On 27 October 1937, TOGO was sent to Berlin to replace Mushakoji as Ambassador. Some days later, on 6 November 1937, the Japanese Privy Council ratified a new treaty with Germany and Italy, but virtue of which each of the three signatories exchanged the undertakings contained in the Anti-Comintern Pact. HIRANUMA, the President, Foreign Minister HIROTA and Finance Minister KAYA attended the meeting.
The Failure of Hirota's Policy in Regard to
German Economic Cooperation in China
It was TOGO's task to convince Germany that Japan would certainly succeed in the conquest of China; and that, by supporting Japan, Germany might assure herself of a preferred position in the new China which Japan would create. This view the Germans accepted with reluctance in January 1938.
Nevertheless, HIROTA had realised that Japan was dependent upon Great Britain and the United States for assistance in the economic development of China. He did not mean to offer to Germany more than the shadow of a special advantage. He intended, in return, to obtain from the Germans supplies and technical assistance which were needed in China. Therefore, HIROTA had closely circumscribed the limits within which TOGO might make promises to the Germans.
During May, June and July 1938, while the economic crisis deepened in Japan, Ambassador
TOGO wrestled with this difficult task in the face of growing German dissatisfaction. The facts that the German government, in July and August 1938, negotiated with OSHIMA, the Military Attaché, to the Ambassador's complete exclusion, provides an indication of the measure of TOGO's failure.
During May and June 1938, there had been repeated discussions between Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop and TOGO concerning German economic participation in the reconstruction of China. Von Ribbentrop had claimed, in return for Germany's recognition and assistance, especially generous treatment in regard to her own foreign trade in China. TOGO had replied, cordially but guardedly, within the narrow limits HIROTA had allowed him. Pressed by con Ribbentrop, TOGO had explained that Japan could not assure Germany in treaty form of better treatment than other third powers. The German Foreign Minister, though he expressed dissatisfaction, had concluded that Japan was prepared to offer in practice what she would not concede in categorical treaty form.
At length, von Ribbentrop was disillusioned; for, on 24 July 1938, the German Foreign Ministry received from its representative in China a detailed report upon conditions in the subjugated areas of that country. It was therein disclosed that the Japanese authorities in China were practising systematic discrimination against German interests. Established German concerns were suffering serious injury
through the preferences given to Japanese firms.
The receipt of this information intensified the dissatisfaction felt in Germany. On 27 July 1938, TOGO was advised that reports from China had confirmed von Ribbentrop in his earlier decisions. The vaguely-formulated Japanese offer of "especially favourable treatment" was regarded as inadequate; for it appeared to the German government that Japan had embarked upon a ruthless suppression of foreign trade--including German trade--in China. Disagreement between the two countries as to the terms of economic cooperation in China remained as wide as ever. Nor had any change in the situation occurred when, on 8 September 1938, TOGO was replaced as Ambassador in Berlin by his Military Attaché, Major-General OSHIMA.
The revival of the war in China at Lukouchiao had a first incurred severe censure from Germany. Despite this estrangement, the Army, ever mindful of the coming struggle with the Soviet Union, had turned to Germany for assistance. in the latter months of 1937, the Army General Staff, already apprehensive of japan's increasing commitments in China, had sought German intervention to negotiate a settlement with the Chinese authorities.
The Army Maintains Japan's Relationship With Germany
The German Foreign Minister, being then dissatisfied with the state of his country's
relations with Japan, had approached, not the Japanese Ambassador, but his Military Attaché. In January 1938, von Ribbentrop conveyed to OSHIMA his belief that Japan and Germany should collaborate more closely. OSHIMA passed this information on to the Army General Staff, which agreed in principle, provided that the U.S.S.R. was made the primary object of the new alliance.
In the same month, Germany, for reasons of expediency, had acquiesced in Japan's attempted conquest of China; and in the following month, German recognition was accorded to the state of Manchukuo. The Army used this event to strengthen the ties between Germany on the one hand and Japan and Manchukuo upon the other. Diplomatic relations were established between Manchukuo and Germany; and a treaty of amity between the two countries was signed. Lieutenant-General TOJO had then expressed the Kwantung Army's wish that Manchukuo become a party to the Anti-Comintern Pact; and UMEZU had conveyed the Army General Staff's ready acceptance of this suggestion. Those transactions had taken place at a time when the Japanese Army in occupation of Manchukuo was making its disposition for the "fast approaching war with the Soviet Russia".
In Early July 1938, shortly after ITAGAKI and TOJO had become respectively Minister and
The Army Initiates a Proposal for a Military Alliance
Among the Axis Powers
Vice-Minister of War, the Army had for the second time taken steps to promote a military alliance with Germany. OSHIMA made the proposal to Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop in a general form, stating that, in the Japanese Army's opinion, the time had come for Japan to conclude a general defensive alliance with Germany and Italy.
The Army sought an agreement directed principally, if not wholly, against the Soviet Union; but von Ribbentrop, stressing the need for a strong alliance, refused to consider a mere agreement for consultation in the event of an attack by the U.S.S.R. OSHIMA, actin upon the German view, himself outlined the terms of the proposed pact, which was in form a mutual agreement to provide military assistance in case of any unprovoked attack upon a signatory power, It made provision also for consultation, and for mutual economic and political support.
OSHIMA settled with von Ribbentrop the text of the proposed agreement, and dispatched the draft by special emissary to the Army General Staff. The draft agreement, accompanied by a note of von Ribbentrop's views upon the international situation, was treated in Tokyo as a proposal of German origin. The military leaders signified their general approval of OSHIMA's work by conveying the draft to Foreign Minister Ugaki, who immediately summoned a conference of Five Ministers to consider the new German proposal.
On 9 August 1938, Prime Minister Konoye reported the proposal to the Cabinet as a whole. The Navy, in particular, was opposed to an agreement which definitely committed Japan to rendering military assistance; and KIDO also regarded it as a serious matter. But, after the proposal had been discussed, the Chief of the General Staff advised OSHIMA that Cabinet and Army favoured the proposed alliance. Japan was willing to conclude a pact in which military aid was promised in case of unprovoked aggression; but it was desired that the agreement should be directed primarily against the Soviet Union, and secondarily against other powers.
So secretly had the negotiations been conducted that Ambassador TOGO knew nothing of them, until after they had reached Konoye's hands. Ambassador Ott in Tokyo was not informed until eight further months had elapsed. Konoye received the draft proposal, believing that it had originated with von Ribbentrop, through, in substance at least, it contained the provisions which OSHIMA had first suggested to the Germans.
Although the Konoye Cabinet took no new step during its five remaining months of office towards the conclusion of the proposed alliance, during that period relations within the Axis were strengthened; the first indications of a Japanese advance southward arose out of circumstances connected with the China War; and Japan's relations with the Western Powers continued to
The revision of Army policy which followed the fighting at Lake Khassan was disclosed in two speeches made by SATO in August 1938. During the preceding month, SATO had been promoted to the rank of colonel, and had become a member of the Cabinet Information Bureau. In that month also, he was relived of his additional post as Secretary of the Planning Board. He retained his principal appointment as a member of the military Affairs Bureau and assumed the duties of Chief of the War Ministry's Press Section.
The Army Renews its Determination to Achieve
the Conquest of China: August 1938
On 25 and 29 August 1938, SATO expounded the Army's policy for dealing with the China
war to a conference of the Chiefs of the Home Ministry's Police Bureau. These speeches, made to a group of responsible government officials by the War Ministry's spokesman, constitute an authoritative expression of Army policy at this time.
The main theme which ran throughout SATO's discursive address was that the Army was determined upon crushing the resistance of the Chinese National Government's forces, while at the same time completing the national mobilisation for war. The Cabinet was still uncertain in its policy for dealing with the war in China; but the Army, having sacrificed its long-cherished plan for an immediate attack upon the Soviet Union, was the more determined that the main goals of the basic national policy decision should be achieved.
SATO considered the possible outcome of the present drive towards Hankow, and showed that the Army was itself doubtful whether the capture of that city would put an end to Chinese resistance. Whatever might transpire, the Army was resolved that the fall of Hankow should be the occasion for establishing a new pro-Japanese central government of China.
In the new China, said SATO, Japan would do her utmost in the role of leadership, but, unlike the case of Manchukuo, no government office would be held by a Japanese. North China and Inner Mongolia would form two areas each similar in status to Manchukuo. While the chief reason for securing Inner Mongolia was
its value in preparing for war with the Soviet Union, North China would form an area in which economic and industrial expansion could be pushed ahead. Its resources would be developed to meet the needs of "national defence"; and Central China also would form a base for the expansion of Japan's economic power.
In justifying the Army's attitude towards China, SATO employed all the arguments which Konoye and HIROTA had advanced. He attempted to imbue his audience with the Army's enthusiasm for completing the conquest of China and for achieving the national mobilisation. Japan. he said, must surmount her difficulties, not sue for peace. The Army was determined that lack of resolution within the Cabinet must be overcome; and that foreign mediation in China should not be permitted.
SATO expressed confidence that the Cabinet would not entertain the peace proposals which an emissary of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was now reported to be making. He was himself convinced, said SATO, that the establishment of a new regime in China was a condition which could not be modified.
General Ugaki, who had succeeded HIROTA as Foreign Minister, was himself of the view that immediate steps must be taken to link together the two pro-Japanese regimes already established in the north and in the south.
The Attempt to Form a Pro-Japanese Central Government
In August 1938, Lieutenant-General DOHIHARA, recently attached to the Army General Staff, was sent to China to see what could be done to settle the war. Being firmly committed to the view that there should be no compromise with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, DOHIHARA set about to find other leaders who would collaborate with the Japanese. During September 1938, the work of establishing a new central government, with which Japan could make peace upon her own terms, proceeded.
On 11 September 1938, the Chinese National Government, in face of this new development, appealed once more to the League of Nations, Japan was invited by the League to join the committee which was set up immediately to investigate the dispute.
On 22 September 1938, Foreign Minister Ugaki conveyed to the League the Cabinet's refusal so to do. The Japanese government, he said, was convinced that such a proceeding could not "provide a just and adequate solution of the present conflict". On the same day, a
committee of Chinese, formed under Japanese auspices to facilitate the creation of a new central government, was established at Peiping.
The need for reaching a speedy conclusion to the war in China was a matter upon which all were now agreed. Cabinet and Army were equally resolved that China should constitute an area which would bolster Japan's precarious economy, and which would contribute to the achievement of the national mobilisation for war.
The Military Faction Opposes Compromises in China
But SATO had made it clear that there was within the Cabinet a difference of opinion whether compromise would be effective in attaining the main result. Foreign Minister Ugaki and some other members of the Cabinet had inclined to the view that the Army's goal of military conquest should be abandoned, and that direct negotiations for peace should be reopened.
Nor was this disagreement confined to the Cabinet. By September 1938, there was a strong feeling in Japan that peace in China should be brought about, even if it should prove necessary to reopen negotiations with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Among the members of the Army General Staff this was the prevailing opinion.
But, as SATO had show, there was an influential faction within the Army which took the opposite view, and was determined to resist any attempt to compromise the war in China.
Lieutenant-General TOJO, Vice-Minister of War, was the champion of this standpoint; and War Minister ITAGAKI shared TOJO's views. ITAGAKI and TOJO were the arbiters of Army policy, and Colonel SATO was their spokesman. In his speeches of August 1938, SATO had launched an attack upon those who did not share the uncompromising views which he attributed to the Army as a whole.
There were, said SATO, many doubtful points in the Cabinet's policy towards the war in China. The highest authorities were themselves not very clear what measures should be taken. He contrasted the indecision of the Cabinet with the firm determination of the military leaders; and charged those who supported Ugaki with hampering the execution of the Army's policy.
As always when the Army encountered opposition to its schemes, there came from the military faction a prompt demand for the revision of the organs of government, and for the abolition of political parties. SATO spoke of the need for "renovation" within the government itself, so that the Army's policy in China might be carried out. He hinted also at new measures for dealing with "political party problems". There was a movement afoot to promote the formation of a "One Party System" of government which could deal resolutely with Japan's difficulties at home and abroad.
Prime Minister Konoye, fortified by knowledge of the German proposal for a general military alliance, was of the opinion which admitted no compromise in China. On 7 September 1938, he discussed with Welfare Minister KIDO and others the situation which would arise upon the capture of Hankow. KIDO< himself a staunch supporter of Japanese dmoination in China, expressed the view that, if indications of a Chinese capitulation did not eventuate, it might be necessary to reopen negotiations with Generalissimo Chiang-Kai-shek. Konoye then replied that, if he should be forced to take that step, he would resign, for the responsibility would be too great for him to bear. He spoke bitterly of the criticism to which he had been subjected by Foreign Minster Ugaki; and expressed his belief that the faction wihch had gathered round Ugaki would attempt to force the resignation of his Cabinet.
The Cabinet Crisis of September 1938
Leads to the Resignation of Foreign Minister Ugaki
KIDO, as he had done in the political crisis of November 1937, immediately took the side of Konoye and the military faction. He said that, if the political situation should be dealt with according to Ugaki's policies, there might be disturbances within Japan, which would lead to defeat at the hands of the Chinese. He therefore urged Konoye to muster up
his courage and remain in office. KIDO's remarks on this occasion reveal his knowledge of the public approval which Ugaki's policy commanded.
Konoye, being now assured of KIDO's support, disclosed that he was privy to the Army's plot for establishing a dictatorship. He said he thought it possible that the proposed merger of political parties might place him at the head of a determined "one party system", so that the national policy might be pursued without further opposition in Japan. Konoye had not committed himself to any view upon this question; but he remained in office to see what would transpire.
The forces of the military faction, ranged behind ITAGAKI, KIDO and Konoye, proved too strong for the Ugaki group, In this same month of September 1938, Ugaki left the Cabinet and Konoye himself assumed the duties of the Foreign Minister. The government of Japan was once more committed to the steady pursuit of the aims set out in the national policy decision.
At this point, it is appropriate to review and analyse the changes in Army policy which had occurred since the attack at Lukouchiao. The war in China had been revived upon the initiative of the Army General Staff, acting on TOJO's advice. It was the first step towards the achievement of the Army's plans for making
Changes in Army Policy:
July 1937 - September 1938
war on the Soviet Union. In the last quarter of 1937, the Army General Staff became increasingly concerned lest the growing war in China should frustrate the major aims of the Army's planning. So alarmed did the military leaders become that, again acting upon their own initiative, they sought German mediation of the dispute.
In the result, Chinese peace offers had been submitted through German agency in November and December 1937. They failed because Foreign Minister HIROTA was determined that there should be no compromise in dealing with China. Prime Minister Konoye, supported by KIDO and HIROTA, remained in office, and pledged his Cabinet to have no further dealings with Generalissimo Chiang Kia-shek. This decision was taken at an Imperial Conference held on 11 January 1938.
Even at that late date, General Tada, the Vice-Chief and virtual head of the Army General Staff, was strongly in favour of seeking an immediate settlement of the China war. On 15 January 1938, a Liaison Conference, lasting eleven hours, was held to consider what new action should be taken against China. So vehemently did the Army General Staff oppose the Cabinet's China policy that Tada attempted to have the decision of the Imperial Conference recalled. The Army was prepared to make any sacrifice which would end the fighting more quickly, so that preparations for war with the Soviet Union should no longer be impeded.
Konoye and KIDO resolutely opposed the Army's view, and HIROTA's policy prevailed.
By May 1938, the economic and financial crisis which had threatened Japan since November 1937 had become more acute. Nor had Chinese resistance weakened. Although the Army had in the meantime secured the passage of the Mobilisation Law, the long-range programme of preparations for war and the plans for an immediate attack upon the Soviet Union were both gravely imperilled. Foreign Minister HIROTA, the man most responsible for this development, resigned his office, as did Finance Minister KAYA< who had not succeeded in averting an economic crisis. ITAGAKI and ARAKI, both leaders of the military faction, became members of the Cabinet. TOJO, well versed in Japanese preparations for war against the U.S.S.R., succeeded UMEZU as War Vice-Minister.
At this time also, General Ugaki joined the Cabinet as HIROTA's successor in the Foreign Ministry. Ugaki had for many years held views which were in marked contrast to those of the military faction. So little did he enjoy their confidence that, in January 1937k, the leaders of the Army had foiled his attempt to form a Cabinet. Nevertheless, on one particular matter, Ugaki's views accorded with those of the military leaders. He was known to favour the early settlement of the China war, even if that settlement could be obtained only by negotiation with the Chinese National Government.
TOJO, the new Vice-Minister of War, although
he supported the Army's plans for an early attack upon the Soviet Union, maintained the view that the Army's aims in China must not be sacrificed through compromise. Prime Minister Konoye and Welfare Minister KIDO, though they also desired an early settlement of the war in China, were committed to the view that Chinese resistance must first be crushed.
In July and August 1938, Japanese troops attacked the Soviet forces at Lake Khassan, and were repulsed. After this experience, the Army postponed its plans for forcing immediate war upon the Soviet Union.
In views of the intended delay, prompt settlement of the China war became less imperative. Although most members of the Army General Staff still favoured a negotiated peace in China, War Minister ITAGAKI agreed with TOJO that there should be no compromise with the Chinese National Government. Prime Minister Konoye adhered steadfastly to that opinion, and found support in KIDO.
Once more the views of Foreign Minister Ugaki were in direct opposition to those of the military faction, whose confidence was increased by the prospect of a closer military alliance with Germany and Italy. Ugaki left the Cabinet, and the Army's policy was again unchallenged.
The Army, by reconciling itself to the postponement of the attack on the Soviet Union, had secured the retention of the major aims of the 1936 national policy decision. The war in
China would be ended only with the establishment of a new pro-Japanese central government, with which Japan could arrange peace upon her own terms. The new China would make a major contribution to the Japanese national mobilisation programme. In the meantime, Japan would negotiate a military alliance with Germany, and would hasten the completion of her internal preparations for war.
On 19 May 1938, the Army, in its commentary upon the purposes of the National General mobilisation Law, had announced that the first requirement of the mobilisation was that of "spiritual" power, since the people themselves were the source of the nation's fighting strength. With this end in view, educational institutions and propaganda organs would be mobilised for a unified campaign. In the Cabinet reorganisation which took place a week later, General ARAKI, a soldier and a leader of the military faction, became the new Education Minister.
The Army's Part in the Mobilisation of Public Opinion
The very substantial measures of censorship and propaganda which had already been taken to prepare public opinion for war had been instituted by the Army in the years following the conquest of Manchuria; and for that development, ARAKI was in large measure responsible. He became War Minister in December 1931, and held that appointment in the Inukai and Saito Cabinets until January 1934. During that period, the Army's control over the expression of public opinion became firmly entrenched. Newspapers published the views which were acceptable to the military faction, and any adverse comment upon the Army's policy was met with threats or reprisals. Statesmen, who ventured upon any criticism of the Army and its supporters were also threatened. Political leaders, and even members of the Cabinet, were constantly shadowed by the police, who, though responsible to the Home Minister,
acted in this matter upon the direction of War Minister ARAKI.
This close association between the Army and the police was maintained in subsequent years. From 1935 onwards, the press was completely subject to police domination. When HIROTA's Cabinet took office in 1936, the police permitted no-one to criticise the policy of the government; and after the Lukouchiao Incident, all opposition to the war in China was rigorously suppressed. It is indicative of the close liaison which existed between Army and police that when, in August 1938, the Army's planning was revised, the new policy was at once expounded by SATO, the War Ministry's spokesman, to the assembled Chiefs of the Home Ministry's Police Bureau.
In the filed of education, the influence of ARAKI and the military faction had been no less great. Even before he became War Minister, ARAKI had attempted to introduce in the universities the system of military training and instruction already established in Japanese schools. As War Minister in 1932 and 1933, he encouraged the extension of such training. The military instructors, supplied by the War Ministry, gained an increased measure of control over the school authorities, and students were taught to support the Army's expansionist aims.
The pressure exerted by the military faction during 1932 and 1933, and the constant intervention of the Army in matters of domestic and foreign policy, caused dissension within the Saito Cabinet. In January 1934, ARAKI left the War Ministry. Thereafter, rather less importance
was attached to military training and instruction in schools until, in March 1936, HIROTA's Cabinet came to power.
After the revival of the war in China on 7 July 1938, all forms of control over public opinion were strengthened. The military instructors in schools acquired complete independence from the school authorities. Five months later, in November 1937, it was decided that the fundamental aim of all education should be that of promoting the cause of service to Japan. In the same month, KIDO became Education Minister, and a start was made in converting the educational system to the task of fostering the warlike spirit of the Japanese nation. The police and Education Ministry authorities worked together to ensure that all university teachers should actively cooperate in preparing the minds of their students for war.
The Army's commentary upon the purposes of the Mobilisation Law stress the need for the intensification of this work; and ARAKI, being appointed Education Minister, was, on 26 May 1938, given charge of it.
On 28 9 June 1938, one month after ARAKI's appointment as Education Minister, a new instruction was issued to school and local government authorities. This new Education Ministry Ordinance reflected the wishes expressed by the Army on 19 May 1938. By mobilising educational institutions for a unified campaign, all possible efforts would be made to intensify the fighting
Araki's Influence on the Japanese Educational System
spirit of the Japanese people.
"It is the students and pupils", the Ordinance proclaimed, "which are the source of energy for national activities as well as the backbone of the nation. They must realise how great and important are their duties to the state". It should therefore, the Ordinance continued, be the primary aim of the whole educational system to foster and develop the spirit of the nation. "Every effort should be made to lay into the minds of youths the true significance of loyalty and patriotism, as well as to establish a spirit of self-sacrifice and public service". Students should be given a clear understanding of Japan's "national structure", and of the "special characteristics" of her "national culture".
Training of a purely military nature was to be given a place of prominence. it would be used not only to develop the military abilities of the student, "so that he might do his part as a subject of the Imperial Empire", but also to instil the spirit of patriotism and implicit obedience to authority.
ARAKI continued the work which KIDO had begun. He held office as Education Minister from 26 May 1938 to 29 August 1939, when the HIRANUMA Cabinet resigned. During this period, the Japanese school system came completely under the domination of the military instructors whom the War Ministry had provided. Military training, as well as lectures, became compulsory in Japanese universities; and in both schools and universities, all teaching was made to further
the fundamental aim of cultivating warlike spirit in the Japanese nation.
In September 1938, the Cabinet set out with renewed determination to achieve the objects of the Army's long-range economic
The General Progress of the Economic and
Industrial Mobilisation for War
and industrial planning. Already the programme of industrial regimentation within Japan was well advanced. In large measure it had been achieved through the device of national policy companies, organised under special legislation for a specific governmental purpose. These companies were directly managed and controlled by the government, and had very broad powers within their respective fields of enterprise. Approximately half of their capital was provided by the government, which also subsidised them and exempted them from taxation. KAYA, who as Finance Minister from 4 June 1937 to 26 May 1938, had superintended the creation of the new industrial hierarchy, was on 1 July 1938, appointed as adviser to the Finance Ministry.
In his August speeches, SATO had warned the Chiefs of the Police Bureau that this process must go on. "When we put into consideration the possible war with Russia", he had said, "our war production at the present is very inadequate". Therefore, the Army was insistent that the change from free to controlled industrial management should be permanent, and should be obtained through the enforcement of the National General Mobilisation Law. In particular, SATO had indicated, this process would be used to meet the related problems of Japan's dependence upon importation, and of her precarious foreign exchange position.
Notwithstanding the exploitation of her subject territories, and the drastic measures taken to repair the Japanese economy and to
adjust her trade balance subsidies upon a steeply increasing scale were being paid to the war-supporting industries within Japan itself. The Cabinet's determination to pursue the objects of the national mobilisation for war is well illustrated by the new measures taken at a time of grave financial embarrassment. On 16 September 1938, a new national policy company with a capital of fifty million yet was formed to exploit the gold resources of Japan and of the continental areas under her control.
New steps were also taken to conserve those war materials the supply of which depended upon importation. On 21 November 1938, regulations were made for the collection and utilisation of scrap iron and steel. A control company, having a monopoly over the distribution and sale of scrap, was established and placed under governmental control.
In the latter half of 1938, however, the main expenditure was upon the development of China into an economic and industrial asset, as well as upon military operations in that country. The budget for the War Ministry alone increased from 2,750,000,000 yen in 1937 to 4,250,000,000 yen in 1938. The 1938 budget for the armed forces as a whole was three quarters of the total national budget for that year. the object of this vast expenditure was to complete the national mobilisation for war and, by subduing Chinese resistance, to open up new fields of natural resources and war-supporting industrial potential. It was an Army policy which had found its latest expression in the speeches of Colonel SATO.
On 29 july 1938, Ambassador TOGO, making his last bid for German economic assistance, had admitted to von Ribbentrop that Japan proposed to extend her dominion until it embraced the whole of China. This aim, which was against stressed in SATO's August speeches, became the cardinal feature of Japanese policy during the last four months of 1938. In Central and in South China, the Army gained victories, which placed the Japanese in control of substantially larger portions of Chinese territory. In North and Central China, the Japanese system of political control and economic domination was strengthened and extended. Although Chinese resistance was not ended, Japan achieved in a considerable degree that "steady footing in the Eastern continent' which the 1936 national policy decision had demanded.
The Extension of Japan's "New Order"
to the Occupied Areas of China
After Foreign Minister Ugaki's resignation in September 1938, the Army's goal of conquest in China received unqualified support from the konoye Cabinet, of which ITAGAKI, ARAKI and KIDO were members. Since 20 July 1938, General MATSUI had been a member of the Cabinet Advisory Council. Earlier in the Chia war, from 30 October 1937 to 5 March 1938, he had commanded the Japanese Expeditionary Force in Central China. The military offensives, which began in July 1938, after the Cabinet reorganisation had taken place, were continued during
September and October 1938.
On 20 October 1938, Canton, the principal city of Southern China, was captured by the Japanese. Five days later, on 25 October 1938, the Japanese forces in Central China attained their objective by taking the city of Hankow. This success they exploited by advancing further into Central China.
In South China, where Japanese influence was smallest, a start was to be made in aiding the reconstruction and development of the territory subdued. The Planning Board announced that immediate action was necessary to consolidate the achievements of Japan's military triumph in that area. In North and in Central China, a Japanese-controlled political and administrative system had already been established. The Army's planning for those areas called for reconstruction, economic exploitation and the expansion of the war-supporting industries.
On 3 November 1938, Prime Minister Konoye made a radio speech, in which he heralded the advent of a new phase in Japanese policy towards China. He spoke of "economic collaboration", which would be achieved through the development of China's natural resources. This, said Konoye, was the basic step in achieving Japan's purpose of a "new, ideal order" in East Asia. Reconstruction measures were as vital and urgent as military operations and political activities. Through these measures the Koumintang government would be
crushed, and the new pro-Japanese China would be consolidated.
On 16 December 1938, permanent machinery was established to secure Japan's political and administrative control of China; for on that date a new bureau of the Cabinet was created to deal with all matters affecting the internal administration of that country. The Asia Development Board (Ko-A-In) would have a permanent staff of one hundred and fifty persons, but this number might be increased at the Prime minister's pleasure. The Premier himself would be its President by virtue of his office. Similarly, the War, Navy, Finance and Foreign Ministers would be its Vice-Presidents. The permanent secretariat would be headed by a Director-General and four section chiefs.
The Asia Development Board
The new board would guide the political economic and cultural development of China. It would also coordinate all those aspects of Chinese administration which were to be conducted by departments of the Japanese government.
The new board would guide the political, economic and cultural development of China. It would also coordinate all those aspects of Chinese administration which were to be conducted by departments of the Japanese government.
The significance of the Asia Development Board is twofold. In the first place, it provided a means of bringing the affairs of subjugated China within the immediate purview of those five Cabinet Ministers whose offices were most vital to the conduct of the national mobilisation for war. It was the conference of Five Ministers which had, in 1936, settled the basis of the national policy. It was this
same group to which the German proposal for a military alliance had first been referred by Foreign Minister Ugaki in August 1938. It was this "inner Cabinet" which was not to control the development of China, both as an integral portion of Japan's "new order", and as a contributory to her preparations for further armed expansion.
In the second place, there was provided a permanent secretariat, whose exclusive function it was to watch over developments in China, to regulate and administer Japan's conduct of Chinese affairs, and to ensure that no matter of importance affecting China escaped the attention of the Japanese Cabinet.
On the day of its inception, Major-General SUZUKI, then attached to the Army's Central Ordnance Depot, became one of the four section chiefs of the Asia Development Board.
As SATO had pointed out, military successes in China were merely the stepping-stones to the achievement of political and economic aims. After the victories of October 1938 had been gained, the Konoye Cabinet devoted its attention to achieving in China those economic and industrial developments which had been foreshadowed in the Army's 1937 planning. The new programme was to follow the same pattern of regimentation which had been adopted in Manchukuo and in Japan itself.
Measures Taken to Promote the Economic and
Industrial Exploitation of China
In his radio speech of 3 November 1938, Prime Minister Konoye had described the manner in which this result would be obtained. The chief agencies for the economic development of North and Central China would be the two great national policy companies which had been created on 30 April 1938. The North China Development Company and the Central China Promotion Company, said Konoye, had been established to carry out Japan's policy. He explained that these two holding corporations would finance the subsidiary companies directly engaged in particular aspects of reconstruction and industrial development. The Central China company would undertake the re-establishment of an area which had been ravaged by warfare; but the North China company would make an immediate contribution to the needs of Japan's preparations for war. For in North China, the destruction caused by fighting had not been so great; and in that area was an abundance of iron, coal and other natural resources, the development of which would be exploited.
The political and economic, as well as the military, measures carried out in China were the product of the Army's planning. Lieutenant-General TOJO's determination to conquer China and to exploit its resources was in a great degree responsible for what had been achieved. When War Minister ITAGAKI was irresolute, TOJO had been firm; and ultimately ITAGAKI had come to share his views.
As Vice-Minister of War since 30 May 1938,
TOJO had held appointments which brought him into intimate contact with each major aspect of the mobilisation for war. He had been, in addition, a member of the organising committee fo the two national policy companies which were to control and dominate the economies of North and Central China. On 10 December 1938, when the Army's plans for China were already in course of achievement, TOJO resigned his principal office and became Inspector-General of the Army Air Forces.
After the meeting on 9 August 1938, at which the German proposal for a general military alliance had been considered, the Cabinet was content to leave the matter in the hands of the military. OSHIMA was advised by the Army General Staff that both Cabinet and Army were in favour of the proposal which von Ribbentrop had made. It was desired, however, that the new alliance should be directed primarily against the Soviet Union.
The Manner in Which the Army Used its Association
With Germany to Exercise Control Over Japanese Foreign Policy
The Cabinet's acquiescence in this proposal shows the extent of the influence which the Army had gained over Japanese foreign policy. The relationship which had grown up between Japan and Germany had been developed and maintained by the Army through the agency of Major-General OSHIMA.
OSHIMA had first taken up his post as Military Attaché in Berlin in May 1934. His instructions
then were to appraise the stability of the Nazi regime, the potential worth of the German Army, and the attitude which would be taken in Germany, should the Soviet Union become involved in war. OSHIMA had become a confidant of Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, and through this association, the Army had contrived to maintain its relationship with Germany. This connection the Army had used as an indirect means of influencing Japanese foreign policy.
The Anti-Comintern Pact, concluded in Berlin in November 1936, had arisen out of discussions held between von Ribbentrop and OSHIMA with the approval of the Army General Staff. In November 1937, the Army General STaff resorted to the same method in an attempt to change the Konoye Cabinet's policy towards China. Foreign Minister HIROTA reluctantly accepted a German tender of "good offices" in settlement of the China war, which had caused an estrangement between the Anti-Comintern partners. This attempt at mediation, which appeared to be made upon German initiative, was also prompted by OSHIMA at the instance of the Japanese Army General Staff. Finally, the German proposal for a general military alliance, conveyed to the Konoye Cabinet on 9 August 1938, was itself the outcome of an undisclosed arrangement between the German authorities and members of the Army General STaff.
In the formulation of this last proposal, OSHIMA had himself taken the initiative. In the early months of 1938, he had received advice from the division of the Army General Staff directly concerned with such matters that, in their opinion,
the time was opportune for a general military alliance between Japan and Germany. Although his informants had made it clear that they did not speak for the Army General STaff as a whole, OSHIMA had advised the Germans that the Japanese Army desired to conclude such an alliance. OSHIMA himself had outlined its contents, and, together with von Ribbentrop, had settled the text of the draft proposal. Only then had the Army General Staff approved it, and handed it to Foreign Minister Ugaki as a proposal made upon German initiative. the negotiation between von Ribbentrop and OSHIMA had been carried on without TOGO's knowledge during the very months in which the Ambassador was discussing, on his governments's behalf, the terms of German economic participation in the subjugated areas of China.
In September and October 1938, following Foreign Minister Ugaki's resignation, changes in diplomatic representation were made. These changes revealed that the Cabinet, though yet unwilling to make a positive commitment, shared the Army's eagerness for a closer alliance with Germany.
Changes in Diplomatic Representation
Reveal the Cabinet's Desire to Strengthen Relations
With Germany and Italy
Since immediate war with the Soviet Union was not now contemplated, there was need for a more conciliatory attitude towards that country. During August 1938, Japan's defeat at Lake Khassan had caused the abandonment of Ambassador SHIGEMITSU's bluntly worded demands for the cession of Soviet territory on the Manchukuoan border. On 22 September 1938, SHIGEMITSU was relieved of his appointment as Ambassador in Moscow, and was sent to London in a similar capacity. He was succeeded in Moscow by TOGO, whose experience as Ambassador in Berlin fitted him to carry out a less aggressive policy. During the preceding year, he had laboured to convince the Germans of the sincerity of promises which Japan did not intend to keep.
TOGO's removal to Moscow served a double purpose, for he was now discredited with the Germans. On 8 October 1938, he was succeeded as Ambassador in berlin by OSHIMA, his Military Attaché.
Already OSHIMA's activities had in large measure usurped TOGO's diplomatic functions and undermined his authority. In 1937, while TOGO was giving assurances of Japan's determination to complete the conquest of China, von Ribbentrop had learnt from OSHIMA of the Japanese Army's desire to negotiate a settlement of the China war. IN 1938, TOGO, in pursuance of HIROTA's policy, had offered Germany a preferred position in the subjugated areas of China, while OSHIMA's advice had raised German hopes of concluding a military alliance among the three Axis powers. In August 1938, the emptiness of TOGO's promises had been fully revealed, and in the same month OSHIMA's
work had received the Konoye Cabinet's general approval.
OSHIMA's appointment as Ambassador was therefore an event of great significance. It set the seal of the Cabinet's approval upon negotiations for a military alliance made in contemplation fo war with the Soviet Union. It placed a soldier, who enjoyed the complete confidence of the Army, in a position until then occupied by a professional diplomat. It was a triumph for the Army in the field of Japanese foreign policy, and a step forward in the Army's preparations for war.
OSHIMA's preferment was an assurance to the Germans that Japan now genuinely desired to act in concert with Germany and Italy. OSHIMA himself, with enhanced status and prestige, was free to work with von Ribbentrop for the conclusion of a tripartite military alliance.
This work was also to be carried out in Italy. On 22 September 1938, two weeks before OSHIMA's appointment as Ambassador in berlin, SHIRATORI, who had long desired war with the Soviet Union, was appointed Ambassador in Rome. He himself regarded it as his principal task to achieve the conclusion of a military alliance among the three Axis powers. ,p> SHIRATORI's appointment provides another important illustration of the triumph of the Army's policy in foreign affairs. His association with the military faction had been a long one. From 31 October 1930 to 2 June 1933, he was Chief of the Foreign Ministry's Information Department; and during this period, he showed
himself to be a strong supported of the Army's programme of conquest and expansion. In May 1932, a few weeks before the assassination of Prime minister Inukai, there was a cleavage within the Cabinet and civil service between those who supported the liberal policy of the Premier, and those who adhered to the Kodo or military faction which was led by War Minister ARAKI. SHIRATORI was at this time prominent among the group of Foreign Ministry officials who joined the Army in clamouring for Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations. In his view, membership of that body was inconsistent with Japan's position following the conquest of Manchuria.
Four months later, when the Saito Cabinet was in office, SHIRATORI again voiced the views of the military faction. He maintained that Japan's difficulties were due to the lack of a strong government. He therefore urged the appointment of War Minister ARAKI as Premier, saying that ARAKI, as a "representative of the powerful militarists", would proceed with an unwavering policy for the next five or six years.
SHIRATORI regarded his own presence in Tokyo as important to the maintenance of the views he advocated, and was therefore unwilling to accept an overseas appointment. Nevertheless, on 2 June 1933, he became Minister to the countries of Scandinavia, and, during his term of office abroad, supported the Army view that Japan should launch at attack upon the Soviet Union at the earliest possible moment.
On 28 April 1938, three months before the Lukouchiao Incident occurred, SHIRATORI was
recalled to Tokyo and assigned to temporary duty with the Foreign Ministry.
During the early months of 1938, he toured North and Central China, and found that his views upon foreign policy accorded well with those of Lieutenant-General ITAGAKI.
In June 1938, within two weeks of his appointment as War Minister, ITAGAKI urged Konoye to appoint SHIRATORI as Vive-Minister of Foreign Affairs. This request was soon afterwards supported by the younger Foreign Ministry officials in a petition presented by Okawa to Foreign Minister Ugaki. Konoye considered the proposal to be politically expedient, but Ugaki and senior Foreign Ministry officials were opposed to it, and the appointment was not made.
In August 1938, the Cabinet accepted the proposal for a military alliance with Germany and Italy, while the Army revised its plans for war with the U.S.S.R. Ugaki's resignation in September 1938k, represented a triumph for the Army and its supporters, both in domestic and in foreign policy. In that month, OSHIMA became Ambassador in Berlin and SHIRATORI was sent as Ambassador to Rome.
With this assistance from the Cabinet, the Army made new efforts to consolidate its friendship with the Germans. On 2 October 1938, War Minister ITAGAKI sent to Hitler a telegram expressing the Army's deep admiration for Germany's successful conduct of the Sudeten issue in Czechoslovakia. He prayed that Germany's national fortunes might continue to rise, and that "the friendship of the German and Japanese Armies, united on the anti-Comintern front", would "be strengthened more than ever".
The Army Continues to Negotiate for a
Military Alliance With the Axis Powers
In Berlin, Ambassador OSHIMA was furthering the aim of closer cooperation between the German and Japanese Armies. In September or October 1938, he sent out espionage agents across the Soviet frontier, and negotiated with German military leaders for the exchange of information relating to the Soviet forces.
Meanwhile, the scheme for a tripartite alliance was receiving attention both in Rome and in Berlin. The Germans had discussed the plan with Mussolini and his Foreign Minister, Ciano. Mussolini, though not yet ready to conclude an alliance, had expressed fundamental agreement with the scheme.
The text of the proposed alliance was worked out by OSHIMA, von Ribbentrop and Ciano as a result of direct consultation. The period
of its duration was set at ten years. A new provision, in the form of a "no separate peace" pact, was added; and a draft protocol, providing for immediate consultation when the obligation to furnish assistance arose, was also prepared.
In December 1938, OSHIMA, with permission from Japan, visited Rome, but found that Mussolini was still not ready to consider the immediate conclusion of the alliance.
In November 1936, when the Anti-Comintern Pact was concluded, a secret military agreement was made between Japan and Germany. The Germans had then declared that the spirit of this latter agreement would alone be decisive in determining their attitude towards the Soviet Union; and that that agreement would also, if occasion should arise, form the basis of a further development in German-Japanese relations. It was this development upon which the Army was now engaged.
The Cultural Treaty With Germany,
and the Konoye Cabinet's Policy Towards That Country
During October 1938, Arita became Foreign Minister, taking over an appointment which Prime Minister Konoye had himself assumed after Ugaki's resignation in the previous month. No-one was better acquainted than Arita with the Army's plans; for he had held office as Foreign Minister in the HIROTA Cabinet. In that capacity he had attended the important series of Five Minister's
conferences at which the basis of the national policy was decided. As Foreign Minister during that period, Arita had directed the negotiations which led to the conclusion of the Anti-Comintern Pact and the secret military agreement between Germany and Japan. When, in November 1936, that pact had come before the Privy Council for ratification, Arita had acted as the Cabinet's spokesman.
On 22 November 1938, an agreement for cultural cooperation between Japan and Germany was ratified by the Privy Council. HIRANUMA presided at the Council meeting; and ITAGAKI and ARAKI, Ministers of War and education respectively, were in attendance. Once more Arita was the spokesman for a measure designed to strengthen the relationship between Japan and Germany.
The agreement, which recited that cultural relations between the two countries should be based upon their respective national spirits, had been approved by the Council's Investigating Committee. This body reported that the agreement might strengthen ties of friendship and the "promotion of the cause", as well as contributing to the attainment of the general aims of Japanese diplomacy.
As had been the case when the Anti-Comintern Pact was ratified, some Councilors were still apprehensive of the real significance of the Cabinet's pro-German policy. Arita gave assurances that the new agreement had no political implications; but these did not satisfy
one Councillor, who remarked that "the tendency to go with the German stream is not at all deniable in this country of late. In view of this fact", he added, "I repeat and hope that there should be some means to guard against all possible mistakes on the part of our nation before the agreement is ratified".
The considerations which, two years earlier, had governed the Cabinet's policy towards Germany, still obtained. The record of this Privy Council meeting makes it clear that public opinion in Japan did not yet contemplate a close alliance with Germany and Italy. Arita had discounted the significance of the cultural treaty, because the Cabinet was not ready to admit that such an alliance was intended. Furthermore, KIDO and others had expressed the fear that the form of alliance which Germany had proposed might prove an onerous commitment. Subject to these two limiting factors, the Konoye Cabinet had done everything possibler to hasten the time when Japan's internal preparations for war would be reinforced by a tripartite military alliance of the three Axis powers.
Although the proposed military alliance with Germany and Italy, was at Japan's insistence, to be directed primarily against the Soviet Union, it was inevitable that the new proposal should affect adversely Japan's
The General Deterioration in Japanese Relations
With the Western Powers During 1938
relations with the Western Powers. When, in August 1938, Prime Minister Konoye first 4received the German proposal for a general military alliance, he was advised also of Germany's views upon the international situation. Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop considered that war with the Soviet Union was inevitable; that Hungary and Czechoslovakia were potential allies, and that Roumania would remain neutral. It would not, he thought, be possible to separate France and Great Britain; and he implied that these countries were potential enemies by remarking that the United States would aid them financially, but not militarily. It was known to the Japanese that von ribbentrop had discussed the proposed alliance at length with Hitler himself, before submitting it for their approval.
It was therefore apparent to the Cabinet and Army that Germany contemplated an alliance directed in part against the Western Powers. The Cabinet had acquiesced in that proposal by agreeing to the negotiation of a treaty which would be directed, not only against the U.S.S.R., but also against all other countries.
In this same month of August 1938, the Army had reviewed its plans for launching an immediate attack upon the Soviet Union, and had concentrated its efforts upon establishing Japan's "new order" in China. By December 1938, the expansionist aims of the 1936 national policy decided on had in large measure been attained.
The existence of the "greater East Asia Sphere" was openly proclaimed; and Japan's position in that area demanded, in the words of the national policy decision, that she should "exclude the Military Rule Policy of the Powers". "Britain and Russia", said Colonel SATO on 25 August 1938, "are in the back of China, aiding her directly and indirectly, greatly hampering our field of operations".
There occurred during these latter months of 1938 a pronounced deterioration in Japan's already strained relations with the Western Powers. The execution of the Army's long-range planning had reached a stage at which protestations of friendship and respect for treaties were no longer plausible. Although the leaders of Japan were no yet ready for war, they were prepared to speak and act more boldly. The mobilisation was partially achieved, and there was now the promise of German assistance. The occupation of China appeared to be making steady progress, and the existence of Japan's new empire could no longer be denied.
These development, which have not to be examined in more detail, did not indicate any change in policy. Japan, while completing her preparations for war, would still "strive to maintain amicable relations with the Powers"; but the aims of the national policy decision were to "be attained in spite of all difficulties". The new attitude towards the
Western Powers is indicated by SATO in his August speeches to the Police Chiefs. "We shall recognise the rights and interest of Britain to a limited degree", he said, "and have them cut all relations with Chiang Kai-shek".
Since the revival of the China war at Lukouchiao on 7 July 1937, there had been a steadily lengthening list of Japanese violations of the rights and interests of the Western Powers in China. Frequent attacks had been made upon British and American citizens and property in China, and these had formed the subject of repeated diplomatic protests.
Japanese Violations of the Rights of the Western Powers
in China, July 1937 - September 1938
Equally damaging to Japan's relations with the Western Powers had been the systematic violation of her treaty obligation to maintain the "open door", or equality of commercial opportunity, in China. The clearest substantiation of these practices came from German sources. On 24 July 1938, the German representatives in China advised their government that the Japanese military authorities were striving to subjugate the economies of China and Inner Mongolia. Japan, they said, intended that the economies of these countries should benefit her exclusively, and that all foreign interests should be eliminated.
In response to foreign protests, the Japanese authorities had professed a regard for treaty obligations; expressing regret for incidents which had occurred and pleading the exigencies of war. But in June 1938, when ITAGAKI and ARAKI had joined KIDO as members of the Konoye Cabinet, there appeared gradually a new spirit of assertiveness.
At the end of July 1938, the British Ambassador in Tokyo presented a summary of his country's outstanding grievances. Foreign Minister Ugaki, while expressing his willingness to settle these claims, told the Ambassador that a settlement would be reached more easily if Great Britain would be more friendly towards Japan, and would cease to support Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
As Japan had made no declaration of war upon China, there was no justification for complaint that other countries should offer assistance to the Chinese Nationalist Government's forces. Furthermore, Great Britain and other countries which were members of the League of Nations, were pledged to support the resolution passed by the League on 6 October 1937. It had then been resolved that, in view of the aggressive nature of Japanese activities in China, all member states should refrain from taking any action which might weaken Chinese resistance, and that each state should consider what steps it might take to offer China positive aid.
The real significance of Ugaki's statement is the implication that Japan was determined to exert pressure in order to gain the acquiescence of the Western Powers in the subjugation of China.
This policy was made clear in the following month.
In August 1938, the Japanese demanded that Great Britain and France should suppress pro-Chinese activities within their respective concessions at Tientsin. These activities afforded Japan no ground for complaint in international law; nor would their suppression have been in keeping with the tenor of the League's resolution. Yet the British and french authorities were threatened with the evacuation of areas which their countries rightfully occupied, should they fail to comply with Japanese demands.
After Ugaki's resignation in September 1938, the new spirit of defiance became more pronounced. During the last quarter of 1938, after Arita had taken office as Foreign Minister, there was for the first time an open acknowledgment of Japan's intention to violate her treaty obligations. It is therefore necessary to examine with some particularity the frequent interchange of diplomatic communications which occurred during this period.
On 3 October 1938, Joseph C. Grew, the United States Ambassador in Tokyo, presented a summary of his country's complaints. He said that assurances as to the observance of the "open door" principle and the protection of United States interests in China had not been kept. He emphasized that there could be no "open door" as long as the ultimate authority to regulate, tax and prohibit trade was in Japanese hands.
Continued Violations of the Rights of the Western Powers
in China and the Emergence of the "Greater East Asia" Doctrine,
October - December 1938
Three days later, Grew supported this protest in a detailed communication, which pointed out that Japanese companies in Manchukuo had been placed in a specially favoured position; that restrictions upon the movement of goods had imposed upon foreign traders a handicap not shared by their Japanese competitors; and that already there was evidence that these measures would be applied in the rest of China also. In that country, United States citizens were being kept away from their properties upon the pretext of military necessity. American ships had been denied passage on the lower reaches of the Yangtse, although Japanese merchant vessels continued to use them. The port at Tsingtao was in Japanese hands.
At first, these complaints evoked only a conciliatory answer from a Foreign Office
spokesman, who said that such conditions were due to the exigencies of the war situation, and that other nations should understand Japan's position. But gradually there emerged the doctrine of the "new order" in East Asia. On 3 November 1938, Premier Konoye announced that Japan would cooperate with any Third Power which appreciated her real intentions, and adopted a policy that conformed to the new state of affairs.
On 18 November 1938, Arita made a general reply to these complaints, pointing again to the exigencies of the war situation, and stating that the principles of the pre-incident regime could not be applied now that Japan was striving for her "New Order in East Asia". The United States representative told Arita that this reply represented a wholesale denial of American demands; and the Foreign Minister responded that it was extremely illogical to apply the principle of the "open door" to China only. Ambassador Grew again emphasized the adherence of the United States to treaty obligations and to the "open door" principles; and, by so doing, he elicited from Arita a more explicit reply. It was difficult, said Arita, for Japan to recognise the unconditional application of the "open door" principle at the present time, though she wished to cooperate with Third Powers. Measures necessary for fostering the closer relations of China and Japan might at times necessitate the elimination of the practice of such principles,
but there would still be considerable room left for the economic activities of other countries. He could give no assurance upon the Yangtse question.
Two day later, after this exchange of views was completed, Ambassador Grew complained that earlier in November 1938 the Maritime Customs at Canton had been taken over by Japanese consular and military authorities, constituting yet another violation of the "open door" principle. This time Arita made the Japanese standpoint quite clear. He said that the application, in their original form, of the various treaties for preventing international disputes in the Orient "rather hampered the bringing about of Peace and Universal Prosperity". Japan he said, agreed in principle with the "open door" policy, but must be allowed "most favoured relations" with China and Manchukuo, as was the case within the British Empire. Monopolies would be sanctioned to attend to vital defence needs, but in general no special discrimination would be practiced against Third Powers. ,p> Grew stated that his government could not recognise any unilateral alteration in a treaty obligation; and on 30 December 1938, presented a further reply to Arita, insisting that any alteration in the status quo should be effected at a Conference of the Powers. thereafter, conversations were suspended for a considerable period.
During the last quarters of 1938, there was a further development in Japanese policy calculated to intensify difficulty with the Western Powers. On 17 July 1937, ten days after the revival of the China war at Lukouchiao, France had contracted to supply, through Indo-China, arms and munitions for the Chinese National Government's forces. This contract constituted no breach of the law of neutrality, for Japan at no time made a declaration of war upon China. Nevertheless, Japan had lodged repeated protests with the French authorities; and, as a result of this pressure, France had undertaken, in October 1937, to cease the delivery of war supplies upon the completion of the existing contract.
The Decision to Capture Hainan
and to Bring Pressure to Bear Upon French Indo-China
On 26 October 1938, after Arita's assumption of office as Foreign Minister, Japan complained that weapons were still being transported through French Indo-China to the Koumintang forces. The French authorities denied that the Yunnan railway was being used for this purpose, and refused to adopt the measures demanded by the Japanese.
Nevertheless, Japan continued to maintain that the Yunnan railway was being used to transport military supplies to China. On 9 December 1938, the Japanese Naval General Staff was, with Arita's approval, advised that the Foreign Ministry saw no objection to the
bombing of the railway within Chinese territory, in so far as operational circumstances might require it. It had previously been decided that the operational and political effects of this action would be very great; but that it would not cause "too much" alarm in France, Great Britain or the United States.
In keeping with this policy was a decision taken two weeks earlier at a conference of Five Ministers. On 25 November 1938, it was resolved by this body, of which War Minister ITAGAKI was a member, that the island of Hainan would, in case of necessity, be captured by military action. This Chinese island lay opposite to, and dominated, the coast of northern French Indo-China.
During the same period, Japan severed her remaining connections with the League of Nations. On 22 September 1938, Foreign Minister Ugaki had conveyed Japan's refusal to join the League committee set up to investigate the situation in China. A week after receipt of this reply, the League had resolved that individual nations should apply sanctions against Japan and should give all possible assistance to China.
The Severance of Japan's Relations with the League of Nations,
and Its Significance
On 2 November 1938, immediately following the announcement of the League resolution to apply sanctions, a Privy Council meeting was held. Among those in attendance were HIRANUMA, President of the Privy Council, Prime Minister
Konoye, Education Minister ARAKI, Welfare Minister KIDO and War Minister ITAGAKI.
The Investigating Committee reported that, since Japan's withdrawal from the League, she had voluntarily continued to participate in various subsidiary organisations and activities. However, the League had championed China's cause, and had now resolved to apply sanctions against Japan. Although no concrete action had yet been taken, Japan and the League would be in complete opposition, as long as the resolution stood. Therefore, Japan must sever all relations with the League; but would continue to rule the South Sea Islands in conformity with the provisions of the League Covenant, and the Mandatory Rules. She would, as before, furnish an annual report of her administration as a mandatory power. The Privy Council adopted the Investigating Committee's report, resolving unanimously that relations with the League of nations be severed.
This decision coincided with the first acknowledgements of Japan's intention to dominate East Asia. The Army's programme of expansion through military power was by its very nature a denial of the rights of the community of nations; and, as the scheme progressed, this fact was inevitably becoming more apparent. In the year 1933, the League's condemnation of the conquest of Manchuria had prompted Japan to renounce her membership of that body. In subsequent years, the leaders of Japan had consistently avoided an international commitment which was incompatible with
the execution of the Army's plans. Now that the objects of that planning had been in part attained, the leaders of Japan took the final step of withdrawal from the international community.
nevertheless, the Nine-Power treaty relating to China, and the provisions of the League Covenant relating to the islands of the South Seas, constituted two substantial commitments which were still binding upon Japan. These obligations Japanese spokesmen had professed to respect; for it was a principle of the national policy decision that Japan, while preparing for war, should "strive to maintain amicable relations with the Powers". The events of recent months in China had compelled Foreign Minister Arita to admit that his country no longer intended to observe the strict letter of treaties relating to the Orient. This new declaration of policy was attributed to the changed situation in the Far East, although Japanese aggression was responsible for the changes which had occurred.
Under the League Covenant, from which Japan derived her authority as a mandatory, the erection of military fortifications was forbidden in the South Seas area. The work of fortification, started three or more years earlier, was now proceeding at increased speed throughout the Japanese Mandated Islands. It was, however, still a closely guarded secret; and, where deceit was still practicable, the leaders of Japan resorted to it. the Privy Council reaffirmed Japan's intention to administer
these islands in accordance with the provisions of the League Covenant.
On 3 November 1938, the Konoye Cabinet issued an official policy statement concerning the future of "Greater East Asia". This declaration, made upon the day following the decision to sever relations with the League of Nations, described the advent of Japan's "new order" in the vague and grandiose terms which Okawa and other publicists had popularised.
Preparations for a Southward Advance,
and Araki Upon Japan's Ultimate Aims
It was inevitable, as those who framed the basic national policy decision had realised, that these developments would incur the enmity of the Western Powers. Already, Japan was mobilising her entire resources for the time when further expansion could be achieved only by recourse to war with these countries. Under cover of secrecy, a new navy was being built and naval bases were being prepared, for war in the Pacific. ,p> Nor was this preparation a mere defensive precaution against foreign intervention in the new empire which Japan was building upon the continent of Asia; for Japan had designs upon the territories of countries other than China and the Soviet Union. The basic national policy decision had set a second goal -- that of "developing in the South Seas, under the joint efforts of diplomatic skill and national defence".
Already, Japan was making preparations for a southward advance. Between May and December 1938, officials of the Japanese government were preparing to conduct a propaganda campaign in the Netherlands East Indies. It was planned to publish a newspaper in the Malay language with the avowed intention of preparing for Japan's "march to the south".
These ultimate aims of Japanese policy are reflected in a speech made at this time by Education Minister ARAKI. On 7 November 1938, four days after the Cabinet had issued its proclamation upon the future of "Greater East Asia", ARAKI gave a radio address, which marked the fifteenth anniversary of an Imperial Rescript upon the "Awakening of the National Spirit". ARAKI reviewed Japanese successes in China, which he characterised as one phase in the fulfillment of this Rescript; but he warned his audience that the fundamental question did not lie in the China Incident, which was merely a sign of the"new world peace". He expressed his belief that Japan was in a position to play an important role in the coming new world; and that she must therefore be prepared for any emergency. "Whatever Chiang Kai-shek or the world may say about us," he continued, "we must push forward, slowly but steadily, towards the construction of a new world, ever storing up the national strength, ever reflecting upon our own essence and ever eradicating the roots of evils, as the subjects of a glorious
country who is holding a heavy responsibility upon themselves at this dawn of a new world".
The achievement of these ultimate aims demanded that Japan should consolidate her hold upon China, and redouble her efforts to achieve the national mobilisation for war. In the pronouncements of November and December 1938, these immediate tasks were emphasized. The Konoye Cabinet, in its proclamation of 3 November 1938, announced that the National Government of China had been reduced to a local regime. As long as that government retained its pro-Communist, anti-Japanese policy, the statement continued, Japan would not lay down her arms until hit had been utterly destroyed; for Japan intended to establish here "new order" through collaboration with Manchukuo and the new China. On 29 November 1938, Foreign Minister Arita, in making a review of Japanese policy towards China, repeated these aims and intentions.
Japan's Immediate Aims:
The Establishment of the New Order in East Asia
and Preparedness for War With the Soviet Union
From these declarations it is apparent that the Cabinet still regarded the Soviet Union as the most immediate obstacle to the achievement of her ambitions. War with the Western Powers was now an ultimate probability; but the U.S.S.R. was the proximate enemy,
whose growing strength was a constant challenge to the Japanese goal of supremacy in East Asia.
On 22 December 1938, six days after the Asia Development Board had been established, Prime Minister Konoye issued an official statement which made the Cabinet's policy even more explicit. He reiterated once again his Cabinet's firm resolve "to carry on the military operations for the complete extermination of the anti-Japanese Koumintang government", while "proceeding with the work of establishing a new order in East Asia". Konoye went on to say that the existence of the Comintern influence in East Asia could not be tolerated; and that an agreement, in the spirit of the Anti-Comintern Pact, must be concluded with the new China and with Manchukuo. Japan, he said, would demand the right to station troops in the new China, in Manchukuo, and in Inner Mongolia, as an anti-Communist measure. China would also be expected to extend to Japan facilities for the development of her natural resources, particularly those in the areas of North China and Inner Mongolia.
There was nothing of irresolution in the tenor of Konoye's speech. yet, two days later, on 24 December 1938, the Prime Minister was once more talking of tendering his Cabinet's
The Resignation of the First Konoye Cabinet
4 January 1939;
and the Composition of the Hiranuma Cabinet
resignation. His period of office since 4 July 1937 had been marked by recurrent political crises, which had on several occasions prompted him to threaten to resign. Each threat had served only as a stimulus to the military faction, which had prevailed upon him to remain in office. On each occasion, opposition to the development of the Army's plans had been overridden. While Konoye was Premier, those plans had come to fruition. Japan had founded her "new order" on the Asiatic continent, and the national general mobilisation for war had been undertaken whole-heartedly.
Konoye, himself a consistent supporter of the Army's programme of conquest and preparation for war, had encountered little opposition to the execution of the general scheme; but the detailed measures taken to achieve the Army's aims had been subjected to recurrent criticism from within the Cabinet and without. In August 1938, Konoye had hoped to be placed at the head of a one-party system of government, in which the military faction would speak with one unchallenged voice. That hope, however, had not been realised.
It would seem that discontentment must again have been voiced by those who doubted the wisdom of some aspect of the Cabinet's present policies. As before, konoye was urged to retain the premiership. HIRANUMA, the President of the privy Council, advised him that in view of the existing situation in China, he should remain in office.
Welfare Minister KIDO and War Minister ITAGAKI met the Premier to discuss "the development of the scheme". Major-General SUZUKI, the newly appointed head of the Political Affairs Section of the Asia Development Board, believed that Konoye should carry on. This time, however, their solicitations were of no avail. On 4 January 1939, Konoye tendered the resignation of his Cabinet.
The ensuing change was a change in leadership only. The coterie of important political leaders, who had worked with Konoye to accomplish the aims of the basic national policy decisions, without exception remained in office. Konoye became President of the Privy Council; and HIRANUMA, whom he succeeded in that office, became the new Prime Minister.
War Minister ITAGAKI, Foreign Minister Arita, and Education Minister ARAKI retained their respective offices. KIDO became Home Minister in the new Cabinet, and SUZUKI retained his recently acquired positions as a member of the Information Bureau and as a section chief of the Asia Development Board.
Prime Minister HIRANUMA had held the presidency of the Privy Council from 13 March 1936, during the whole period since HIROTA's Cabinet first embarked upon the development of the Army's schemes. On 25 November 1936, he had attended the Council meeting, held in the Emperor's presence, at which the ratification of the Anti-Comintern Pact was unanimously approved. On 6 November 1937, he had presided over the Privy Council meeting which admitted Italy to
participation in that treaty. On 29 January 1937, HIRANUMA had presided over the meeting which resolved that the Japanese Mandated Islands might be placed under naval administration, because they had come to hold an important place in the defence of the Empire.
In January 1938, HIRANUMA expressed his approval of the long-range foreign policy formulated by Foreign Minister HIROTA, and supported HIROTA's view that the war in China must be fought to a finish. On 29 November 1938, little more than a month before HIRANUMA accepted the premiership, Foreign Minister Arita had explained in detail to the Privy Councilors his policy towards China, which, in all essential respects, embodied HIROTA's planning and the principles of the basic national policy decision.
On 2 November 1938, HIRANUMA, as President, presided over the Privy Council meeting which resolved unanimously to sever Japan's remaining connections with the League of Nations; and on 22 November 1938, he attended the Council meeting in the Emperor's presence at which the agreement for cultural cooperation between Japan and Germany was approved.
Even before the conquest of Manchuria, HIRANUMA had achieved a position of pre-eminence among the leaders of the military faction. During the decade before HIROTA's Cabinet came to power, he had held office as a Vice-President of the Privy Council. In July 1931, he was also the President of the Kokuhonsha, a secret society pledged to foster and exalt the spirit of the Japanese nation. Among the directors of this
organisation was Lieutenant-General KOISO, Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau, who three months earlier had been a party to an Army plot to overthrow the liberal Wakatsuki Cabinet.
This month of July 1931 was a critical time in the development of the Army's schemes. Already there was a sharp cleavage between the advocates of Army leadership and those who supported the Wakatsuki Cabinet. Two month later, the Mukden Incident occurred. In December 1931, ARAKI became, as War Minister, the active leader of the movement for military supremacy in Japan, and military domination in Manchuria.
In July 1931, ARAKI was recognised by the liberals as a man whose presence near the Emperor was dangerous. He also was a director of the Kokuhonsha, over which HIRANUMA presided. It is indicative of HIRANUMA's importance as a leader of the military faction that, at the very outset of Japan career of conquest and expansion, the most prominent members of that faction should look to him for leadership. Among the liberals, and even within the ranks of the Army, ARAKI was then regarded as a follower of HIRANUMA.
On 5 January 1939, when HIRANUMA became Prime Minister, Japan had embarked upon a programme of conquest and territorial expansion which could not readily be halted. The basic national policy decision required that the goal of self-sufficiency should be attained.
The Basic Causes of the Pacific War
Are to be Found in the Conquest of China
and that the entire strength of the nation should be mobilised for war. The resentment and apprehension which Japanese aggression in China had aroused in other nations made the completion of preparations for war more imperative than ever before; and this, in turn, called for the perfection of a war-supporting economy, freed from reliance upon foreign sources of materials. The vital need for self-sufficiency demanded the fulfillment of the second stage in the Army's planning, an advance to the south. The national policy decision had decreed that this step would be taken "under the joint efforts of diplomatic skill and national defence".
The growing impetus of the events which led, on 7 December 1941, to war between Japan and the Western Powers have yet to be considered. But the origins and pre-disposing causes of Japan's embroilment in the Second World War are to be found in the sequence of events which ended with the establishment of Japan's "new order" in the occupied areas of China.
On 29 November 1938, in the month in which the existence of the "Greater East Asia Sphere" was officially proclaimed, Foreign Minister Arita explained to the Privy Council Japan's policy towards China. There would, he said, be no peace with the Koumintang, unless it should abandon its resistance and merge itself with the "New Central Government of China". No proposal for mediation would be
accepted. When the time came, the settlement with the government of the "new China" would be based upon three principles which Prime Minister Konoye had enunciated.
These principles of "neighbourly friendship", of "joint defence against the Comintern" and of "economic cooperation", were derived from Konoye's earlier statements in justification of the action which Japan had taken in China. The consequences which flowed from them became basic issues in the 1941 diplomatic discussions between Japan and the United States. During these negotiations, which ended with the outbreak of the Pacific War, the three principles were never satisfactorily explained; yet Arita, in November 1938, was able to define with some degree of clarity the significance of each.
Using Arita's exposition as a basis, there may be traced the consistent development of the policy which guided Japan during the period which began before the conquest of Manchuria and which ended in war with the Western Powers.
By the first principle of "neighbourly friendship" was meant simply the mutual recognition of Japan, Manchukuo and the "new China", stress being laid upon positive cooperation and the removal of all causes of friction among the three countries. This
The Significance of Japanese Policy Towards China:
The Principle of "Neighbourly Friendship"
principle was, in short, merely the familiar concept of the "new order in East Asia". There was implicit in this statement the fundamental assumption of Japan's superior role in East Asia, and of her special rights and responsibilities in that area. This principle had formed the basis of every important Japanese policy declaration since the "Amau statement" of 17 April 1934. The failure of the United States to recognize the "reality of this situation" was, on the day the Pacific War began, alleged by the Japanese Government as the fundamental cause of hostilities between the two countries.
Arita cited as a corollary to this principle, Japan's refusal to permit foreign mediation of the war in China, and her withdrawal from international obligations. It has been seen that this long-standing policy had found expression only three weeks earlier, when Japan had severed her remaining connections with the League of Nations.
Arita now advised the Privy Council that, in view of the attitude of Great Britain, the United States and France "in interfering with Japan's policy towards China", Japan would endeavour to reject the idea of disposing of "the Chinese problem by the nine Power treaty and other collective machinery". The powers mentioned would, he said, be forced "individually to understand the facts of Japan's policy towards China, and either voluntarily to support our country's attitude
or at least to stand by idly", while relations between the Axis powers were strengthened and the China war disposed of rapidly.
The second of the Konoye Principles was that of "joint defence against the Comintern". It involved, said Arita, the cooperation of Japan, Manchukuo and the "new China" which Japan had created. They would conclude a military alliance and take measures for "joint defence". The needs of "joint defence" demanded the retention of Japanese military and supervisory rights over all transport and communication facilities, and the stationing of Japanese troops in North China and mongolia. Other Japanese troops would be withdrawn, but a garrison force would be kept in specified areas of South China, for the purpose of maintaining public peace and order. China would be required to contribute to their financial support.
The Significance of Japanese Policy Towards China:
The Principle of "Joint Defence Against the Comintern
Here was the first formulation of a claim which, in substantially the form in which Arita now presented it, became one of the three fundamental sources of disagreement in the 1941 discussions between Japan and the United States.
Arita cited an obvious corollary to the principle of "joint defence against the
Comintern". He said that "every possible measure" would be taken "for making the Soviet Union refrain from actively participating in the present affair". This consideration again served to emphasize the need for strengthened relations among the Axis powers.
Although the Tripartite Pact, which was to provide the second major source of disagreement in the 1941 discussions between Japan and the United States, was not concluded until 27 September 1940, the broad principles of such a treaty had already received the general approval of the Konoye Cabinet.
During the negotiations of 1941, Japan declined to indicate the nature or extent of her obligations as a signatory to the Tripartite Pact. Japanese leaders maintained, however, that their alliance with German y and italy was a defensive one. Yet, in this policy speech, made on 29 November 1938, Foreign Minister Arita spoke of the conclusion of a closer alliance among the three Axis powers as being one of the "great diplomatic measures" which Japan would take against Great Britain, the United States and France. By such measures these countries would be made to acquiesce in the establishment of Japan's "new order" upon the Asiatic continent.
"Economic cooperation" was the third of konoye's principles. Arita explained it as meaning reciprocity between Japan, Manchukuo, and the "new China" in making good deficiencies in the natural resources of each country. Special emphasis would be placed upon securing from North China those resources, especially mineral, in which Japan and Manchukuo were lacking; and for this purpose, the Chinese were to offer every facility. Japan would assist China in her programme of industrialisation, in establishing economic and financial policies, and in adopting a uniform system of customs. This policy, already in operation, had been clearly expressed in the Army's Plan for the Expansion of Important industries, issued on 29 May 1937. Japan, it had then been stated, "should pick out the most important resources, should take the initiative in the exploitation of North China, and should make efforts to secure its natural resources".
The Significance of Japanese Policy Towards China:
The Principle of "Economic Cooperation"
Arita now proceeded to define, in substantially the same terms which HIROTA had used six months earlier, Japan's policy towards third powers in carrying out the principles of "economic cooperation". Some restrictions in the operation of the "open door" principle had, he said, been imposed by military necessity. The guiding principles
would now be substantial control by Japan of the natural resources of North China and Mongolia; and the establishment, through control of China's currency and customs system, of a Japanese-Chinese-Manchukuoan bloc. "So long as the powers' rights and interests in China do not conflict with the foregoing two objects", he added, "we will not purposely exclude and restrict them." Further than that, Japan would settle "harmless individual cases" not affecting the superior position which she occupied in East Asia. It was Japan's policy, Arita said, to influence the Western Powers, not by unnecessary frictions, but by the "great diplomatic measures" already outlined. Moreover, Japan would welcome the participation of powers which, like Germany and italy, showed a friendly attitude towards here. The guarantee of rights and interests in China would provide a second means of influencing the Western Powers. Here, in fully-developed form, was the last of the three great obstacles to an agreement between Japan and the United States in 1941.
The basic national policy decision of 11 August 1936 had demanded, first and foremost, the achievement of two related aims. Japan, being already in possession of Manchukuo, would extend her dominion upon the Asiatic continent. Secondly, buy using the resources of China to supplement her own, Japan would make ready for war by augmenting her military strength, by expanding the production of war-supporting industries, and by eliminating reliance upon foreign sources of supply.
The Continuity of Japan's Economic and Industrial Preparations
for War During 1937 and 1938
The military successes gained in China during the latter half of 1938 had brought about the substantial achievement of the aim of territorial expansion in China. By providing a new field for economic exploitation and industrial development, and by reducing Japan's immediate military commitments, they had also enabled Japan to concentrate once more upon the attainment of the national mobilisation for war.
In 1936, the Army had planned that this mobilisation should be completed by 1941. With that purpose in view, the Army had made elaborate plans for the expansion of armaments and of war-supporting industries during the ensuing five-year period.
In February 1937, a five-year plan for Manchukuo was adopted and put into operation. In May and June 1937, the Army produced similar programmes for the repletion of armaments and
for the development of war-supporting industries within Japan itself. It was then planned that the whole economy and industry of Japan should be subjected to governmental control in order to achieve the complete mobilisation of Japan's resources in preparation for war. The Cabinet Planning Board, created in May 1937, had been charged with the supervision of this development.
With the revival of the China war at Lukouchiao on 7 July 1937, adoption of the Army's long-range mobilisation plans for Japan had been deferred. Under the Planning Board's supervision, production was developed piecemeal to meet the immediate demands of the Japanese armies in China. But the Army had adhered to its determination that the aims of the mobilisation programme should not be sacrificed. Of the vital materials which the Army controlled, only one-fifth were allocated to the prosecution of the war in China.
During 1937 and 1938, in spite of the increasing scale and intensity of military operations in China, the aims of the Army's long-range plans were steadily pursued. In January 1938, the Planning Board reinstated the five-year programme by producing an interim plan for that year only. In the following month, the Army secured the passage of the National General Mobilisation Law, which equipped the Cabinet with power to direct the entire resources and energies of the Japanese people to the achievement of preparedness for war.
When, in May 1938, a severe financial crisis
endangered the success of the mobilisation programme for Japan itself, the five-year plan for Manchukuo was revised, and its production goals were increased. The powers conferred by the Mobilisation Law were invoked, and the Army, in commenting upon the purposes of the law, reaffirmed its determination to proceed at all costs with the mobilisation programme.
Nevertheless, in July 1938, the objects of that programme were once more deferred to the need for consolidating Japan's position in China. The less urgent measures of war-supporting industrial expansion were postponed in order to ensure the supply of munitions and other materials vital to the success of a new military offensive. in October 1938, when Japanese control over the greater part of North and Central China was consolidated, the Konoye Cabinet had again given its full attention to the programme of economic self-sufficiency and the expansion of the industries of war. In the subjugated areas of China, there was instituted a programme of economic exploitation and industrial development similar to that which was already in operation in Manchukuo.
The speeches made by konoye, Arita and ARAKI during November and December 1938 reflected the Cabinet's determination to devote every effort to achieving the completion of the national general mobilisation.
The way was thus prepared for the reinstatement of the Army's five-year programmes of war-supporting industrial expansion. They had never been abandoned. In spite of the
demands made upon the Japanese economy by the war in China, the production goals established in the Army's 1937 planning had been exceeded. In January 1939, the month in which the HIRANUMA Cabinet succeeded that of Konoye, the Planning Board produced a new plan which embodied and brought up to date the aims of the Army's 1937 planning.
In January 1939, the HIRANUMA Cabinet, of which Arita, ITAGAKI, ARAKI and KIDO were also members, approved the plan for the expansion of productive power which the Planning BOard had prepared. Thus, for the first time, the aims and principles of the Army's 1937 economic and industrial planning received specific sanction from the Cabinet.
The Plan for War-Supporting Industrial Expansion
Approved by the Hiranuma Cabinet in January 1939
The new programme was designed expressly to secure the repletion of the national power of Japan. It demanded the continued exploitation of Japan's subject territories through the establishment of an integrated production expansion plan for Japan, Manchukuo and the rest of China. Like the 1937 plans, it aimed at the achievement within the area under Japanese domination of self-sufficiency in natural resources, so that Japan might, as far as possible, avoid dependence upon third powers in time of emergency.
As in the Army's 1937 planning, the greatest importance was attached to achieving self-sufficiency in materials and repletion of armaments by the year 1941, so that Japan might be prepared for the "epochal development" of her destiny in the future.
In the plan which the Army had produced on 28 May 1937, certain industries, considered essential to the requirements of war, had been selected for rapid expansion under governmental subsidy and control.
The 1939 programme, which was also restricted to those vital industries deemed to require rapid expansion under a unified plan, increased the production goals set in the earlier long-range programmes.
The ship-building industry, essential to lines of communication in time of war, had already undergone enormous expansion through the provision of subsidies ranging up to one-half of the building cost; but the new programme called for a further increase of more than 50% in gross tonnage by the year 1941. The infant light metal industries, vital to aircraft production, were singled out for further rapid and uneconomic expansion. The production of machine tools, for which Japan had depended largely upon importation from the United States, was to be more than doubled.
The five-year programme for Manchukuo had already placed great emphasis upon the exploitation of that area's coal resources; but the new programme demanded a further substantial increase, which could be achieved only by the payment of huge subsidies to submarginal producers. in the quest fo iron and steel, Japan had already resorted to submarginal production. Nevertheless, the Planing Board's programme of January 1939 aimed at total increases in indigenous production of over 50% in the case of steel and over 100% in the case of iron ore. The automobile industry,
already producing uneconomically 15,700 units a year, was required to increase that figure to 80,000 units annually by the year 1941.
Special attention was paid to the production of oil and petroleum, for which Japan was almost wholly reliant upon importation. A synthetic petroleum industry had already been established, and had proved very costly. Nevertheless, the new plan provided for increases of more than 600% in artificial heavy oil, and 2900% in the case of artificial motor spirit.
The "Plan for the Expansion of Productive Power" which the HIRANUMA Cabinet approved in January 1939 gave effect to measures which the Army had demanded on 19 May 1938 in its commentary upon the purposes of the National General Mobilisation Law. The Army had then proclaimed that the government should be equipped with long-range plans to meet the varying needs of the national mobilisation, so that the Army and navy should always be adequately equipped with the munitions of war.
Economic and Industrial Mobilisation for War
During the Period of the Hiranuma Cabinet
Industrial and military preparations were inter-related; and military successes would depend chiefly upon the systematic and effective mobilisation of the entire strength of the nation.
For this reason, production of war materials within Japan was to be increased at the expense of other industries, and all essential industries were to be unified under governmental direction. A National General Mobilisation Commission would administer the Mobilisation Law, and would assist the government in the formulation and execution of its plans.
The method of execution which the 1939 production expansion plan prescribed reflected the Army's planing. Circumstances, it was stated, demanded that the future expansion of productive power should be both rapid and intensive.
Therefore, the government would make effective use of the measures already taken for the promotion and control of essential industries; and would devise new measures for those industries selected for rapid expansion. It would supply skilled and unskilled labour, funds and raw materials, as they were required. For these purposes the Cabinet would, when necessary, utilise the powers conferred by the National General Mobilisation Law, or enact new legislation. The new plan was therefore a very important step towards the mobilisation of the Japanese nation in preparation for future wars.
During the first eight months of 1939, the HIRANUMA Cabinet gave effect to the measures which it had approved. On 25 March 1939, an effort was made to ensure the secrecy of the programme of war-supporting industrial expansion upon which Japan was then engaged. A law was passed which aimed "at the prevention of leakage of information to foreign nations concerning matters respecting the manpower and material resources which are to be employed for military purposes". Three days later, on 28 March 1939, Education Minister ARAKI became the President of the National General Mobilisation Commission.
In April 1939, there was passed a new law which provided further subsidies and exemptions for losses sustained in shipbuilding. New measures were taken to increase governmental control over this industry, and to standardise its products. The production and distribution of electric-power was made completely subject to governmental control and direction.
Control over the iron and steel industry was increased, and the flow of production was directed to especially favoured industries. All bulk sales of coal were made subject to government licence. The subsidies paid for the production of petroleum products and to other artificially created industries were increased.
In June 1939, it was reported in the official Tokyo Gazette that the give year programme for Manchukuo had yielded excellent results in the increased production of the iron and steel, coal and other war-supporting industries. In the same month, a new national policy company was created to exploit the magnesite resources of Korea.
While production for war purposes was expanded, the strength of the Army was increased. On 8 March 1939, the Military service Law was amended, lengthening the period of supplementary service required of both Army and Navy reservists. The Army and Navy were also given a further measure of control over war-supporting industry, as the Army's rearmament programme of 23 June 1937 had demanded. In July 1939, an Ordinance was promulgated empowering the War and Navy Ministers, each acting upon his own initiative, to commandeer selected types of business enterprise, which were vital to production for war. Through these and other measures, effect was given to the Army's plans for mobilising the manpower and resources of Japan in preparation for war.
The programme of economic and industrial preparation for war demanded above all other things the consolidation of Japan's dominion over China. In the speeches made by Foreign Minister Arita and other members of the first Konoye Cabinet during November and December 1938, the greatest emphasis had been placed upon Japan's determination to complete the conquest of China and to promote the development of the Japanese-dominated "Greater East Asia Sphere". The success of the programme for the expansion of war-supporting industries, approved by the HIRANUMA Cabinet in January 1939, called for the complete integration of Japan, Manchukuo and the rest of China.
The Hiranuma Cabinet's Policy Towards China,
and the Occupation of Hainan and the Spratley Islands
The pursuit of this design, while the first Konoye Cabinet was still in power, had brought about a marked deterioration in Japan's relations with the Western Powers. The provisions of the Nine-Power Treaty had consistently been flouted and measures had bene adopted to bring pressure to bear upon French Indo-China.
When, on 5 January 1939, the HIRANUMA Cabinet took office, these policies were maintained. On 21 January 1939, the new Prime Minister explained his Cabinet's policy before the Diet. HIRANUMA said that his Cabinet was determined at all costs to proceed to the achievement of Japan's final purpose in China.
Japan, Manchukuo and the rest of China must, he said, be speedily united, so that a "new order" might replace the old. Those Chinese who persisted in their opposition to Japan would be exterminated. The new Cabinet, said HIRANUMA, had taken the various measures necessary to ensure the achievement of this aim.
Thus, under the new Cabinet the policies which had deepened the estrangement between Japan and the Western Powers were maintained. The continuation of the war in China during the first six months of 1939 was accompanied by further instances of violence directed against the persons and properties of United States subjects.
Within the regions of China which had been subjugated, Japan continued to practice discrimination against the rights and interests of the Western Powers in violation of her obligations as a signatory to the Nine-Power Treaty.
On 10 February 1939, Japanese naval forces surprised and seized the Chinese island of Hainan. This abrupt action, which had been approved by the Five Minister's Conference on 25 November 1938, caused representations to be made immediately by Grance, Great Britain and the United States. It constituted a threat to French Indo-China, a country which the Japanese had repeatedly accused of offering assistance to the forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Nevertheless, the Japanese forces completed their occupation of the island; and, six weeks later, Japan moved further southward.
On 31 March 1939, the Japanese Foreign Ministry proclaimed the annexation of the Spratley Islands, a group of small reefs in the South China Sea. These island,s seven hundred miles to the south of Hainan, were far removed from the sphere of Japanese activity in China. They were, however, situated within four hundred miles of Saigon, in French Indo-China.
Since 1934, when OSHIMA was first sent to Berlin as Military Attaché, the Army regarded collaboration with Germany as essential. The policy of the military at this time was that an early attack on the U.S.S.R. was essential before the military power of the U.S.S.R., which was rapidly increasing under her successive Five-Year Plans, became too great. For the purposes of such an attack, an alliance with Germany against the U.S.S.R. was obviously desirable.
The Growing Demand for an Unconditional Axis Alliance
While the First Konoye Cabinet Was in Power
After the reorganisation of the first Konoye Cabinet, which occurred in May and June 1938, the Army controlled Cabinet policy, which was now directed towards completing the conquest of China, launching an attack on the U.S.S.R. before she became too strong, and hastening the completion of the national mobilisation for war. These were foremost aims of the basic national policy decisions. After the Japanese defeat at Lake Khassan in August 1938, War Minister ITAGAKI and other Army leaders decided that the projected war against the U.S.S.R. must be postponed. The Army's efforts were then centered for a time upon the conquest of China, on which in turn depended the fulfillment of the programme of economic and industrial preparations for war.
During the latter months of 1938, the work of conquering Chinese resistance and of developing China into an economic asset was
attended by a considerable measure of success. This was achieved at the expense of a pronounced deterioration in Japanese relations with Western Powers, which was inevitable.
The fixed determination of Cabinet and Army to violate the rights and interests of the Western Powers in China could no longer be concealed or excused. Japan's remaining connections with the League of Nations were severed. The establishment of the Great East Asia Sphere was announced.
Japan was inciting the opposition of the Western powers and a section of the military faction became more than ever insistent on a general military alliance with Germany and Italy.
In July 1938, OSHIMA, then Military Attaché in Berlin, proposed a new alliance between Germany and Japan. Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop at once made it clear that Germany desired a general military alliance, not an alliance directed solely or mainly against the U.S.S.R. Ribbentrop accompanied his statement with a note of his views on foreign policy which made it clear that Germany contemplated the likelihood of war between Great Britain and France and herself. OSHIMA, accepting Ribbentrop's view of the scope of the proposed alliance, himself outlined the provisions of the proposed alliance, which he thereupon transmitted to the Army General Staff. At the end of August 1938, OSHIMA was advised that both the Army and the Navy were in substantial agreement with the terms proposed. They wished, however, to make changes which would limit Japan's liability
under the proposed treaty, which would be regarded as an extension of the Anti-Comintern Pact, and would be directed chiefly against the Soviet Union. OSHIMA was warned that care should be taken to avoid giving the impression that the Western Powers were the principal enemies, and that Japan would not undertake an obligation to provide instantaneous or unconditional military aid. This would safeguard Japan from becoming automatically embroiled in a European War.
OSHIMA, however, interpreted this instruction by declaring to the Germans that Japan was ready to conclude a general military alliance. He ignored the instructions he had received that the proposed treaty should be regarded as an extension of the Anti-Comintern Pact and should be directed principally against the U.S.S.R., and gave the Germans to understand that the Japanese military leaders were in full accord with the proposal which Germany had made. The draft of the proposed military alliance which was settled by agreement between Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, von Ribbentrop and OSHIMA, was directed impartially against all third powers. Late in October 1938, OSHIMA, who had recently been appointed Ambassador in Berlin, conveyed this draft to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, of which Arita had recently assumed control. The Cabinet, without making a definite commitment, expressed general approval of the proposal, but stated Japan's desire that the new treaty should be directed principally against the U.S.S.R.
The Konoye Cabinet took no further positive steps to bring about the conclusion of
such a treaty.
In September and October 1938, SHIRATORI and OSHIMA were appointed Ambassadors in Rome and Berlin respectively. These two were in favour of a general military alliance with Germany and Italy.
Foreign Minister Arita desired a strengthened military relationship with Germany and Italy, but he wished also to maintain the semblance of friendly relations with the Western Powers. The Foreign Ministry advised OSHIMA that the proposed treaty would facilitate a settlement of the China war, would reinforce Japan's position against the U.S.S.R., thereby releasing troops for use elsewhere,e and would strengthen Japan's position internationally. Arita did not, however, signify his acceptance of the German draft. He advised OSHIMA that Japan would submit a counter-proposal.
On 25 November 1938, Arita told the Privy Council that it was Japan's policy to take every possible measure to make the U.S.S.R. refrain from intervening in Japan's activities in China. For this reason primarily, Japan desired to strengthen her relationship with Germany and Italy.
On 29 November 1938, the Konoye Cabinet's policy was clearly set forth by Arita. Japan would consolidate her position in China proper and Mongolia. Within the area she dominated, Japan would take all necessary steps to create a state of military preparedness for war with the Soviet Union. It was not, however, intended to seek to initiate an early war with the Soviet Union. Arita thus adhered to the position set forth in the basic national policy decision -- namely, that the Soviet Union was
the foremost enemy of Japan's schemes upon the Asiatic continent, which would almost inevitably lead in the end to war.
But Arita had also been obliged to take a stronger stand against the Western Powers. He said that, since Great Britain, the United States and France had interfered with Japan's policy towards China, Japan would avoid the use of international agencies in settling the dispute in China. Treaty obligations would be observed only in so far as they did not conflict with Japan's policy in China. The Western Powers would be made to acquiesce in, and voluntarily to support, Japan's policy in China, or at least to stand by idly while that policy was carried out.
For this reason, as well as in preparation for war with the U.S.S.R., relations between the Axis powers would be strengthened. It would mean, on the one hand, that the U.S.S.R. would be faced with the prospect of war on two fronts; and on the other hand, it would be a great diplomatic measure which would avert the risk of interference from the Western Powers in China. Arita did not, however, want an alliance which would embroil Japan in war with Great Britain and France at Germany's election. Such a war might also involve Japan in a Pacific War with the United States. Throughout the period in which the HIRANUMA Cabinet held office, the Navy strongly supported Arita, for the Navy was not ready for a Pacific War.
Therefore, Arita formulated the policy of closer relations with the Axis, which the Cabinet
desired, as a strengthening of the Anti-Comintern Pact, not as a general military alliance which was unnecessary for his limited purposes. Between November 1938 and March 1939, he made efforts to strengthen the substance of that pact, and to make other countries party to its provisions.
During the first four months of 1939, the gulf between Japan and the Western Powers was widening. Foreign Minister Arita himself had sanctioned the bombing of the Yunnan railway. Hainan and the Spratley Islands were occupied by Japanese forces. Preparations for the domination of the Netherlands East Indies and New Guinea were being made. The ned for oil and other raw materials indigenous in these areas was increasing. The interference with the treaty rights of the Western Powers in China was also growing. To make matters worse, the actions of the Army in China were deliberately aggravating the tension which existed with the Western Powers. For all of these reasons, the members of the HIRANUMA Cabinet now became anxious to conclude some sort of military alliance with Germany and Italy, and Arita, by April 1939, dropped his limited plan for a mere strengthening of the Anti-Comintern Pact. But the Cabinet still wished the alliance to forestall a war with the Western Powers, not to precipitate one.
Further Deterioration of Relations With the Western Powers
as an Added Reason for Strengthening Axis Relations
The issue which divided the HIRANUMA Cabinet was the degree of commitment which Japan should undertake in order to secure the conclusion of an alliance which all members of the Cabinet latterly came to desire.
Development of Difference in the Cabinet
During November and December 1938, OSHIMA continued to work for the conclusion of a general military alliance, to be directed against the U.S.S.R. and the Western Powers alike. SHIRATORI likewise worked for the conclusion of such an alliance. In Japan, Arita's policy of strengthening the Anti-Comintern Pact was followed.
In December 1938, Arita advised OSHIMA that the Foreign Ministry still desired the proposed alliance to be directed principally against the Soviet Union. A commission headed by Ito, a Foreign Ministry representative, was despatched to Italy and Germany for the express purpose of seeing that Japan should not be irrevocably committed to participation, should Germany become involved in war with the Western Powers. Both OSHIMA and SHIRATORi protested because this policy was contrary to the commitment which OSHIMA had already made to Germany. On 7 February 1939, after the Ito Commission had visited Rome, SHIRATORI warned the Italians that Japan would submit a new proposal -- presumably in line with Arita's policy -- which Italy should reject.
When the HIRANUMA Cabinet took office on 5 January 1939, it soon became apparent that ITAGAKI, who remained War Minister, supported SHIRATORI and OSHIMA in their demands for the conclusion of the general military alliance which Germany desired.
On 7 February 1939, Foreign Minister Arita reported to the Emperor that the Army General Staff had warned OSHIMA not to exceed his prerogative in dealing with the Germans; but, on the same day, the Army showed its unwillingness to submit to the Emperor's suggestion that the treaty be directed solely against the Soviet Union. This was a reversal of the attitude of the Army as set forth in the instructions to OSHIMA in August 1938. It had then been stated that both the Army and the Navy wished the proposed treaty to be regarded as an extension of the Anti-Comintern Pact and to be directed against the Soviet Union. Now the Army declared itself in favour of a general military alliance.
Both SHIRATORI and OSHIMA refused to communicate officially the proposals of the Ito Commission, which arrived in Berlin during February 1939. The two Ambassadors did, however, convey the Commission's instructions confidentially to Foreign Ministers Ciano and von Ribbentrop, and threatened to resign unless the German proposal was accepted by Japan.
Foreign Minister Arita was now acutely anxious as to the outcome of SHIRATORI's and OSHIMA's activities. On 13 February 1939, he complained indignantly that Ambassador OSHIMA had reported directly to the Army concerning the
proposed alliance, and that the Foreign Ministry had not even been notified. Arita said that, if he did not succeed in the strong stand which he had been driven to take against the Army, Japan's foreign policy would be a total failure.
At the Privy Council meeting of 22nd February 1939, which Prime Minister HIRANUMA and War Minister ITAGAKI attended, Foreign Minister Arita made clear his adherence to the policy that strengthened relations among the Axis Powers should be directed primarily against the Soviet Union. Arita said that, not only would the Anti-Comintern Pact be strengthened quantitatively by increasing the numbers of participating countries, but also it would be strengthened qualitatively by changes in the substance of the Pact, made by agreement among the three Axis Powers.
Arita's statement shows why neither the first Konoye nor the HIRANUMA Cabinet up to this point had taken any positive step to conclude the general military alliance which the Germans had proposed in August 1938. Germany desired a general military alliance directed against both the Soviet Union and the Western Powers. The official policy of Japan at this time was an alliance directed principally, if not exclusively, against the U.S.S.R., and for this purpose no new alliance was required. It was sufficient for Arita's purpose that the provisions of the Anti-Comintern Pact should be strengthened.
There now developed a struggle within
the HIRANUMA Cabinet. Foreign Minister Arita maintained the policy of the first Konoye Cabinet, and, while welcoming a treaty with the Axis directed against the Soviet Union, opposed the attempt being made to commit Japan to participation in a war between Germany and the Western Powers. War Minister ITAGAKI, on the other hand, championed the view that Japan should conclude the general military alliance which the Germans had proposed. It had now become clear that there was among the military a faction which placed the conclusion of a general military alliance with Germany above all other considerations, and that OSHIMA and SHIRATORI were acting with the knowledge and support of War Minister ITAGAKI in the interests of this faction.
On 10 March 1939, Arita expressed his willingness to accept the proferred resignations of Ambassadors OSHIMA and SHIRATORI, who had shown that their allegiance was to the Army, rather than to the Foreign Minister. Arita believed that Prime Minister HIRANUMA would support him in so doing; but no such decision was made.
ON 17 March 1939, ITAGAKI and Yonai, though completely at variance over the question of the proposed general military alliance with Germany and Italy, had made a joint declaration of Japanese policy before the Diet. The War and Navy Ministers were agreed that Japanese policy for the new period in Asia would undoubtedly cause friction with third powers. They resented the attitude of Great Britain, the Soviet Union
and France towards the China war, and stated that, unless those powers were ejected from China, settlement of that conflict would be impossible.
It was about this time, April 1939, that even Arita, under the stress of the deterioration of Japan's relations with the Western Powers, dropped his proposal that nothing but an agreement extending the Anti-Comintern Pact should be concluded.
During April 1939, Japan made a new counter-proposal to Germany and Italy which contained concessions to the view which the military faction advocated. The German draft was in part accepted, but it was stipulated that it should be given a limited interpretation, so that the suspicions of the Western Powers should not be unduly aroused.
OSHIMA and SHIRATORI again refused to communicate this proposal officially, though once more they advised the Germans and Italians that, if those countries should wage war against Britain and France, Japan would join in the war against the Western Powers.
Germany and Italy rejected the limited Japanese proposal above noted.
During this period, the members of the HIRANUMA Cabinet continued to hold many conferences in an attempt to settle their policy. OSHIMA's
The Military Faction resists a Cabinet Attempt
to Reach a Compromise Agreement with Germany: April 1939
and SHIRATORI's declaration that Japan would join Germany and Italy in war against the Western Powers intensified the opposition of Foreign Minister Arita, who reported to the Emperor that the two Ambassadors should be made to recant this assurance. The Emperor, agreeing with Arita, reprimanded War Minister ITAGAKI, who was resentful that the Emperor had been advised of his attitude.
HIRANUMA was placed in a dilemma between the views of the military faction, led by War Minister ITAGAKI, and those of Foreign Minister Arita, who was supported by the Emperor's advisors. HIRANUMA himself inclined to the Army's view, and wished to support it. Home Minister KIDO had advised him that it was desirable that the Emperor's views should correspond more closely with those of the Army. The whole Cabinet, desiring to strengthen Japan's relationship with Germany, was disposed to make concessions within the bounds which prudence dictated. The Army maintained that it did not desire Japan to become involved in an European War; but there was evidently no sincerity in this contention, for the Army wished to abrogate the secrete agreement annexed to the Anti-Comintern Pact. It was this agreement which limited Japan's obligation to render military assistance in the event of war against the Soviet Union.
The deadlock within the five Ministers' conference continued, Finance Minister Ishiwate supported War Minister ITAGAKI, and Navy Minister Yonai supporting Foreign Minister Arita.
In these circumstances, it was resolved, on 22 April 1939, that the Cabinet would adhere to the stand taken in its latest proposal. OSHIMA would continue to be used as the channel of communication with the Germans; and, if the negotiations should end unsatisfactorily, the Cabinet would resign.
Meanwhile, Germany and Italy had reached an agreement to wage war in Europe. On 16 April 1939, Goering and Mussolini had met in Rome. They had then decided that their two countries would await a favourable opportunity for initiating war against Great Britain and France. In the meantime, each nation would arm itself to the utmost extent, and would maintain a state of mobilisation for war. In the same month, von Ribbentrop warned both OSHIMA and SHIRATORI that, if the discussions for a pact between Germany and Japan were too prolonged, Germany might be forced to effect some sort of rapprochement with the Soviet Union. As it turned out, the HIRANUMA Cabinet continued to be unable to agree on the conclusion of a general military alliance with the Axis Powers, and Germany concluded a Non-Aggression Pact with the U.S.S.R. in August 1939.
After it became known that SHIRATORI and OSHIMA had refused to present the Japanese counter-proposal of April 1939, Home Minister KIDO's attitude had changed. Although he had previously advised HIRANUMA that every effort should be made to conclude an alliance with Germany, by 24 April 1939, KIDO considered that
there was no alternative but to recall the two Ambassadors, because of their continued support of a general military alliance and their disregard of contrary instructions from the Japanese Foreign Office. On the following day, urgent requests were received from OSHIMA and SHIRATORI themselves, demanding that they be recalled.
The situation was now critical. If the Cabinet did not succeed in strengthening Japan's relations with Germany and Italy, it would have failed in its purpose. If, on the other hand, the Cabinet acceded to Germany's demands, Japan would be committed to participation in any war which might eventuate between Germany and the Western Powers, which some members of the Cabinet did not at this time desire.
In these circumstances, the Cabinet decided to make a supreme effort to obtain an acceptable agreement with Germany and Italy. On 26 April 1939, it was decided that, in view of the insubordination of OSHIMA and SHIRATORI, HIRANUMA should make a direct approach to Hitler and Mussolini through the medium of the German and Italian Ambassadors in Tokyo. Prime Minister HIRANUMA would make a general appeal for collaboration among the Axis Powers. Foreign Minister Arita would explain to the Ambassadors the particular problems with which Japan was faced.
This personal message, which became known as the "HIRANUMA Declaration", was delivered by Arita with obvious reluctance to the German Ambassador in tokyo on 4 May 1939.
The "Hiranuma Declaration" of 4 May 1939
In this declaration, HIRANUMA expressed his admiration for Hitler's work in Germany, and advised that he was similarly engaged in the work of maintaining Japan's "New Order in East Asia". HIRANUMA expressed hist satisfaction with the affect of the Anti-Comintern Pact in making possible the execution of the tasks which Germany and Japan had before them. He said that he now had in view the conclusion of an agreement which would strengthen the Anti-Comintern Pact, and make closer the cooperation of Germany, Italy and Japan. "As far as the strengthening of our relations is concerned", he continued, "I can affirm that Japan is firmly and steadfastly resolved to stand at the side of Germany and Italy even if one of those two powers were attacked by one or several powers without the participation of the Soviet Union, and to afford them political and economic aid and, to the extent possible to her power, military assistance".
HIRANUMA then added the saving clause which represented Arita's policy. "Japan is ready", he said, "in accordance with the provisions of such an agreement, to take up the military support of Germany and Italy;
however, Japan is, in view of the situation in which it now finds itself, neither presently nor in the near future able to extend to them in a practical manner any effective military aid. However, it goes without saying that Japan would gladly grant this support it is should become possible through a change of circumstances".
HIRANUMA asked for express confirmation that this reservation was acceptable, and asked also for caution in explaining the objects of the proposed alliance.
The HIRANUMA Declaration conceded something to Germany and the military faction in Japan, but the provision that Japan should not be bound to give immediate military aid to Germany if she became engaged in war against the Western Powers was important. The declaration was ignored, not only by the Germans and Italians, but also by Ambassadors OSHIMA and SHIRATORI.
The situation within the Cabinet was one of unresolved conflict. Foreign Minister Arita and Navy Ministers Yonai were vehemently opposed to the conclusion of an alliance which would commit Japan to fighting the Western Powers, whenever Germany might elect to initiate such a war. War Minister ITAGAKI and Finance Minister Ishiwata wanted complete solidarity with the Axis. Among the other members of the Cabinet, there were all shades of opinion. Home Minister KIDO sympathised with the Army's whole-hearted attempt to conclude a tripartite military alliance, but saws the dangers into which such an alliance might lead Japan. Overseas Minister KOISO, although a staunch supporter of the Army's
schemes of aggrandisement, inclined to Arita's view, believing that, when Japan's relationship with Germany had been strengthened in a limited manner, great Britain would be induced to arrange a satisfactory settlement of the China war.
The decisive voice was that of Prime Minister HIRANUMA, who was disposed to favour the Army's policy, and to excuse the disobedience of OSHIMA and SHIRATORI. His declaration of 4 May 1939 revealed his Cabinet's eagerness to conclude an alliance which would supplement Japan's own preparations for war, and make possible the achievement of the goal of expansion through military power.
But the formula which HIRANUMA adopted revealed also a continuing fundamental difference of opinion as to the form which the proposed alliance should take, and the purposes which it might be expected to fulfil.
In the Japanese proposal of April 1939, and again in the HIRANUMA declaration of 4 May 1939, the Cabinet made new concessions to the German demand for a general military alliance. but the military faction continued to support Germany in demanding nothing less than full Japanese participation in an alliance which was now known to be directed in the first instance against the Western Powers.
The Deadlock Continues
The HIRANUMA declaration had not eliminated the essential difference between Arita's policy and that of War Minister ITAGAKI
and the military faction. Both factions within the Cabinet acknowledged that the national policy of domination in China, and penetration into the countries of South-East Asia, would stiffen the opposition of the Western Powers. Arita, still regarding the Soviet Union as the principal enemy of Japan's "new order" in East Asia, desired an alliance directed primarily against that country, believing that such an alliance among the Axis Powers would also deter the Western Powers from interfering with the execution of the above-mentioned national policy.
But the military faction, no longer obsessed with the prospect of immediate war with the U.S.S.R., had come to believe that the success of all the Army's expansionist aims depended, not only upon the mobilisation of Japan for war, but also upon complete unity of purpose among the Axis Powers. The Western Powers stood between Japan and the goal of expansion southwards. They were relentlessly opposed to the aggressive war in China which the Army had waged. They controlled the vital raws materials upon which the success of the mobilisation for war depended. They must, in the view of the military] faction, be restrained from opposing Japan's national policy of expansion by the threat which a general alliance among Japan, Germany and Italy would constitute.
Von Ribbentrop had pointed out the advantages which Japan would gain, if the Western Powers should be defeated by Germany and Italy in the coming year. It had therefore become the
cardinal feature of Army policy to demand a complete and unconditional military alliance. Since German policy had changed, and an attack on the Western Powers had now been determined on, the military faction was content that such an alliance should in the first instance be directed, not against the Soviet Union, but against the Western Powers.
During the month of May 1939, immediately after the HIRANUMA declaration had been made, the Army faction renewed its efforts to achieve the conclusion of a general military alliance. Ott, the German Ambassador in Tokyo, reported that HIRANUMA had made his declaration in an attempt to counteract any doubts which might have arisen in Rome and in Berlin concerning Japan's readiness to go as far as possible in reaching a satisfactory compromise. He undertook to attempt to ascertain the Army's attitude towards the declaration.
Hiranuma Supports a Military Conspiracy
to Conclude an Unconditional Axis Alliance
Two days later, on 6 May 1939, Ott was able to report the view of Army General STaff officers who were acting in direct accordance with the policy of War Minister ITAGAKI. THe Army considered that HIRANUMA's declaration represented the best offer that could be hoped for in prevailing circumstances. Nevertheless, the Army intended that the working of the declaration, which made effective Japanese military aid against the Western Powers conditional upon an unspecified "change in circumstances", should be clarified and strengthened.
The War Vice-Minister had told Ott that the treaty would definitely bind Japan to the Axis powers, though Japan's relative isolation would place her at a disadvantage in offering direct cooperation. The Navy, however, had maintained its opposition to the policy expressed in the HIRANUMA declaration, and throughout the entire government a deep cleft had formed
between friends and enemies of the alliance.
Von Ribbentrop said that, although Japanese procrastination had made necessary a separate agreement between Germany and Italy, negotiations for a tripartite alliance would be in no way prejudiced. He also made it clear to OSHIMA that the immediate use of the new alliance would be against the Western Powers, saying that Germany and Italy had been compelled to act because they were directly face to face with France and Great Britain.
On 6 May 1939, the day after the HIRANUMA declaration reached Germany, OSHIMA again defied Foreign Minister Arita's instructions. Von Ribbentrop, then on his way to Italy to discuss the bi-lateral alliance, had asked whether, in the event of Germany or Italy going to war with a third nation, it would be permissible to regard Japan also as being in a state of war, even if no military aid should be forthcoming from that country. OSHIMA, without referring to the terms of the HIRANUMA declaration,, informed Arita that he had replied affirmatively. Arita was exceedingly indignant that such an assurance should have been given without authority, and was the more distressed because he realised that Prime Minister HIRANUMA was disposed to support the Army, rather than to assume a neutral attitude.
On the following day, 7 May 1939, the Five Ministers' conference, no almost continuously in session, met to consider OSHIMA's report. As expected, Prime Minister HIRANUMA supported War Minister ITAGAKI and upheld OSHIMA's answer to von Ribbentrop.
Meanwhile, on 6 May 1939, an official of the German Foreign Ministry had made a new unofficial proposal, containing the demands which Japan had previously rejected, and making no reference at all to the HIRANUMA declaration. Foreign Minister Arita found, upon investigation, that the draft of this proposal had been submitted by the Japanese Army to the German Foreign Ministry. Arita disclaimed responsibility for the consequences of this military conspiracy, but Prime Minister HIRANUMA persisted in his support for the military faction.
On 9 May 1939, two days after the meeting at which HIRANUMA had upheld OSHIMA's assurance of Japanese participation in any war in which Germany or Italy was engaged, the Five Ministers' Conference met to consider the unofficial German Foreign Ministry proposal, which was known to have been instigated by the military faction in Japan.
Many Minister Yonai strenuously objected to this proposal, saying that it had not been made officially, and that no reply to the HIRANUMA declaration had been received. HIRANUMA waived this objection, and maintained that the German attitude was sufficiently explained by the report of OSHIMA's assurance that Japan would participate, though perhaps not actively, in any war involving Germany and Italy.
HASHIMOTO was the first to expound these aims publicly. While the conflict within the Cabinet continued, he wrote a series of newspaper articles, designed to rally public support for the Army's policy In these articles, six of which were published between 1 May 1939 and 20 July 1939, HASHIMOTO revealed the changed policy of the military faction. Although he regarded both the Soviet Union and the Western Powers as the enemies of Japanese policy in China, it was his constant theme that Great Britain was Japan's foremost enemy.
Hashimoto Supports the Aims of the Military Faction
HASHIMOTO said that the China war would not be ended until Great Britain and the U.S.S.R., the countries which supported Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, had been destroyed. He regarded Great Britain as the chief opponent of Japanese aims in China, and advocated an attack on that country, saying that when Britain was overthrown, the Soviet Union would be left isolated.
Therefore, HASHIMOTO insisted that Japan must defend herself against the Soviet Union, while advancing southward against the Western Powers. He insisted that Japan's destiny lay in the sought, and that there, as in China, it was Great Britain which blocked the progress of Japanese expansion. Again and again HASHIMOTO exhorted Japan to attack Great Britain, saying that in the existing circumstances it would be easy for Japan to vanquish that country. He advocated the capture of Hongkong, and the seizure of the British concessions at Shanghai
and Tientsin. He expressed his belief that the Japanese Air Force could annihilate the British fleet before it was able to reach Singapore. In the lst of this series of articles, published on 20 July 1939, HASHIMOTO observed with satisfaction that public opinion in Japan had at length taken an anti-British turn.
For the reasons he had given, HASHIMOTO demanded the conclusion of the tripartite alliance which the military faction had demanded. He said that, although HIRANUMA and Arita desired to strengthen relations with Germany and Italy, they had through fear of Great Britain hesitated to conclude a general military alliance. He therefore urged the formation of a strong wartime Cabinet which would not hesitate to act.
HASHIMOTO believed that Japan's schemes of aggrandisement through military power should be achieved by acting in concert with Germany and Italy. He said that, since it was the policy of these countries to destroy Great Britain, the interests of the Axis Powers were identical. Therefore, he demanded that Japan should immediately expand and strengthen her relations with Germany and Italy, so that democracy as well as communism would be included as an object of attack. If we strengthen our collaboration, he said, it will be easy to put an end to Great Britain and France. In Europe, Germany and Italy would destroy both democracy and communism; and in the East,k extended at least as far as India, Japan would destroy the countries which were founded on these principles.
Japan's failure to agree to the German proposal for a general military alliance gave rise to grave dissatisfaction in Germany and Italy.
Hiranuma Continues to Support the Demands
of the Military Faction
On 15 May 1939, von Ribbentrop cabled Ambassador Ott in Tokyo, instructing him to bring the need for a quick decision to the Ambassador's confidante in the War Ministry; and, if possible, to War Minister ITAGAKI himself. Ott was to say that the conclusion of the alliance which Germany and Italy desired would be the best way to keep the United States from making war on the side of Great Britain and France. He would also point out that it must be understood by Japan that her supremacy in East Asia, and particularly in China, depended first on the superiority of the Axis powers over the Western Powers.
Von Ribbentrop told OSHIMA that, although Germany and Italy would conclude a bi-lateral agreement, the way would still be open for Japanese participation. He impressed upon OSHIMA the desirability of formulating secretly an agreed version of the proposed tripartite alliance simultaneously with the conclusion of the agreement between Germany and Italy.
War Minister ITAGAKI was determined that the alliance should be concluded immediately in the manner which OSHIMA and the Germans desired. On 20 May 1939, he promised von Ribbentrop, through OSHIMA, that Germany should have a positive new decision from the Japanese Cabinet by the following day at the latest.
On 20 May 1939, the Five Ministers' Conference again met, after War Minister ITAGAKI and navy Minister Yonai had made separate reports to Premier HIRANUMA. Foreign Minister Arita proposed that OSHIMA should be made to retract his affirmative declaration that Japan would participate in any Axis war. HIRANUMA, however, was evasive and declined to make him retract it. Although the Prime Minister was asked repeatedly to rescind Ambassador OSHIMA's words, he maintained the attitude that OSHIMA's statement of the position was satisfactory. When the conference adjourned, matters stood as they had before. The difference of opinion was unresolved. ITAGAKI's undertaking to reach a positive new decision had not been fulfilled. Two days later, on 22 May 1939, the German-Italian alliance was concluded.
After the conference on 29 May 1939, Foreign Minster Arita sent specific instructions to OSHIMA that the Japanese government wished to reserve its right of entrance into a state of war in case of a European conflict. OSHIMA refused to communicate this information and told Arita so in a bluntly-worded telegram. SHIRATORI, in Rome, pursued the same course as OSHIMA. The dispute now hinged upon the real meaning of the HIRANUMA declaration. The Army said that it included participation in war; Foreign Minister Arita and the Navy said it did not. The Emperor supported Arita and protested against the Army's policy. But on 22 May 1939, Prime Minister HIRANUMA again supported the Army's interpretation,
saying that the matter should be conducted in the way the Army wanted it done.
War Minister ITAGAKI was now firmly resolved to fight the matter out quickly even at the risk of a Cabinet overthrow. Although OSHIMA, as Japanese Ambassador in Berlin, was responsible to the Foreign Ministry, ITAGAKI instructed OSHIMA to send no further communications to Foreign Minister Arita. ITAGAKI desired that the factions within the Cabinet should be left to settle among themselves the question of the proposed military alliance. These developments OSHIMA explained confidentially to von Ribbentrop.
Itagaki Attempts to Force the Conclusion
of an Alliance With Germany and Italy
On 28 May 1939, von Ribbentrop passed this information on the Ambassador Ott in Tokyo, instructing him to treat OSHIMA's information as confidential Ott was required to bring further pressure to bear in order to secure a quick decision. He was instructed to convey to the appropriate authorities Germany's and Italy's dismay that ITAGAKI's promise of a definite reply by 21 May 1939 had not been kept. On 5 June 1939, Ott reported to von Ribbentrop information which he had received from Foreign and War Ministry officials. The Army and Navy were said to have [come] to an understanding, the Army having prevailed upon all issues. HIRANUMA and Arita were stated to have acquiesced in this understanding, which was shortly to be communicated
to Berlin and Rome through diplomatic channels. According to Ott's informants, Japan had agreed to participate in the war against Great Britain and France, though she wished to reserve the right to enter the war at a favourable time.
The communication which Ott had heralded was not forthcoming, because the agreement, which the Army's supporters claimed had been reached, was not a real one. Whatever concessions the Navy had made, it remained opposed to the essentials of the Army's plan. The alleged agreement had been obtained with the support of HIRANUMA, in part through the forcefulness, and in part through the duplicity of War Minister ITAGAKI.
The Emperor had continued to support the policy of Foreign Minister Arita. ITAGAKI had attempted to overcome that obstacle in the same manner in which, in July 1938, he had attempted to obtain the Emperor's consent to the use of force at Lake Khassan. He had falsely represented to the Emperor that Foreign Minister Arita had come to favour the alliance which the Army desired. The Emperor, however, had discovered that he had been tricked, and on 7 July 1939, he taxed ITAGAKI with deliberate falsehood and severely rebuked him.
Throughout June and July 1939, no new Japanese communication reached Germany. The alliance which the military faction desired could not be concluded as long as the Emperor, the Navy and the Foreign Minister maintained their opposition to it. ITAGAKI recognised this, for on 23 July 1939, he enquired of Konoye,
the President of the Privy Council, whether the Emperor's mind could not be changed. Konoye replied that he considered that it would be very difficult to accomplish this.
ITAGAKI did not, however, relinquish his aim. On 4 August 1939, he advised Home Minister KIDO that he would resign, if the Cabinet did not agree to the conclusion of a tripartite military alliance.
Meanwhile, the Army's activities in China and upon the Manchukuoan border had increased the Cabinet's difficulties. Both factions within the Cabinet had maintained their determination to consolidate Japan's position in China, and to resist any country which opposed that aim. On 6 July 1939, War Minister ITAGAKI and Navy Minister Yonai once more expressed their firm determination to put an end to Chinese resistance. The two service Ministers said that the interference of third powers, which supported the forces of Generalissimo chiang Kai-shek, must be crushed, and exhorted the Japanese people to spare no pains in striving fo the attainment of Japan's "new order" in East Asia.
The Cabinet's Difficulties Were Increased by
the Army's Activities in China, and by the
Attack on the Soviet Union on Nomonhan
At attempt was being made to establish a new puppet government for the whole of occupied China, and the Army, in carrying out
this policy, had abandoned all pretence in its attacks upon the rights and interests of the Western Powers.
Furthermore, the Army, in accordance with plans made in the latter half of 1938, was endeavouring to include Outer Mongolia within the sphere of Japanese domination. Since January 1939, when the HIRANUMA Cabinet had taken office, Japanese armed detachments had on several occasions carried out skirmishing raids across the Outer Mongolian border.
More important than these border raids was the action which began at Nomonhan during May 1939. While the leaders of the military faction were striving for the conclusion of a general military alliance with Germany and Italy, units of the Kwantung Army once more attacked the Soviet forces stationed upon the Manchukuoan border. This action, which will be described more fully in a later section of this judgment, developed into a campaign of considerable magnitude, and ended during September 1939 ion the defeat of the Japanese forces engaged.
There is no evidence before this Tribunal to show whether the attack at Nomonhan was made upon the instructions or with the connivance of the Army General Staff, or whether, as on earlier occasions, the initiative was taken by the Kwantung Army itself. The Cabinet, pre-occupied with the question of the proposed military alliance with Germany, and already hopelessly divided, appears to have regarded the campaign as an Army matter, and to have made no attempt at intervention.
It is, however, certain that this conflict with the Soviet Union brought about no change in the views of either faction within the HIRANUMA Cabinet. During the whole period that the fighting continued, War Minister ITAGAKI and the military faction strove to conclude an alliance with Germany aimed primarily against Great Britain and France. Foreign Minister Arita, Navy Minister Yonai and their supporters struggled with equal determination to avoid the conclusion of an alliance which would commit Japan to immediate participation in war against the Western Powers.
These military activities increased the sense of urgency which attended the Cabinet's deliberations. The whole situation was summed up in the words used by the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal on 7 July 1939, on the occasion when the Emperor reprimanded ITAGAKI. The Lord Keeper then said, "The Army is confused and everything is lost". He regarded the position as tragic and lamented that the Army was going to destroy the nation. The members of the Cabinet were still agreed that the situation demanded some kind of an alliance with Germany and Italy.
Nevertheless, throughout June and July 1939, the continued disagreement between the military faction and those who supported Foreign Minister Arita prevented any new step being taken, and
The Opposing Policies of Arita and the Military Faction
Prevented any New Step Being Taken During June and July 1939
from June to August 1939, there was no new development in the negotiations with Germany, or in the unresolved conflict within the HIRANUMA Cabinet.
In August 1939, ITAGAKI knew that war in Europe was imminent. He was also apprehensive lest Arita's policy should gain a measure of success which would preclude any possibility of obtaining the HIRANUMA Cabinet's agreement to an unconditional tripartite alliance of the Axis Powers.
Arita, fearful of the consequences of such an alliance, attached great importance to concluding with Great Britain an arrangement which would secure Japan's position in China. He was making overtures to the British Ambassador, Craigie, with that end in view. ITAGAKI knew that the suggestion that Japan might conclude a tripartite alliance was being used by Arita as an inducement to secure British cooperation in his alternative policy.
To counteract this effort, ITAGAKI made a further attempt to secure the Cabinet's agreement to the German proposal for an unconditional military alliance. He recognized the danger of a popular reaction in Japan in favour of an economically
The Hiranuma Cabinet Attempts to Decide Its Policy
Regarding an Alliance with Germany, 8 August 1939
tempting settlement with Great Britain. On 4 August 1939, ITAGAKI discussed the position with Home Minister KIDO, who, while disapproving the open manner in which OSHIMA and SHIRATORI had subordinated Japan's interests to those of Germany and Italy, had consistently favoured the Army's viewpoint, and had attempted to induce the Navy to abandon its opposition.
ITAGAKI told KIDO that he would resign if the Cabinet did not agree to the conclusion of the military alliance with Germany and Italy. This would inevitably result in the downfall of the Cabinet. KIDO was apprehensive of any Cabinet change in the existing circumstances, and convinced ITAGAKI that any attempt to form a military administration should be resisted. ITAGAKI agreed that a solution to the deadlock between Army and Navy should once more be sought.
Accordingly, on 8 August 1939, after the Five Ministers had again discussed the question, the Cabinet met to consider what action should be taken. Prime Minister HIRANUMA had withdraw somewhat from his position of complete acquiescence in the Army's plans. He pointed out that his Cabinet had all along been making efforts to conclude an alliance among the Axis Powers. He said that War Minister ITAGAKI had the day before claimed that the Army too had merely been making efforts to bring to fruition the prearranged plan; but HIRANUMA, for his part, could not think that that was the case. The Premier then invited other Cabinet members to speak.
The consensus of opinion within the Cabinet was that changes in the situation necessitated an alliance which was both offensive and defensive.
Although Japan would first try to conclude a defensive alliance, as had originally been planned, if that could not be done, an offensive and defensive alliance would be concluded. No attempt was made to define what limitations would be placed upon the offensive and defensive alliance; but Foreign Minister Arita considered that the Cabinet's agreement fell short of the unconditional alliance which ITAGAKI had demanded. Either the War Minister would have to resign, or the Cabinet would have to reach a further agreement.
ITAGAKI, for his part, made, at this moment of general anxiety and disillusionment, a confession of the role which he himself had played. He said that he was both War Minister and a member of the Cabinet. In the latter role, he had concurred in the plan which the whole Cabinet approved; but as War Minister, he had acted independently in accordance with the consensus of opinion within the Army.
The Cabinet meeting of 8 August 1939 did not produce the positive decision which War Minister ITAGAKI and the military faction desired. The Cabinet, while recognising the need for an offensive and defensive alliance, declined to make any greater commitment than that made by ITAGAKI on 5 June 1939, that Japan would reserve the right to enter any war between Germany and the Western powers at a favourable time, nor indeed did the Cabinet specifically endorse this previous offer.
The German-Soviet Neutrality Pact of 23 August 1939
Caused the Downfall of the Hiranuma Cabinet
ITAGAKI thereupon determined to attempt
once more a tour de force. He told Ott the position, and said that circumstances were so compelling that he had resolved as a last resort to risk his resignation. This would almost certainly entail also the resignations of OSHIMA and SHIRATORI. It was hoped that these resignations would in the long run produce the alliance which Germany and the japanese Army wanted, but it was recognised that their immediate result would be a violent setback to those plans.
On 10 August 1939, ITAGAKI asked Ott to advise Germany and Italy of the serious state of tension which prevailed, and to ask them to help by making concessions. Specifically, ITAGAKI proposed that Germany and Italy accept the proposal of 5 June 1939, together with a guarantee that there were no mental reservations behind the condition made by Japan as to choosing her moment of entry into the war. ITAGAKI would then obtain express confirmation of the guarantee given. The agreement would be reached without advising the Foreign Ministry. OSHIMA and SHIRATORI would act upon ITAGAKI's instructions, and the Cabinet would be confronted with an arrangement which fell within the decision tentatively reached on 8 August 1939.
Ott transmitted all the foregoing information to Germany, and urged his government to accede to ITAGAKI's request. Ott pointed out that it was of prime importance to Germany to buttress the Army's domestic political position, since the Army was the foremost advocate of the alliance which Germany desired. Furthermore, Ott felt that such a concession would restore the whole government to its decision to seek a
German alliance, and would avoid the Cabinet's overthrow. On 18 August 1939, Ott reported that the conflict between ITAGAKI and Arita was still raging. ITAGAKI's position was reinforced by the pressure of junior military officers who were demanding an unconditional military alliance, but the Five Ministers' Conference would go no further than the offer transmitted unofficially to Germany on 5 June 1939. The Army was pursuing its alliance policy independently of the outcome of Arita's negotiation with Great Britain.
Five days later, on 23 August 1939, the German-Soviet Neutrality Pact was signed. On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland; and on 3 September 1939, in consequence of this action, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. Germany had not made the concessions which ITAGAKI had asked, and the opportunity for the War Minister's attempted tour de force had failed. But the occasion called for more than the resignation of the War Minister. The Cabinet's policy also had been completely discredited. Cabinet and nation had looked to Germany as an ally against the U.S.S.R. The Cabinet had from its very inception been pledged to achieving a more intimate relationship between Japan and the Axis powers. After meeting on 28 August 1939, and acknowledging the failure of their policy, the HIRANUMA Cabinet resigned en bloc. The collapse of the cabinet's pro-German policy made possible the pursuit of a modus vivendi with the Western Powers--the policy which ITAGAKI had feared.
The Emperor summoned General Abe to form a new Cabinet, and gave him certain instructions. Either HATA or UMEZU was to be the new War Minister. Discretion was to be used in appointing Home and Justice Ministers, as the maintenance of public order was of supreme importance. The foreign policy of the new Cabinet was to be that of cooperation with Great Britain and the United States.
The Abe Cabinet Takes Office, 30 August 1939
Obedience to this last instruction demanded the reversal of the foreign policy pursued by the first Konoye and HIRANUMA Cabinets; and this fact explains the necessity for the other instructions which the Emperor gave. The new War Minister would need to be someone who enjoyed the confidence of, and was able to control, the Army, and the success of the new policy would depend primarily on the ability of the Home and justice Ministers to control the confused reactions of the Japanese public to the sudden reversal of their country's foreign policy.
Abe, in some perplexity, reported the Emperor's instructions to Konoye, then President of the Privy Council, who in turn informed KIDO, the outgoing Home Minister. KIDO advised Konoye, who agreed, that if Abe were to follow the Emperor's choice as to the selection of a War Minister, there was danger of a clash with the military. The Emperor should therefore convey this instruction to the Army itself or to the outgoing War Minister, and should allow the three Army Chiefs to select the new War
Minister in the accustomed manner. As to the other Imperial instructions, KIDO considered that Abe might use his own discretion. These opinions KIDO asked Konoye to convey to Abe.
The Abe Cabinet, which was formed on 30 August 1939, contained no member of the out-going administration. HATA became the new War Minister. SHIRATORI was, at his own request, recalled from Rome. On 5 September 1939, the Kwantung Army announced the termination and failure of the frontier war against the U.S.S.R. at Nomonhan. Two day later, UMEZU, the Emperor's other candidate for the post of War Minister, became Commander-in-Chief of the Kwantung Army. The conduct of foreign affairs, at first assumed by Abe himself, was assigned to Admiral Nomura.
Under Nomura's direction, the Cabinet's foreign policy attempted to improve Japan's relations with the Western Powers. No effort was made to seek a rapprochement with Germany and Italy. No steps were taken for a Japanese incursion into South-East Asia. A bombing incident in French INdo-China, which had occurred during the last days of HIRANUMA's premiership, was settled and an indemnity paid by Japan.
But the desire for better relations with the Western Powers implied no abandonment of the goal of Japanese domination of China. This was the basic tenet of Japanese national policy. The Abe Cabinet desired the acceptance by the Western Powers of the "new order" in East Asia which Japan had created.
This policy is illustrated by the conversation held between Foreign Minister Nomura and the French Ambassador on 30 November 1939. Nomura told Ambassador Henri that Japan shared France's desire to restore friendly relations between the two countries. He expressed appreciation for the concessions which France had recently made. Nomura pointed out, however, that, while Japan was straining every effort to overthrow Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's regime, France was continuing to support Chinese resistance. Furthermore, french territories in the Pacific, and particularly French Indo-China, were maintaining economic barriers against Japan. If France really desired a rapprochement with Japan, she should, said Nomura, abandon equivocal action, sever relations with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's regime, and adopt an attitude in sympathy with Japan's attempt to settle the "China Incident".
Nomura told Henri that large quantities of ammunition were still reaching the Chinese National Government's forces through French Indo-China, and that that French colony had become a base of pro-Chinese and anti-Japanese activities, and for the provisioning of the Chinese forces. Nomura desired to dispatch to Hanoi in Northern Indo-China a Foreign Ministry official, accompanied by a military expert, to explain on the spot the reasons for Japanese military activity in China close to the border of French Indo-China which was arousing French suspicions. Nomura suggested that in this manner French suspicions might be allayed, and the way be paved for an agreement.
On 12 December 1939, Ambassador Henri presented a French reply which denied the transportation of munitions through French Indo-China, and expressed regret that Japan should have renewed this complaint. Henri said that France could see no justification for the despatch of a mission to Hanoi, since a Japanese Consul-General was stationed in that city. He expressed France's willingness to confer on all other differences outstanding between the two countries, and desired an explanation of Japanese military activities upon the border between China and French Indo-China.
Nomura replied that the continued transportation of munitions was a plain fact which could not be contested. he acknowledged that France was under no legal obligation to suspend supplies to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's forces since war between Japan and China had not been openly declared, but he expressed his Cabinet's hope that France would take steps to suspend traffic which tended to help the forces of Chinese resistance.
The Abe Cabinet's policy is also well exemplified in the approach made to the U.S.S.R. immediately after the cabinet came to power. The Japanese Ambassador in Moscow, TOGO, had been instructed to propose a settlement of the war at Nomonhan; and within a few days, such a settlement had been reached. TOGO was also instructed to propose the establishment of a general commission for settling border disputes, and the conclusion of a trade treaty with the Soviet Union. If the U.S.S.R. should propose
a non-aggression pact between the two countries, TOGO would ask first whether the Soviet Union was prepared to deny help to generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
Despite the Cabinet's new policy of seeking a modus vivendi with the Western Powers, the military faction maintained the policy of seeking complete solidarity with Germany and Italy. The German-Soviet Pact had come as a severe blow to the HIRANUMA Cabinet and to public opinion in Japan. Even OSHIMA had been surprised and resentful that such an agreement had finally been reached. Yet OSHIMA and SHIRATORI had had ample warning of Germany's intentions.
The Military Faction Continues to Work for Complete Solidarity With the Axis Powers
OSHIMA enjoyed the complete confidence of Hitler and the German Army. During the year preceding the conclusion of the Neutrality Pact, he had been kept fully advised of German policy by von Ribbentrop. For a long time, von Ribbentrop had been convinced that both Germany and japan must reach an understanding with the Soviet Union. He now said that he would have striven for this result even if a tripartite alliance had been concluded. This policy von Ribbentrop had disclosed to OSHIMA more than a year before. On 16 June 1939, he had given OSHIMA and SHIRATORI a specific warning that, since Japan had not agreed to Germany's proposals, Germany would herself conclude a pact with the Soviet Union. SHIRATORI had realised that this was the German intention, but OSHIMA, believing such a
rapprochement to be out of the question, had regarded the warning as a spur to induce Japan to conclude the German alliance.
After the conclusion of the Soviet-German Neutrality Pact on 23 August 1939, SHIRATORI and the pro-German group to which he belonged had laboured to counteract the reaction which that event had produced in Japan. Since that aim had not been attained, he had insisted upon being recalled to Japan, where he could work more effectively for a rapprochement among the Axis Powers.
The HIRANUMA Cabinet had made a protest to the Germans concerning the conclusion of the Soviet-German Neutrality Pact, which was regarded in japan as a breach of the secret agreement annexed to the Anti-Comintern Pact; but Ambassador OSHIMA was dissuaded from presenting this protest by the German Foreign Ministry official to whom he sought to deliver it. SHIRATORI, too, had advised him that the protest should not be delivered. OSHIMA nevertheless reported that he had comp[lied with the Cabinet's instructions; but not until 19 September 1939, when the German invasion of Poland was completed, did he deliver the HIRANUMA Cabinet's protest. This OSHIMA did apologetically, and was satisfied that the German Foreign Ministry should accept the document unofficially and for their own information.
Meanwhile, SHIRATORI an Rome had made it clear that he did not share the indignation felt in Japan concerning the conclusion of the German-Soviet Neutrality Pact. On 4 September 1939, he spoke to the German Ambassador in Rome
of the effect of the secret agreement annexed to the Anti-Comintern Pact. That agreement was intended to prevent either country from concluding a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, which at the time the Pact was concluded appeared to be the chief enemy of both Germany and Japan. Since that time, said SHIRATORI, circumstances had entirely changed, and it would be unreasonable to expect any country to encompass its own downfall for a treaty's sake. Great Britain had now become the chief enemy of both countries, and simply had to be beaten. In short, SHIRATORI recognized the German-russian Non-Aggression Pact for what it really was--a device on the part of Germany to avoid having to fight a war on her Eastern and Western frontiers simultaneously.
On 2 September 193, SHIRATORI had received official notification of his recall to Japan. He particularly desired an opportunity to urge his own pro-German views upon von Ribbentrop, and when it proved impossible for him to go to Berlin, he arranged to convey his sentiments through OSHIMA.
In Tokyo, ITAGAKI, the outgoing War Minister, expressed his continued belief in Axis solidarity. On 6 September 1939, at a reception given to the German Army and Air Attachés, both ITAGAKI and HATA, the new War Minister, made speeches which were markedly cordial to Germany. ITAGAKI pointed out to Ambassador Ott his most sincere efforts to strengthen the bonds between Japan and germany. These, he said, had failed because of development in Europe. ITAGAKI
emphasized, however, that his successor HATA completely shared his views. HATA referred to the Abe Cabinet's declaration on non-intervention in the European War, but assured Ott that, as a soldier, he fully understood the action which Germany had taken.
Chapter 4, continued
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