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Copy of document 3733-PS
Minutes of an interview field on 19 August 1941 between Vice-Minister Amau and Ambassador Ott On the 19th August the German Ambassador Ott called upon the Vice-Minister and, after an exchange of courtesies and after a presentation of the war situation in Europe, advanced the idea (1) that it would be to the advantage of Japan also if at this time she attacked Russia from the east, and (2) stating that intelligence had been received to the effect that America was going to provide oil to V1adivostok by means of transport vessels, that the first of these ships had already sailed, and that after that they would sail in rapid succession, he remarked that this oil would doubtless be used for an attack upon Japan too, and this would have a very important bearing upon Japan. Thus, he tried to find out what Japan’s attitude was regarding these matters. (3) He also tried to sound out Japan’s attitude on the problem of American vessels stopping at Japanese ports (the problem of the President Coolidge). And (4) referring to Japan’s attitude toward Thailand, he asked whether Japan was planning merely for the economic development of that country or whether she was think- [Page 546] ing of a political or military penetration. He asked various questions in order to obtain intelligence of this kind. To this the Vice-Minister replied: “For Japan to do a thing like attacking Russia would be a very serious question and would require profound reflection. As for the problem of American oil we are giving the matter very careful attention. And while we do not consider such a matter as American vessels stopping at our ports to be of such importance as to cause the world to get excited, we have not yet had time to investigate the facts in the case. (At this point Ambassador Ott interjected the remark that at the interview with the news reporters held today at the Information Bureau there were many questions and answers relating to the matter.) Then with regard to Thailand, Great Britain, in view of the fact that Thailand [?bears such a close relation ?] to the defense of the importance to that country British Empire, attaches very great and Japan’s attitude will therefore have to be decided by giving consideration also to the attitude of England and America.” In the course of the above interchange of questions and answers Ambassador Ott stated that the Russo-German war was at present making progress in the southern sectors, that southern Russia would soon fall into the hands of Germany, that Moscow would fall perhaps during the first part of September, but in that case whether or not the Stalin regime would fall or not could not be affirmed. ---------- Gist of a Consultation held between the German Ambassador Ott and Vice-Minister Amau on 29th August, 1941 At 6 p.m. on 29th August Ambassador Ott called and had the following interview with Vice-Minister Amau: The Ambassador: According to a communique issued by the Japanese government this afternoon, Ambassador Nomura handed a message from Premier Konoye to President Roosevelt. Is that correct? In fact, I had requested an interview with the Foreign Minister about this problem, but I have now come to you because I consider it my duty to get a detailed explanation on the question as to whether there would be any objection for us to understand that today’s message does not depart from the policy which was determined at a conference held in the Imperial presence on 2nd July, at which time confidential information relating to the policy of the Japanese government in regard to the Axis was given to us, as well as on the question as to whether the present Cabinet is contemplating any change with regard to this point. [Page 547] The Vice-Minister: I regret that the Foreign Minister could not see you because a previous engagement, but I will reply to your questions to the limit of my knowledge. It is true that Ambassador Nomura conveyed a message from Premier Konoye to President Roosevelt. But that does not mean that there has been a change in Japan’s policy nor that we are contemplating any change in our relations with the Axis. As you know, when Matsuoka was Foreign Minister, negotiations were carried on between Japan and America with regard to various problems, and at that.time we sent confidential reports regarding the negotiations to your country. However, because of the Japanese Army’s advance into French Indo-China a temporary rupture in these negotiations took place. And meanwhile in China, as well as in Japan and America, various questions arose between Japan and America, causing Japanese-American relations, contrary to our wishes, to become strained, so that in fact communications between Japan and America have at present come to a standstill, and the situation is such that even economic relations have been broken off. It is natural that no country would desire such a situation to persist for any length of time. It seems that America too desires a break in the deadlock, and the same thing is true of Japan. I understand that the reason for sending the message was to clarify the atmosphere in the Pacific. The Ambassador: Although I am aware that negotiations had previously been carried on between Japan and America, that these negotiations had been discontinued, and that since then various incidents have come up, do the proposed negotiations between Japan and America involve only matters that have fallen into abeyance, or do they concern entirely new problems? The Vice-Minister: As I have just said, the idea back of the message which was sent from Premier Konoye to President Roosevelt was merely an attempt to start conversations between the two parties. It was not concerned with any concrete problem such as to what questions would be talked about. Furthermore we have not yet received any reply to the message from the President. The Ambassador: Have you received any notification from the American authorities that they are prepared to consent to negotiations? The Vice-Minister: We have not received any such particular notification from the American authorities, but as I have just said, we have received the impression that the American authorities are prepared to enter into negotiations in order to break the deadlock. The Ambassador: As usual, America will try to gain time by beginning negotiations with Japan, and meanwhile will put forth still greater efforts to carry out her objectives. Therefore, I think that precautions must be taken against America’s scheme to prolong these negotiations, so that this might work to her advantage. [Page 548] The Vice-minister: We have given those points full consideration. And we have also given the matter careful thought so that the carrying on of negotiations by Japan with America might not have any disadvantageous consequences upon German\ and Italy. As you are aware from the Imperial edict and other proclamations issued by government authorities at the time, the original purpose of the Tripartite Alliance was the quelling of disturbances and the restoration of peace. So even if we begin negotiations between Japan and America, the objective will always be to maintain peace, and therefore this will not conflict wit~ the spirit of Axis diplomacy. Moreover, if next I may express my own personal opinions, our aim at the time when Matsuoka was Foreign Minister was to keep America from participating in the war, and for this reason we took a firm attitude toward America. In order to prevent her from joining in the war, we considered it necessary to get her to reflect upon her attitude, and, judging from the situation at the time, it was no mistake at all for its to think that it was quite proper for us to take a firm attitude toward her. Nevertheless the results proved to be just the opposite, and we can not deny that American public opinion has grown stronger and stronger, speeding up American preparations for war. Meanwhile Germany took a very mild attitude toward America. That is, America in all kinds of ways gave aid to England, instituted a system of convoy, and invaded Iceland, on the other hand freezing German funds in America and even closing German Consulates, while Germany took a very gentle attitude. Even at present Japan’s policy of preventing America from participating ill the war remains unchanged, and our aim is to keep her from joining in the war. Even now there is no change whatever ill that objective. However it will be necessary for us to consider a policy that is adequate for the attainment of said objective, depending upon the time and occasion. In the present situation, America being a country, of wide expanse and plentiful raw materials, we might possibly think it preferable, just at this time when the hostile feeling of the people toward the situation is on the point of becoming violent, to appease them and bring about a domestic disintegration, rather than to excite and unify them. The Ambassador: Negotiations between Japan and America may prove to be quite troublesome. For instance, when we think of the China problem, since the sending of aid to Chiang Kai-shek is one of the fundamental policies of America, she will not readily give this up. And I think that it may be very difficult to come to all agreement with regard to various other problems. At any rate, since the contents of this message is considered to be of tremendously great importance to Germany also, even though I have not received any instructions from my government, would it not be possible for me to receive a secret report of its contents since will have to .,end a report about it to the government? [Page 549] The Vice-Minister: As I have just said, the message conveys a statement from premier Konoye to the American President, and we have not received a reply from the President as yet, but I will convey the substance of your desire to the Foreign Minister. The Ambassador: If that is the case, then will it be all right for the present for me to send a report to my, government to the effct that the content of the message signifies that for the maintenance of peace in the Pacific negotiation, are to be carried out between Japan and America on the basis of the Tripartite Alliance? The Vice-Minister: As I have just said, the object of beginning parleys between Japan and America is to clarify the atmosphere in the Pacific. And while there is no objection to the use of the words “for the maintenance of peace,” we think that it would be permissible to suppose that nothing like a concrete problem, such as, for instance, the concluding of a non-aggression pact, is mentioned in the message. The Ambassador: If so, do you have am idea of sending a special missssion to America to carry on these negotiations? The Vice-Minister: As I have just said, it has not yet been settled as to whether or not negotiations will be begun, and preliminary arrangements regarding concrete problems have not yet been completed. So I understand that no decision has yet been reached as to such a problem as sending a mission. The Ambassador: Is this problem to be -,vorked out through Ambassador Grew? The Vice-Minister: (Hesitated to say anything for a moment.) The Ambassador: Is Ambassador Nomura to do it? The Vice-Minister: (Nodded assent.) The Anibassador: Again may I ask you to tell the Foreign Minister that I would like to have a confidential report of the contents of the message. In fact, it has also some bearings upon instructions which I recently received from my home government regarding the Russo-German war. Will you please make arrangements so that I might by all means have an interview with the Foreign Minister tomorrow. The Vice-Minister: I will tell the Minister. ----- [Page 550] The Gist of an Interview held between Foreign Minister Toyoda and Ambassador Ott on 30th August 1941, at 3:00 p.m. in the official residence (administrative oflicial Yoshiuchi acting as interpreter) After Ambassador Ott made a statement relating to the situation in the Russo-German War, the conversation proceeded as follows: (Ambassador Ott is to be designated by “0” and the Minister by “Toyo” in the following account.) 0 : In the notice sent to the German government on the 2nd July, the statement is made that Japan is making preparations for every possible eventuality in her relations with Russia and America, but are the intentions of the Japanese government still the same today? Is there any possibility that Japan may participate in the Russo-German war? Toyo: Japan’s preparations are now making headway, and it will take more time for their completion. 0: Are the intentions of Japan as given in the notice of 2nd July still the same? Toyo: There is no change in our intentions, which are, to make preparations in order to avail ourselves of any new development that may take place in the situation henceforth. 0: I learned of the message which Premier Konoye sent to President Roosevelt for the first time through the newspapers, and later according to the Domei (in response to a question from the Minister Ott replied that this Domei dispatch was one that was “carried” by DNB on the evening of the 29th as a Domei report). I learned that this message mentions the disposal of the China problem and the establishment of a Greater East Asia Prosperity Sphere as the ultimate aims of Japan’s national policy, and refers to the fact that as a result of the Russo-German War Japanese-American relations have become delicate. So far as the problems referred to in the message are concerned, from the viewpoint of the Tripartite Pact Germany has very grave apprehensions, and since a detailed report will have to be sent to my government, in disregard of propriety I must once more make inquiry about this matter. Yesterday Vice-Minister Amau gave me an explanation as to the contents of this message, but if you have anything beyond that to add, will you please state it. Toyo: The situation being what it is, all kinds of reports are bound to arise, but what I would like to tell you explicitly is that the report about problems concerning which I have just now heard for the first time, is absolutely false. Vice-Minister Amau gave you the right explanation of the message. 0: If so, then the message does not concern any concrete matters? [Page 551] Toyo: It is just as Vice-Minister Amau explained. 0: I would like to inquire what your impression is as to how the message was received by them [the Americans]. Even if it does not deal with any concrete matters, I would like to ask whether it was received in a friendly spirit, or whether their attitude was one of disapproval. Toyo: I can’t tell you because I have as yet received no report whatsoever about the matter. 0: In Foreign Minister Matsuoka’s time the Japanese government authorities thought that what America was planning to do was to get Japan to take an attitude in conflict with the Tripartite Pact, that is, to give up taking any positive action in the Pacific area no matter what occasion might arise, and Germany is very grateful that at the time the Japanese government resolutely resisted these American designs, and we hope that it will continue to take that “line.” I would like to ask what Your Excellency’s views are concerning this point. Toyo: In a word I may say that the purpose of the Tripartite Pact is to prevent American participation in the war, and that this view is the same as in the past; nor will it change in the future.