[New York Times, November 18, 1941.]
With heavy responsibilities for the conduct of foreign affairs having unexpectedly devolved upon me, it is a great pleasure for me to avail myself of this opportunity today of speaking on the foreign policy of the imperial government.
Japan, engaged for the past four years in military operations for the construction of a new order in East Asia, is now marching forward to surmount current difficulties with the unity of the entire nation. First of-all, I wish good fortune and success to officers and men of our gallant fighting services who are distinguishing themselves on the front under the august virtue of His Imperial Majesty, paying at the same time my humble and sincere tribute to the honored spirits of those who have fallen.
It needs no reiteration that the fundamental principle of Japan's foreign policy aims at establishment of peace in East Asia based on justice, thereby contributing toward promotion of the general welfare of mankind. It is by nothing other than the fruit of constant efforts exerted in the espousal of this great principle that our country has witnessed the unceasing development of her national fortune since the Meiji Restoration.
It may be recalled that in the past seventy odd years Japan has, on more than one occasion, successfully overcome national crises. Especially noteworthy is the Russian-Japanese War, in which Japan staked her national existence in order to eliminate an obstacle to the peace of East Asia. She has since been advancing her position as a stabilizing force in East Asia and is now endeavoring with unflinching courage to accomplish the great task of inaugurating a new order in East Asia on the basis of justice as a contribution toward the peace of the world.
Fortunately, Germany and Italy having similar views with Japan, the three-power pact was brought into being. In little more than a year of its existence, as is well known, the pact has made, as intended, a great contribution toward the construction of a new order in East Asia and Europe as well as toward the prevention of the spread of war.
The Empire of Manchukuo has become increasingly strong in her foundation since her establishment. No less than thirteen countries have already recognized Manchoukuo, and her international status, together with her national prosperity, is being enhanced.
In China, Japan is conducting military operations to subjugate the Chungking regime. The basic policy of Japan toward the China affair consists in establishing cooperation between Japan and China, thereby securing the stability of East Asia and the advancement of common prosperity in this region.
A basic treaty regulating relations between Japan and the national government [the Wang Ching-wei regime] of China was concluded some time ago. It is the determination of the Imperial Government to extend their cooperation toward further strengthening of the national government of China.
Along with successful conclusion of the China affair, Japan takes a great interest in the region of the north, and also in the South Seas. Following the outbreak of the European war Japan has exerted every effort to prevent the conflict from spreading to the east from the standpoint of maintaining the peace of East Asia in general.
The Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact, concluded in April this year, is also intended to secure safety in the north in conformity with the said policy. Although hostilities subsequently broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union, our government have steadfastly maintained this policy of preserving security in the north.
It is, in a word, Japan's determination to prevent by all means not only the causation of factors likely to disturb peace in the north, but also the development of such a situation as will menace the rights and interests of Japan.
As regards the South Seas region, the imperial government successfully mediated in the settlement of a border dispute between Thailand and French Indo-China, and also established close political and economic relations with French Indo-China. They further concluded with France a protocol for tile joint defense of French Indo-China to meet the international situation confronting the latter when it began to threaten seriously the security of French Indo-China and consequently the tranquillity of East Asia and the security of Japan.
They have dispatched Mr. Yoshizawa as special Ambassador to French Indo-China to draw still closer the bonds of friendship between Japan and that country. They have also strengthened economic relations with Thailand and are endeavoring to promote cooperation between the two countries by exchanging Ambassadors.
It is extremely deplorable, however, that malicious propaganda should be let loose by some third powers representing Japan as harboring aggressive designs toward those regions. I have not the slightest doubt that the peoples of East Asia, understanding the real intentions of Japan, will cooperate with our country for the establishment of a new order in East Asia.
Japan is thus concentrating her sincere and utmost efforts on successful termination of the China affair and initiation of the new order in East Asia. But when our troops entered the southern part of French Indo-China this Summer in accordance with the protocol for joint defense referred to above, Great Britain and the United States chose to regard it as a menace to their territories and froze Japan's assets in their countries, which constitutes a measure tantamount to rupturing economic relations.
The British dominions and colonies have all followed suit and the Netherlands East Indies, too, has joined in similar steps. Great Britain and the United States have even gone to the length of establishing encircling positions against Japan by inducing Australia, the Netherlands East Indies and the Chungking regime to join in.
The international situation confronting Japan has thus become increasingly tense day after day, and pressure of the kind above referred to from Great Britain and the United States toward our country constitutes a really serious question, affecting as it deeply does the very existence of our empire.
In this connection I should like to call the attention of every one here and abroad to the fact that despite such developments the imperial government, prompted by the high motive to preserve peace in the world and particularly in the Pacific, and also to avert the worst eventuality, have hitherto devoted their utmost efforts in order to overcome the difficult situation.
Since the outbreak of the China affair Japanese-American relations have progressively deteriorated, steadily gathering force, so that if they were left to drift without timely check there was no knowing whether the situation would not ultimately end in catastrophe.
Should such an eventuality occur it would entail great suffering not only in countries in the Pacific basin, but on all of mankind as well.
Solicitous for peace as ever, the Japanese Government have, since April last, carried on conversations with the government of the United States, with a view to bringing about a fundamental adjustment of Japanese-American relations. The former Cabinet endeavored earnestly to reach a successful conclusion of negotiations, in view particularly of the tension in the situation which had been accentuated since Summer this year, but agreement of views was not reached between the two countries.
The present Cabinet, in order to avert an international crisis and preserve the peace of the Pacific, decided also to continue negotiations, which are still in progress. I regret to say that I have not the liberty of revealing, at this juncture, the details of the negotiations.
But I think an amicable conclusion is by no means impossible if the Government of the United States are, on the one hand, as genuinely solicitous for world peace as are the Imperial Government, and on the other understand Japan's natural requirements and her position in East Asia and consider the situation as it exists there in the light of realities.
Moreover, the views of the two countries have generally been made clear through conversations which have now lasted more than six months, and consequently I believe it must be evident to the United States Government that, viewed even from the technical angle, there is no necessity of spending much time on negotiations hereafter.
Such being the circumstances, the Japanese Government are bending their best efforts to a successful conclusion of the negotiations, but there is naturally a limit to our conciliatory attitude. Should an occasion arise such as might menace the very existence of the empire or compromise the prestige of Japan as a great power, it goes without saying that Japan must face it with a firm and resolute attitude.
For my part, I am taking charge of negotiations with a firm resolve regarding this point.
Japan is now confronted with an unprecedentedly difficult situation and it is necessary that the entire nation should unite and join forces to overcome it. National defense and diplomacy are inseparable while internal politics and external policy are a counterpart of each other.
At no time is the need for mobilization of the nation's total strength, with the government and the people uniting, felt more acutely than at the present juncture. In concluding the frank statement of my views and opinions, I earnestly hope that the 100,000,000 of my fellow-countrymen will extend their full support and cooperation.