Memorandum24 by the First Secretary of the United States Embassy In Japan (Dickover)
[TOKYO,] December 23, 1935.
In the course of an extended conversation last evening, Mr. Kurusu25 said that foreign countries were criticizing the Japanese people for the part Japan was playing in China, but that foreign peoples did not understand what it was all about. . . .
. . . He said that Japan was destined to be the leader of the Oriental civilization and would in course of time be the "boss" of a group comprising China, India, the Netherlands East Indies, etc. (Mr. Kurusu did not say that Japan would conquer and rule these countries, but that Japan would be the "boss". When speaking informally with friends, he uses very colloquial English.) He proceeded to say that the United States will lead the Americas, both North and South. Great Britain is leading the European countries, but Great Britain is degenerating, while the rest of Europe is decadent. Therefore it will end by the United States leading the Occidental civilization, while Japan leads the Oriental civilization.
I asked where Soviet Russia came into the picture. Mr. Kurusu said that the Russians were dreamers and never would "amount to anything". Japan will in the future have its sphere in the Orient, the United States in the Americas, and Great Britain in Europe, Africa and Australia, but the two big nations, the real leaders, will be Japan in the Orient and the United States in the Occident.
I asked Mr. Kurusu how he reconciled this theory with the treaties for collective security which Japan had signed. Mr. Kurusu said that he had always been opposed to Japan's hypocritical attitude toward such things. He said that he had just recently made a speech before a society for the study of international affairs, criticizing his own country for signing agreements which could not be carried out if Japan wanted to progress in this world.
Mr. Kurusu then went on to say that while Japan might lead the Orient and the United States the Occident, they must not fight, as that would be suicidal. They must find some means of getting together. I asked him if he thought that the League of Nations might not be the seed of some sort of future conciliatory medium. He said that it might be, but that the League was too narrow, as it looked to maintaining the status quo, whereas nations are not static--they are born, grow up and gradually die. I quoted from Wells' "Outline of History" (first paragraph of Chapter 34) to show that Wells had the same idea. Mr. Kurusu agreed with Wells entirely, and said that he thought that the United States and Japan could work out the solution themselves in time, as both countries were much alike--active, progressive and sensible.
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24. Enclosure in despatch 1607 of December 27, 1935 from the Embassy in Japan.
25. Mr. Saburo Kurusu, Chief of the Bureau of Commercial Affairs, Japanese Foreign Office.