"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo


[Date] February 7, 1941
[Source] Nihon gaiko nenpyo Narabi Shuyou bunsyo Ge, Gaimusyo, pp. 482-485.
[Full text]

1. At the first interview with the Foreign Minister after the formation of the KONOYE Cabinet, Ambassador CRAIGIE expressed the hope that the new Cabinet would collaborate and settle the relations between the two countries by friendly measures as did the preceding Cabinet. To this Foreign Minister MATSUOKA replied that the Cabinet was considering carefully the general policy for the future, and added at the same time, as his unofficial idea, that a general improvement of the relation between Japan and England could not be hoped for, and a strained situation between Japan and England in the future was inevitable.

Two days after the interview occurred the arrests of many Englishmen in Japan and Korea, on which a joint statement by the War Minister and Minister of Justice was issued, giving generally the impression of the existence of an English spy ring in Japan. But the result of the trial was that they were punished for trivial matters. and there was nothing about spies.

This was the general situation in July and August. In September Japan concluded the Tripartite Pact and formally joined on the side of Germany and Italy, enemies of Britain. The public speeches of statesmen and the tendency of the press were deepening more and more anxiety on the part of England.

2. Foreign Minister MATSUOKA said in his official statement that the Tripartite Pact was a pact of peace, and you also stated that the main policy of Japan was to overcome the difficulties of the China affair and restore order in East Asia. But judging from facts which have happened since then, and considering all the indications that the sphere of influence of Japan is being enlarged to dominate East Asia, frankly the above explanation is hard to understand.

In this connection the British Government wishes to call your attention to the impropriety of the statement of Foreign Minister MATSUOKA concerning Japanese aspirations in Burma. As regards Indo-China and Thailand also, recent situations have not mitigated the strained relation in the Far East at all. Foreign Minister MATSUOKA said that only Japan had the right to mediate in the conflicts in the Far East, but the British Government can not approve of this claim.

If the purpose of the mediation were merely to bring about a settlement of conflicts, Britain would welcome it like all the other countries. But we have received the disquieting information that Japan had brought pressure to bear on Indo-China and Thailand, and we have come to entertain misgivings whether Japan were not using this mediation as a pretext to secure far-reaching political and military concessions from both these countries--e. g. newspaper information reports that Camran Bay and all the existing air-fields will be used by Japan.

3. The most important fact is the recent report of Ambassador Craigie, informing us that “In Japan the prevailing impression is that the crisis in the Far East will occur within these two or three weeks".

What do these facts mean? Who is challenging whom? Should we believe that a sort of advance planned by Japan will be carried out simultaneously with the German attack on England proper, and if so should Britain assume that her territories in the Far East are in danger of an attack by Japan? It is hard for me to understand the situation. Geographically Japan is in an advantageous position, so that she can remain entirely aloof from the calamity of war if she so desires, and moreover she is not being threatened by any one, certainly not by England.

If I may be allowed to speak frankly,it seems to me that Japan has many reasons for not intervening in another war after four years of the China Incident. In my opinion,Japan can not but recognize her reason for being on unfriendly terms with Britain and the United States,but as proved by history,it can not be denied that the prosperity of Japan was at its best when she was at friendly relations with Britain and the United States. So it is hard for me to understand the reason why Ambassador Craigie reported of the sphere of crisis increasing in Japan. It seems to me that the aim of the Japanese statesmen is to indicate the approach of a huge confusion.

4. You will be able to understand that it is impossible to disregard the above signs and portents,and that it is necessary to tell you clearly our standpoint. England has territories in the Far East,but she has no aggressive intentions;however,she does not intend to sacrifice these territories by orders from any other country. And furthermore it is impossible to approve of the principle that Japan is the sole country having the right to administer and control the destiny of all the inhabitants (including the English) in the Far East. There is no doubt that Britain will protect her territories in the Far East with the utmost vigor,if they should be attacked,and defend the security and welfare of the inhabitants.

5. In addition,I wish to mention two points.

The first point is as follows:There is no objection to Japan deciding her own policy,but as an old friend and a former Allied Power,I do not think I will bring down the wrath of Japan upon myself for saying the following thing-that I hope and pray that the policy about to be taken up by Japan will not lead to a terrible disaster.

And moreover I can not but hope that,by cooperating with Germany and Italy,Japan will not depart from her wise caution and good sense with which she built up her great national power and prosperity in the past.

The second point is as follows:It is rumored that concerning the war situation,news advantageous to Britain is being suppressed in Japan,and there is propagated an idea that Britain is a decadent country on the brink of ruin. But as you know,the real spirit of the English people of today is no such thing. Not only is there a strong determination of an absolute national unity throughout the whole of the British Empire,but also England possesses vast natural resources and has unlimited assistance from America. Whatever happens it is obvious that the British Empire will not fail in this conflict. Germany is exaggerating that she can conquer this Island Empire,but we are convinced of her failure. We averted the crisis in September last year,and at present England's power on land,on sea,and in the air has increased greatly from that time. The English nation is convinced that Germany will fail in her attempt to conquer England,and be defeated in this war.