Memorandum by the Secretary of State Regarding a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Horinouchi)
[WASHINGTON,] April 20, 1940.
The Japanese Ambassador called at his request. He said he came to discuss the immigration situation as it exists today in the Philippine legislature. He went over the general facts pertaining to the legislative and to the quota situations and then asked that I urge the Philippine Government to allow Japan, along with all other nations, 1,000 immigrants instead of 500, as contemplated by the amendment to the bill omits second reading. I first made it clear to the Ambassador that the Philippine Government has exclusive control over this question of immigration into the Philippine Islands; that this Government, therefore, does not undertake to dictate or otherwise bring material pressure upon the Philippine officials. I then added that I would be glad to go into the details of this matter further and somewhat sympathetically and see whether and what might remain to be properly said by this Government, if anything. The Ambassador remarked that this Government had more or less jurisdiction over this matter, according to Dr. Sayre.44 I corrected this wrong impression and also brought to his attention that the bill in its entirety would make possible the admission of about 1,000 Japanese instead of 500 only. I said to him that if anything remained for us to say we would try to get it off today.
The Ambassador then turned about a time or two in his chair and said that in regard to the recent statements of Foreign Minister Arita and of myself in regard to the status quo of the Netherlands East Indies, he thought that our press misinterpreted Minister Arita and assumed a more or less critical tone. I interrupted him to say that our press could well have taken the lead given by the Japanese press on the day of and the day after the statement of Minister Arita, which seemed to imply the assumption of leadership and special influence in that area of the world without limitation as to functions and purposes. I said that it may be possible that the Japanese press misinterpreted Minister Arita. The Ambassador then said that Minister Arita and I agree about not disturbing the status quo of the Dutch East Indies. I replied in the affirmative and said that the difference between us was
that I placed the matter on a far broader ground than one primarily affecting the interests of Japan in the economic Dutch East Indies situation, and that I need not elaborate upon this except to refer to my statement for full understanding of the position this Government took. In that connection I proceeded to say to the Ambassador that I wished I could get over to him and his Government the fact that there is no more resemblance between our Monroe Doctrine, as we interpret and apply it uniformly since 1823, and the so‑called Monroe Doctrine of Japan than there is between black and white. I said our Monroe Doctrine only contemplates steps for our physical safety while the Monroe Doctrine, as practiced by Japan, is seemingly applicable to all other purposes and all objectives, including economic, social, political, et cetera; that thus far the question of a Monroe Doctrine for physical protection has not been needed or invoked by Japan. The Ambassador sought to minimize my description of the Japanese application of their so‑called Monroe Doctrine when I reminded him of its application in Manchuria and then, to our great surprises in China and then implied that it applies economically to the Dutch East Indies.
I said to the Ambassador that his country can trade on absolutely equal terms with mine and with all other nations in every port of every nation in this hemisphere, with a slight modification temporarily in the Cuban trade situation, which grows out of special conditions between the two countries. I again reminded him of my frequent plea to his Government since 1933 to the effect that there should be normal peaceful and other worthwhile relations between important countries in the western world and Japan and China and other countries in the eastern portion. I need not elaborate on the things I have said on this point during past years except to emphasize the great mutual commercial advantages and other extremely valuable advantages in many ways that would follow such a policy of peaceful relationship and mutually cooperative effort. I said if conditions go on as they are, Europe will go bankrupt and cannot get back on its feet until after a long period in the future, while if Asia goes on as she is, both Japan and China will also find themselves bankrupt, while the United States will be greatly handicapped in its normal progress by wholesale bankruptcy in both Europe and Asia. The Ambassador did not seriously dispute this phase of our conversation. He sought to make it appear that Japan was motivated only by innocent purposes, but I said that his Government's formula in this respect does not work out in practice as we have seen from Manchuria, China and other occurrences and experiences; that this is especially true as to economic opportunity.
The Ambassador remarked that we were sending a Consul to Iceland, to which I replied in the affirmative.
He then inquired what new developments there were with respect to Greenland, to which I replied that there were no new developments and no relations about which the slightest question could be raised.
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44. Francis B. Sayre, at that time United States High Commissioner to the Philippines.