By Gareth Jones
Friday, March 15th, 1935
there one day be war between America and Japan?
was the vital topic of conversation I found in the clubs and embassies
of Washington. I feel that the menace is almost non-existent, that
it has been a scare engineered unscrupulous newspapers and by certain
Californian interests who want to have the fleet concentrated in the
Pacific in order that California may benefit from the naval pay- roll
expressed these views to a leading diplomat (not British) he disagreed
with me. “You minimise the danger of war,” he said. “A
fight must come. Japan must extend towards the Philippines,
Sumatra, and Java, and America must stop her.”
replied: “But I do not think America would sacrifice lives and money
to stop Japan expanding.”
have forgotten the trade conflict,” he retorted. “Japanese
competition is extending everywhere, and they offer great competition in
South America. America must stop Japan.
at the other causes of conflict. America refuses to recognise
Manchukuo. America hurts Japanese sensitiveness to the core by refusing
to admit a single Japanese immigrant.
“But the greatest danger is on neutral
rights. If there is war between Japan and Russia, Americans are
certain to send contraband goods to Russia or goods to China destined
for Russia; cotton for instance will be despatched, and cotton is used
in munitions. One fine day a. Japanese cruiser is going to stop an
American boat, and Americans will say: “What do they mean by
interfering with our trade?’ And over-night there might be a war
At the Embassy
these disturbing expressions ringing in my ears I decided to call and
see the man most responsible for relations between Japan and America,
namely, Mr. Saito the Japanese Ambassador.
Saito, a small courteous man with delicately termed features, more
aquiline than the usual Japanese, laughed away prophecies of war between
Japan and America. There are no causes of conflict between the
United States and Japan,” he declared.
He then outlined tome
his idea of a basis of an agreement between America and Japan, which
would consolidate peace in the Pacific. For the United States to
recognise Manchukuo, he stated, would be the first step towards such an
if the United States abolished the Exclusion Act of 1924 relations would
be improved. By this Act all immigration of Japanese into the
United States was forbidden. The Ambassador declared to me that
even if only 100 Japanese were allowed to enter the step would be
appreciated, because it was a matter of principle rather than numbers.
The Ambassador resented the Japanese being treated as an inferior race
not worthy of entering the United States.
there might be an agreement between the United States and Japan if
America recognised the principle of naval equality for Japan and agreed
to abandon the 5 – 5 - 3 ratio for naval vessels.
the Ambassador about the economic conflict. He stated that there
should be no economic conflict, because Japan needed American cotton and
steel, while America wanted Japanese silk. He denied that there
was much competition in world markets. “We sell pencils, cheap
cotton goods and such wares. We do not compete in American exports
of automobiles,” he said.
“What about the open door? Are you not
blocking the principle of equal opportunities of trade in China?” I
asked, and raised the question of the oil monopoly in Manchukuo.
Ambassador answered that the oil monopoly was a question for the
Manchukuo Government, for which the Japanese were not responsible.
He claimed that the oil monopoly did not crush foreign sellers. If
they had claims they could make them to the Manchukuo Government
Peace With China
most remarkable part of my interview with the Japanese Ambassador was
his prophecy of peace between China and Japan. He claimed that in
China public opinion was growing in favour of an agreement with Japan.
Chiang Kai-shek, he said, wanted this agreement.
should the Chinese be willing to bury the hatchet after the events in
Manchukuo?” I asked.
Ambassador replied that the Chinese had been disillusioned on two
points. The first was in the League of Nations, which had not
stood up for China. Moreover, China was no longer on the Council
of the League. The second was in regard to Russia, especially
after the Soviet Union had sold the Chinese Eastern Railway. This
was a blow to Chinese prestige, for they felt that they had been
abandoned by the Russians, whom, they thought, would remain as a barrier
to Japanese influence in the Far East.
China and Japan come to an agreement? This will be one of the
outstanding problems for me to study on the spot. Such an
agreement would have a great effect on Japanese-American relations, and
would make a war Japan and America almost impossible.