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Press translations [Japan]. Political Series 0117, 1945-12-24.
Supreme Commander for The Allied Powers. Allied Translator and Interpreter Section.

translation-number: political-0504

call-number: DS801 .S85

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No. 504 Date: 24 Dec 45


ITEM 1 Prince KONOE's Memoirs on Japanese American Negotiations - Asahi Shimbun - 23 Dec 45. Translator: J. Weiller.
Full Translation:
Prince KONE's Memoir on JAPAN-AMERICA Negotiation.
The reply from GERMANY did not arrive. In the meantime, the Foreign Minister was putting off, day after day, our reply to AMERICA, while the Army and Navy were requesting him for a speedy answer. In the end, in view of the necessity of our answer being in American hands in time for the Presidential speech, which was scheduled for 14 May, we had to cable, without waiting for a German reply, to Ambassador NOMURA that he might open negotiations at noon of the 12 May, according to the Japanese wire of the previous day. Thereupon, Ambassador NOMURA called on Secretary of State HULL on 11 May (Japanese Time, 12) and 12 May and, presenting our statement, made explanations. Foreign Minister MATSUOKA sent a message again on 13 May to Secretary of State HULL in which he emphasised that the reason for JAPAN'S insistence on Japanese-American negotiations was on the assumption that, (l) AMERICA would not participate in the European War and (2) she would immediately recommend to Chiang KAI SHEK that he open peace negotiations with JAPAN. Secretary of State HULL agreed with Ambassador NOMURA again, "The parley now going on between the two countries is not yet a negotiation conducted on a definite basis, but is unofficial, so let us have a frank chat together."
Regarding the Japanese note handed over by the Ambassador, he revealed not a little suspicion of our having omitted a guarantee clause to the effect that JAPAN would not make armed advances to the South. He also showed special concern over the CHINA Incident and asked the Ambassador various questions. He further disclosed that he had to obtain an understanding from ENGLAND on this question.
HULL went on to explain that internal circumstances were in no way facilitating negotiations with JAPAN. He maintained a very careful attitude in the matter. Not only was the President's speech, to be delivered on l4 May, postponed (to 29 May), but arguments became heated on the convoy question and, pressed by both internal and external affairs AMERICA appeared to be unable to decide her attitude easily. In any case, in spite of our expectation, her reply did not come soon.
The reason Foreign Minister MATSUOKA delayed the reply to AMERICA to such an extent was that he war waiting for an answer from GERMANY, but, impatient of the delay, he dispatched instructions on 12 May. Immediately afterward the long awaited answer arrived from GERMANY, the gist of which was that AMERICA'S secret intention was to plunge into war against GERMANY, after having completed conciliation with JAPAN; the Japanese

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POLITICAL SERIES: 117 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
Government should notify AMERICA that, (l) the Japanese Government would consider the guard and convoy systems practiced by AMERICA as acts inciting war; (2) Should AMERICA refrain from such acts, JAPAN was prepared to study her proposal. The reply contained the request that in view of the effect the question had on the [illegible]ri-Partite Pact, GERMANY's opinion should be sought in case of our dispatch of a final reply.
The Italian Government sent notice to the effect that the German reply should be deemed similar to her own.
On 19 May, as vaguely expected, Ambassador OTTO intimated his Government's dissatisfaction on our replying to AMERICA before the arrival of the German reply. According to him, in case a signatory of the Tri-Partite Pact arrived at an agreement with a third country, it would weaken the front of the Tri-Partite Pact. He implied a fundamental objection to the JAPAN-AMERICA negotiations demanding, "the American Government's obligation of non-intervention in the war between ENGLAND and the Axis Countries" and, "JAPAN's obligation arising from the Tri-Partite Agreement should be accurately and clearly defined." The note went on quite high-handedly in concluding that "The German Government, must assert its desire that it completely participate in the Japanese-American negotiations and obtain immediate information regarding the American reply. It is not in comformity with the Tri-Partite Pact if the Japanese Government listens to an American proposal without an understanding with the German Government on the whole aspect of the said important question."
At the same time, Ambassador OSHIMA wired from GERMANY, reporting on the extreme antipathy entertained by the German leaders toward the Japanese-American negotiations and adding his own opposition in a vehement tone.
Conferences were held in TOKYO on 15 and 22 May but they were no mere than exchanges of intelligance and opinions. The Foreign Minister, however, appeared to have been influenced by the German note and repeated statements of the opinion from Ambassador OSHIMA, as his originally vague attitude became still more vague and opposed to the other Cabinet Ministers. At the conference on 22 May Admiral OKA, Chief of the Naval Affairs Bureau, asked Chief Secretary. TOMITA to tell the Foreign Minister that. "If the Foreign Minister has such a dissenting opinion there is a danger of a split in the Cabinet in case of the conclusion of the agreement. You had better take such a possibility into consideration." On 23 May the Foreign Minister had a talk with me, telling me quite plainly, "The Army and Navy leaders appear to be favoring the Japanese-American understanding, even at the cost of offending GERMANY and ITALY. What can we do if we are so weak-kneed?" Furthermore, regarding the interpretation of [illegible]rticle three of the Tri-Partite Pact, in case GERMANY attacked an American convoy he maintained his assertion that JAPAN would be forced to participate in the war. Actually Ambassador G[illegible]repeatedly stressed this point, According to the Foreign Minister, by this acting, we might be able to check AMERICA's participation.
According to the Foreign Minister's views, the American President had already made up his mind for participation so that the understanding would not be worth while. In such an emergency [illegible]e thought, the present attitude of the Army and Navy could never satisfy the Nation: a riot might breakout. In any case, JAPAN was compelled to clarify her attitude; she must side with either ENGLAND and AMERICA [illegible]n one hand, or GERMANY and ITALY on the ether, as Foreign Minister, [illegible]was determined to side with the letter countries. He consluded his argument
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POLITICAL SERIES: 117 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
by saying "as His Majesty's subject, I have no other course than to obey His wishes". In a sense, he hinted at his final move as Foreign Minister.
At the beginning of the 3rd installment which appeared in yesterday's edition, the following memoir is added:
After the conference of 18 May the Army, the Navy, and the Foreign Officers at once set about to study the draft of a note to AMERICA. Meanwhile, Chief of the American Bureau TERAZAKI, after consulting with MUTO and OKA, Chiefs of Military and Naval Affairs Bureau respectively, tried to instruct Ambassador NOMURA to convoy to AMERICA that "We agree in principle", but, though Vice-Minister OHASHI approved the suggestion, he suppressed it on the ground that they ought to await Foreign Minister MATSUOKA's return to TOKYO. MATSUOKA arrived at DAIREN on 20 May. I at once got in touch with him by telephone. The Foreign Minister is said to have told a man near by, "The American proposal is perhaps the realization of what I told STEI[illegible]T in MOSCOW." Actually, on trips to and from EUROPE, the Foreign Minister had intimate talks with Ambassador STEINHART, his old acquaintance, and asked him to advise President ROOSEVELT that if the President liked gambling he ought to trust JAPAN and play a part in the realization of the Sino-Japanese Peace. He also telegraphed me of this on 8 April, and appeared to have secretly expected that his action would bear fruit.
His return was put off for a day owing to the weather and he came back on 22 April. I personally went to TACHIKAWA Airfield to see him. As he is a man of delicate sentiment, I thought the time when the American proposal was first shown him would be important, and accordingly intended to explain the circumstances in the car, on our way back. However, as his program was to go to NIJUBASHI (T.N. The bridge in front of the Palace) to pay his respects, Vice-Minister OHASHI, in place of me, accompanied him in the car, having been assigned to this delicate mission. As excepted, the Foreign Minister disclosed extreme ill-humor and behaved as if he had no interest at all in the problem.
On the night of his return a conference was held at which he boasted about his visit to EUROPE. But when the talk was shifted to the important American proposals, he showed signs of excitement, and especially emphasised fidelity to GERMANY, stating that he interpreted the proposal in question as containing 70 per cent ill will and 30 per cent good will. He reminded us that during the first Great War, AMERICA, having protected herself against outside enemies by concluding the ISHII-LANSING Agreement, participated in the War and that after having used us to her heart's content, revoked the agreement on the termination of the War. After asking for a fortnight's time to think over the question, he left us at the conference at about 2300. The conference was carried on until after midnight and an agreement was reached among us. "In spite of the Foreign Minister, the question will be settled as quickly as possible: The next day, on the 23rd, I called him to [illegible]y house and after an intimate talk he appeared to have more or less recovered his composure. But he did not go beyond saying to me, "As I have forgotten about EUROPE for the time being let me consider the question a little more."
Among the Army and Navy leaders, autogrenism to the Foreign Minister was geightened. Some of them insisted on putting the matter into execution, by changing the Minister if necessary. Knowing his complicated
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POLITICAL SERIES: 117 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
temperament I thought it best to leave the matter in his hands for the time being. The next day I was laid up with a cold and confined myself at [illegible]GIKUBC, while the Foreign Minister, also ill, spent his time in bed.
During the internal both MUTO and OKA repeatedly called on him, jointly or separately, and tried their best to soften his mind and get a reply sent to AMERICA as early as possible. However, either under the plea of illness or by putting up objections to the phraseology in the draft, he did not comply with their wishes.
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HomePress translations [Japan]. Political Series 0117, 1945-12-24.
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