I had an interview with the Foreign Minister. Mr. Hirota referred, on his own initiative, to the subject of the Amau statement regarding the attitude of Japan toward foreign assistance to China, and said that he wished to clarify that statement to me in confidence. He told me that under questioning by newspaper men, Amau had given out the statement without his knowledge or approval, and that the world had received a wholly false impression of Japanese policy, that Japan had no intention whatever of seeking special privileges in China, of encroaching upon the territorial and administrative integrity of China, or of creating difficulties for the bona fide trade of other countries with China. Various foreign activities have tended to disturb peaceful conditions in China, and Japan is naturally very much interested in those peaceful conditions owing to her nearness to China. But that does not mean that there is any intention or desire on the part of Japan to claim a privileged position in derogation of the rights and responsibilities to which the signatories of the Nine-Power Treaty are entitled. The policy of Japan is complete observance and support of the provisions of the Nine-Power Treaty in every respect.
The insistence by the Chauvinists upon a more aggressive foreign policy, Mr. Hirota said, makes his position difficult. For his own part he is trying to follow the policy of the Emperor, with whom he is constantly in touch, and is seeking to achieve with all countries, and especially with the United States, relations of friendliness. He intends to do his best to bring to a successful conclusion the negotiations with Russia for the purchase of the Chinese Eastern Railway. If that controversy can be settled, there should be better relations between Russia and Japan, which would in turn tend to include better relations between China and Japan. This whole constructive policy of the Emperor and the Government would obviously be impeded if Japan should now seek special privileges in China. Mr. Hirota said that he has managed thus far to satisfy both the Liberals and the Chauvinists, and that, since he has the Emperor's support, he will continue resolutely in his course even though that should mean his own death. He added also that the Minister of War supports him fully.
Mr. Hirota went on to say that attempts are constantly being made by certain foreign influences, through the press and by other means, to make trouble for Japan. It was his earnest hope that the United States Government should have a perfect understanding of his attitude toward Amau's statement, but he requested that his remarks to me be treated as confidential since his position was difficult. In conclusion, the Minister said that our Government may rest assured that Japan will take no action in China purposely provocative to other countries or contrary to the terms or spirit of the Nine-Power Treaty. I do not question the sincerity of the Minister's remarks as reported above. Nevertheless I made the observation that the Government and people of the United States would be less impressed by statements of policy than by more concrete evidence.
I was told by the Minister that a similar explanation will be made to you by Saito. The Minister is to receive the British Ambassador at 3 o'clock.
Rumors are reported in the United Press that the Department will instruct me to ask for a clarification of the statement by Amau. Unless I receive supplementary instructions, however, I shall assume; that the present telegram answers the Department's inquiry.
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. 214-215.
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