Tokyo, August 1, 1941

[Tokyo Gazette, Vol. V, no. 3, p. 129-131.]

Since the arrival of a Japanese army force in French Indo-China on September 23 of last year, the object of cutting off the Chiang Kai-shek regime from supply routes across the Indo-China-Yunnan border has been completely achieved. On the other hand, the strict discipline and high morale of the Japanese troops have impressed the local populace favourably, with the result that the Japanese-French Indo-China relations have continued to improve rapidly as is borne out by the conclusion, sometime ago, of an economic agreement between Japan and French Indo-China, by which the latter has definitely come to share the responsibility for the co-prosperity sphere of East Asia. The international situation, however, has recently undergone radical changes in such a way as to aggravate the situation in which French Indo-China is placed. The French colony has come to find itself in an embarrassing position as was Syria in the current European War. In view of this situation, additional Japanese forces have been dispatched to this part of the Asiatic continent in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol for Joint Defence of French Indo-China, concluded between Japan and France on July 29, which stipulates that "the two Governments mutually promise military cooperation for joint defence of French Indo-China." In this connection, the recent situation of French Indo-China, both internal and external, is surveyed below primarily from a military point of view.

The political situation in French Indo-China has for some time remained complicated and chaotic with Governor-General Vice-Admiral Jean Decoux and the leading officials of the Hanoi Government favouring cooperation with Japan under instructions from the Vichy Government; while in Southern French Indo-China, a group of de Gaullists has apparently been endeavouring to defend its ground in league with certain financiers and Chinese residents, with the support of third Powers.

According to information now available, General Catroux, former Governor-General of French Indo-China, was appointed representative of the de Gaulle regime for the Near East and the Orient in general in January, 1941, and has since been manoeuvring to disturb and obstruct the constructive policy now being followed by the authorities of French Indo-China under Governor-General Vice-Admiral Decoux. The activities of General Catroux rapidly extend from his headquarters at Cairo to India, the Netherlands East Indies, French Indo-China and the Oceanic islands. During the recent negotiations between Thailand and French Indo-China concerning the border dispute and also during the Japanese-French Indo-China economic negotiations, the de Gaullists' machinations are known to have stood considerably in the way of the progress of the said parleys.

Further, attempts have been made by the Chungking regime of China in cooperation with a third Power to disturb peace and order in French Indo-China to such an extent that, if left alone, the safety of the French colony would have been seriously menaced and the maintenance of peace and order made extremely difficult.

Since the arrival of the Japanese troops in French Indo-China, the Chungking regime has made desperate efforts to counteract the influence from this direction. For instance, its 5th Army, which had been stationed in the vicinity of Kweiyang, started operations in the early part of July and was recently reported to be moving toward French Indo-China by way of Kunming in Yunnan Province, apparently in anticipation of advancing into the French territory as soon as an opportunity offers itself.

Meanwhile, political agitators affiliated with the Chungking faction of the Kuomintang have infiltrated into various parts of the French colony with the view of fanning anti-Japanese feelings among the Chinese population there, which total approximately 320,000. These agitators were enabled to carry on an increasingly widespread anti-Japanese movement in the southern districts of French Indo-China with the aid of the de Gaullist agents, although they found little room for their activities in the northern part of the colony garrisoned by Japanese troops. On July 7, the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the China Affair, the entire Chinese community numbering some 60,000 of Cholon, four kilometres west of Saigon, observed a holiday and participated in an anti-Japanese programme including a popular meeting held in commemoration of the said anniversary.

Further, according to later information, there are indications of a significantly closer relationship being effected between Great Britain and the Chiang Kai-shek regime, while the charges of some form of cooperation between Great Britain, the United States, China and the Netherlands, which form what is known as a democratic front are being substantiated. Thus, French Indo-China, which as a member of the East Asia co-prosperity bloc, has vital economic relations with Japan, has now come to sense a direct danger from the Chungking regime, British Malaya, Burma and the Dutch East Indies, which now constitute a ring of hostile nations around the French colony, jeopardizing its self-preservation and defence.

In view of this situation, the recent reinforcement of the Japanese garrison in French Indo-China was no more than an action calculated to remove the menace mentioned above and strengthen the defence of French Indo-China so as to forestall any possible disquieting situation. In accordance with the agreement for joint defence between Japan and France, therefore, the Japanese forces began landing in the vicinity of Saigon in perfect order on July 29, and the newly-arrived troops are now braving the tropical heat and the malaria plague in mounting guard for the safety of this part of French colony.