Other members of the military faction made efforts to secure the continuation of close relationships between Japan and Germany; and these efforts the Germans encouraged and reciprocated. General Terauchi, War Minister in the HIROTA Cabinet and one of the men most responsible for the basic national policy decision of August 1936, arrived in Germany upon a goodwill mission shortly after the downfall of the HIRANUMA Cabinet. He had been sent to attend the Nazi Party Conference at War Minister ITAGAKI's instigation. The Navy had opposed this mission, but ITAGAKI had advised the emperor that Terauchi must be sent in order to strengthen the bond created by the Anti-Comintern Pact.
The Military Faction Conspires to Ally Japan With Germany
Against the Western Powers
On 2 September 1939, SHIRATORI had told the German Ambassador in Rome that he believed there was a good chance of continuing with success the thwarted rapprochement with the Axis Powers. He said that public opinion in Japan in favour of a settlement with the U.S.S.R. was growing, and might lead to the conclusion of a non-aggression pact. Japan, freed from a Soviet threat, would be able to minimise the possibility
of United States intervention in the European War.
On 4 September 1939, SHIRATORI advised the German Ambassador that, in his opinion, the only way to conclude a Japanese-Soviet Pact was through German mediation. SHIRATORI had therefore urged OSHIMA to request German "good offices" with the U.S.S.R., without awaiting any instructions from Tokyo. He believed that the Axis powers should unites against Great Britain, and hoped that a world war might be averted by reaching an acceptable armistice with France and Great Britain, after the Polish campaign had been completed.
The views which von Ribbentrop urged upon OSHIMA two days later corresponded closely with those expressed by SHIRATORI. Von Ribbentrop told OSHIMA that Japan's fate was an ever linked with Germany's. Should Germany be defeated, a coalition of the Western Powers would prevent further Japanese expansion and would take away Japan's position in China; but should Japan maintain and enhance her relationship with Germany, Japan's position would ultimately be secured by German victories.
The idea of close cooperation between the three Axis powers was, he added, not in the least dead. The three countries, having an understanding with the U.S.S.R., would, in accordance with the world situation, direct their activities directly against Great Britain. this was in the real interest of all parties concerned. Von Ribbentrop would himself, above all else, work for an understanding between the
U.S.S.R. and Japan, and he trusted that the same policy would prevail in Tokyo. The understanding between the U.S.S.R. and Japan would require to be achieved quickly, for Germany's conflict with Great Britain would be decisive for all world politics in the future.
With all these statements, OSHIMA expressed agreement. He said that the Japanese Army would doubtless appreciate the need for an understanding with the Soviet Union, and that there was certainly a prospect that these ideas would be embodied in Japanese foreign policy in the near future. SHIRATORI also would work for this result.
Both von Ribbentrop and Hitler lost no opportunity of impressing these views upon OSHIMA and upon Terauchi. Ambassador Ott was instructed to talk quite openly with Kanin, the Chief of the Japanese Army General Staff, upon the same lines. He was also to intimate the importance of OSHIMA'S remaining in Berlin as Ambassador, for OSHIMA commanded the complete confidence of the German government and Army.
OSHIMA, however, decided that he could work more effectively in Tokyo than in Berlin. On 27 October 1939, von Ribbentrop advised Ott that OSHIMA, upon his projected return to Tokyo, would work for German-Japanese friendship. Ott was instructed to provide OSHIMA with a special channel of communication through the German Embassy to Berlin.
Von Ribbentrop, in urging Axis solidarity, sought to encourage Japan to move to the south. He impressed upon both OSHIMA and Terauchi that Japan's vital interests lay in that direction. If an understanding between Japan and the Soviet Union was reached through German mediation, Japan might freely extend her power in East Asia towards the south, and penetrate further than had been planned. Terauchi agreed, and said that it was in Japan's best interests to bring the China war to an end by a tolerable compromise, and to utilize the strength of the Japanese Army and Navy in the south, where greater economic successes were to be gained.
Oshima, With German Encouragement,
Plans for a Japanese Attack
Upon the Pacific Possessions of the Western Powers
OSHIMA not only agreed, but was enthusiastic. He said that Japan would be perfectly ready for an advance in South-East Asia, which would include the capture of Honkong. This he had already proposed by telegraph. In OSHIMA's opinion, Japan should penetrate deeply into South-East Asia. She needed tin, rubber and oil from the Netherlands East Indies, cotton from british India, and wool from Australia. if all of these requirements were obtained, Japan would be very strong.
He thought at this time that Japan should make a non-aggression pact with the Netherlands East Indies, at the same time reaching an agreement which would enable Japan to exploit the
raw materials of the Indies in accordance with the agreement obtained. By the same device, the Netherlands would be estranged from Great Britain.
During Abe's tenure of office as Premier, neither War Minister HATA nor other members of the military faction are shown to have made any overt attempt to secure the adoption of their views. As SHIRATORI had pointed out, the accession to power of the Abe Cabinet promised certain advantages. The goal of Japanese policy was, as before, the establishment of a "new order" in China. As a result of the Cabinet change, the public ill-feeling engendered by the conclusion of the German-Soviet Pact had been considerably mitigated. There was in Japan a growing desire for a settlement with the U.S.S.R. which, if carried through in stages, might lead to the conclusion of a non-aggression pact. With a new Cabinet in power, SHIRATORI considered that there was a well-founded opportunity for continuing the repair of German-Japanese relations. Both SHIRATORI and OSHIMA returned to Tokyo to make the most of this opportunity.
The Reasons for the Downfall of the Abe Cabinet,
and the Resumption of a Pro-German Foreign Policy
by the Yonai Cabinet
The policy of the Abe Cabinet and the circumstances in which it was formed, themselves provide the reasons for its downfall. No Cabinet which renounced the aim of establishing Japan's "new order" in China could hope to remain in power. Yet the maintenance of that aim
was incompatible with the re-establishment of friendly relations with the Western Powers. this was the foreign policy which the Abe Cabinet had been formed to promote. The impossibility of carrying out that policy was, however, soon recognised.
Members of the military faction regained positions of influence. On 28 September 1939, DOHIHARA became a Supreme War Councillor. On 1 December 1939, ARAKI became again a member of the Cabinet Advisory Council.
Foreign Minister Nomura's negotiations in regard to French Indo-China did not lead to friendship with France; nor did Japan obtain the concessions for which Nomura had striven. On 5 September 1939, the United States lodged new complaints concerning damage done to United States property in China by the Japanese forces; and, ten days later, the United States extended the list of materials, upon the export of which to Japan, a moral embargo had been placed. Supplies of raw materials, which Japan had to import, would be withheld.
On 12 January 1940, Japan advised the Netherlands of her intention to abrogate the arbitration treaty between that country and Japan. that treaty would thus expire in August 1940. Three days later, the Abe Cabinet resigned, and, with its resignation, the policy of fostering more friendly relations with the Western Powers was abandoned.
On the following day, Yonai, who, as Navy Minister in the HIRANUMA Cabinet, had supported Arita's efforts to avoid a definite commitment that Japan would enter a war between Germany and the Western Powers,
became the new Premier. HATA remained War Minister. KOISO, who, as Overseas Minister in the HIRANUMA Cabinet, had lent general support tot Arita's policy, resumed his previous post. Arita, who had been Foreign Minister in the HIROTA Cabinet when the basis of the national policy was decided, and who had held that office again in the first Konoye and HIRANUMA Cabinets, became once again Foreign Minister. With the outbreak of the European War, circumstances had changed, but Arita's policy had not. He has himself testified before this Tribunal that the foreign policy of the Yonai Cabinet was to maintain good relations with Germany, in so far as that aim was not seriously harmful to Japan's major interests.
Arita was influential during the term of office of the Yonai Cabinet in maintaining Japan's adherence to the principle of the national policy decision. To the primary goal of securing Japan's domination of China, each succeeding Cabinet had remained faithful. It was the corner-stone of Japanese policy.
The Yonai Cabinet Adheres to the Principles of
the Basic National Policy Decision
During 1939, while HIRANUMA was Premier, preparations had been made for establishing a puppet government for the whole of occupied China, excluding Manchukuo, under the leadership of the renegade Wang Ching-wei. This man had visited Tokyo in June 1939, and in the following month, on 7 July 1939, War Minister
ITAGAKI and Navy Minister Yonai had made a joint statement to the Diet regarding China, and had expressed Japan's determination to resist any interference, either from the Western Powers or from the Soviet Union, with the attainment of Japan's ambitions in that country. It had been the vain hope of the leaders of the Abe Cabinet that they could win the acquiescence of the Western Powers in Japan's established position in China, and upon that basis restore good relationships with Great Britain, France and the United States.
Before the HIRANUMA Cabinet resigned, Wang Ching-wei, with the assistance of Japanese Army leaders in China, had begun to organise a Central Political Council, from which would be developed the new pro-Japanese Central Government of China. On 12 September 1939, twelve days after the downfall of the HIRANUMA Cabinet in which he served as War Minister, ITAGAKI had become Chief of Staff of the Chinese Expeditionary Forces in China. After Abe's accession to power, Japanese military operations in China were continued. On 30 November 1939, in pursuance of Japanese aims in China, Foreign Minister Nomura had renewed pressure upon the French to cease forwarding supplies to the National Government of China.
When, on 16 January 1940, Yonai become Prime Minister and Arita returned to the Foreign Ministry, plans for the establishment of the Wang Ching-wei government were well advanced. During that month a meeting was held at Tsingtao for the purpose of amalgamating the existing puppet regimes in the occupied areas of China.
The second principal goal of the national policy decision was that of achieving the mobilization of the Japanese nation in preparations for war. In November 1938, shortly after he became Foreign Minister in the first Konoye Cabinet, Arita had laid stress upon the fact that this goal and that of achieving a position of supremacy on the Asiatic continent were interdependent. In January 1939, when HIRANUMA was Premier and Arita his Foreign Minister, the Cabinet had approved a new Planning Board programme for economic and industrial expansion. The objectives of the Army's long=-range economic and industrial planning, settled in the first half of 1937 before the revival of the war in China at Lukouchiao, then received for the first time specific Cabinet approval. In the light of the experience already gained, higher levels of production were demanded, so that the repletion of Japanese armaments might be completed by 1941. This was the year originally planned, but the war in China after 1937 had created a drain on Japan's military resources which for a time threatened to postpone the date of completion of armament.
The basic national policy decision, of 11 august 1936, which declared the consolidation of Japanese power in China and the mobilisation of the Japanese nation for war to be two principal aims of Japanese policy, declared also that in the pursuit of these aims, Japan should strive to maintain amicable relations with the Western Powers. Arita and Yonai, as members of the HIRANUMA Cabinet, had resisted steadfastly
the attempt of the military faction to embroil Japan in the European War. The outbreak of that war in September 1939 had imposed upon Japan no new obligation, and had rendered less probable any intervention from the Western Powers in Japanese activities in China.
Therefore, the Yonai Cabinet was united in maintaining the Abe Cabinet's policy of non-intervention in the European War. It was this principle which constituted the factor limiting Foreign Minister Arita's desire to maintain good relations with Germany.
Nevertheless, it was also a goal of the national basic policy decision that Japan should strive to develop her interests in the South Seas, under the "joint efforts of national defence and diplomatic skill". The first major development in Japanese foreign policy after the Yonai Cabinet had taken office shows that, in this regard also, Arita adhered to the principles set out in the national policy decision.
The continuation of the war in China and the increased demands made upon the Japanese economy by the programme of economic and industrial preparations for repletion of armaments had increased Japan's reliance upon foreign sources of supply for vital raw materials. In December 1939, Foreign Minister Nomura's attempt to obtain by agreement increased supplies from French Indo-China had, in the absence of a general understanding, come to nothing. On 12 January 1940, three days before the downfall of the Abe Cabinet, Japan had advised the Netherlands of her intention to abrogate the
Arbitration Treaty between that country and Japan.
On 2 February 1940, a new proposal was made through the Japanese Minister at the Hague to the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands. In form it was a reciprocal agreement which would govern Japan's relations with the Netherlands East indies. Japan would undertake not to adopt restrictive measures in regard to the entry into that country of the employees of Netherlands firms, and the Netherlands would undertake to abolish or modify their existing restrictions upon employment of foreign labour in the Netherlands East Indies. There would be granted to Japan facilities for new enterprises and extended facilities for existing enterprises in the Netherlands East Indies. In return for this concession, there would be afforded opportunities for new Netherlands investments in Japan, and the grant of similar facilities by the governments of Manchukuo and China would be "recommended" by Japan.
Japan Attempts to Obtain a Favoured Economic Position
in the Netherlands East Indies
The Netherlands, furthermore, would undertake to abolish or modify existing restrictive measures affecting the importation of Japanese goods into the Netherlands East Indies; and would take the necessary steps to render easier the flow of goods between the two countries. Japan, for her part, would take appropriate steps to increase her importation from the East Indies,
and would, subject to her own economic difficulties and as far as circumstances permitted, refrain from restricting or prohibiting the exportation to the Netherlands East Indies of the principal commodities required by that country.
Finally, the press of each country would, by strict measures of control, be made to refrain from comment unfriendly to the other.
Japan, more than a year earlier, had made plans to secure the resources of these important Netherlands possessions. During the latter half of 1938, while the first Konoye Cabinet was in power, officials of the Japanese government were engaged in conducting a propaganda campaign in the Netherlands East Indies, in preparation for Japan's "march to the south".
The new proposal followed closely upon the abrogation by Japan of the existing treaty regulating her relationships with the Netherlands. Although it purported to bed made upon a basis of reciprocity, it is apparent that the advantages offered by Japan to the Netherlands East Indies were nugatory. Japan, upon the other hand, stood to gain unrestricted access to the vital war-supporting raw materials produced in the East Indies. A suitable reply to this Japanese proposal was still under consideration by the Netherlands when, on 10 May 1940, that country was attacked by Germany.
During the first half of 1940, the Yonai Cabinet adhered to the policy of non-intervention in the European War, so that the full strength of the nation might be directed to the task of securing Japan's position in China, and of completing japan's measures for war. This policy was maintained in the face of considerable opposition within Japan itself.
The Yonai Cabinet's Policy of Non-Intervention
in the European War Arouses Strong Opposition in Japan
On 23 February 1940, Stahmer, newly arrived from Germany upon a special mission, reported to von Ribbentrop that in Japan domestic problems were paramount. He found that the attitude of OSHIMA, SHIRATORI, Terauchi and other members of the military faction which had supported an unconditional alliance with Germany was unchanged; and that they were ready to give every support. The Cabinet, he said, was trying to prevent Japan from being drawn into the European War, and to maintain a friendly relationship with Great Britain and the United States; but public opinion was definitely pro-German and anti-British. The influence of the Army, which had been gravely weakened while Abe was in power, was steadily increasing. Under Abe, well-known pro-German officials of the Foreign and War Ministries had been systematically transferred to overseas posts; but now the contrary policy was being pursued. A further increase in Army influence might be counted upon.
Japan's economic difficulties and shortages of essential materials had been increased and prolonged by the continuation of the war in China. Resentment against the opposition of the Western Powers to Japan's aims in China caused some Diet members openly to advocate the repudiation of the Nine Power Treaty, and Japanese participation in the European War. During march 1940, Arita's policy of non-intervention was assailed in the Diet. The Foreign Minister was urged to strengthen Japan's relations with the Axis. Arita in reply emphasized the friendly relationship which existed between Japan and the other Axis powers, but maintained that the settlement of the war in China precluded Japan from intervening in the European War.
On 7 February 1940, at a meeting of the Diet Budget Committee attended by Yonai and Arita, one committee member advocated the repudiation of the Nine Power Treaty, which he characterised as a scheme devised by Great Britain and the United States to restrain the continental policy of Japan. It was, he said, a serious obstacle to the achievement of the "new order", and it would cause great difficulties in the settlement of the China war, after the Wang regime had been established.
At another meeting of this committee, held on 28 March 1940, one member mentioned reports that Hitler and Mussolini had met to consolidate their alliance against England and France, and inferred that Japan should not refuse an invitation to join such an alliance. Foreign Minister Arita in reply reaffirmed his conviction that
the Cabinet's firm policy of non-intervention in European affairs was, in the existing circumstances, the most prudent one. He emphasized his adherence to the principles set out in the national policy decision by saying that, as long as Japan acted according to her own just policies, with Japan itself as the focal point, the fear that she might have to stand alone was unnecessary. War Minister HATA supported Arita.
The Foreign Minister's reply prompted another committee member to raise the main question whether it was desirable that Japan should make a complete change in her foreign policy. He visualised the situation which might arise should the European War end sooner than was expected. he said that Great Britain and France would never cease to aid the forces of Chinese resistance. He feared that, if Japan maintained her present policy, even Germany and Italy who now took the lead in supporting Japan's position in China, might turn against her. He pointed out that, when the Abe Cabinet was formed, the outcome of the war in Europe could not be foreseen; but he believed that now the situation had changed. He stressed the fact that the Cabinet's tendency to show partiality towards Great Britain and the United States was inviting the strong displeasure of the Japanese people, as well as German dissatisfaction. He therefore urged the Cabinet to abandon completely the policy of non-participation in the European War, and to enter into an alliance with the other Axis powers. He suggested that the establishment of the Wang regime would provide a suitable occasion for such a change in policy.
War Minister HATA's statements at the Budget Committee meeting of 28 March 1940 show that the Army was determined to uphold the policy of non-intervention in Europe, until Japan's own position had been consolidated. He said that Japan was concentrating upon the settlement of the war in China, and that therefore it was necessary to harmonize skillfully her politics and tactics in order to meet changes in the international situation. In order that the war in China might be settled, there would be no change in Japan's policy, which was to concentrate her whole strength upon excluding any third power which interfered persistently with the establishment of Japan's "new order" in East Asia.
The Army Supports the Non-Intervention Policy
In Order to Complete the Conquest of China
and the National Mobilisation for War
HATA also made it clear that the Army regarded the policy of non-intervention purely as a matter of expediency. He stated that the Army regarded the policy which Yonai and Arita had so often expounded as one which preserved Japan's complete freedom of action.
Two days later, on 30 March 1940, the new puppet government for the whole of CHina, established under the leadership of Wang Ching-wei, was formally inaugurated. At the Budget Committee meeting of 28 March 1940, War Minister HATA had said that this event would utterly ruin Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's position. The Army, said HATA, would give as much help as possible to the new regime and would continue the fight against the Chinese National Government's
forces. HATA repeated that the object of the China War was to crush thoroughly the forces of Chinese resistance. The establishment of the Wang regime, he added, was therefore only a stage in the disposition of the China War.
HATA's statements on this occasion showed also that the Army hoped, by exploiting the resources of China, to relieve the pressure of Japan's economic difficulties and to provide new sources of raw materials. He told the Budget Committee that the Army was making the maximum use of commodities obtained in the occupied areas of China; and that it was expected in the future to do this in greater degree. Self-sufficiency in vital materials was to be obtained simultaneously with the execution of the Army's pacification activities.
In striving to attain the goal of self-sufficiency in war-supporting raw materials, Japan was placed in a dilemma. The exploitation of the resources of China, now to be undertaken in greater measure than ever before, was being carried out in violation of Japan's obligations as a signatory to the Nine-Power Treaty. The very reasons which led Japan to seek new sources of essential raw materials restrained her form provoking an immediate breach with the Western Powers from whose territories she was deriving important supplies of these materials. It was admitted in an official document, prepared on
Dependence on Foreign Sources of Raw Materials
Prevented Japan From Openly Repudiating
the Nine-Power Treaty
3 March 1940, that Japan was intensely reliant upon the United States as a source of materials vital to her preparations for war. For this reason, it was stated, Japan could not assume a resolute attitude towards that country.
Ever since the outbreak of the war in China, the United States and other Western Powers had condemned Japanese aggression in that country, and had demanded the observance of the Nine-Power Treaty. Persistent violations of that treaty had caused the United States, on 11 June 1938, to place a moral embargo upon the export of certain war materials to Japan. During the last months of 1938, while Arita was Foreign Minister, Japan had at last admitted that she did not intend to observe treaty obligations when they conflicted with her own vital interests.
During 1939, following further complaints concerning the misconduct of the Japanese forces and the violation of Japanese treaty obligations in China, the United States had taken new measures to restrict the flow of supplies to Japan. On 26 July 1939, she had notified Japan of her intention to terminate the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation which, since 1911, had governed trade relations between the two countries. It had latterly proved inadequate to procure Japanese respect for American interests in China; and American fidelity to its provisions prevented the United States from taking economic measures which might induce Japan to desist from her policy of aggression. On 15 December 1939, molybdenum and aluminium
were added to the moral embargo list.
On 26 January 1940, pursuant to the notification already given, the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation expired. In March 1940, legislation to prohibit the supply of war materials to Japan was under consideration in the United States.
These events caused the question of repudiating the Nine-Power Treaty to become a vital issue in the Diet Budget Committee's discussions of February and March 1940. At the meeting of 7 February 1940, one committee member drew attention to the restrictive measures imposed by the United States, and urged Arita to renounce the Nine-Power Treaty, pointing out that it would be a great obstacle to the achievement of Japan's further aims in China, after the Wang regime had been established. Arita greed that the basic principle of that treaty was not applicable to the new situation in the Far East. On the one hand, he said, its repudiation was favourable to the establishment of Japan's "new order", and to the amelioration of conditions in Japan. On the other hand, however, there was the possibility that its renunciation would cause international repercussions. Therefore, the problem required careful consideration. After the Wang regime had been set up, consultations would be held over this question.
At the Budget Committee meeting of 28 March 1940, Arita reiterated that the repudiation of the Nine-Power Treaty might produce good results or bad results. He did not deny that such a step was desirable, but emphasized
that the time for repudiation and the means to be employed required to be studied carefully.
War Minister HATA< who had pointed out that 6the establishment of the Wang government was only one step towards the realisation of Japan's aims in China, said that the Army would follow the Cabinet's policy in dealing with the Nine-Power Treaty. HATA gave it as his own view that the question was purely one of expediency. He considered that the existing situation in China was quite beyond the scope of the Nine-Power Treaty, and that the treaty should not be permitted to hamper the carrying out of Japanese military operations. The Army, he added, had decided for the moment to reopne the Yanbgtse River; but this, he said, was a question to be decided purely in a voluntary manner.
On 3 March 1940, there was formulated a policy which, taking cognisance of Japan's dependence upon the United States, set out measures through which Japan could eliminate her reliance upon that country, particularly in regard to the supply of materials essential for carrying out what the document calls "The Divine War". This secret Foreign Ministry document discloses an intention to revise the whole programme of economic and industrial expansion in order to achieve self-sufficiency in the essential materials of war and in order to
Japan Makes New Plans for Industrial Self-Sufficiency,
in Order to Eliminate Dependence Upon the United States
establish an economic system which would make Japan independent of the goodwill of the United States. The new plan called for a vast expansion in the manufacture of machine tools, for experimentation with substitute materials for the production of "special steel", and for alternative sources for the supply of scrap iron, petroleum and other war materials. Facilities for manufacturing finished steel and electrolytic copper, for refining crude oil, and for producing petroleum synthetically, were to be rapidly expanded.
This costly and uneconomic policy would be financed by the temporary diversion of military funds to meet industrial needs. Greater emphasis was to be placed upon the nationalisation of industry, and upon the integration of the economies of Manchukuo and of the rest of China with that of Japan. So imperative was the new plan considered, that funds allocated to the war in China and to military preparations for war with the Soviet Union were to be diverted to the realisation of the aims of this plan. For this reason, Japan would endeavour to achieve a temporary adjustment of her relations with the U.S.S.R.
It was intended that, as a result of the measures already described, Japan would be enabled to adopt a firm attitude towards the United States; and it was expected that that country, confronted by the threat of war and under the pressure of the public opinion of its own people, would acquiesce in Japanese actions
and remove embargoes upon the supply of raw materials.
The same considerations which restrained the Yonai Cabinet from openly repudiating the Nine-Power Treaty led Japan to disguise her aggressive intentions in the south; but plans for a move southward were prepared and developed during the first half of the year 1940.
The Yonai Cabinet Makes Plans and Preparations
for a Southward Advance
On 17 March 1940, the Budget Committee met to consider the huge estimated expenditure of the Overseas Ministry for that financial year. One committee member, seeking to discover the purposes of this expenditure, urged the view that Japan could obtain greater rewards by expanding southward than by concentrating upon the development of Manchukuo and the rest of China. He pointed out that Japan could find a treasure-chest of raw materials in the south, and took as instances the island of Mindanao in the Philippines and Celebes in the Netherlands East Indies. He advocated the seizure of these areas, though recognizing that this step could not at present be taken. Nevertheless, he urged a fundamental change in national policy, saying that Japan must have both the North and the South as her objectives, and that her greatest exertions should be directed towards the south.
In the present circumstances, he believed that Japan should formulate a twofold plan, one phase being for defence and one for attack. He expressed the Committee's pleasure that Overseas Minister KOISO had stated similar opinions at several recent Cabinet meetings.
KOISO in reply fully endorsed the opinion that Japan must regard both the North and the South as her objectives, and advised the Committee that this was the policy of the Overseas Ministry. In planning the future development of Manchukuo and the rest of China, the movement of population was the primary task, and economic development the subsidiary goal. But in planning Japanese expansion to the south, economic exploitation was the principal aim, and colonisation a means to that end.
In conformity with the principles of the basic national policy decision, and within the limits which the Cabinet's desire to avoid an open breach with the Western Powers imposed, Foreign Minister Arita supported the development of Japan's southward policy.
At a press conference held on 15 April 1940, he made a statement concerning Japanese policy towards the Netherlands East Indies. There had, in the meantime, been no reply from the Netherlands to the Japanese proposal for a trade agreement, which had been delivered on 10 February 1940.
Arita said on this occasion that Japan, in common with the other countries of East Asia, was intimately related with the regions of the South Seas, and especially with the Netherlands
East Indies. The economic bonds between these countries were such that the prosperity of East Asia depended upon their mutual aid and interdependence.
Arita said in response to question that, if the war in Europe should affect the Netherlands East Indies, not only would these economic relationships be interfered with, but also there would arise a situation which threatened the peace and stability of East Asia. For these reasons, Arita added, Japan would be deeply concerned over any development arising out of the war in Europe which might affect the status quo of the Netherlands East Indies. On the following day, 16 April 1940, this statement was published by the Japanese Embassy in Washington.
During the first five months of the year 1940, the measures taken by the Yonai Cabinet produced no settlement of the China conflict. WIthin Japan itself, distress and discontentment were wide-spread; and the pro-German sympathies of the Japanese public, already well-defined in February 1940, were strengthened.
In View of German Successes in Europe,
and COntinued Opposition from the Western Powers,
the Pro-German Faction Gains Strength
On 3 April 1940, in the presence of the Japanese Ambassador, a German-Japanese Cultural Committee was established in Berlin. Minister Director Weiszsaecker of the German Foreign Ministry referred in his welcoming speech to the gratifying manner in which relations between Japan and various Nazi Party societies had
developed during the preceding years. He described the new committee as an effective instrument for strengthening the traditionally close spiritual bonds between Germany and Japan, and expressed his conviction that the political friendship which united the two countries would be increased.
As the tide of German victories in Europe rose, those who advocated the repudiation of the Nine-Power Treaty became more outspoken. This view was urged, not only at the meetings of the DIet Budget Committee, but openly in the DIet itself.
On 23 March 1940, Ambassador Ott reported to von Ribbentrop that political events in Japan indicated a further deterioration in relations between that country and the Western Powers. The United States and Great Britain had maintained their opposition to the establishment of the Wang regime in China. The British Ambassador had lodged a protest against the formation of the new puppet government. The United States Ambassador had presented to further complaints concerning violations of the "open door" policy in China.
Diet members of several parties had simultaneously urged the Foreign Minister to strengthen Japan's connection with Germany and Italy, the countries friendly to her policy. At the Budget Committee meeting of 28 March 1940, one committee member regarded Germany's victory as certain, and advocated Japan's participation in the European War.
Arita's declaration of 15 April 1940, concerning the Netherlands East Indies, produced an immediate reply form the United States. On 17 April 1940, the State Department issued a press release in which it was declared that any interference with the status quo of the Netherlands East Indies would prejudice the peace and stability of the whole Pacific area.
On 9 May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands; and on the following day, Stahmer, the German Foreign Ministry's special emissary, who had recently returned to Tokyo from the United States, reported to von Ribbentrop upon the situation in Japan. He said that recent German successes had created a deep impression in Japan, and had diminished the importance of Great Britain in the Far East. Within the Army and among the people of Japan, anti-British sentiment was markedly stronger. In view of the attitude which the United States had adopted, Stahmer was confident that the Yonai Cabinet's attempt to reach an understanding with that country and with Great Britain would be unsuccessful.
Stahmer said that the difficulties of the Yonai Cabinet, the economic policies of which were inadequate, had again increased. He considered that the unrest and discontent which these policies had engendered would lead eventually to the formation of a new Cabinet favourable to Germany; and hoped that, when the time came, Konoye might be the new Premier.
In any case, he added, the tension between Japan on the one hand, and the United States and Great Britain on the other, was bound to increase or at least to continue undiminished. He warned von Ribbentrop, however, that until the China war had been settled, and until urgent measures of domestic relief had been taken, Japan would be unable to change her policy.
In spite of the increasing clamour for closer relations with Germany, and for Japanese participation in the European War, Foreign Minister Arita had maintained his policy of non-intervention in the European War, and of seeking to avoid a definite cleavage in Japanese relations with the United States. In his despatch fo 10 May 1940, Stahmer reported that the Yonai Cabinet was still striving to obtain a further measure of agreement with Great Britain and the United States. One Foreign Ministry official who had consistently urged this policy upon Arita was SHIGEMITSU, the Japanese Ambassador in London.
Shigemitsu Counsels Arita to Conciliate Western Powers
During July and August 1939, prior to the downfall of the HIRANUMA Cabinet, Foreign Minister Arita had explored the possibilities of obtaining Great Britain's acquiescence in Japan's position in China. During the latter months of 1939, while the Abe Cabinet was in office, this had been the aim of Japanese foreign policy. After Yonai had become Premier and Arita his Foreign Minister, Ambassador SHIGEMITSU had striven to secure the maintenance of that aim. It was his contention that the objects of Japanese national policy should be pursued through establishing in China a government to which the Western Powers would not take exception.
On 13 March 1940, less than three weeks before the Wang Ching-wei regime was established in China, SHIGEMITSU reported to Arita the efforts he had recently made to remove Great Britain's
objections to Japan's provisions for the settlement of the conflict in China. He had spoken to Mr. R.A. Butler, the British Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, of Japan's intention to set up the Wang Ching-wei regime as the new central government of China. Using the "Konoye principles" and other declarations of Japanese policy as the basis of his explanation, he had described Japan's intentions towards China in the most favourable light. He had said that it was Japan's policy to establish peace and order in China, and also cooperation between the new Chinese government and foreign countries. Under the new regime, he had added, only those elements which plotted civil strike would be excluded. He hoped that, upon this basis, an opportunity for compromise with the National Government of China would be found.
SHIGEMITSU strove to impress upon Arita that, if this policy were followed, there was the opportunity of reaching an agreement with Great Britain which would be advantageous to both countries. Butler, said SHIGEMITSU, had stated that, although Great Britain could not immediately change her policy of recognising only the National Government of China, he hoped that SHIGEMITSU's forecast of the situation would prove correct. As an earnest of Great Britain's willingness to make concessions which involved no sacrifice of principle, the British government had taken steps to resolve the dispute with Japan over the British concession at Tientsin.
SHIGEMITSU told Arita that Great Britain's apprehension concerning the actions of the
U.S.S.R. provided the basis for a more fundamental agreement with Japan. Butler had agreed that there were reasons for a better understanding between their two counties, both in regard to China, and, more generally, in regard to the world situation.
SHIGEMITSU had assured BUtler that Japan was determined to maintain a position of strict neutrality if regard to the European War, and had expressed the hope that barriers to trade between the two countries might be removed. Butler had replied that Great Britain was ready to make every effort to reach that result.
On 13 May 1940, four days after Germany had invaded the Netherlands and Belgium, SHIGEMITSU again reported to Arita. He said that it was evident that Hitler had resolved to stake everything upon this campaign, but he stressed the fact that Germany had by no means beaten France and Great Britain. He emphasized that Japan must be ready for every contingency, and that therefore it should be the guiding principle of her national policy to achieve a situation of stability in East Asia.
SHIGEMITSU attempted to provide Arita with a formula which, falling within the principles of the basic national policy decision of 1936, would yet involve no resort to further measures of aggression.
He said that, in view of the international situation, it was a matter of great urgency that Japan's position of leadership in East Asia should be established firmly. Regardless of the outcome of the European War, Japan
would be placed at a disadvantage, if the conflict in China were not first settled. He therefore stressed the need for conciliatory measures, suggesting that, whatever the sacrifices entailed, Japan should attempt to bring about a reconciliation with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, either directly or through the Wang regime.
SHIGEMITSU urged Arita that Japan's policy towards the whole of the South Seas area should be based upon that already adopted towards the netherlands East Indies. Japan, he said, should declare that she had no intention of changing the status quo of the South Seas area; that neither belligerents nor neutral powers should intervene in that area; and that the interests of the native peoples of the South Seas should be the first consideration.
Foreign Minister Arita's policy towards the Netherlands East Indies was governed in part by his desire to avoid an open breach with the Western Powers, in part by the wish to take advantage of German victories in Europe to achieve Japan's ambitions of expansion in the south. Arita's statement of 15 April 1940, expressing Japan's especial interest in the maintenance of the status quo in the Netherlands East Indies, had brought a prompt reassurance from the Netherlands. On 16 April 1940, the day after the statement was made, the
Japan Stresses Her Special Interests
in the Netherlands East Indies: May 1940
Netherlands Foreign Minister had informed the Japanese Minister at The Hague that the Netherlands had not sought and would not seek any power's protection over, or intervention in, the Netherlands East Indies. Two days later, on 18 April 1940, this statement was confirmed by the Netherlands Minister in Tokyo.
Nevertheless, on 11 May 1940, two days after Germany had attacked the Netherlands, Arita once more drew the attention of the Soviet Union, the United States, Italy and all belligerent countries to Japan's especial concern in the maintenance of the status quo in the Netherlands East Indies. On the same day, the United States Department of State announced that a number of governments had already made clear their intention of maintaining the status quo in the Netherlands East Indies. In the State Departments' opinion, such declarations could not be too frequently reiterated. Great Britain advised Japan that she did not intend to intervene in the Netherlands East Indies, and France gave a similar assurance. On 15 May 1940, the Netherlands Minister in Tokyo informed Arita that his government believed that neither Great Britain, France nor the United States would intervene.
Despite these assurances, the controversy was kept alive in Japan. On 16 May 1940, Cordell Hull, the United States Secretary of State, expressed his concern to the Japanese Ambassador, saying that every day or two new aspects of the situation were being discussed in Japan, as though no pledges to preserve the
status quo had been given by other nations. In view of such pledges, said Hull, it was difficult to understand Japan's insistence upon the existence of some supposed special Japanese interests in the Netherlands East Indies. He suggested that Japan, having made clear her intention to dominate the vast area of China, and to eliminate equality of trade with that country, might have similar designs upon the Netherlands East Indies. This the Ambassador denied, and expressed Japan's satisfaction with the position, provided that Great Britain and France did not attempt to land troops there.
On the same day, 16 April 1940, the Governor General of the Netherlands East Indies informed Arita that it was intended to maintain existing economic relations with Japan, and that no restrictions would be placed upon the exportation of mineral oil, rubber and other raw materials of vital importance to that country. Arita was, however, still unsatisfied. On 20 May 1940, he informed the Netherlands Minister that there were many other commodities of equal importance to Japan. He required a definite assurance that a stipulated quantity of specified materials would be exported to Japan annually, and demanded written confirmation that these requirements would be met.
During 1939, while the HIRANUMA Cabinet was in power, FOreign Minister Arita had continued to regard the Soviet Union as Japan's foremost enemy. After the downfall of that Cabinet, which was caused by the conclusion on 23 August 1939 of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, OSHIMA and SHIRATORI had agreed with von Ribbentrop that they would work for reconciliation between Japan and the U.S.S.R. They planned that, once an understanding with the Soviet Union had been reached, the three Axis nations would be free to direct their activities exclusively against the Western Powers. Thus, the way would be made clear for Japan's advance to the south. OSHIMA and SHIRATORI returned to Tokyo in order to achieve their purpose.
Japan Prepares for the Advance to the South:
Germany Declares Her Disinterest in the Netherlands East Indies
During the last four months of 1939, the moderate policies of the Abe Cabinet paved the way for a rapprochement with the U.S.S.R. The conflict at Nomonhan was quickly ended, and the antagonisms of the Japanese public towards the Soviet Union was in some degree allayed. TOGO, the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow, was instructed to negotiate with the Soviet government a general settlement of border disputes and a new commercial treaty. He was told also that the negotiation of a non-aggression pact between Japan and the U.S.S.R. would depend upon Soviet willingness to abandon the support
of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
After 5 January 1940, when Arita again took office as FOreign Minister in the new Yonai Cabinet, the fear of Soviet interference with Japan's ambitions in China continued. On 10 May 1940, the Yonai Cabinet was still striving for a greater measure of agreement with Great Britain and the United States. Japan and the U.S.S.R. were mutually distrustful. The German Embassy, assisted by OSHIMA, SHIRATORI and other members of the military faction, was still endeavoring to promote a reconciliation between their two countries.
Nevertheless, under pressure form the military faction and public opinion, the Yonai Cabinet's policy had shown a gradual change. The continued opposition of the Western Powers to Japan's aggressive actions had increased the need for new sources of raw materials. In March 1940, the allocation of funds and materials for military preparations against the U.S.S.R. had been in part diverted to industrial production aimed at eliminating Japanese dependence upon the United States. The Overseas Ministry under KOISO had prepared plans for a Japanese advance into South-East Asia.
German victories in Europe seemed to present the opportunity for carrying out these plans. When, on 9 May 1940, Germany attacked the Netherlands, Foreign Minister Arita invited German support, by intimating that a declaration of Germany's attitude towards the Netherlands East Indies would be welcome in Japan. At the Foreign Minister's press conference, and in Japanese newspapers, it was noticed that,
while the Western POwers had each expressed their views in regard to the Netherlands East indies, no word had been received from Germany.
Thus was Germany presented with an opportunity to direct Japan's aggressive aims against the Western Powers. Ambassador Ott was instructed by von Ribbentrop to inform Arita that the German invasion of the Netherlands was concerned only with the prosecution of the European War. Germany had herself no interest in the Netherlands East Indies, but understood thoroughly Japan's anxiety over developments in that area. The activities of the Western Powers, said von Ribbentrop, had provided occasion for such misgivings, but Germany had always followed a policy of friendship towards Japan. Ott was to covey this message verbally to Arita, making it clear that Germany had declared definitely her disinterest in the Netherlands East Indies.
On 22 May 1940, Ott told Arita of Germany's recent military successes, and conveyed to him von Ribbentrop's message, for which Arita expressed gratitude. A communique was issued by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, stating that Germany had declared herself to be disinterested in the Netherlands East Indies. The Japanese press gave great publicity to this announcement, heralding it as complete acquiescence in Japanese policy for that area, and as a promise of future German support. The German attitude was contrasted with that adopted by the Western Powers.
On 25 May 1940, immediately after Germany's declaration of disinterest in the Netherlands East Indies, Ambassador SHIGEMITSU sent Arita another warning. Once more he stressed that Japan should be prepared for all contingencies because the issue of the European War was still in doubt. He said that, although Germany had won the battle for the low countries, Great Britain and France were still firmly resolved to continue the fight. He urged again that Japan should maintain a policy of strict neutrality, and should end the China conflict by taking conciliatory measures.
Japan Continues to Prepare for a Southward Advance,
Disregarding Shigemitsu's Advice
SHIGEMITSU pointed out that, as a result of events in Europe, Japan had, willy-nilly, become the stabilisation power in East Asia. Whatever the outcome of the European War, Japan's position would be strengthened by reaching through conciliation a settlement with China. If this were done, Japan would be ready to take her place in the international arena. Otherwise, the Western Powers, if victorious, would again intervene in the China affair.
SHIGEMITSU's advice involved the abandonment of the plans for a southward advance by military force under cover of German victories in Europe. He urged Arita to declare formally a policy of conciliation in China, at the same time requesting the withdrawal of the forces of the European belligerents from that country.
Japan, said SHIGEMITSU, should also consider the declaration of a zone of neutrality extending three hundred miles seaward from the coastlines of Japan, Manchukuo and the rest of China. Believing that the spread of the European War to the Pacific could in this way be prevented, he urged Arita to act without regard to the pressure of public opinion or of the military faction. There was, however, no change in Japanese policy.
During late May and early June 1940, the British and French armies were driven back by the weight of the German attack. On 9 June 1940, the Soviet Union and Japan settled by agreement the frontier line dividing Mongolia from Manchuria. On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war upon Great Britain and france. On 17 June 1940, France was forced to seek an armistice.
On 10 June 1940, Arita complained of the retention of the bulk of the United States fleet at Hawaii. Although Ambassador grew assured him that the presence of the fleet at one of its normal stations constituted no threat to Japan, Arita maintained that its continued stay there implied a suspicion as to Japan's intentions in the Netherlands East indies and elsewhere in the South Seas. He once more assured Grew that Japan had no intention of acquiring new territories.
Meanwhile, the German Embassy in Tokyo used its influence with the press and with leading politicians to stir up ill-feeling against the United States.
Ambassador Ott himself suggested to Konoye and to other men prominent in Japanese politics that a conflict between Japan and the United States was in the long run inevitable. OSHIMA, SHIRATORI and other members of the military faction collaborated with the Germans in this agitation.
As the fall of France impended, French Indo-China replaced the Netherlands East Indies as the next intended victim of Japanese aggression. In March 1940, Japan's demands for the discontinuance of supplies to the forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had been permitted to lapse in the face of France's rejection of the demands. On 4 June 1940, strong representations were again made to the French Ambassador in Tokyo, and were again refused.
Japan Makes Renewed Demands Upon French Indo-China:
Japanese policy towards French Indo-China was governed by her determination "to wipe out, at any cost, all obstructions to the building of a new order" in East Asia. Every avenue through which the forces of Chinese resistance might derive assistance would be closed. For that reason, it had been resolved that French Indo-China should be brought under Japanese control.
On 12 June 1940, Japan strengthened her position by concluding a pact of non-aggression and friendship with Thailand, whose territories were adjacent to the eastern frontier of French Indo-China. On the same day, the Japanese South China armies, stationed near the northern frontier of Indo-China, announced
that the greater part of the weapons and war materials which China purchased abroad were still being transported to Chunking via the Yunnan railway. The announcement stated that such action, taken by the French Indo-Chinese authorities in aid of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's regime, could not be overlooked. Four days later, on 15 June 1940, Japan demanded that France put an end to the allegedly hostile activities of the colonial authorities in Indo-China. On 17 June 1940, the day on which France sought an armistice from Germany, the Governor-General of French Indo-China capitulated to these demands. He agreed to suspend the supply of all munitions and war materials to China, and consented also to the despatch of a Japanese military mission to northern French Indo-China.
On the following day, 18 June 1940, Prime minister Yonai, Foreign Minister Arita, War Minister HATA and Navy Minister Yoshida decided in conference to make further demands. Japan would require the French Indo-Chinese authorities to suppress all pro-Chinese activities; and, if that requirement were refused, force would be employed. It was debated whether force should not be used immediately, but the Army advised against this policy, believing that the threat of force might be sufficient.
Japan required and received further undertakings from the government of France, which was now subject to German domination. The prohibition placed upon the supply of certain war materials to China was, at Japanese instigation, extended to
include a wide variety of other commodities. The French authorities undertook to enforce this blockade, by preventing smuggling activities.
On 22 June 1940, France agreed formally to the sending of a Japanese mission. On 29 June 1940, this mission, comprising forty representatives of the Japanese Army, Navy and Foreign Ministry landed in French Indo-China at Hanoi, and found that the blockade had been enforced in accordance with the undertakings given.
Furthermore, Germany and Italy were informed that Japan was gravely concerned about the future of French Indo-China, both from the political and from the economical standpoints. It now became clear that the Yonai Cabinet intended to act in concert with Germany against the Western Powers, provided that Germany did not drive too hard a bargain. On 19 June 1940, the day after Japan's policy towards French Indo-China had been decided by the conference of Four Ministers, Ambassador Kurusu broached the subject generally in an interview with an official of the German Foreign Ministry.
The Yonai Cabinet, Desiring a Free Hand in Indo-China,
Makes Overtures to Germany
for Cooperation Against the Western Powers
Kurusu began by stressing Japan's desire for closer and more cordial relations with Germany. He said that even to those who had previously opposed this policy had now come to the knowledge that Japan's future depended, not on the Western
Powers, but upon an approach to Germany.L As an indication of Japan's desire for the betterment of her relations with Germany, Kurusu referred to the approaching visit of Sato, Naotake, a former Foreign Minister of Japan.
Kurusu went on to discuss Japan's position, and the Japanese view of the form which cooperation between the two countries should take. He no longer regarded Japan's shortage of raw materials as critical, because, in view of German pressure, the Western Powers were not in a position to impose an effective boycott upon exportation to Japan. The expansion of heavy industry was now, he said, Japan's most important task. If Germany would cooperate in that development, Japan, being non longer dependent upon the United States would gain freedom of action. In view of the unfriendly attitude which the United States had shown, Japanese industrialists would gladly exchange Germany for American sources of supplies.
Japan's hostility towards the U.S.S.R. and japan's failure to provide substantial economic assistance to Germany were obstacles to close collaboration between the Axis countries. Kurusu indicated that both would be overcome. He said that both Ambassador TOGO in Moscow and he himself were working feverishly for the betterment of relations between Japan and the Soviet Union. He declared that, in Japan, it was becoming more and more clearly recognised that that country's future lay in the South, and that the enemy in the
North must be made a friend. There were, he admitted, certain military groups which opposed this re-orientation, but OSHIMA, he said, would convince them of the need for it.
Kurusu intimated also that Japan should now be prepared to facilitate the shipment to Germany of raw materials from Japan's own sphere and from other overseas areas. He indicated that, in view of the present situation of the Western Powers, there was no longer need for insistence upon the strict letter of the law of neutrality. He visualised that, after the European War was over, there would remain four spheres of influence, dominated respectively by Germany and Italy, by the Soviet Union, by the United States, and by Japan and China. He considered that the close relationship between the German and Japanese blocs would then be of mutual advantage to the two countries, and suggested that Germany should assign to Japan an ample position in her post-war economic planning.
On 19 June 1940, Ambassador SHIGEMITSU, having noted the latest developments in the Yonai Cabinet's policy, sent a specific warning to Arita. He said that, if it were decided to resort to force in French Indo-China or elsewhere, Japan should first consider carefully the attitude of the United States. Full attention should be paid, not only to economic questions, but also to the
Shigemitsu Remains Opposed to Policy of Yonai Cabinet
naval strengths of the United States and of Great Britain, and to the condition of France. SHIGEMITSU thought that, if the surrender of France was completed, Australia might intervene in French Pacific possessions. In that case, he considered that Japan might seize the opportunity to take positive action. He made it clear, however, that he did not share the Cabinet's confidence in the certainty of German victory. He advised Arita that, though France's fall should be complete, Great Britain would continue the fight and would not easily be beaten.
Despite the setbacks which the Western Powers had sustained, SHIGEMITSU urged once more upon Arita the cardinal principles of the policy which he had advocated in earlier despatches. He considered that Japan should take advantage of the situation in Europe to strengthen her own position in East Asia. Japan, he said, should announce her grave concern for the stability of East Asia, including the islands of the South Seas. She should affirm her resolve to prevent the extension of the European War, and her determination that East Asia should no longer constitute a field for European exploitation. Having regard to the possibility of an Axis victory in Europe, Japan should also be ready to forestall a German incursion into South-East Asia, lest such an encroachment should drive Japan to risk war with Germany.
From this and earlier despatches, SHIGEMITSU's policy emerges clearly. He believed that, though
the Western Powers should win the war in Europe, their influence in the Far East would be greatly weakened, and that Japan's position would therefore be enhanced. He pointed out that if, through conciliation, a settlement with China had been reached, there would in the future be no occasion for the Western Powers to intervene. By pursuing a policy of neutrality, Japan would have qualified herself to take her place in the international arena.
Furthermore, by opposing Western influence in Asia and in the islands of the East Indies, Japan would gain the favour and support of the peoples of the Orient, and would make reconciliation with China more easy of achievement. Thus, by peaceful measures, Japan would gain the very objects for which she was now preparing to make war.
Even though the Axis Powers should prove to be victorious in Europe, similar considerations would apply. Japan, with unimpaired strength and with enhanced prestige among the peoples of Asia, would be ready to resist any German attempt to dominate the East.
Japan's policy had, however, been decided on 18 June 1940, at the conference which Yonai, Arita, HATA and Yoshida had attended. The whole question of Germany's willingness to afford cooperation on acceptable terms was being
Arita Rejects a Proposal for Cooperation
With the United States
explored. Japan's especial interest in French indo-China had been intimated to Germany and to Italy on 19 June 1940. It was resolved that Japan's policy towards the United States and Great Britain would depend upon the replies to this intimation.
While these replies were being awaited, the United States made another attempt to reach an understanding with Japan, and to test that country's sincerity. Ambassador Grew was instructed to suggest to Arita that Japan and the United States should exchange notes declaring their common desire to maintain the status quo in regard to the Pacific possessions of the belligerent European Powers, except in as far as that status might be changed by peaceful means. Grew was to suggest also a provision for consultation between the two countries in case there should arise any issue which, in the opinion of either country, rendered consultation desirable.
On 24 June 1940, Grew made this proposal to Arita in strict confidence, making it clear, however, that the United States had no retreated from the stand taken upon other specific issues. The new United States proposal was intended as a means of discovering some method of improving relations between the two countries.
Arita, being uncertain of Germany's attitude towards Japan, regarded this United States proposal as an extremely delicate matter. He saw in the proposal a revival of the Nine-Power Treaty system. Although that treaty was still binding upon Japan,
that country had made every effort to escape and to renounce the obligations it involved. Arita did not wish new restrictions to be placed upon Japan's freedom of action, especially in regard to the Netherlands East Indies.
Arita therefore told Grew that, in view of the many outstanding differences between Japan and the United States, it might be difficult to accept the new proposal, unless these differences were first reconciled. He referred to the pro-German trend of public opinion in Japan, and said that, although he was himself in favour of a rapprochement with the United States, that view had exposed him to severe criticism. Nevertheless, he undertook to give the proposal careful consideration.
On 20 June 1940, Foreign Minster Arita made Japan's reply to the United States proposal. He told Ambassador Grew that, in view of the existing international situation, he doubted whether consideration could be given to a formal exchange of notes on the basis which the United States had suggested. Japan, said Arita, was greatly concerned with the effect which the European War would have upon the status of the Pacific possessions of the European belligerents. Japan, therefore, did not consider it desirable to conclude any sort of agreement during the present transitionary period. Arita said that he was himself endeavouring to prevent the extension of the European War to the Far East, and suggested that it might be timely to discuss those problems which affected only Japan and the United States.
On 25 June 1940, the day after he had rejected the United States proposal, Foreign Minister Arita made a policy speech which gave great prominence to the Yonai Cabinet's desire to act in concert with Germany.
Arita Shows That Japan's Policy is Based on Cooperation
With Germany Against the Western Powers
He made it apparent that the two nations shared a common philosophy, saying that Japan's ideal since the founding of the Empire had been that all nations should be able to find their proper places in the world. Japan's foreign policy, said Arita, had been based upon this ideal, for which she had not hesitated to fight, even by staking her national existence. it was therefore a natural step that countries in the same part of the world, being link also by close racial, economic and cultural ties, should first form a sphere for their own "co-existence and co-prosperity".
The conflict in Europe, said Arita, had shown that war was usually due to failure to remedy the injustices of the existing order. It was for this reason that Japan had undertaken the task of constructing a "new order" in East Asia. It was, he said, extremely regrettable that, Japan's purpose being misunderstood, it had been obstructed by those who supported the forces of resistance in China. Japan was determined to eradicate all such opposition.
The remainder of Arita's speech amounted to a declaration of Japanese suzerainty over the whole area of East and South-East Asia and the islands of the East Indies. He said that the countries of East Asia constituted a single sphere destined to cooperate with each other and to minister to each other's needs. At the outset of the European War, he continued, Japan had proclaimed a policy of non-intervention in Europe and had stated her desire that the European conflict should not be permitted to extend to East Asia.
Arita concluded his speech by admonishing the Western Powers against interference in his country's schemes. Japan, he said, trusted that the Western Powers would do nothing to extend the war to the Pacific. He stated that Japan, while carrying out the task of constructing a "new order" in East Asia, was paying serious attention to developments in Europe, and to the repercussions of the European War in the various regions of East Asia and the South Seas. The destiny of these regions was, de declared, a matter of grave concern to Japan "in view of her mission and responsibility as the stabilizing power in East Asia".
In the foreign policy pronouncements and communications of May and June 1940, it had been made clear that Japan, though desiring German
The Pro-German Faction Prepares for the Overthrow
of the Yonai Cabinet and the Conclusion of an Axis Alliance
cooperation, did not intend to enter into the European War. Yet since January 1940, when the Yonai Cabinet had taken office, popular clamour for intervention against the Western Powers had grown continuously, and had been cultivated assiduously by the members of the German Embassy, working in collaboration with OSHIMA, SHIRATORI and other leaders of the pro-German group in Japan.
IN August 1939, when the Abe Cabinet had replaced that of HIRANUMA, there had been grave obstacles to close cooperation between Japan and Germany. Public resentment against Germany had been aroused by the conclusion of the Soviet-Japanese [sic] Non-Aggression Pact. Among certain groups within the Army, and among the Japanese public at large, the Soviet Union was still looked upon as Japan's foremost enemy. the Abe Cabinet was pledged to seek a rapprochement with the Western Powers.
WHen, in January 1940, the Yonai Cabinet took office, public opinion again favoured cooperation with Germany, and hostility towards the U.S.S.R. had in some measure diminished. But the struggle in China had not been ended, and in political circles, the principle of non-intervention in the European War was firmly established. The pro-German group in Japan, and even the German Ambassador himself, had recognised that Japan could not intervene in Europe, until the China conflict had been settled and internal political dissension resolved.
The Army had, therefore, cooperated with the Cabinet. Although War Minister HATA shared ITAGAKI's desire to commit Japan to an unconditional alliance with Germany, he had not opposed the policies of either the Abe or the Yonai Cabinets. Gradually, the obstacles to Japan's entry into the European War were overcome. With the stimulus of German victories in Europe, and with the promise of rich rewards in the South, the Yonai Cabinet's policy had undergone an opportunist change. The Manchukuoan frontiers on the north had been settled by agreement with the Soviet Union, and plans and preparations for a southward advance had been
made. The Western Powers had replaced the Soviet Union as the first of the intended victims of Japanese aggression. The Army had reopened negotiations for a settlement with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
Since March 1940, it had been widely contemplated that the Yonai Cabinet would be replaced when a suitable moment occurred. In May 1940, the German Ambassador had looked forward to the formation of a new Cabinet of the pro-German group, probably 8under the leadership of Konoye. Since that time, Ambassador Ott, in continued collaboration with OSHIMA, SHIRATORI and other prominent Japanese, had worked to bring about Japanese intervention in the European War--a step to which the Yonai Cabinet was resolutely opposed.
With the fall of France in mid-June 1940, some members of the pro-German group felt that the time was fast approaching when the Yonai Cabinet should be replaced. On 18 June 1940, SHIRATORI addressed the members of a political society, the objects of which were the readjustment and reinforcement of the Japanese political system, and the establishment of a strong foreign policy. SHIRATORI told the meeting that, although as a civil servant he could not advocate the Cabinet's overthrow, he felt that, in view of Germany's successes, an opportunity had already been missed. He considered that there was no prospect of accord with Germany as long as those who were opposed to a tripartite Axis alliance retained office in the Cabinet.
Germany, having already accorded Japan complete freedom of action in the Netherlands East Indies, did not respond to the new overtures made by the Yonai Cabinet in pursuance of Japan's designs upon French Indo-China. The new concessions asked for gave Germany the opportunity to drive a bargain. One German Foreign Ministry official commented upon the economic sacrifices which Germany had made in deference to Japanese policy towards China, and pointed out that, since the European War had begun, Japan, insisting upon her neutral role, had not even facilitated the repatriation from the United States of German sailors or the despatch through Japan of supplies consigned to Germany.
While the Yonai Cabinet waited for germany's reply to the message about french Indo-China sent on 19 June 1940, members of the pro-German faction took steps to remove two important obstacles to their plans.
Members of the Pro-German Faction Make Direct Approaches
to the German Ambassador
Major-General MU TO, who since 26 October 1939, had held office as Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau and Secretary of the National General Mobilisation Committee, approached the German Military Attaché. He said that, should occasion arise, the Army would welcome it if Germany would act as mediator in the already extended conciliatory talks between Japan and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, so that the war might be concluded in a manner acceptable to
Japan. MUTO declared also that Japan was very much interested in French Indo-China, because of her desire to settle the China war. In response to the Attaché's enquiry, MUTO informed him that the Army believed conciliation with the Soviet Union to be necessary.
On 23 June 1940, SHIRATORI, whose name was being mentioned frequently as Arita's successor in the Foreign Ministry, advocated in a press interview the conclusion of a non-aggression pact between Japan and the Soviet Union.
Overseas Minister KOISO, whose ministry was directly concerned with the planning of Japan's advance to the south, approached Ambassador Ott directly, and asked him what Germany's attitude would be, should Japan take military action in French Indo-China and in parts of the Netherlands East Indies. Ott referred to Germany's declaration of disinterest in the Netherlands East Indies, but indicated that in regard to French Indo-China, Germany would make conditions. He said that Germany would probably raise no objection, provided that Japan undertook to tie down the United States in the Pacific area, perhaps by promising to attack the Philippines and Hawaii if the United States should enter the European War.
KOISO said that he would give this proposal further consideration, and went on to discuss the other obstacles to concerted action among the Axis Powers. Referring to the question of a possible Soviet-Japanese non-aggression pact, KOISO thought that the
U.S.S.R. would probably demand certain territorial concessions in Mongolia and in Northwestern China. These, he said, could be discussed. He admitted that, even after the realisation of her colonial aims in French Indo-China and the Netherlands East Indies, Japan would only gradually become economically 98ndependent of the United States. He considered, however, that the attainment of Japan's aims in Indo-China and the conclusion of a pact with the Soviet Union would provide the expected Konoye Cabinet with a promising starting-point in reaching a settlement with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
The preparation for a change in Cabinet had been long and thorough. Konoye;'s first Premiership had been marked by frequent political crises arising from differences of opinion among members of his Cabinet, and from conflict between Army policy and Cabinet policy. Then as in earlier years, when the Army encountered opposition to its plans, there had arisen an immediate demand for the abolition of political parties. In the political crises of September 1938, which led to the resignation of Foreign Minister Ugaki, there had been a strong demand for the formation of a one-party system, which would replace the existing political parties, and which would "deal resolutely" with Japan's problems at home and abroad. Konoye, then Prime Minister, had hoped that he might be
Political Preparations for the Expected
Konoye Cabinet and a One-Party System
placed at the head of such a unified regime. The Army's policy would then be the Cabinet's policy, and no opposition or dissension would be possible.
In 1938, the "one party system" had not been realised; but during 1940, while the Yonai Cabinet was in office, the movement for "reinforcement of the domestic political system" grew simultaneously with the demands for a change in Cabinet, and the adoption of a "strong foreign policy". On 19 March 1940,l after War Minister HATA had parried questions concerning the Army's part in politics, Major-General MUTO, the CHief of the Military Affairs Bureau, made a forthright statement. He quoted with approval the dictum that the guiding principles of the Japanese nation "should be totalitarianism completely nationalist in principle and faith". He added that in this way the full power of the state would be displayed. The Army, said MUTO, favoured the dissolution of political parties if they sought only to further their own interests in the current emergency.
By 10 May 1940, it was settled that there should be a new political party, of which Konoye would be the President, and KIDO a Vice-President. KIDO gave an assurance that he desired Konoye to be the leader, and would support him as long as Konoye remained in public life.
On 26 May 1940, Konoye and KIDO discussed their plans for the expected change in Cabinet, and for the establishment of their new political party. they agreed that, when the Cabinet change occurred, a few Ministers only
would be chosen, The establishment of the new party would then be announced, and the dissolution of all existing parties would be requested. The few Cabinet members already chosen would be required to join the new party, and the other Cabinet members would be chosen only from among those who had already joined it.
It was intended that the new Cabinet should give special consideration to the desires of the Army and Navy concerning national defence, foreign affairs and finance. For this purpose, it was proposed to establish a supreme national defence council of which the Chiefs of the Army and Naval General Staffs, as well as the Premier, War Minister and Navy Minister would be members.
On 1 June 1940, KIDO was offered the position of Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. He was urged strongly to refuse the appointment, because of the importance of the part which he was expected to play as a leader of the new Konoye political party. Nevertheless, after consultation with Konoye, who had joined in recommending his appointment, KIDO accepted the post.
The Pro-German Faction Prepare for a Change in Cabinets
and Plot to Assassinate Prime Minister Yonai and Others
It was the duty of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, whose tenure of office was independent of changes in Cabinet, to act as the Emperor's regular adviser upon matters of state, and as the recognised intermediary
between Emperor and Cabinet. The Lord Keeper's position was, therefore, one of great influence.
On 24 June 1940, while the Yonai Cabinet waited for Germany's response to its proposals for cooperation among the Axis countries, Konoye resigned the presidency of the Privy Council. Ambassador Ott reported to Germany that this resignation indicated the continued progress of a political scheme which aimed at the formation of a new Cabinet and a new unified party under Konoye's leadership.
Ott advised his government that leading members of the Konoye circle were obviously trying to communicate with h im, and asked for authority to discuss with them the ideas which MUTO and KOISO had propounded. In this way he would be able to assess what results might be expected through German cooperation with the Konoye circle.
In these circumstances, it was not in Germany's interest to afford any encouragement to the Yonai Cabinet. On 1 July 1940, Ott reported that Foreign Minister Arita's policy speech of 29 June 1940 was an attempt to move in sympathy with internal political developments by announcing the adoption of a more positive foreign policy. Arita had hoped thereby to strengthen the position of the Yonai Cabinet.
In connection with this speech, opposition to the Yonai Cabinet became manifest. Arita had planned to declare categorically the Cabinet's determination to consolidate friendship with Germany and Italy, saying that it had never been intended to deviate from the line of Axis policy. The opposition, led by the Army, had protested against 6this sudden change in policy, upon the ground that Arita's statement of sympathy with the Axis Powers was inconsistent with the policy which the Cabinet had hitherto pursued. The Army, desiring the Yonai Cabinet's downfall, was jealous of Arita's attempt to gain credit for the Cabinet at the expense of the opposition which had collaborated closely with Germany. At the Army's insistence, the original text of Arita's speech was substantially modified. Thus his plan had been frustrated.
The Army's influence, which had been reduced before the Yonai Cabinet took office, had once again grown very strong. A threatening military attitude had been adopted towards both French Indo-China and Hongkong. Internal political developments, said Ott, showed typical signs that pressure was being exerted and that a change of Cabinets would soon occur.
On the following day, fuel was added to the lames. The Chief of the Foreign Ministry's Press Bureau disclosed the original undelivered text of Arita's speech and the fact that the Army had successfully objected to it. The Press CHief was thereupon arrested and subjected to interrogation by the military police.
After this disclosure, a pl,to against the lives of Prime Minister Yonai and others who had opposed the aims of the military faction was hatched. On 5 July 1940, the conspirators were arrested, and later on the same day, KIDO, as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, reported the circumstances to the Emperor. KIDO told the Emperor that, although the actions of the conspirators were blameworthy, their motives demanded the Cabinet's serious consideration. He then discussed with Konoye their plans for changing the political structure, and the measures to be taken in case a change of Cabinets occurred.
Nevertheless, the Yonai Cabinet maintained its efforts to conclude with Germany an agreement which would secure the Cabinet's retention of office. Sato, Japan's special envoy to Germany, had reached Berlin. On 8 July 1940, Sato and Ambassador Kurusu explained Japan's position to Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop.
Germany, by Refusal to Declare Her Policy Towards Japan
Undermines the Yonai Cabinet's Position
Sato stressed the common interests of Germany and Japan, which, he said, were each engaged in the construction of a "new order" within their respective spheres of influence. He pointed out that, since both countries were for the moment obliged to maintain friendly relations with the Soviet Union, they might cooperate in this regard also. Sato explained that, since the beginning of the war in China,
the task of establishing the "new order" in that country had been Japan's paramount task. This, he said, explained the seemingly perplexing changes in Japanese policy, which had all been dictated by the circumstances of the China war. Japan was now making a determined effort to settle that war, so that she might gain freedom of action.
Sato drew von Ribbentrop's attention to the services which Japan had rendered to Germany. For the three preceding years, he said, Japan had in some measure held the attention of the British, French and United States governments, and had thereby made Germany's task easier. The constant threat of Japanese action now kept the United States fleet form leaving the Pacific. It was, he added, Japan's policy that the United States should not be permitted to intervene in the Far East or elsewhere in the world outside the two American continents.
Sato explained, however, that Japan could not afford to provoke the united States too much, lest that country should impose more severe economic sanctions, which would compel Japan to seek new sources of supply in the South Seas. Thus, both Germany and Japan would be exposed to the danger of war with the United States, and this both countries were anxious to avoid.
Sat therefore stressed the need for cooperation between Germany and Japan in economic as in other matters. He assured von Ribbentrop that Japan wished to allow Germany economic opportunities in China, saying that it was
Japan's policy to be the host in China and other countries her guests. It was this policy, he added, which had for years caused Japan to struggle against the influence of such countries as Great Britain, France and the United States. With German economic assistance, Japan would succeed in her revolt against the Nine-Power Treaty system, settle the China war, and eliminate her dependence upon the United States. The essence of Sato's argument was that, by strengthening Japan's position in the Far East, Germany would be strengthening her own position in Europe. He therefore invited a declaration of Germany's policy in regard to Japanese aims in French Indo-China and the Netherlands East Indies.
Von Ribbentrop, being aware of political developments within Japan, replied cautiously. He welcomed Japan's desire for cooperation with Germany, but gave the impression that Germany, being now confident of victory in Europe, no longer attached great importance to assistance from Japan. He declared that new opportunities for cooperation would arise in the future, but declined to say anything more definite upon the grounds that he was unfamiliar with Japan's political aims. He asked pointedly whether Japanese offers of cooperation were to be confined to the economic sphere, and gave no new indication of Germany's attitude in regard to French Indo-China or other Pacific areas.
The reports of this conference increased Foreign Minister Arita's difficulties. On 13 July 1940, three days before the Yonai Cabinet fell, Arita revealed his deep suspicion of German intentions. He enquired of Sato whether it was Germany's aim to force Japan's entry into the European War; and whether Germany did not herself hope to dominate the French and Netherlands colonies in the Far East.
The Emergence of the Plan for an Axis Alliance,
Which Would Enable Japan to Dominate East Asia
and the South Pacific
As KOISO and MUTO had ascertained form Ott on 24 June 1940, the very conditions which von Ribbentrop had received with reserve when presented to him by Sato on behalf of the Yonai Cabinet, were acceptable to the Germans, who no longer felt the need for Japan's immediate intervention against Great Britain and the countries of the British Commonwealth. The greatest obstacle to the conclusion of a tripartite Axis alliance, had, therefore, been removed. What Germany most desired was a strong Japanese government, which would align Japan with Germany and Italy against the Western Powers. Germany believed that such a diversion in the Far East would ensure the continued neutrality of the United States.
On 12 July 1940, while Foreign Minister Arita speculated concerning Germany's real intentions, Foreign Ministry officials presented to Army and Navy representatives the first draft of a new plan, the principles of which governed.
Japanese policy from that time onward until Japan attacked the Western Powers. In all essentials it was the plan which Sato had revealed to von Ribbentrop four days earlier.
On both occasions, it was recognised that, since the occurrence of the Mukden Incident in September 1931, Japan's activities had been continuously directed towards the achievement of the same goal of conquest and aggrandisement. Notwithstanding frequent changes in policy and administration, it had throughout been Japan's aim to establish her dominion over the countries and territories of East Asia and the South Seas. It was now intended to utilise the conditions created by the European War in order to accomplish that purpose.
Japan on the one hand, and Germany and Italy upon the other, would act in concert and in close cooperation within their respective spheres of influence. It would be agreed among the Axis countries that in South East Asia and in the South Pacific area, Japan should enjoy the same freedom of action which Germany and Italy had arrogated to themselves in Europe. Japan would undermine british influence and interests in the Far East and would serve as a deterrent to the entry of the United States into the war against Germany. The coalition between the two countries would provide each with added security against Soviet interference with their aggressive schemes. German economic assistance would enable Japan to reduce her dependence upon the United States, and Japan would ensure that Germany received from East Asia those raw material of which she stood
most urgently in need. For the present, however, any German tendency to importune Japan's entry into the European War would be steadfastly resisted.
The Yonai Cabinet lacked the resolution and singleness of purpose necessary to bring this plan to fruition. The Army demanded the "strong foreign policy" which Konoye and KIDO had decided that the new Cabinet would offer. During the Yonai Cabinet's tenure of office, demands for the adoption of a pro-Axis policy had been persistently resisted. In 1939, while the HIRANUMA Cabinet was in power, Yonai and Arita had been instrumental in frustrating the military faction's schemes for a tripartite military alliance. Now, when the Army had revived its demands for the speedy conclusion of a military alliance with Germany and Italy, Arita was hesitant and Yonai was opposed to it. SHIRATORI had said that, while such people remained in office, there was no prospect of accord between Japan and Germany. The question of the conclusion of a tripartite military alliance had become a fundamental issue between the Cabinet and those who demanded its resignation.
The Reasons for Which the Army Opposed the Yonai Cabinet
The second fundamental issue concerned the establishment of a new nation-wide political organisation which was named the "Imperial Rule Assistance Association". In times of political crisis, when the Army's plans were threatened or disputed, the military faction had always demanded the abolition of political parties. In March 1940, Major-General MUTO had revived this demand, saying that Japan needed a totalitarian regime, through which the full power of the state might be displayed. At their meeting of 26 May 1940,l Konoye and KIDO had planned to promote a new party which would replace all existing political parties. They had planned also that the Army and Navy would be given a prominent part in determining the foreign and domestic policies of the new Cabinet. There would therefore be no opposition to the policies of the military faction, which Konoye's government would represent.
These were the purposes which the Imperial Rule Assistance Association was designed to achieve. It would give full effect to a principle of the basic national policy decision which had been reiterated in May 1938 in the Army's commentary upon the purposes of the National General Mobilisation Law. By stifling all opposition, it would enhance the fighting strength of the nation and regiment the Japanese people in support of the Army's policy.
Prime Minister Yonai realised that this meant, in effect, the establishment of a dictatorship
responsive to the wishes of the military faction. He knew that all existing political organisations would be abolished and that the Diet would lose the last vestige of freedom of deliberation. His Cabinet was therefore opposed to the formation of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association.
War Vice-Minister Anami and MUTO, the Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau, took the lead in demanding the Yonai Cabinet's resignation. They informed Chief Cabinet Secretary Ishiwata that, if the Cabinet refused to resign, it would be necessary to force the War Minister's resignation. When questioned by Yonai concerning this threat, War Minister HATA had answered evasively that he thought in the long run it was better that the Cabinet should resign.
The officers of the Army General Staff were resolved that, both from the military and from the political standpoints, the Yonai Cabinet was incapable of dealing with the existing world situation. When these views had been expressed, Kanin, the Chief of the Army General Staff, conveyed them to HATA, who was expected to inform Yonai of the Army's attitude. Before doing so, HATA would discuss the position with Konoye.
The Army Brings About the Downfall of the Yonai Cabinet
on 8 July 1940, KIDO was informed of these developments by War Vice-Minister Anami and by the Chief Aide-de-Camp to the Emperor. Anami told KIDO that the Yonai Cabinet was wholly unsuitable to conduct negotiations with Germany and Italy, and that its direction of affairs might even lead to a fatal delay. He said that a change of Cabinet was therefore inevitable, and that it might be expected to take place within the next four or five days. KIDO was given to understand that the Army was waiting to see what acton the Yonai Cabinet would take, when confronted with the Army's views.
Anami's interview with KIDO is indicative of the commanding attitude which the Army had assumed. The War Vice-Minister told KIDO that the Army would unanimously support Konoye's candidacy for the premiership. WHen KIDO pointed out the difficulty of choosing a new Foreign Minster, Anami assured him that the Army was prepared to leave that question entirely to Konoye.
As KIDO had been advised, a memorandum of the Army's opinions was prepared and submitted to Yonai. On 16 July 1940, the Prime Minister summoned HATA, and told him that the Army's opinions were not those of the Cabinet. He asked the War Minister to resign if he disagreed with the Cabinet's policy. HATA thereupon submitted his resignation, and, when asked by Yonai to name a successor, undertook to present a reply to this request upon
the same day. After consulting the other two "Chiefs" of the Army, HATA informed Yonai that the Army was unable to make any recommendation.
In this way, the Army encompassed the downfall of the Yonai Cabinet. On 16 July 1940, the same day on which the War Minister resigned, the Premier, having no alternative, tendered his Cabinet's resignation to the Emperor.
On the following day, 17 July 1940, Ambassador Ott reported to Berlin that in view of the Cabinet change which the Army had forced, a speedy transition to a more actively anti-British policy was to be expected. The Army had already mobilised siege guns for an immediate attack on Hongkong, in case that policy should be ordained.
War Minister HATA is not shown to have taken any active part in the plotting which led to the Yonai Cabinet's downfall. He had supported that Cabinet's policy, which was itself an aggressive policy designed to further the national aims of aggrandisement through military power. He had held office because the members of the pro-German faction had realised that Japan's internal differences must be resolved before their own plans could succeed. He had shown that he regarded the Cabinet's cautious attempts to conceal its aggressive aims merely as a question of expediency. When the moment was opportune, he had permitted himself to be used in order to bring about the
Yonai Cabinet's downfall, and the accession to power of a new Cabinet, responsive to the wishes of the military faction.
After his appointment on 1 June 1940 as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, KIDO had maintained his close association with Konoye, and had consistently furthered the aims of those who advocated the replacement of the Yonai Cabinet. On 27 June 1940, he had discussed the procedure which should be adopted at the time of the Cabinet change, and had exchanged views with Finance Minister Sakurauchi on the strengthening of the political structure. When, on 5 July 1940, a plot to assassinate the Premier and other prominent men had been discovered, KIDO, in reporting the matter to the Emperor, had supported the motives of the conspirators. He had thereafter been privy to the Army's scheme to bring about the Yonai Cabinet's downfall and Konoye's accession to power, KIDO knew that, although the Emperor had come to believe Yonai's resignation to be inevitable, he still had faith in Yonai and regretted the necessity for a change of Cabinets. WHen, on the morning of 16 July 1940, it became apparent that Yonai might be forced to resign immediately, KIDO reported the circumstances
Kido's Part in the Downfall of the Yonai Cabinet
and Selection of Konoye as Premier
of HATA's resignation to the Emperor, and explained to him the method of selecting a new Premier.
It had been the practice that certain of Elder Statesmen, known as the "Genro", should advise the Emperor upon the appointment of a new Premier; but only one of them, Prince Saionji, survived. In the past, Saionji's influence had been great; and largely through his advice and knowledge of the political situation, the court circle had at times been prompted to impose some restraint upon the activities of the military faction.
Baron Harada, Saionji's secretary and confidant, was, with Yonai, marked down for assassination by the plotters whose motives KIDO upheld.
In November 1939, KIDO had been engaged, at Konoye's request, upon the task of devising a new system of selecting a Premier. He had suggested that the "Genro" should be replaced by a body consisting of the President of the Privy Council, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, and all former Premiers. The opinions of the members of this body of "Senior Statesmen" would be conveyed to the Emperor.
ON 10 November 1939, KIDO had discussed this plan with Konoye, who desired it to be put into effect as soon as possible. Both Konoye and KIDO clearly regarded the new system as a means of eliminating Saionji's influence in political affairs; for KIDO expressed to
Konoye the fear that the plan would be difficult to put into practice while Saionji was living.
When, in January 1940, YOnai replaced Abe as Premier, the plan was not invoked; but, when, in July 1940, the Yonai Cabinet resigned, Saionji was infirm and out of touch with political affairs. KIDO's influence as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was therefore greatly enhanced.
The Emperor accepted KIDO's explanation of the new system; and, after the resignation of the Yonai Cabinet had been received, asked KIDO to summon a meeting of the Senior Statesmen. At this meeting, Konoye was the only person suggested for the office of Premier. HIRANUMA, ten days earlier, had declared himself to be in favour of Konoye's appointment, saying that the Army was known to favour it, and that he believed some of the Army's recent actions to have been based on the assumption that Konoye would assume office. So the matter was settled. An emissary sent to inform Saionji of this decision reported that the Prince, being sick and unfamiliar with the political situation, had declined to take the responsibility for advising the Emperor.
KIDO then reported the Senior Statesmen's recommendation to the Emperor, who desired that Saionji should once more be consulted, before a final decision was made. KIDO, however,
dissuaded him upon the ground of Saionji's infirmity. Konoye was then summoned, and received the mandate to form a new Cabinet.
Konoye proceeded to construct his Cabinet in the manner which KIDO and he had planned on 26 May 1940. Konoye, after accepting the mandate for form a new Cabinet, told KIDO that he would ask the outgoing War and Navy Ministers to select successors who would each be willing to cooperate with the other arm of the service. When the War, Navy and Foreign Ministers had been selected, Konoye would discuss fully with them the questions of national defence, diplomacy, cooperation between Army and Navy, and the relation between the Supreme Command and the Cabinet. Not until the Four Minister's Conference had reached agreement on these questions would he begin to select the other Cabinet Ministers. This plan Konoye carried out.
The Formation and Policy of the Second Konoye Cabinet
Navy Minister Yoshida retained his office in the new Cabinet. Lieutenant-General TOJO was chosen as War Minister.
After the Yonai Cabinet's downfall, HATA< the outgoing War Minister, had taken the unprecedented step of recommending secretly to the Emperor that TOJO should succeeed him. From 30 May 1930 to 10 December 1938, TOJO had held office as Vice-Minister of War, and since that time, he had served as Inspector-General of the Army Air Forces. Since 24 February 1940, he had been, in addtion, a Supreme War Councillor.
The choice of a Foreign Minister had been recognised by KIDO as one of difficulty. SHIRATORI, an extremist in his advocacy of complete collaboration between Japan and Germany, had been favoured for the post, but Konoye chose Matsuoka. Even before his appointment had been announced, the new Foreign Minister informed the German Ambassador confidentially of this fact, and expressed his desire for friendly cooperation with Germany.
Throughout this period, Germany was kept closely informed of developments in Japanese politics. On 20 July 1940, Ambassador Ott advised his government that Matsuoka's appointment would certainly lead to a reorientation of Japanese foreign policy.
On 18 July 1940, Konoye, Matsuoka, TOJO and Yoshida held a lengthy conference at which the principles of the new Cabinet's policy were settled, and agreement was obtained.
The Japanese Embassy in Berlin informed the German Foreign Ministry that, through this unusual procedure, the four ministers who would occupy the key positions in the new Cabinet had drawn up an authoritative foreign policy programme which included a rapprochement with Germany and Italy.
These matters of policy being settled, Konoye proceeded with the selection of the other members of his Cabinet. The formation of the new Cabinet was announced on 22 July 1940.
HOSHINO, who had earlier controlled the economic and industrial development of Manchukuo, became a Minister of State and President of the Planning Board. This appointment was an important one, for the new Cabinet placed great stress upon the acceleration of the national mobilisation, and upon the closer integration of the economies of Japan, Manchukuo and the rest of China. Financial controls were to be strengthened, armaments were to be greatly increased, and war-supporting industries were to undergo further rapid expansion.
Major-General MUTO retained his position as Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau, and HATA became a Military Councillor. Chashi, a recognised leader of the pro-German faction, was appointed Foreign Vice-Minister. SHIRATORI informed OTT in confidence that he had refused the appointment.
It was now expected that he would become permanent adviser to Foreign Minister Matsuoka. SHIRATORI believed that in that position he could exercise a far-reaching influence on Japanese foreign policy. On 28 August 1940, he became a Diplomatic Councillor to the Foreign Ministry.
On 26 July 1940, four days after its formation, the new Cabinet, of which TOJO and HOSHINO were now members, defined its policy, The basic principles of the new declaration were those of the national policy decision of 11 August 1936. It was stated that the world was now on the threshold of an historic change, and that new political, economic and cultural orders were in process of creation. Japan also was faced with an ordeal unparalleled in her history.
It was declared that, if Japan were to act in accordance with the ideal of Hakko Ichiu, the system of government must be fundamentally revised, and the "national defence" structure of the state completed. It was Japan's aim to achieve the construction of a "new order in Greater East Asia". For that purpose, she would increase her armaments and would mobilize the entire strength of the nation. Japan would first concentrate upon a successful settlement of the war in China.
By adopting a flexible policy, she would plan and prepare to take advantage of changes in the world situation in order to advance her own national fortunes.
It has been seen that, on 26 May 1490, Konoye and KIDO had planned to form a new Cabinet which, by acting in accordance with the wishes of the military and by suppressing all political groups which might oppose its policy, would become the government of a totalitarian state. Thus, the leaders of the military faction would be, in fact, the undisputed rulers of Japan.
The Second Konoye Cabinet Was Resolved to Complete
the Military Domination of Japan
As early as September 1930, HASHIMOTO had advocated the formation of such a military Cabinet, and from that time onward it had been an ultimate goal of the military faction's planning. The national policy decision of 11 August 1936 had decreed that steps would be taken to lead and unify public opinion, and to strengthen the people's will to carry out the aggressive policy which had been adopted. The enactment, in February 1938, of the National General Mobilisation Law had brought those objects within reach. The Army, in commenting upon the purposes of the law, had indicated that every aspect of the nation's life would be directed to the achievement of the maximum pitch of warlike efficiency.
In the economic and industrial fields, these results had in large degree already been obtained. Public opinion also had been
rigidly controlled, and attuned to the desires of the Army and its supporters. When the second Konoye Cabinet came to power, the ultimate steps were taken to complete the military domination of Japan.
The new Cabinet owed its existence to Army support. In order that its policy should be founded firmly, Konoye had secured the prior agreement of the new War and Navy Ministers. It remained to carry out the measures necessary to ensure the unification of military policy and Cabinet policy, and to complete the regimentation of the Japanese nation in preparation for future wars. When, on 26 July 1940, the new Cabinet, of which TOJO and HOSHINO were members, met to approve the policy already settled, these aims were given great prominence.
It was then decided that all branches of government would be remodelled in accordance with the fundamental principle of the basic national policy decision> The education system would continue to be used for this purpose, and the Japanese people would be imbued with the idea that service to the state was the paramount consideration.
The Cabinet, by setting up a new national political structure, would strive for a coordinated unity of government. The Diet system would be altered to conform to this plan.
The nation would be reorganised upon the basis of service to the state and of cooperation between the people and their autocratic government.
These aims were attained through the collaboration of Army and Cabinet. Of the new means employed, the most important were the "Liaison Conference" and the Imperial Rule Assistance Association.
The purpose of the Liaison Conference was to ensure the unity of military and Cabinet policy. Its establishment had been foreshadowed by Konoye and KIDO at their meeting of 26 May 1940, when its was decided to set up a supreme national defence council of which the Chiefs of the Army and Naval General Staff, as well as the Premier and the War and Navy Ministers, would be members.
The Liaison Conference, and the Manner in Which
the Domination of the Military Faction Was Made Complete
The new body was larger than Konoye and KIDO had originally intended. It came to include, not only the members already specified, but also the Foreign and Finance Ministers, the Vice-Chiefs of the Army and Naval General Staffs and the Chiefs of the Military and Naval Affairs Bureaux. Sometimes, it was attended also by the President of the Planning Board and the Chief Cabinet Secretary.
The Liaison Conference met on 27 July 1940, the day after the new Konoye Cabinet had agreed upon the principles of its future policy. At this meeting, similar decisions were made covering every important aspect of the nation's domestic and foreign policy.
The new conference, which for the first time enabled the leaders of the Army and Navy to take a direct part in the formulation of Cabinet policy, became itself a very important policy-making body. It tended further to diminish the influence of the Court circle by assuming the deliberative functions of the Imperial Conference. This latter body, which was summoned only to decide the gravest matters of state, after this time did little more than accord formal approval to decisions already reached by the Liaison Conference.
The decision of the new body represented the combined authority of the Army, Navy, and the five most important Cabinet Ministers. They were therefore difficult to change. During the year 1941, Liaison Conferences were held frequently, and came more and more to usurp the functions of the Cabinet meeting.
The Liaison Conference served also to strengthen the position of the Premier. Previous Cabinets had been overthrown through the disaffection of the Army. Frequently, decisions of the Four and Five Ministers' Conferences had been nullified because the War Minister, after consultation with other
Army and War Ministry officials, had withdrawn his agreement. Now that the service chiefs had themselves become party to important decisions, the settled policy could not afterwards easily be disrupted.
The Army had planned to use Konoye as a mere instrument of its policy; but, through the careful manner in which he had constructed his Cabinet around a predetermined policy, and through the institution of the Liaison Conference, Konoye had achieved a commanding position as the leader of an authoritarian regime. The Cabinet and Army worked together to complete the military domination of Japan by regulating the political activities of the Japanese people and by eliminating political opposition.
The Imperial Rule Assistance Association, which was formally established on 10 October 1940, is discussed more fully in a later chapter of this judgment. It became a nation-wide organisation heavily subsidised by the Japanese government. After its establishment, all other political organisations disappeared. in this manner, the revision of the Diet system was achieved, and the idea of service to the state was instilled into the minds of the Japanese people.
The Army had intended through this new association to drive out all existing political parties, and to establish a "pro-Army" party, subservient to the wishes of its own
leaders. But Konoye, as he had planned with KIDO, had attracted to the new organisation the members of existing parties. He had proclaimed that the military, the government authorities and the people must unite in order to construct a country with powerful "national defence".
In August 1940, MUTO, Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau and one of the Army's most prominent leaders. conceded that the situation had changed. He pointed out that the Imperial Rule Assistance Association was not a movement to which the people themselves had give rise, but something which had been imposed upon them. He believed that strong political powers should be delegated to the new organisation. He recognised that Army and Cabinet should work together to lead and spread the movement, and so to promote the aggressive national aims which Army and Cabinet now held in common.
When, on 16 July 1940, Konoye received the mandate to form a Cabinet, a tentative plan of Japan's new foreign policy had already been prepared. The Foreign Ministry had at length determined upon the policy of close collaboration with Germany
The Tentative Plan for Collaboration With Germany, and the Extent of Japanese Planning for
the Domination of Greater East Asia
and Italy, which the members of the pro-German faction, and most notably SHIRATORI, had urged incessantly during the preceding year. Spurred on by von Ribbentrop's refusal to disclose Germany's intentions until Japan's own aims were clarified, the Foreign Ministry had drafted a proposal designed to secure Germany's cooperation without committing Japan to participation in the European War.
The discussions of this proposal by Army, navy and Foreign Ministry representatives on 12 July 1940 and again on 16 July 1940, revealed the fear that events were passing Japan by. It was assumed that Germany would conquer Great Britain. It was believed that the European War might be ended in the near future. It was realised that, if Japan were not prepared to act quickly, the opportunity for conquests in the South might vanish.
Japan feared that, once the war in Europe was over, Germany would resist Japan's attempts to extend her own domination throughout East Asia and the South Seas, and that Germany and Italy might then act in conjunction with other nations to frustrate a Japanese advance. On the other hand, as Foreign Minister Matsuoka said later, it was believed that at this time "Japan has such a strength as is able to tip the balance of the world as she likes".
Encouraged by Germany's successes in Europe, Japanese leaders no longer spoke merely of the establishment of a "new order in East Asia". The phrase now commonly used was the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". At this moment when Great Britain, France and the Netherlands were in eclipse, it was decided that Japan should seize control of all British, French, Netherlands and Portuguese possessions in the areas of East and South-East Asia and of the Pacific Ocean.
On 16 July 1940, Army, Navy and Foreign Ministry representatives agreed that the ultimate goal of Japanese expansion should include all the territory lying between eastern India and Burma on the one hand, and Australia and New Zealand on the other. As a more immediate objective, Japan would aim at the domination of an area which included Hongkong, French Indo-China, Thailand, Malaya, the Netherlands East indies, the Philippines and New Guinea.
To achieve these aims, it was thought imperative that Japan should make a definite proposal as a basis for her collaboration with Germany and Italy. Japan would not undertake to intervene in the European War, but rather she would declare her intention of undertaking separately a war against Great britain when it was felt that the opportune moment had arrived. Japan would,k however, undertake to assist Germany in conquering Great Britain by all means short of a declaration of war.
Japan would take steps to undermine Great Britain's influence in the Far East, and to foster separatist movements in India and Burma. Japan would offer Germany her support and cooperation in regard both to the United States and to the Soviet Union. Japan would minimise the possibility of United States intervention in the European War, because her actions would constitute a constant threat to American interests in the Pacific and in the Far East. Japan in turn would gain protection against the possibility of United States or Soviet interference with her plans.
Japan would recognise the exclusive rights of Germany and Italy in Europe and in Africa, and would ask in exchange for an acknowledgment of her own right to political supremacy and economic freedom in East Asia and the South Seas. She would ask also for German cooperation in the war against China, and for German economic and technical assistance. She would promise in exchange to supply, both from China and form the South Seas, those raw materials of which Germany stood in need. Japan and Germany would arrange for reciprocity in trade between the two vast spheres of influence which they expected to control when the European War was over.
This plan became the basis of the second Konoye Cabinet's foreign policy.
Although Japan had decided upon the conquest of South-East Asia and the East Indies, there was great uncertainty as to the nature and timing of the actual measures to be taken. In part, this element of indecision arose from the differing viewpoints of the Army, the Navy and the Foreign Ministry; but the principal reason for it was uncertainty as to Germany's real aims.
The Adoption of the Tentative Plan
By the Second Konoye Cabinet
There was great apprehension lest Germany herself might have designs upon French Indo-China, the Netherlands East Indies, and other areas in the South Seas. It was felt that Japan must adopt a firm attitude upon this question, and must move quickly while Germany was preoccupied in Europe. On the other hand, it was determined to present Japan's exclusive claims in the form most easy of German acceptance. Japan would conceal her aims of conquest, saying only that she desired political leadership and economic opportunity.
Concern was also felt about Germany's relationship with the Soviet Union and with the United States. It was expected that, when the European War was over, these two countries, together with Germany and Japan, would emerge as the four remaining world powers. It was desired that, when this happened, Japan should
continue to cooperate with Germany and Italy; but it was feared lest a change in German policy should leave Japan unsupported. It was agreed that Japan should negotiate with the United States solely for the purpose of furthering the achievement of her own aims in conjunction with those of Germany and Italy. It was recognised that the policy of fostering better relations with the U.S.S.R. should be followed only as long as it suited the plans of Germany and Japan.
Lastly, there was uncertainty lest the degree of cooperation which Japan was prepared to offer should proved unacceptable to Germany. It was debated whether Japan should not immediately take stronger measures against Great Britain, or should promise to attack Singapore when the war in China had been ended; but it was decided to make no definite commitments.
These were uncertainties which it became the task of the new Cabinet to resolve. There was no such doubt about the basic principles of Japanese foreign policy. The Army, Navy and Foreign Ministry Representatives were agreed that Japan should, in spite of all difficulties, establish her dominion over the whole of East and South-East Asia and the South Pacific area. For this purpose, Japan would, if necessary, make war on any nation which opposed her purpose. Since expediency demanded it, she would first reach agreement with Germany and Italy.
When, on 19 July 1940, Konoye, Matsuoka, TOJO and Yoshida met to formulate the policy of the new Cabinet, they adopted the plans which had already been made. They resolved to strengthen Japan's relationship with Germany and Italy, so that the "new order" might be established quickly. In pursuance of this plan, they determined to conclude a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, making Manchukuo and Mongolia parties to the new agreement. They decided that British, French, Netherlands and Portuguese territories should be included within the framework of Japan's "new order". If the United States did not interfere with these plans, Japan would not seek to attack her; but if the United States should attempt to intervene, Japan would not hesitate to resort to war.
Although, when the second Konoye Cabinet took office, Arita's conduct of foreign affairs gave place to the "strong" foreign policy of Konoye and the military faction, the central feature of Arita's policy was maintained. The new Cabinet was determined that Japan's long-standing national ambitions, which were again described as the ideal of Hakko Ichiu, should not be subordinated to those of Germany and Italy.
The Second Konoye Cabinet's Policy Was Based Upon
the National Policy Decision of 11 August 1936
While the terms of Japanese collaboration with Germany and Italy were yet unsettled, the new Cabinet placed renewed emphasis on the unchanging aims of the Army's planning, which had been settled in the basic national policy decision of 11 August 1936. As in 1936, so on 26 July 1940, the foremost goals of Japanese policy were stated to be those of conquering China, and of promoting every aspect of the national mobilisation for war. While these settled aims were being carried out, Japan would adopt flexible policies so that she might take advantage of changes in the international situation fo further her own interests.
It was, however, stated clearly in the Cabinet decision of 26 July 1940, that Japan would construct a "new order in Greater East Asia", of which Japan, Manchukuo and the rest of China would form merely the foundation. On 1 August 1940, this decision was published by the Foreign Ministry as a government announcement.
On this occasion, Foreign Minister Matsuoka made a statement in which he referred to Japan's mission as the task of spreading Kodo throughout the world. He said that it was the immediate aim of Japanese foreign policy to establish, in accordance with that spirit, a great East Asia chain of common prosperity with Japan, Manchukuo and the rest of China as one of its links. For this purpose,
Japan would be prepared to surmount all obstacles, both material and spiritual, lying in her path. In concert with those friendly powers who were prepared to cooperate with her, Japan would strive with courage and determination for the fulfillment of the ideal and the heaven-ordained mission of her country.
Meanwhile, at the Liaison Conference of 27 July 1940, the Army and Navy had signified their acceptance of the Cabinet's policy, and had resolved in the meantime "to settle the southern problem within limits, so as not to cause a war against a third power". While Japan sought to arrange the terms of collaboration with Germany and Italy, and to effect a rapprochement with the Soviet Union, Japan would maintain a firm, yet moderate attitude towards the United States. The Liaison Conference resolved that, "although we will not refrain from boldly carrying out the policy deemed necessary by the Empire in spite of the inevitable and natural aggravation which will accompany it, we will always heed the actions of the United States. We must plan," the resolution continued, "even by going out of our way, to avoid the increase of friction".
In this respect also, the Cabinet adhered to that principle of the national basic policy decision which stated that Japan should extend her influence "in the South Seas, under the
joint efforts of diplomatic skill and national defence", while attempting to avoid the needless aggravation of other nations.
The Liaison Conference, acting in accordance with this principle, decided in detail the measures which should be taken immediately in pursuance of Japan's policy of advancing southward. Already, northern French Indo-China was under Japanese control. Japanese forces had been mobilised in preparation for a possible attack on Hongkong. Japan had made demands upon the Netherlands East Indies for a guaranteed supply of raw materials; and, on the day on which the new Cabinet took office, it had been announced that Japan would send an economic commission to the Netherlands East Indies to reach a settlement upon this matter.
The Policy of "Settling the Southern Problem Within Limits"
The Liaison Conference decided that these policies would be continued. For the time being, Japan would attempt to secure the vital resources of the Netherlands East Indies by diplomatic means. She would negotiate for Germany's consent to Japan's occupation of French Pacific possessions, and for the retention of those formerly German islands which Japan now administered under mandate. Japan would also try to foster the support of other countries in the South Seas.
In regard, however, to French Indo-China, Hongkong, Malaya and the settlements of the Western Powers in China, Japan would take stronger measures to prevent assistance to the forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and to root out the feeling of enmity towards Japan. From French indo-China, Japan would demand the use of airfields, and the right of passage for her troops. She would require French Indo-China to provision her troops, and would also take steps to secure raw materials from that country.
These measures did not satisfy War Minister TOJO. On 31 July 1940, Ambassador Ott reported to Germany that TOJO was bringing about an acute deterioration in Japan's relations with Great Britain. By doing so, he hoped further to undermine the influence of the pro-British groups in Japan, and to hasten the time when Japan would take action against British possession in East Asia.
On 5 August 1940, when the second Konoye Cabinet's policies had been decided, Ambassador SHIGEMITSU sent Matsuoka a message in which he congratulated the new Foreign Minister upon his appointment, and upon the establishment and enforcement of the "Greater East Asia policy".
Shigemitsu's VIews on the "Greater East Asia" Policy
While the Yonai Cabinet was in office, SHIGEMITSU had urged Foreign Minister Arita to resist the demands of the military faction. He had contended that, as a result of the war in Europe, the influence of the Western Powers in East Asia was being steadily diminished. He had believed that the position of Far Eastern supremacy which Japan coveted, could best be achieved by maintaining a policy of strict neutrality. The military faction had, however, come to power, and there was no longer any prospect that a policy of strict neutrality would be followed.
SHIGEMITSU now lent his support to the aims of the new Cabinet, saying "In order to establish our position in Greater East Asia, it would be necessary to consider measures for gaining the maximum benefits at the minimum loss by carrying them out at the direct expense of small nations, and by avoiding conflict with other countries so as not to make many enemies at once but to dispose of them one by one". He instanced France and Portugal as countries at which these measures should be directed, remarking that in this way, progress might be made at the indirect expense of Great Britain and the United States.
SHIGEMITSU, however, made it clear that he still believed in the likelihood of the ultimate victory of the Western Powers over Germany and Italy. He showed himself to be opposed to the cardinal principles of the
Konoye Cabinet's policy, which was based upon the assumption that Germany would certainly conquer Great Britain.
The new Cabinet had determined to intensify Japan's campaign to crush the resistance of the forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek; but SHIGEMITSU, as on earlier occasions, advocated the adoption of a liberal-minded attitude towards the settlement of the war in China.
The Cabinet had also adopted a policy for southward expansion which contemplated attacks upon British possessions in the Far East. The Army and War Minister TOJO were eager to hasten the time when hostilities would begin. The Cabinet had resolved that the advance to the South would be carried out, even if war between Japan and the United States should ensue. SHIGEMITSU emphasized that it was necessary for Japan "to proceed with scrupulous consideration and prudence" in her relations with Great Britain and the United States. He once more pointed out that Great Britain's influence in the Far East was diminishing, and claimed that even the United States was retreating from its position in East Asia. He adhered to the view that, if Japan acted with moderation in carrying out her East Asia policy, it could be expected that British and United States obstructions to that policy would in due course be removed.
The second Konoye Cabinet had decided to foster Japanese collaboration with Germany and Italy. The Army had renewed its demands for the conclusion of a tripartite alliance of the Axis Powers. SHIGEMITSU stressed the dangers entailed in taking any step which bound Germany and Japan to the pursuit of a common policy. He warned Matsuoka that powerful movements were afoot to draw Japan into a Pacific conflict with Great Britain and the United States. He implied that this was Germany's policy; and that among certain circles in Great Britain it was desired that Japanese expansion in East Asia should be prevented by such a war. During the latter months of 1940, SHIGEMITSU, as Ambassador in London, encouraged members of the British government to seek a new basis for resumption of friendly relations with Japan.
In this despatch of 5 August 1940, SHIGEMITSU urged that Japan should push forward with an independent policy, parallel to that of Germany and Italy. He drew attention to the Soviet Union's relationship with Germany as a model for Japan to follow. The U.S.S.R. he said, was maintaining strongly a policy of neutrality which left room for compromise with Great Britain. At the same time, SHIGEMITSU alleged, the Soviet Union was building up her power over small countries unconnected with the European War. This was the policy which SHIGEMITSU considered that Japan should follow in order to attain her main object of establishing "a powerful political and economic position in East Asia".
Nevertheless, even before the terms of Japanese collaboration with Germany and Italy had been arranged, an ultimate warlike advance into South-East Asia and the East Indies was already regarded as settled policy. Early in August 1940, Fushimi, the Chief of the Naval General Staff, advised the Emperor that the Navy wished for the present to avoid the use of force against Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies. He said that, after the decision for war was made, a further eight months at least would be required for preparations. he considered, therefore, that the later war came, the better it would be.
Matsuoka Proposes to Germany the Terms of
Japanese Collaboration With the Axis Powers
Already Foreign Minister Matsuoka had taken the first step towards reaching agreement with Germany and Italy. On 1 August 1940, he informed Ambassador Ott that both the government and people of Japan desired their country's relations with Germany and Italy to be strengthened. He said that he himself had always supported such a policy, but made it clear that the Cabinet's decision would depend upon the terms of cooperation which Germany offered.
At the conferences of July 1940, it had been decided that Japan would not undertake to
intervene in the European War. Instead, Matsuoka invited Germany to take a broad view of the world situation. He pointed out that, even after Germany had conquered Great Britain, the destruction of the remaining countries of the British Commonwealth would prove no easy matter. Ott agreed that this was the case. Matsuoka said that Germany would be opposed both by the Soviet Union and by an Anglo-Saxon bloc consisting of the United States and the surviving British countries. Japan would then be in a very strong position.
Japan, said Matsuoka, was determined to continue the war in China until Chinese resistance had been crushed. This could be accomplished without German assistance. Japan, he continued, was also determined to realise her ambitions in the South. In Matsuoka's opinion, Japan would first concentrate upon the countries no further south than Thailand, but her objectives would change with changing world conditions. In order to secure German cooperation, Matsuoka told Ott that Japan intended neither to subjugate nor to exploit the territories over which she would establish her control.
Having thus taken the initiative, Matsuoka desired to know Germany's attitude towards Japan's policy, and what support Germany was prepared to offer. He wished also to find out Germany's policy in regard both to the Soviet Union and the United States, and
what Germany desired of Japan in her relationships with these two countries.
Upon the same day on which this conversation took place, Ambassador Kurusu made similar overtures to an official of the German Foreign Ministry. The Germans concluded that, if Kurusu and Matsuoka correctly represented their country's aims in East Asia and the South Seas, it was in Germany's interest to collaborate upon the terms which the Japanese had suggested. Accordingly, on 23 August 1940, Stahmer was despatched by Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop as Germany's special emissary to Japan.
Meanwhile, Matsuoka conducted a thorough purge of all diplomats and Foreign Ministry officials who favoured cooperation with the Eastern Powers. SHIRATORI became the representative for foreign political matters on a commission established to "adjust state affairs upon an authoritarian model". The new commission demanded constantly a policy of cooperation with the Axis Powers.
On 4 September 1940, Prime Minister Konoye, Foreign Minister Matsuoka, War Minister TOJO and the Navy Minister met to plan the strategy of Japanese negotiations with Germany. It was felt that this was the opportune moment for initiating conversations with that country. Stahmer, the German special envoy, was on his way to Tokyo, and the desire for strengthening Japanese collaboration with Germany and Italy had become very pronounced.
The Detailed Plan for a Tripartite Military Alliance:
Four Ministers' Conference, 4 September 1940
At this Four Ministers' Conference there was no departure from the policies already decided upon; but the Japanese attitude towards all aspects of the negotiations with Germany and Italy was defined and set out with great particularity. It was decided that Japan, Germany and Italy would reach a fundamental agreement so that the three powers might cooperate by all means, including recourse to war, in establishing their aims of domination in Asia and in Europe respectively. The three countries would agree upon the manner in which they would support each other in achieving these aims, and as to the policies which they would jointly adopt towards Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union.
After the shortest possible period spent in negotiations, the agreement reached would be
published in the form of a joint declaration. This would provide the basis for a more detailed military agreement, the terms of which would not necessarily be made public. This latter agreement would define the obligations of each contracting power to furnish military, economic and other kinds of mutual support.
The four Ministers planned in detail the forms which Japan considered this support should take, and settled the principles upon which Japan would negotiate for a tripartite military alliance.
In the first place, it was agreed that Japan's sphere of influence should include the Japanese mandated islands of the Pacific, French Indo-China and other French Pacific possessions, Thailand, Malaya, British Borneo, the Netherlands East Indies, Burma, Australia, New Zealand, India and other countries. In conducting negotiations with Germany, however, Japan would speak only of the area from Burma eastward and from New Caledonia northward, including the Netherlands East Indies. If Germany should make reservations, Japan would express her intentions in such a way as to secure German recognition of her aim of predominance in the whole of East Asia, including the South Seas. Japan would maintain that her ultimate goal was to establish the independence of French Indo-China and the Netherlands East Indies, but that she desired first to gain a political and economic ascendancy over those countries.
In the second place, the three countries would adopt common policies in regard to the Soviet Union and the United States. It would be their aim to maintain friendly relations with the U.S.S.R., but they would agree also to act in concert in case it became likely that one of the contracting powers would be involved in war with the Soviet Union. Japan would cooperate with Germany and Italy in restraining the U.S.S.R. on the east, west and south, thus endeavouring to induce that country to align itself with the Tripartite Powers.
The contracting powers would also act in conjunction in restraining the United States by measures short of war. In accordance with this policy, the Philippines were not included among the countries which it was Japan's immediate intention to dominate. Their inclusion would depend upon the attitude of the United States. By political and economic collaboration with Germany and Italy, pressure would be brought to bear upon the United States, thus enabling the attainment of Japan's ambitions.
In the third place, the nature of the economic assistance to be rendered by each contracting power would be made the subject of a separate agreement. Japan would furnish from the areas under her control the raw materials needed by Germany for the prosecution of the war against Great Britain. Germany in turn would cooperate with Japan in facilitating the prosecution of the war in China; and would
furnish technical assistance and materials of war for which Japan had in the past been largely dependent upon the United States.
In the fourth place, Japan would take such steps as the situation might require to eliminate the political and economic interests of Great Britain in the Far East. By means of economic assistance to Germany, by political and economic pressure upon British interests in China, by propaganda and by encouraging independence movements in British territories, Japan would assist Germany and Italy in the war against Great Britain. If Germany desired it, Japan would, as a matter of principle, declare her willingness to afford military cooperation against Great Britain. If not, her chief objective would be the United States.
Nevertheless, concerning the possible use of armed force against Great Britain and the United States, Japan would reserve the right to make her decisions independently. If the war in China should be nearing settlement, Japan would use armed force, choosing as favourable an occasion as possible for this purpose. While the conflict in China continued, Japan would not resort to war against the Western Powers, unless the situation should be such as to permit no further delay.
The essence of the proposed alliance was that which Matsuoka had suggested to the Germans. When Germany had emerged victoriously
from the war against Great Britain, the world would be divided into four spheres of influence, dominated respectively by Germany and Italy, by Japan, by the Soviet Union and by the United States. Both before and after this situation had come about, Japan would act in conjunction with Germany and Italy so that each might realise fully its aims of conquest and aggrandisement.
Five days later, on 9 September 1940, Foreign Minister Matsuoka met Stahmer and commenced negotiations with Germany. Stahmer, who spoke under the German Foreign Minister's direct instructions, revealed that Germany was no less eager than Japan to conclude the proposed tripartite alliance.
The Negotiation of the Tripartite Alliance,
9-11 September 1940
In all material respects, Germany's views corresponded closely with those which Matsuoka had expressed to Ambassador Ott on 1 August 1940.
Germany, said Stahmer, desired to end the European War quickly, and did not at the present juncture require Japan's military assistance. Germany particularly wished Japan to restrain and prevent the United States from entering the war. The conclusion of the proposed alliance and the adoption of a strong foreign policy was considered to be the surest way of preventing war between th United States and either Japan or Germany. Germany and Italy
said Stahmer, would do everything possibly to restraining the United States, and would supply Japan with such war equipment as they could reasonably spare.
In other respects also, Germany's proposals accorded well with Japanese aims. germany, declared Stahmer, recognized and respected Japan's political leadership in East Asia. All that Germany required in that area was of an economic nature. She would collaborate with Japan, and would expect Japan to meet her economic needs. Germany would also assist in bringing about a rapprochement between the Soviet Union and Japan, and believed that this would present no insuperable difficulty.
Although Germany for the present desired Japan's neutrality, Stahmer made it clear that Germany regarded Japan as an ally in the coming struggle for world supremacy. The present war, he said, may end quickly, but the great struggle will go on, in one form or another, for decades. In the meantime, Germany would do everything possible to prevent war between Japan and the United States, and even, if possible, to improve their relations. Nevertheless, said Stahmer, the tripartite powers must be prepared for the worst contingency. Germany believed that, in the long run, war between Japan and the United States could scarcely be avoided.
Stahmer told Matsuoka that the war in Europe was destined in the end to develop into a struggle against the whole Anglo-Saxon world.
Germany regarded the proposed alliance as a long-term arrangement for cooperation in this struggle, and therefore desired that Japan should joint the Axis quickly, before the war with Great Britain was ended.
Stahmer and Matsuoka met on 9, 10 and 11 September 1940. At the third meeting, they settled between them the draft of the proposed tripartite alliance. At Germany's express desire, Italy was not invited to participate in these negotiations. Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, received his first intimation of the proposed alliance form von Ribbentrop on 19 September 1940. The German Foreign Minister then expressed his belief that the alliance would have a double edge--against the Soviet Union and against the United States.
After Matsuoka and Stahmer had settled the draft of the proposed tripartite alliance, no time was lost in securing its conclusion. On 16 September 1940, the proposal was first submitted to an Imperial Conference which took the form of a meeting of the Privy Council in the Emperor's presence. Foreign Minister Matsuoka traced the course of the negotiations with Germany, and explained each clause of the proposed draft. the Navy, however, did not agree to the proposal.
The Circumstances Surrounding the Conclusion of
the Tripartite Alliance
Three days later, on 19 September 1940, the question was considered by the Liaison Conference, and, on 24 September 1940, agreement was finally reached. On 26 September 1940, this was reported to the Privy Council, which again met in the Emperor's presence. Konoye, Matsuoka, TOJO and Oikawa, who had now replaced Yoshida as Navy Minister, were in attendance. The spokesmen for the alliance included HOSHINO, the President of the Planning Board, MUTO, the Chief of the War Ministry's Military Affairs Bureau, and representatives of the Finance and Navy Ministries.
So great was the need for urgency now considered that the Privy Council departed from the usual practice of deputing an Investigating Committee to consider the draft and to submit a written report. Instead, those present at the Privy Council meeting constituted themselves a committee of the whole under the chairmanship of the Council's Vice-President. Konoye and Matsuoka first explained the proposal. The ensuing discussions lasted all day and into the evening. The Investigating Committee of the whole then unanimously recommended the conclusion of the proposed alliance, and added a warning. It was resolved that the government should improve Japan's relations with the Soviet Union, and should avoid any
action which might incite Great Britain and the United States, but it was demanded that the government, while taking these measures, should prepare for the worst.
The conference was then once more convened as a meeting of the full Privy Council, held in the Emperor's presence. The Chairman of the Investigating Committee reported orally the recommendations decided upon, and, after some further discussions, the conclusion of the alliance was unanimously approved.
On the following day, 27 September 1940, the Tripartite Alliance was concluded. An Imperial Rescript was issued, announcing that the new alliance was an instrument of peace, which enabled each nation "to have its proper place in the world". FOreign Minister Matsuoka made a speech declaring that Japan's responsibilities as the leader of the "new order" in East Asia had increased. He said that, although Japan intended to fulfill these responsibilities by peaceful means, occasions and circumstances might arise which called for a momentous decision. Japan's future, he added, was beset with countless difficulties which no ordinary effort would be sufficient to surmount.
OSHIMA and SHIRATORI were more explicit. SHIRATORI, writing in December 1940, described the Tripartite Alliance as a means of achieving the "new world order", and as the climax of a
movement which had first found expression in the conquest of Manchuria.
In OSHIMA's view, the Konoye Cabinet was at this time certain that the "Greater East Asia Sphere" could be achieved only through an advance to the south by military force. The only question, he said, was "when things should start".
KIDO, too, understood clearly the full significance of the Tripartite Alliance. On 21 September 1940, he informed the Emperor of his belief that, if the alliance was concluded, Japan would eventually have to oppose Great Britain and the United States. He therefore considered that the war in China should be settled speedily.
The Emperor had said that he would never give his consent to the proposed alliance. The Elder Statesman, Prince Saionji, upon whose advice the Emperor had greatly relied, was known to oppose it strongly. After the Navy's agreement had been obtained, the Konoye Cabinet had still this difficulty to overcome. It was surmounted through KIDO's connivance.
As Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, it was KIDO's duty to advise the Elder Statesman of the course of the negotiations. Though fully aware of the gravity of the decision which was being made, KIDO left Saionji in complete ignorance of what was afoot. When taxed with this failure of duty, he replied only that it
was due to consideration for the Elder Statesman's ill-health. Saionji, upon learning that the alliance had been concluded, was greatly aggrieved, and felt that the Emperor had been deserted.
The preamble to the Tripartite Alliance recited the resolve of the contracting powers to establish "new orders" in Europe and in Asia respectively; and their determination to assist one another in so doing. The instrument provided that Germany and Italy would respect Japanese leadership in Asia, and that Japan would respect German and Italian leadership in Europe. The three countries pledged their mutual cooperation, the details of which were to be settled by a specialized joint commission appointed for the purpose. If any contracting power should be attacked by any country not presently engaged in the European War or in the war in China, the other parties to the alliance would render political, economic and military assistance. Germany and Italy would confirm that the alliance would have no effect upon the present relations between the Soviet Union and any signatory power. The alliance would remain in force for ten years, and provision was made for its renewal.
The Terms of the Tripartite Alliance
and Assurances Exchanged Between Japan and Germany,
27 September 1940
On 27 September 1940, the day upon which the Tripartite Alliance was concluded, further assurances between Japan and Germany were effected by exchange of letters. It was agreed that Japan should retain those former German Pacific islands which she now administered under mandate from the League of Nations. Other former German colonies in the South Seas, presently under the control of other powers, would automatically return to German ownership when the war against Great Britain was won. Germany, however, pledged her willingness to negotiate for their transfer to Japan.
Matsuoka set out Japan's desires in a letter to the German Ambassador. Japan, he said, shared German and Italian hopes that the European War would remain limited in scope and that it would be ended speedily. Japan would spare no effort to achieve such a result. He added, however, that "the conditions actually prevailing in Greater East Asia and elsewhere" were such that there was danger of a war between Great Britain and Japan. His government was confident, Matsuoka declared, that in such an event Germany would aid Japan by all means in her power.
Ott acknowledged receipt of this letter and said that the circumstances in which aid would be given would be determined by consultation among the three powers. Germany pledged her assistance and her
good office with the Soviet Union. She undertook also to give Japan such industrial and technical assistance as was possible.
Germany, said Ott, was convinced that the tripartite powers were about to enter into a new and decisive phase of world history, in which it would be their task to assume the roles of leadership in Europe and in "Greater East Asia" respectively.
The Tripartite Alliance was concluded as a necessary step in Japanese preparations for a military advance into South-East Asia and the South Seas. At the numerous discussions and conferences of September 1940, it was recognised by all who took part that the conclusion of the alliance would commit Japan to waging war against France, the Netherlands, and the countries of the British Commonwealth; and that it implied also Japan's willingness to wage war against the United States, should that country seek to stand between Japan and the attainment of her aggressive aims. It was acknowledged that Japan was not yet self-sufficient in the materials of war; but it was considered that, when the new alliance had been concluded, the advantage of securing new sources of materials in the south outweighed the dangers of war with the Western Powers.
The Intentions of Japanese Leaders
in Concluding the Tripartite Alliance
It was, however, also clearly understood that the alliance had broader aims. As Foreign Minister Matsuoka said at the Privy Council meeting of 26 September 1940, "The Pact now under review forms [...] the basis of the future foreign relations of the Empire". It was expected that, when Germany had conquered Great Britain, there would remain as world powers the parties to the alliance, the Soviet Union and the United States. The contracting powers agreed that, as a matter of expediency, they would in the meantime attempt to avoid war with both the United States and
the U.S.S.R. The terms of the alliance, which were to be published to the world, were in form defensive. The obligations of the contracting powers to support one another were represented as arising only if an attack was made upon one or more of their number. Nevertheless, the whole tenor of the discussions before the Privy Council and elsewhere shows clearly that the three powers were determined to support one another in aggressive action whenever such action was considered necessary to the furtherance of their schemes. Because the United States was recognised as the immediate obstacle to Japanese plans for advancing to the south, Matsuoka said that the alliance was directed principally against that country.
Similarly, because it suited the purposes of the contracting parties, it was agreed that they should make every effort to improve their relations with the Soviet Union. Yet it was recognised that the Tripartite Alliance was directed against that country also. Matsuoka did not contemplate that any improvement in Japan's relations with the Soviet Union would be of a permanent nature. He said that such an improvement could hardly last more than two or three years, and that after that time, it would be necessary for the tripartite powers to review the position. In answer to a question put to him at the Privy Council meeting of 26 September 1940, Matsuoka said specifically that, notwithstanding the expressed terms of the alliance and the existence of a non-aggression treaty between Germany and
the Soviet Union, the tripartite powers would aid each other in case one of them should become engaged in war with the U.S.S.R.
In summary, the Tripartite Pact was a compact made between aggressor nations for the furtherance of their aggressive purposes. Its true character was well revealed when one Privy Councillor asked how the statement contained in the Preamble of the Pact that each nation should have its proper place in the world could be reconciled with Hitler's principle that only the strongest should survive. Prime Minister Konoye, Foreign Minister Matsuoka and War Minister TOJO answered jointly that only the strong nations were worthy of survival. If Japan, they said, should fail in her "grand mission of spreading the Imperial Way", it could not even be helped if Japan herself went out of existence.
The decisions of the leaders of Japan, which followed the downfall of the Yonai Cabinet, are of outstanding importance, and have therefore been set forth in detail. They show that the conspirators were determined to extend the domination of Japan over a huge area and population and to use force, if necessary, to accomplish their aims. They show by plain admission that the purpose of the conspirators in entering into the Tripartite Pact was to secure support for the accomplishment of these illegal aims. They show that, notwithstanding the seeming defensive terms of the Tripartite Pact, which were designed for publication, the obligations of the parties to support one another were expected to come into force if one of the parties became engaged in war, whether defensive or aggressive. They wholly refute the contention of the defence that the purpose of the Tripartite Pact was to promote the cause of peace.
The conspirators now dominated Japan. They had fixed their policy and resolved to carry it out. While the aggressive war in China was continuing with undiminished vigor, their preparations for further wars of aggression, which its execution would almost certainly involve, were far on the way to completion. In the Chapter of the Judgment which deals with the Pacific War we shall see these preparations completed and the attacks launched which the conspirators hoped would secure for Japan the domination of the Far East.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (3) * Next Chapter (5)