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Japanese Peace Feelers through the Soviet Union

Source: Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), Conference of Berlin 1945, vol. 1, 872-883; vol. 2, 1248-1269 and 1291-1298.

Three digit numbers are telegrams from the Japanese Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Sato) to the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo); four digit numbers are telegrams from Togo to Sato.

Truman's knowledge of these documents
890, July 11--3 p.m.
891, July 11--7 p.m.
893, July 12--8:50 p.m.
894, July 12--2:20 a.m. [sic]
1382, July 12--11:25 p.m.
898, July 13--7:30 p.m.
1385, July 13--10:40 p.m.
1386, July 13--10:40 p.m.
1392, July 15
910, July 17--4:20 p.m.
913, July 17--5 p.m.
1416, July 18--11:28 p.m.
1417, July 19--2:30 p.m.
1418, July 19--4:42 p.m.
1427, July 20--6:30 p.m.
931, July 21--9:30 p.m.
932, July 21--9:30 p.m.
1433, July 21--5 p.m.
1441, July 24--5:56 p.m.
944, July 25--7 p.m.
1450, July 25--11:23 p.m.
1449, July 25--11:53 p.m.
1458, July 27--4:30 p.m.
952, July 28--10:45 p.m.
1476, July 28--3:25 p.m.
1480, July 30, 1945--8 p.m.
1484, July 30, 1945--10:31 p.m.

Editor's Note

It has not been possible to establish the precise extent to which the United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference was aware of the contents of the papers of Japanese origin printed in this section.... The contents of certain of those papers were know to United States officials in Washington, however, as early as July 13 (see Walter Millis, ed., The Forrestal Diaries (New York, 1951), p. 74; cf. pp. 75-76) and information on Japanese peace maneuvers was received by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson at Babelsberg on July 16.... It has also been determined that a series of messages of Japanese origin on this subject was received by the United States Delegation during the course of the Berlin Conference and that these messages were circulated at Babelsberg to some members of the President's party. Furthermore, in a conference on January 24, 1956, between Truman and members of his staff and Department of State historians, Truman supplied the information that he was familiar with the contents of the first Japanese feeler (i.e., the proposal contained in document No. 582) before Stalin mentioned it to him at Babelsberg...and that he was familiar with the contents of the second Japanese peace feeler (i.e., the approach reported in document No. 1234) before Stalin brought it to the attention of Truman and Attlee at the Tenth Plenary Meeting of the Berlin Conference on July 28....

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 11, 1945--3 p.m.

Very Secret
Urgent

890. Re my telegram No. 884

The foreign and domestic situation for the Empire is very serious, and even the termination of the war is now being considered privately. Therefore the conversations mentioned in my telegram No. 852 are not being limited solely to the objective of closer relations between Japan and the U.S.S.R., but we are also sounding out the extent to which we might employ the U.S.S.R. in connection with the termination of the war.

Our readiness to promise long-term mutual support for the maintenance of peace, as mentioned in our proposal, was also intended for the purpose of sounding out the Soviet attitude toward Japan with reference to the above. The Soviet Union should be interested in, and probably will greet with much satisfaction, an abandonment of our fishery rights as an amendment to the Treaty of Portsmouth. With reference to the other items, the manner of answering the arguments would be to meet fully the demands of the Soviets according to my telegram No. 885. Therefore, although we of course wish the completion of an agreement from the Malik-Hirohita negotiations, on the other hand, sounding out the Soviets as to the manner in which they might be used to terminate the war is also desired. We would like to learn quickly the intentions of the Soviet Government regarding the above. As this point is a matter with which the Imperial Court is also greatly concerned, meet with Molotov immediately whether or not T.V. Soong is present in the U.S.S.R. With the circumstances of the earlier part of this telegram in mind, ascertain as best you can their intentions and please answer by telegram immediately.

As you are skilled in matters such as this, I need not mention this, but in your meetings with the Soviets on this matter please bear in mind not to give them the impression that we wish to use the Soviet Union to terminate the war.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Too) to the
Japanese Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 11, 1945 --7 p. m.

Secret
Urgent

891. As it has been recognized as appropriate to make clear to Russia our general attitude concerning the termination of the international war despite the last paragraph in my telegram No. 890, please explain our attitude as follows, together with the substance of the above telegram, and let me know of our progress with Molotov by telegram as soon as possible:

"We consider the maintenance of peace in Asia as one aspect of maintaining world peace. We have no intention of annexing or taking possession of the area which we have been occupying as a result of the war; we hope to terminate the war with a view to establishing and maintaining lasting world peace."

Please confer with Mr. M. within a day or two.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 12, 1945 --8:50 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

893. Re telegram 891 and others.

Not having seen the telegram regarding the meeting with Molotov, I feel as though I am sending troops out without sufficient reconnaissance. Much as I dislike doing so, I find that I must proceed at this time and would like to have you convey to the Soviet side before the Three-Power Conference begins the matter concerning the Imperial wishes for the termination of the war. The substance of the following should be borne in mind as appropriate in your direct explanation to Molotov:

"His Majesty the Emperor is greatly concerned over the daily increasing calamities and sacrifices faced by the citizens of the various belligerent countries in this present war, and it is His Majesty's heart's desire to see the swift termination of the war. In the Great East Asia War, however, as long as American and England insist on unconditional surrender, our country has no alternative but to see it through in an all-out effort for the sake of survival and the honor of the homeland. The resulting enormous bloodshed of the citizens of the belligerent powers would indeed be contrary to His Majesty's desires, and so it is His Majesty's earnest hope that peace may be restored as speedily as possible for the welfare of mankind.

"The above Imperial wishes are rooted not only in his Majesty's benevolence toward his subjects but in his sincere desire for the happiness of mankind, and he intends to dispatch Prince Fumimaro Konoye as special envoy to the Soviet Union, bearing his personal letter. You are directed therefore, to convey this to Molotov, and promptly obtain from the Soviet Government admission into that country for special envoy and his suite (The list of members of the special envoy's suite will be cabled later.) Furthermore, though it is not possible for the special envoy to reach Moscow before the Russian authorities leave there for the Three-Power Conference, arrangements must be made so that the special envoy may meet them as soon as they return to Moscow. It is desired, therefore, that the special envoy and his suite make the trip by plane. You will request the Soviet Government to send an airplane for them as far as Manchouli or Tsitsibar."

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 12, 1945 --2:20 a.m. [sic]

Very secret
Urgent

894. Re my telegram No. 893.

When you convey this matter to them, please make it understood that the subject should be treated as absolutely secret. I realize that I am being presumptuous in saying this; I mention it merely to be sure.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 12 1945 --11:25 p.m.

Very secret
Urgent

1382. 1. Your Telegrams No. 890 and 891 were received on the 12th immediately after my reply No. 1381 was sent. I take it that the purpose of your telegram was to sound out the possibilities of utilizing the Soviet Union in connection with the termination of the war.

In the unreserved opinion of this envoy and on the basis of your telegram No. 885, I believe it no exaggeration to say that the possibility of getting the Soviet Union to join our side and go along with our reasoning is next to nothing. That would run directly counter to the foreign policy of this country as explained in my frequent telegrams to you. It goes without saying that the objectives cannot be successfully attained by sounding out the possibilities of using the Soviet Union to terminate the war on the above basis. This is clearly indicated in the progress of the conference as reported in my telegram No. 1379.

Moreover, the manner of your explanation in your telegram No. 891 --"We consider the maintenance of peace in Asia as one aspect of maintaining world peace"-- is nothing but academic theory. For England and American are planning to take the right of maintaining peace in East Asia away from Japan, and the actual situation is now such that the mainland of Japan itself is in peril. Japan is no longer in a position to be responsible for the maintenance of peace in all of East Asia, no matter how you look at it.

2. Although the Empire and its commanders have said, "We have no intention of annexing or taking possession of the areas which we have been occupying," what kind of reaction can we expect when in fact we have already lost or about to lose Burma, the Philippines, and even a portion of our mainland in the form of Okinawa?

As you already know, the thinking of the Soviet authorities is realistic. It is difficult to move them with abstractions, to say nothing about the futility of trying to get them to consent to persuasion with phrases beautiful but somewhat remote from the facts and empty in content. In fact, with reference to your proposal in telegram No. 853, Molotov does not show the least interest. And again, in his refusal he gave a very similar answer. If indeed our country is pressed by the necessity of terminating the war, we ourselves must first of all firmly to terminate the war. Without this resolution, an attempt to sound out the intentions of the Soviet Union will result in no benefit. In these days, with the enemy air raids accelerated and intensified, is there any meaning in showing that our country has reserve strength for a war of resistance, or in sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of conscripts and millions of other innocent residents of cities and metropolitan areas?

3. Concerning these important matters, we here do not have appropriate or accurate information relative to our present armament production and therefore are not in a position to judge matters correctly. To say nothing about the fact that it was only by chance hearsay that we learned of the Imperial Conference which began in early June, at which it was resolved to take positive steps. And, if worse comes to worst and the progress of the war following the conference turns extremely disadvantageous for our side, it would behoove the Government in this situation to carry out that important resolution. Under these circumstances, the Soviet Government might be moved, and the desire to have it mediate will not be an impossibility. However, in the above situation, the immediate result facing us would be that there will be no room for doubt that it will very closely approximate unconditional surrender.

I have expressed my extremely unreserved opinion in the foregoing and I beg your pardon for such frank statements at this time. I have also heard that at the Imperial Court His Majesty is greatly concerned. I find these dreadful and heartbreaking thoughts unbearable. However, in international relations there is no mercy, and facing reality is unavoidable. I have transmitted the foregoing to you in all frankness, just as I see it, for I firmly believe it to be my primary responsibility to put an end to any loose thinking which gets away from reality. I beg for your understanding.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 13, 1945 --7:30 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

898. Re my telegram No. 893.

It was considered proper that I should receive Ambassador Malik and convey the intended dispatch of the special envoy, but as Malik was sick in bed, I sent Ando, Director of the Bureau of Political Affairs, to communicate to the Ambassador that His Majesty desired to dispatch Prince Konoye as special envoy carrying with him the personal letter of His Majesty stating the Imperial wish to end the war; that you were to communicate the same to the Soviet Government; and that the Ambassador should concurrently accord facilities in the connection. Ambassador Malik promised to telegraph promptly about the matter to the Government.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 13 1945 --10:40 p.m.

Very urgent

1385. Re my telegram No. 1383.

I immediately requested an interview with Molotov but was told that he was simply not able to accommodate my request and I was asked whether I would convey my message to Lozovsky. Therefore, I met Lozovsky at 5 p.m. on the 13th and conveyed His Majesty's wishes contained in your telegram No. 893, translated into Russian, addressed to Molotov, and accompanied by my confidential note. I requested further that he immediately transmit this message to Molotov after reading it. The above note included the Imperial wish to dispatch Prince Konoye, mentioned in your telegram, and the request for agreement from the Soviet Government concerning the Prince's visit. Furthermore, in the event of approval, provisions for an airplane and other conveniences were also requested. Moreover, I mentioned that the special mission on this occasion was absolutely different in nature from those special missions previously proposed to Molotov, as this envoy was being sent in response to His Majesty's personal wish and we would like to have the matter accordingly. I further expressed the desire of the Japanese Government to obtain an early answer on this matter, if only a consent in principle, and if at all possible before Molotov's departure, so that the above-mentioned special envoy might be able to meet the Soviet authorities soon after their return from Berlin.

In answer to Lozovsky's question as to which member of the Soviet Government the message was intended for, I said that since it conveyed the Imperial wishes of His Majesty no addressee was designated but that we wished to have it transmitted to Kalinin, Head of the Soviet Government, Stalin, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, and Molotov. Lozovsky thereupon stated that he could understand the Japanese Government's hurry for an answer and would try to expedite an answer in accordance with our desires, but he also expressed doubts as to the possibility of an answer before departure time, for one government group was scheduled to depart that very evening. Accordingly, I replied that in the event that an answer was not possible prior to Molotov's departure, we would like him to establish communications directly with Berlin by telephone or other means for their answer, as the special envoy and his suite will require preparations and arrangements. Lozovsky answered that he would naturally handle the matter as above requested and promised to turn my note over to Molotov without delay. I hasten to telegraph the foregoing.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 13, 1945 --10:40 p.m.

Very secret
Urgent

1386. Re my telegram No. 1385.

Although it may be presumed that the Soviet side this time will agree to the dispatch of a special envoy, it is still difficult to say before receiving the actual reply. In the event that the Soviets agree but the duties of the special envoy are in accordance with your telegram No. 890, where the purpose was to sound out the limits to which the Soviets may be utilized in terminating the war, or in the event that his duties go no further than abstract explanations as indicated in your telegram No. 891, they will simply not consider it. It appears from your telegram No. 893 that His Majesty is deeply concerned about the restoration of peace. Even if we are overawed by the fact that the dispatch of a special envoy is the Imperial wish, if the Japanese Government's proposal brought by him is limited to an enumeration of previous abstractions, lacking in concreteness, you would not only be disappointing the authorities of this country and causing a feeling of great dissatisfaction with the insincere attitude of Japan but would also be provoking trouble for the Imperial Household. I have great apprehensions on this point.

In my humble opinion, as long as the dispatch of an important special mission from afar has been determined, I believe that its purpose should be nothing other than a proposal for peace and termination of hostilities. The Soviets can understand the Imperial wish for peace as reported by this envoy, but they may not find the appointed task of the mission and clear and may very well request a supplementary statement. Consequently, although I have no doubt that the special envoy will report the details in person on his arrival, it may become necessary to give a preliminary explanation of the gist of the special envoy's mission in the event that the Soviets request it. At any rate, I would appreciate your answer by telegram. In fact, after ascertaining this point, I believe it is possible to carry out the instructions contained in your telegram No. . Nevertheless, as Molotov's departure time is so near I have not had time to telegraph information to you and I have handled the matter in the manner indicated in the opening paragraph of my reply. However, reflecting on the extremely serious nature of the outline of the proposal which the special envoy would be bringing, I am also thinking of sending a supplementary telegram of my humble opinion for your information after carefully considering the matter.

The Japanese Ambassador (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 15, 1945.

Very secret

1392. Re my telegram No. 1386.

Stalin and Molotov departed from here on the night of the 14th, apparently heading for Berlin. In my opinion this left at least more than half a day to spare before departure, but despite this the Soviets answered that there would be a delay in their reply to my request concerning the dispatch of the special envoy. In view of the fact that a definite answer was not given, it may be assumed that in a matter such as this, which can bring about grave results, the Soviets are avoiding a hasty reply and giving the matter full deliberation. Or it may be that they feel that we are not expecting an urgent reply, which I doubt.

Some reasons which may be thought of for the Soviets' hesitation:

(1) Although they understand the Imperial wish concerning the termination of the war, they lack clarification with regard to the actual mission of the special envoy or with regard to whether or not concrete proposals for the termination of the war are to be presented.

(2) That Japan is proposing unconditional surrender or a peace approximating unconditional surrender would be surprising. But if Japan is thinking of a so-called negotiated peace, there would be apprehension that she is hoping for the good offices of the Soviets for mediation. In that case it would be difficult for the Soviet Union to accept.

(3) To avoid disturbing the relations between the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union for the sake of Japan at a delicate time when harmony between the three countries is so strongly required.

(4) The need to ascertain the attitudes of England and America before giving Japan a definite reply concerning the matter of the special envoy, as Far Eastern problems are inevitably going to come up in the talks either inside or outside the meetings at the coming Big Three Conference. Or Stalin is ascertaining the intentions of the American and British leaders first, by informing them of Japan's recent request, before replying. If this is so, the attitude of the Soviets will be difficult to determine.

The foregoing are some possible conjectures. Of these, No. 2, with regard to negotiated peace --to conclude a treaty terminating the war by peace negotiations, including the Greater East Asia War --is something which has been strongly rejected from the very beginning by America and Britain and particularly by the former. The soviet Union was also hesitant regarding such a peace earlier in connection with the unconditional surrender of Germany and even urged Britain and the United States to open a second front, and with this cooperation knocked out Germany. Judging from these circumstances, a peace treaty by negotiation is something which cannot win the support of the Soviet Union. In the final analysis, if our country truly desires to terminate the war, we have no alternative but to accept unconditional surrender or something very close to it.

On the other had, concerning the developments up to the time I read the Imperial wish, your successive telegrams had not clarified the situation. The intentions of the government and the military were not clear either regarding the termination of the war. Furthermore, in a situation where it is finally decided to settle the mater, it should be considered proper at an Imperial conference to pass a new resolution to reverse the decision of the previous conference of June 8th. However, this has not been done, and in connection with notification of the Imperial wish to dispatch the special envoy immediately I feel that the scheduled special mission does not yet have the concrete conditions mentioned in point (1) above.

Even if the approval of the Soviet Union is obtained and the special envoy's visit takes place, I cannot bear to think of the very grave results to which it may lead.

In this regard, after very carefully examining this telegram, my telegrams No. 1382, and No. 1386, should you finally decide to dispatch the special envoy, I earnestly request that the Cabinet Council resolve to have the envoy bring along a concrete proposal for the termination of the war.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 17, 1945--4:20 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

910. The Domei news dispatches from your area on the 14th reported on your meetings with Lozovsky and Molotov respectively on the 10th and the 11th. With respect to the present important negotiations which are taking place, those concerned include only the members comprising the Supreme War Council: The Prime Minister, this minister, the Minister of the Navy, the Minister of the Army, and the two Chiefs of Staff. In handling this matter, if this should ever leak out, the results would be most dire, I fear.

Therefore, on your side also this matter is limited to you, Mr. Ambassador, and I would like to ask you to observe particularly strict security measures in dispatching and receiving telegrams and the like so that we may have nothing to regret.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 17, 1945--p.m.

Secret
Urgent

913. Re your telegram No. 1392.

1. In the Present situation, strengthening friendly relations with the Soviet Union and, moreover, effectively utilizing the Soviets to terminate the war is difficult. This was clear from the outset but in view of the demands of the times it is essential to accomplish this boldly. Furthermore, for our side it is even difficult merely to prevent the Soviets from taking part in hostilities against Japan, and we must realize that to have them act to our advantage is a prospect hard to achieve. This is as I indicated in my telegram No. 890, and the negotiations for strengthening friendly relations between Japan and the Soviet Union constitute the basis on which to invite sincere Soviet mediation for terminating the war. Moreover, it is also considered essential in order to strengthen our stand in negotiations against the United States and Great Britain. Besides, we should not limit ourselves to sounding out the attitude of the Soviets concerning the termination of the war but should also endeavor to induce them to mediate in good faith.

2. Not only our High Command but also our Government firmly believes that even now our war potential is still sufficient to deal the enemy a severe blow, but against an enemy who can make repeated attacks we cannot always be completely free from anxiety. In such times, we continue to maintain our war strength; if only the United States and Great Britain would recognize Japan's honor and existence we would terminate the war and would like to save mankind from the ravages of war, but if the enemy insists on unconditional surrender to the very end, then our country and His Majesty would unanimously resolve to fight a war of resistance to the bitter end. Therefore, inviting the Soviet Union to mediate fairly does not include unconditional surrender; please understand this point in particular.

3. The Soviet reply concerning the dispatch of the special envoy should be obtained as soon as possible. It is extremely important to get Soviet approval quickly and I would like you to exert extreme efforts towards this end through Lozovsky.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 18, 1945--11:28 p.m.

Very secret BR>Very urgent

1416. Re your telegram No. 913--2

The so-called unconditional surrender or peace obtained by something close to unconditional surrender referred to in my telegram No. 1392 and other which I sent from time to time, omits the problem of protecting the fundamental character of our nation. It goes without saying that even in conducting negotiations with the Soviets on the subject of your telegram, the absolute desire on the part of 70 million citizens as regards our form of government should be forcefully stressed. Therefore I have already added a statement in the latter portion of my telegram, believing that there should be no fear of misunderstanding arising therefrom on this matter; I mention this only in order to make sure.

If the matter of the preservation of our form of government were already taken care of, whether you call it unconditional surrender or whether you call it something close to this condition, in the final analysis is a matter of degree. As for us I think it should not be made an absolute condition. Concerning the early portion of the telegram I would like to express my humble opinion at another time after giving the matter full consideration.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 19, 1945--2:30 p.m.

Very secret
Urgent

1417. Re my telegram No. 1385.

On the evening of the 18th I received a confidential note from Lozovsky which reads as follows:

"Moscow, July 18, 1945

"His excellency Naotake Sato, Envoy Extraordinary and Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Soviet Union

"Excellency:

"I have the honor to confirm that I am in receipt of your not dated July 13, and the message from His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.

"By order of the Government of the USSR, I have the honor to call your attention to the fact that the Imperial views stated in the message of the Emperor of Japan are general in form and contain no concrete proposal. The mission of Prince Konoye, special envoy, is also not clear to the Government of the USSR

"The Government of the USSR, accordingly, us unable to give any definite reply either as to the message of the Emperor of Japan or to the dispatch of Prince Konoye as a special envoy mentioned in your note of July 13.

"I avail myself of this opportunity to express to you my highest esteem. S. A. Lozovsky"[.]

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 19, 1945--4:20 p.m.

Very secret
Urgent

1418. Re my telegram No. 1417.

Concerning the matter of the dispatch of the special envoy, the Soviet Government has declined to accept such an envoy for the time being on the grounds that the mission is not specific. The above is indeed regrettable but just as I said in my humble opinion in my telegrams Nos. 1386 and 1392, and as again demonstrated this time, there is no way other than to present a concrete proposal when dealing with this government. Although your opinion expressed in your telegram No. 913-2 [913-1] has its point from the Japanese side, it does not at all conform to the atmosphere here. That you cannot achieve your objective of having them act in accordance with your hopes can almost be inferred from their attitude in rejecting the special envoy at this time.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 20, 1945--6:30 p.m.

Very secret
Urgent

1427. Re your telegram No. 913.

After considering this matter most carefully, I wish to express my unreserved opinion in the following manner:

1. Since July 14 an American task force has been operating in the waters off the northern section of Honshu Island; they have come close to the shore in the areas of Kamaishi, Muroran, and Mito and have shelled them in a naval bombardment; we have heard that their carrier-based planes have been menacing traffic between the mainland and Hokkaido and have sunk a great number of ships. Our defensive measures, according to enemy broadcasts, have been next to nothing, even with our Navy and Air Force. This is most regrettable, but it may also be taken as the truth in the matter of how weak our war potential has become. If this trend continues, with every passing day the enemy fleet should be more able to move at will, as though it were unopposed. Actually, the names of the ships comprising the task force and even the name of the task force commander have already been ostentatiously broadcast, hurling an open challenge to the Japanese Navy.

2. On the other hand, the enemy air forces based in areas such as the Marianas, Okinawa and Iwo, attach various parts of Japan almost continuously, Large metropolitan areas have already been destroyed and the bombings have even reached out to the small and intermediate-sized cities, quite aside from arms-production facilities and oil-storage dumps. The successive destruction and conflagration of our cities continue. Moreover, just as our anti-aircraft defenses have manifestly decreased in their effectiveness in comparison with the days when the B-29's first started their attacks, so have we also had the command of the skies wrested from our grasp. We cannot assess this any other way.

3. Once the command of the skies has been taken from us by the enemy, our fighting strength will decline at an accelerated rate. This is quite clear if you look at Germany's example. Furthermore, once you have relinquished the mastery of the skies to the enemy it is well nigh impossible to regain it without outside assistance. For the Empire there is no hope other than that of mass production of aircraft in Manchuria. This development is quite recent and it is not only difficult to be sure just how much to expect from Manchurian production but also Manchuria itself is about to become a victim of mass bombing from nearby Okinawa.

4. Although I cannot know with certainty whether there is going to be an enemy landing on the mainland, I do not have sufficient faith to declare such a thing impossible, and I believe that we should be prepared for a landing, considering the thorough manner of the landing tactics in the enemy's Leyte operations, although there may be some differences because of geographic conditions. Furthermore, assuming that a date for the landings has been set, it is equally clear that this would be after our fighting strength has been completely destroyed.

In order to knock out our fighting strength, the enemy will pay special attention to depriving the people of the means of their livelihood, besides directly destroying military installations and industrial plants and bombing the cities. The enemy must know about our food shortage. They must also have a thorough knowledge of how great an influence the present autumn harvest will have on our fighting strength; and so plans on their part to destroy our crops should not be considered impossible with the coming of harvest time. For instance, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the enemy will ascertain the period when the paddies are dry and the rice-plants are ripe throughout the nation and devise methods of burning these up at one stroke. As far as they are concerned, it is a weakness of ours which they should only naturally exploit.

If we lose our autumn harvest, our situation will be absolutely critical and we will be in no position to continue the war. Our empire, which has already lost command of the skies, can do nothing to combat the above circumstances; we are at the mercy of the enemy and committed to whatever the enemy should will.

5. As I have already urged in my telegram No. 1143, continuing the war after our fighting strength has been destroyed should be considered impossible. It goes without saying that the Imperial Army and the populace as a whole will not surrender to the enemy as long as there is no Imperial command to do so; they will literally not throw away their spears until the last man. But even if the officers and men and the entire citizenry, who already have been deprived of their fighting ability by the absolute superiority of the enemy's bombing and gunfire, were to fight to the death, the state would not be saved. Do you think that the Emperor's safety can be secured by the sacrifice of seventy million citizens?

With the above thought in mind, I have come to the conclusion that the individual's position, the honor of the military, and the pride of the people cannot take the place of the state, and that there is no other way for us than to hurry and make up our minds to advocate peace.

6. I had been thinking that the peace proposal through the special envoy mentioned in your telegram No. 893 , which was to be put forward in Moscow, was most right and proper. The dispatch of the special envoy however, unfortunately met with disapproval from the Soviet side (my telegram No. 1417), making it necessary to contrive some other way.

Once peace has been decided upon, although it may be difficult to avoid some harsh conditions which the Japanese citizens must endure as a result, we should be prepared for such an eventuality and have our military representatives and theirs conclude an agreement to terminate hostilities within the shortest possible time; we should put a stop to further sacrifices.

One of the conditions for peace that will require reservation and emphasis on our part is the matter of protecting our national polity. This will have to be for us an absolute requirement, and the fact that it will require us to make a strong impression on our opponents to this effect has already been stated in my telegram No. 1416. Regarding this matter of protecting the national polity, one way is to consider the matter one of a domestic nature and therefore excluded from the terms of a peace treaty. In this case, however, even though it may be but a formality, it will be necessary to hold something like a constitutional convention to hear the people's voice for the sake of appearances. And it cannot be expected that there will be no open opposition to the maintenance of the national polity from some extreme leftists at such a convention. Again, convening a constitutional convention may itself run counter to our Constitution; and if we are to cope with emergency circumstances, it will be necessary to find appropriate solutions regarding such criticisms of unconstitutionality.

On the other had, we may be able to solve the problem of our fundamental form of government with this formality and it may even be relatively easy to get the enemy's agreement, but I find this difficult to judge. In fact, if we resolve to have the Imperial Household above as under the general will of the people, our national polity might, indeed, carry a great deal of weight throughout the world.

7. What I mean to say as a peace proposal is to approve most of the enemy's conditions with the exception of the protection of the fundamental character of our form of government. As long as the fundamental character of our government is preserved, it would mean that our country's honor and existence will be guaranteed in the minimum degree, and I trust this will not run counter to the purport of your telegram No. 913-2 (please refer to my telegram No. 1416).

8. Our country is literally standing at the crossroads of destiny. If we were to continue the war under the present circumstances the citizens would die with the satisfaction of having truly served their country loyally and patriotically, but the country itself would be on the verge of ruin. Although it is possible to remain loyal to the great and just aims of the Greater East Asia War to the very end, it is meaningless to insist on them to the extent of destroying the state. We should protect the survival of our country even by enduring every kind of sacrifice.

Since the Manchurian incident Japan has pursued a policy of authoritarian rule. In the Greater East Asia War she finally plunged into a war beyond her means. As a result, we are confronted with the danger of having even our mainland trampled upon. Since there is no longer any real chance of success, I believe that it is the duty of the statesmen to save the nation by coming quickly to a decision to lay down our arms. If we seek peace, of course, we know roughly what the terms will be by observing the example of Germany. It is inevitable that the people will have to endure the heavy pressure of the enemy for a long period of time, but the nation will live on and we may be able to recover our former prosperity again after several decades. The government should certainly select this path. I ceaselessly implore that we put His Majesty's mind at ease without any delay whatever.

In the postwar dawn we must strive to carry out thoroughgoing reforms throughout the country, to democratize politics in general, and to do away with the domineering and self-righteous attitude of the bureaucrats in order to realize a truly harmonious relation between the Emperor and the people. The scorn for diplomacy and the indifference to international relations, even before the Manchurian incident, were the cause which brought about our present misfortune. In view of the fact that we shall encounter problems in finding a way out of our difficulties while being buffeted about by the storm of international relations in the postwar period, we recognize the urgency of adopting the best political system which will attach importance to future foreign relations.

Since entering into the anti-Comintern pact our foreign policy has been completely bankrupt. The whole thing had its inception in our splitting the world into an Axis force and an anti-Axis force by joining forces with Nazism. For the future, we must clearly recognize our past mistakes and fundamentally reconstruct our foreign policy.

9. In obedience to the Imperial proclamation of war. It was the bounden duty of all the people to devote every effort to the achievement of the war objectives. Therefore I also endeavored to contribute my humble efforts to this cause. In view of the present situation, however, I consider it necessary to recognize frankly that the prospects in the present war have become desperate. The theory that we should counterattack with all our strength, if the United States and England should land on our mainland, and thus make them tire of the invasion should be carefully evaluated. I might have had some faith in the firm belief of the military and the government that our war potential can still inflict quite a blow on the enemy (your telegram No. 913-2) and I might have placed some hope in this if we had not yet lost control of the skies and of the sea. Today, however, we find ourselves in a situation in which we cannot repel the daily attacks of the enemy naval and air forces and in which our production facilities are continuously being destroyed. Moreover, we must consider that this situation will become rapidly even worse as time passes. The resulting imbalance of the opposing forces cannot be rectified no matter how heroically our soldiers and people fight. It also goes without saying that groups such as organized guerillas cannot accomplish much in the face of modern weapons. Thus, after an enemy landing on our mainland, there would be a struggle for every inch of land and repeated valiant fighting until we became exhausted and finally laid down our arms. By that time, as can be seen in the case of Germany, the entire country would already have been trampled by the enemy and the national sovereignty would have been transferred to an occupying power.

I only pray that we may quickly terminate the present situation, in which we can no longer hope to achieve our future objectives and in which we continue to resist simply from past inertia, and that we may save hundreds of thousands of lives which would be uselessly sacrificed and thereby stop short of the destruction of the nation, save our 70,000,-000 people from misery, and endeavor to maintain the survival of our race.

I realize that it is a great crime to dare to make such statements, knowing that they are contrary to the views of the government. The reason for doing so, however, is that I believe that the only policy for national salvation must coincide with these ideas. Therefore, even though I am criticized as being a defeatist and am asked to take the responsibility of submitting to this criticism, I assert that I must willingly accept the responsibility.

Thus I was able to express my views freely, and I need not repeat them further. I beg that you understand that the motive which prompts me to say these thing is my sincere concern for the country. I cannot cease praying that my words, because of too much concern, may not result in unfounded and distorted views.

The Japanese Minister of foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

 
 

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 21, 1945--9:30 p.m.

Urgent

931. Re your telegrams No. 1417 and No. 1418.

The mission of special envoy Konoye is to ask the Government of the USSR for its assistance in terminating the war and to explain our concrete intentions concerning the matter in accordance with the wishes of the Emperor; it is also to negotiate on matters of establishing cooperative relations between Japan and the USSR, which should become basic in our diplomacy during and after the war.

Please propose the above to the Soviets and endeavor to obtain the agreement of the Government of the USSR relative to the dispatch of the special envoy.

Also, please understand fully my telegram No. 932 in particular.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 21, 1945--9:30 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

932. Re my telegram No. 931.

1. We cannot accept unconditional surrender (understood fully your telegram No. 1416) in any situation. Although it is apparent that there will be more casualties on both sides in case the war is prolonged, we will stand united as one nation against the enemy if the enemy forcibly demands our unconditional surrender. It is, however, our intention to achieve, with Soviet assistance, a peace which is not of unconditional nature, in order to avoid such a situation as mentioned above in accordance with His Majesty's desire. It will be necessary for us to expert our utmost efforts to have the United States and Great Britain understand thoroughly this intention. Thus, it is impossible at this time to ask the Soviet Union unconditionally for assistance in obtaining peace; at the same time, it is also impossible and to our disadvantage to indicate the concrete conditions immediately at this time on account of internal and external relations. Under such delicate circumstances, we hope to have Prince Konoye transmit to the Soviet Union our concrete intentions based on the Emperor's wishes and following a conference to have the Soviets deal with the United States and Great Britain, while considering the Soviet demands in Asia.

2. Taking into consideration the fact that this matter is a negotiation of the utmost importance which may determine the fate of our country, I request that you take full measures to grasp the true intentions of the Soviet Union by seeking sufficient explanations, for instance, even with respect to the Soviet reply transmitted in your telegram No. 1417.

3. It is a matter of course that the special envoy has the responsibility of advising the Government; but please explain to the Soviets, if necessary, that the envoy is to be dispatched as a special envoy in accordance with the wishes of the Emperor, whose chief aim is benevolence. Please take care to fully impress the other party with the facts regarding his Majesty's trust in Prince Konoye and the prominent position held by the Prince in the political circles in our country.

4. If the proposal at the beginning of my telegram No. 1427 is not absolutely necessary, please avoid making a written proposal.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 21, 1945--5 p.m.

Very urgent

1433. Re my telegram No. 1418.

It is presumed that there is no connection between the rumored peace proposals in your telegram No. 919 and my telegram No. 1422 and the question of sending a special envoy. However, the Big Three Conference had already started on the 17th. Therefore, it may be presumed that the reply from the Soviet Union on the evening of the 18th mentioned in my previous telegram No. 1417 may have stemmed from the Big Three Conference. If not, it must be taken into consideration that e had proposed sending a special envoy prior to the Big Three Conference and that this matter may have been divulged to the Anglo-American group.

Very little information on that conference is available from radio or other sources. In spite of the paucity of information thereon, it appears that the conference atmosphere is very friendly and that the three leaders are having frequent private meetings. Therefore, relations between Japan and the Soviet Union may take an unforeseeable turn. I am convinced of the necessity for extreme caution.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 24, 1945--5:56 p.m.

1441. Re your telegram No. 932.

We received this telegram on the 22d, but your telegram No. 931 did not arrive until today, the 24th. After considering the manner of presenting our proposal, we intend to suggest a meeting with Lozovsky.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 25, 1945--7 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

944. Re my telegram No. 932.

1. It goes without saying that the outcome of the Big Three Conference will be very closely connected with this subject. However, Churchill and Attlee are expected to return to England temporarily on the 26th and the conference will be recessed for a while. Thus, you should take advantage of this opportunity and, if necessary, go to a place selected as suitable by the other party, meet Molotov, and explain fully the intention of the Imperial Government of Japan. Even though Molotov may find it difficult to arrange a meeting, we believe that the request for a meeting with you would have a good effect in that it would impress them with the sincerity of our desire.

2. On the occasion of the meeting, as repeatedly mentioned in my previous telegrams, it should be pointed out that the Imperial Government has, first of all, requested the good offices of the Soviet Union and that the sending of the special envoy to the Soviet Union would enable Stalin to acquire the position of advocate of world peace. Also make it clear that we are fully prepared to recognize the wishes of the Soviet Union in the Far East (see my telegram No. 932, last paragraph). Let it be known also that should the Soviet Government react coldly to our request we have no choice but to select other ways and means. Thus, you must work hard to induce the Soviet side to recognize these points and have the Soviet Union take positive action immediately.

3. Also, at the present time, as you are probably well aware, there are various arguments as to the substance of the demand for unconditional surrender of Japan in Great Britain and the United states, particularly in the United States. A United States spokesman stated that : "As a rule, for the sake of formality, the Allies will hold fast to unconditional surrender until the end. However, should the Imperial Japanese Government surrender immediately, the Allies are actually prepared to modify the terms." For instance, on the 19th [21st] Captain Zacharias --although a member of the United States Office of War Information he broadcasts to Japan as a spokesman for the United States Government--disclosed the substance of surrender terms, saying that Japan had two choices to make. One was to submit to a dictated peace after the complete destruction of Japan; the other, to accept unconditional surrender and receive benefits under the Atlantic Charter. This is considered simple propaganda strategy. Although it is not definitely stated, this is to a certain degree understood to be a means of encouraging surrender. Nevertheless, special attention should be paid to the fact that at this time the United States referred to the Atlantic Charter. As for Japan, it is impossible to accept unconditional surrender under any circumstances, but we should like to communicate to the other party through appropriate channels that we have no objection to a peace based on the Atlantic Charter. The difficult point is the attitude of the enemy, who continues to insist on the formality of unconditional surrender. Should the United States and Great Britain remain insistent on formality, there is no solution to this situation other than for us to hold out until complete collapse because of this one point alone. On the other hand, since it is possible that the Governments of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States may exercise caution and suspect our dispatch of a special envoy may be a peace plot, we have repeatedly advised that what is described above is not a mere "peace feeler" but is in obedience to the Imperial command. Also, it is necessary to have them understand that we are trying to end hostilities by asking for very reasonable terms in order to secure and maintain our nation's existence and honor. Should things advance to the stage where we send a special envoy to the Soviet Union, undoubtedly these problems will have to be discussed frankly. Because of the beginning of the Three-Power Conference and also in consideration of the development of the recent delicate situation in the United States, you should keep the above circumstances in mind and lose no opportunity to explain all this carefully to Molotov--if under unavoidable circumstances this is not possible, it will be well to consult Solomon A. Lozovsky, Assistant People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs--and inform us immediately by telegram regarding their attitude.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 25, 1945--11:23 p.m.

Urgent

1450. Re my telegram No. 1449.

At the time of my conference with Lozovsky on the 25th, I stated orally as follows (as indicated at the beginning of my telegram, the above was to be sent later to L. in written form:)

1. At the meeting with you, the Acting People's Commissar, last July 13th, I delivered the message from the Emperor and also particularly mentioned His Majesty's desire to dispatch Prince Konoye. Concerning the above, I received a reply from you in writing on the night of the 18th to the effect that the Government of the USSR could not give a specific answer because there was nothing concrete either in the message of the Emperor or in the Prince's mission to Moscow.

2. Concerning these matters, I once again made my proposal to you today to make the circumstances clear in the following manner:

The mission of special envoy Konoye, entrusted with the Emperor's request, is to ask the Government of the USSR to assist in the termination of the war and to explain our concrete intentions on this matter; his mission is at the same time to negotiate on matters which will solidify and improve relations between Japan and the USSR, which should become the basis of our diplomacy for the period during and after the war.

3. In addition to stating the foregoing on instructions from our Government to the Government of the USSR, I repeated that the Emperor especially ordered the Government to dispatch the envoy as a result of His Majesty's wishes to put an end to the tragedy of additional bloodshed from the continued exchange of fire. The special envoy will explain to the Government of the USSR the concrete intentions of the Japanese relative to the above, and will request its consideration of this matter. Therefore, I hope that the Government of the USSR will give sufficient and favorable consideration to this matter of the envoy and agree to the dispatch of the envoy very soon.

Furthermore, since the Government of the USSR is well aware that ex-Premier Prince Konoye enjoys high trust in the Imperial Court and is prominent in Japanese political circles, I believe it will not be necessary to add my own explanation here.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow July 25, 1945--11:50 p.m.

Urgent

1449. Re my telegram No. 1441.

On the 25th I met Lozovsky in order to make the proposal contained in my telegram No. 1450, and we continued our conversation as follows:

Sato: As you have already understood from my proposal, the Japanese Government is asking the Soviet Government to mediate in a friendly manner relative to the termination of the war, and at the same time will have Prince Konoye explain directly to you the concrete intentions of our Government.

L: Could you give me the text of the proposal which you have just made? Its content is really important. If you could prepare a written text for me, I should be able to understand it more correctly. It is difficult to expect real accuracy from an oral presentation. It would also be convenient for me to make a report to my Government if I should have a written text.

I should like to ask one or two questions: {1) I understand that the Japanese Government is asking the Soviet Government to mediate in order to terminate the war, and (2) concerning the above problem Prince Konoye is going to bring us some concrete proposals. Now, are these concrete proposals for the termination of the war or for strengthening Russo-Japanese relations? As this point was not made clear, I should like to have you explain it to me so that I can make a report to my Government.

Sato: As to your latter question, the concrete intentions which Prince Konoye is going to explain to the Soviet Government are, as I understand it, concerned with both of the problems you have just mentioned. In other words, I understand that they are concerned, first, with the request to the Soviet Government for mediation and, second, with the problem of strengthening Russo-Japanese relations. As to your first request, it is outside the instructions which I have received to prepare a written text of the proposal which I made today. However, I shall prepare such a text for your reference on my own initiative and present it to you later, since the problem itself is significant, as you have suggested, and also in due consideration of the fact that the leaders of the Soviet Government are now in Berlin. Needless to say, however, I have to ask you to treat this text as top secret, because of its extremely secret nature. I should also like to mention that Prince Konoye, whose mission I have just explained to you, has our Emperor's greatest confidence and occupies an eminent position in our Government. Therefore, in my opinion, his mission will cover a vast area: he will ask the Soviet Government for mediation; and at the same time he will exchange views concerning problems common to both countries. Moreover, he may go into the problem of future relations between the two nations. I believe you will not be wrong in understanding the matter as I have indicated above.

L: I understand well the secret nature of this problem; I also understand well that what you have conveyed to me, Mr. Ambassador, is very confidential. I will make a report to my Government as soon as I receive your written text. Moreover, I will let you know immediately concerning any instructions I receive from my Government.

Sato: Thank you for your kind help. I personally would also wish to hear from you as soon as possible.

Before leaving , I added the following:

The intention of the Japanese Government, regarding Prince Konoye's mission, is to ask the Soviet Government's assistance in terminating the war. I am sure that the intention is good. Therefore, it is my hope that you will be able to make arrangements so that the Soviet Government will have an opportunity to hear directly from the Prince on this matter.

This would have ended today's meeting. However, I repeated my own explanation of the mission of the special envoy, which appeared to impress L. a great deal. Particularly the fact that our Government has asked the Soviet Government to mediate seemed to arrest his attention. L. listened to our proposal with an earnest and attentive attitude throughout, and promised me an answer from his Government.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 27, 1945--4:30 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

1458. Re my telegram No. 1449.

Although it is difficult to predict what the Soviet reply will be to our recent request, it is possible that the repeated request by the Japanese Government is regarded as merely seeking the good offices of the Government of the Soviet Union, since we failed to indicate on what basis such a request was made. Since the request does not even indicate an outline, the Soviet Union may find it impossible to decide its attitude so simply on such an important matter, and it is conceivable that the request may be turned down again. If, by chance, it does result in a Soviet refusal, I am deeply concerned lest this may force us into a very awkward position. It may also implicate the Imperial Household, since we have been ordered by the Emperor to end further bloodshed and are strongly urged to send a special envoy

In presenting the request, as directed in your telegram No. 931 regarding the mission of Prince Konoye, I have taken precaution not to give the impression that the mission is to set forth the Japanese Government's "concrete aim", and not to present a concrete "proposal". Lozovsky, however, stated that he understood...is to bring a "concrete proposal" and, as he hinted that he was expecting some form of concrete proposition, I believe we must pay special attention to this point.

In presenting a proposal to end such a tremendous undertaking as the present large-scale war, we do not, in the final analysis, have a definite proposition but are only explaining our intention in a indirect way. It is absolutely impossible to cause the Soviet Government to make a move with such a noncommittal attitude on our part. In this connection I do not have the slightest doubt that the straight-forward attitude of the Soviet Union is designed to compel Japan to come out with a concrete proposal.

The definitive joint declaration against Japan made by the leaders of the three nations--the United States, Great Britain, and China--at Potsdam on the 26th appears to be a big scare-bomb directed against us. It became very doubtful whether the Soviet Union would offer its good offices under this offensive started by the three countries Then there is no doubt that the aforesaid tripartite declaration is a counteroffensive, with our trial venture to terminate the war as its target. According to a broadcast of the B. B. C. on the 26th, Lord [Louis] Mountbatten visited Potsdam on his return trip to England and is said to have reported to and consulted with the Big Three leaders of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union on the progress of the war in the Far East. We must take note of the remark that Stalin has for the first time participated in a discussion of the war in the Far East. For your information I make this reference, since this is also a matter which I fear may have some effect on the attitude of the Soviet Union in relation to our request for the Soviets' good offices.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo) to the
Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato)

[Translation]

[Tokyo,] July 28, 1945--10:45 a.m.

Secret
Urgent

952. Re my telegram No. 944.

1. The position taken by the Soviet Union in Connection with the Potsdam joint declaration made by Great Britain, the United States, and Chungking will henceforth have a bearing on our planning and will be a very important problem. When we consider that details of every conference (Quebec , Cairo, etc.) held by the above three countries have been supplied to the Soviet Union, it is not difficult to imagine that the Soviet Union will have detailed knowledge of the recent joint declaration.

2. However, we have been awaiting the Soviet reply regarding the dispatch of the special envoy and we cannot help but have doubts that there may be some connection between the new joint declaration and our request. Is there no connection at all between the new joint declaration and the above-mentioned request: Also, did or did not the Soviet Government inform England and the United States of tour above-mentioned request? And what steps will the Soviet side take against the Japanese Empire from now on? These questions will all remain of interest to our side.

3. For the time being, countermeasures against the joint declaration will be decided after we receive and study the Soviet reply to our request. Thus, Mr. Ambassador, keeping this in mind, meet with Molotov without delay, and at the beginning make our aims clearly understood as described in our outgoing telegrams. Also, on that occasion, endeavor to find out the Soviet Union's attitude regarding the joint declaration.

The Japanese Ambassador, in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 28, 1945--3:25 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

1476. Re your telegram No. 944.

1. Your above telegram (repeat telegram received on the 28th and decoding completed) and my telegrams numbered 1449, 1450, and 1458 crossed each other on the way. In the meantime Attlee, the newly appointed Prime Minister, returned to Potsdam on the same day and is reported to have joined the conference immediately. Thus, item No. 1 of your telegram is now out of the question. Even if we did make a request, there is no possibility that the Soviet side would agree to my visit, which would only result in exposing our uneasy emotion and would be of no benefit to us.

2. Item No. 2 of your telegram stated that a request will first be made to the Soviet Union for its good offices, and, should the Soviet Government react coldly, that there is no other choice but to consider some other course or method. Praising or criticizing the Soviet Union will be regarded by them as being done to suit our convenience, and in view of the various circumstances the attitude mentioned above appears to lack applicability.

3. According to item No. 3 of your telegram a United States spokesman has hinted that unconditional surrender still stands; however, should Japan accept surrender immediately, in reality the terms may be mollified. What the spokesman said is only natural and after considering these circumstances I presented my opinion in telegram No. 1427. I have no way of knowing the extent of the authority given to Captain Zacharias in his broadcast. His word, however, that Japan shall receive the benefit of the Atlantic Charter is in contradiction to the attitude taken by England and the United States when they rejected German participation under the said Charter prior to her surrender. Also, according to your opinion, you are not opposed to the restoration of peace based on the said Charter. Can this be interpreted to mean that the Imperial Government has already accepted demilitarization? Then, if this is the case, the question is, why did Japan not notify the Soviet Government of acceptance of demilitarization when Japan first asked to send the special envoy? In the same way, the question will arise regarding prior recognition of the independence for Korea.

4. Although the B. B. C. announced that the Prime Minister made a statement to the effect that the Japanese Government will "ignore" the July 26 tripartite declaration against Japan, we have not received any official telegram to this effect. Also, regardless of whether it is intended to ignore the above declaration, it was not reported through general information media. The tripartite declaration is an official expression of their will and not only does it supersede the above-mentioned statement of Captain Zacharias but in reality there is some difference on important points. (According to this declaration, it is interpreted that Japan's territory shall be limited to Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Hokkaido, and the United States will reserve the right to occupy Okinawa even though the declaration did not substantiate this.)

5. Your telegram No. 893 mentioned sending the special envoy only. Telegram No. 931 clearly indicates seeking the good office of the Soviet Government. Also, in your telegram No. 944, you have asked me to make it clear that the dispatch of the special envoy to the Soviet Union is to enable Stalin to acquire the position of advocate of world peace. This, to our sorrow, gives the impression that we are giving out our aims piecemeal. With regard to our comment that you have considered the possibility that the Soviet side might react coldly toward our request and that Japan may have to consider other ways and means, I feel embarrassed, since I am unable to understand what was meant by "other ways and means".

6. All things considered, as mentioned in my telegram No. 1450, I am awaiting a reply from the Soviet side. If there is no reply all day on the 30th (Monday), I am inclined to press for a reply immediately.

7. Shortly after this telegram was drafted your telegram No. 952 arrived. With reference to the third item, please understand that the meeting with Molotov will [not?] take place as mentioned in the first item of this telegram unless a special, concrete, and definite proposal for termination of the war is presented by the Imperial Government of Japan.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

[Translation]

Moscow, July 30, 1945--8 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

1480. Re your telegram No. 952.

1. There is no reason to believe that Stalin was not informed beforehand on the Potsdam joint declaration and this must be considered only natural, judging from the present relationship among the three countries--the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. Also, for the most part, we can surmise that the above-mentioned joint declaration had some connection with our plan to send the special envoy, i.e., our first request to the Soviet Union on the 13th regarding the dispatch of a special envoy. It can be suspected that the subject was casually mentioned to the leaders of the United States and Great Britain at Potsdam. I believe we can conclude that the recent joint declaration was based on this information and that the three countries--the United States, Great Britain and China--made a proclamation in an effort to make their stand clear and definite. As to whether or not the declaration of the 26th was made after the leaders of the United States and Great Britain were informed of the first request which I made to Lozovsky on the 25th and also regarding the second request (my telegram No. 1449) on sending the special envoy, all this is not actually too important. Also, in reality, we believe that a discussion was held with Chiang Kai-shek prior to our presentation of the request on the 25th. Nevertheless, it is possible that they have already ferreted out signs of our overtures to conclude a negotiated peace at that time. The only ones who know the circumstances of that period are Stalin and Molotov, and it is a difficult task to find out the truth. As for our side, I believe there is nothing we can do but to reason as indicated above.

2. In connection with the above problems, one important point is that by issuing the joint declaration, the United States and Great Britain made persistent demands on Japan to surrender unconditionally immediately, and another important point which they made clear is that they have no intention of relaxing the terms as stated in the declaration. If Stalin sees that it is impossible to shake the will of the United States and Great Britain regarding the above points, it would mean that our request to send the special envoy cannot be accepted and will be futile, regardless of how we explain that our desire to terminate the miserable war is in accordance with the will of our gracious Emperor and that Stalin will be called the advocate of world peace, etc. As for the United States and Great Britain, their contention will be that the only way for Japan to avoid the bloodshed of war is to surrender immediately. Stalin will also exert sufficient heavy pressure on the United States, Great Britain, and China regarding Manchuria, China, Korea, etc., in the event that Japan surrenders. He is also believed to have made up his mind to push through his claim and actually holds the power to do so. Therefore I believe that Stalin feels there is absolutely no necessity for making a voluntary agreement with Japan. On this point I see a serious discrepancy between your view and the actual sate of affairs.

Also, attention should be paid to Australian foreign Minister Evatt's announcement, as reported by the B. B. C. on the 30th, that he was opposed to the attitude of the joint declaration against Japan since it tends to be more lenient toward Japan that the stand taken by the Allied nations against Germany in the past.

I request that you read through telegram No. 1476 together with this telegram.

The Japanese Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Sato) to the
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs (Togo)

Moscow, July 30, 1945--10:31 p.m.

Secret
Urgent

1484. Re my telegram No. 1476, item 6.

Worried by the delay in reply from the Soviet side, I met with Lozovsky on the 30th at 5 p.m. and again conveyed our wishes. The following conversation took place:

Sato: I have come to receive your reply concerning our request for assistance by the Government of the Soviet Union to end the war which was presented to your Government on the 25th. Although it was arranged that we should be notified as soon as the reply war ready, since it is now Monday I have come to inquire about your reply.

Lozovsky: Since both Stalin, chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, and Molotov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, are now in Berlin, the reply will necessarily take several days to arrive. I regret to say that the reply cannot be delivered yet.

Sato: I fully understand the circumstances. However, the three countries --Great Britain, the United States, and China--issued a joint declaration against Japan on the 26th, pressing unconditional surrender on Japan. Unconditional surrender is, after all, out of the question for the Japanese Government. Our view remains the same as was stated on the 13th, at our meeting before that last. If is is possible to avoid such a formula, however, Japan desires to end the war, with an extremely conciliatory attitude, so long as Japan is guaranteed the nation's honor and existence. For this purpose we asked the Soviet Government for assistance. I hope that Marshal Stalin, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, will give special consideration to this point. Although it has not been possible to receive your reply, I shall be happy if you will notify Commissar Molotov that I have come to see the Acting People's Commissar in order to receive the reply.

Lozovsky: I shall do my best to convey Your Excellency's request to Molotov today by all means.

Sato: I shall be much obliged if you will kindly do so. The Japanese Government has decided to send the Emperor's most trusted Prince Konoye as special envoy to Moscow. As I explained at previous meetings, the envoy will discuss a wide range of subjects as to how the Japanese Government should work to re-establish peace in the Far East and will seek you Government's assistance. I shall also appreciate it if you will inform Mr. Molotov that my understanding is that Prince Konoye will be empowered to discuss a wide range of subjects with the Soviet Government. Also, the Japanese Government understands that various reservations and stipulations will be made by the Soviet Union in connection with the Japanese Government's request for assistance.

Lozovsky: I shall arrange as you request immediately.

Sato: The point which I am concerned about is the possibility that the tripartite joint declaration may obstruct the assistance from the Soviet Government which is desired by the Japanese Government. However, since the top leaders of the Soviet Government are now in Berlin, I hope that they will give appropriate consideration to the removal of such obstructions.

Lozovsky: I promise again to convey your request.

Thank you Paul Priest for providing this page!

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