Tokyo, Japan, January 21, 1941 [1]

It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity of explaining at the reopening of the 76th session of the Diet the recent course of our country's foreign affairs.

Needless to say, the aim of Japan's foreign policy is that of enabling all nations of the world each to take its own proper place, in accordance with the spirit of the Hakko Ichiu, the very ideal which inspired the foundation of our Empire. The object of the Three Power Pact, concluded between Japan, Germany and Italy on September 27 last, is none other than the realization of the same great ideal. We are, one and all, profoundly moved that His Majesty the Emperor was graciously pleased to grant an Imperial Rescript on the conclusion of the Pact, clearly indicating to the nation the path which they should follow.

The Three Power Pact stipulates that Germany and Italy recognize and respect the leadership of Japan in the establishment of a new order in greater East Asia. It is our avowed purpose to bring all the peoples in greater East Asia to revert to their innate and proper aspect, promoting conciliation and co-operation among them, and thereby setting the example of universal concord. The Pact also provides that Japan recognizes and respects the leadership of Germany and Italy in their similar endeavours in Europe. Far from antagonizing any country, the Pact is the embodiment of a peaceful but powerful co-operation directed towards the establishment of a new world order. In accordance with the provisions of the treaty, arrangements have already been made for setting up mixed commissions at the capitals of the three countries. Friendly relations between the three nations are thus becoming evermore closer, politically, militarily, economically and culturally. During the month of November, last year, the Pact was adhered to by Hungary, Rumania and Slovakia. It need not be repeated that the keynote of Japan's diplomacy is the ideal of the Hakko Ichiu and that it revolves round the Three Power Pact as its axis: In this connection, I should like to touch briefly upon Article Three of the Three Power Pact. That article provides that the Contracting Parties undertake to assist one another with all political, economic and military means if one of the Contracting Parties is attacked by a Power at present not involved in the European war or in the Sino-Japanese conflict. In case such an attack should be made, the obligation stipulated by this Article would, of course, arise. Incidentally, reference may be made to Italy's military operations. There appear to be various species of malicious propaganda circulated on this head, but I have no doubt that our ally Italy will attain her object before long.

Of the nations in greater East Asia, Manchoukuo has special and inseparable relations with this country. As you are aware, during the ten years which have already elapsed since her emergence as an independent nation, her national foundations have become strong and secure while her international position has been greatly enhanced, her teeming millions ever enjoying an increasing measure of prosperity. In June, last year, the Emperor of Manchoukuo paid a visit to Japan to offer his felicitations personally to our Imperial House on the auspicious occasion of the 2,600th anniversary of the foundation of our Empire. This is a Source of genuine congratulation for the peoples of Japan and Manchoukuo as it is a conspicuous manifestation of the unique relations subsisting between the two nations, sharing, as they do, common aims and aspirations. By the Sino-Japanese Basic Treaty concluded with the National Government at Nanking, and through the Joint Declaration made by Japan, Manchoukuo and China, the Republic of China recognized Manchoukuo, with the result that an exchange of ambassadors has been arranged between them.

Inasmuch as an early settlement of the China Affair is desirable in the interests of the creation of this sphere of common prosperity throughout greater East Asia, the present Government ever since its formation, has urged the Chiang Kai-shek regime to reconsider and reverse its attitude, with a view of bringing about its amalgamation with the Nanking Government, but it remains still struggling against Japan. The Chiang regime, however, is riddled with internal disruption and friction which are rapidly growing acute, while the masses under its control are suffering from high prices, a dearth of commodities and other severe tribulations. While the armed resistance of Chiang's regime has notably declined, the Chinese communist troops have greatly gained in influence, with the result that they are steadily encroaching upon the sphere of influence of the Chungking armies. The leader in Chungking now seems to be greatly harassed by the rampancy of the communist forces. Despite its being in such a miserable plight, the Chiang regime is still advocating national reconstruction through continued resistance against Japan. This is due to its misplaced hopes in assistance from Great Britain and the United States, especially the latter, and also to past circumstances the effects of which that regime can not easily escape. In June, last year, Great Britain temporarily suspended the traffic of goods destined for the Chiang regime by the Hongkong and Burma routes. On October 18 of last year, however, following the announcement of the Three Power Pact, that country reopened the Burma route and has since been trying to transport goods by that route. Furthermore, Great Britain recently granted the Chiang regime a ten million pound sterling loan, while about the same time the United States, too, offered a loan of one hundred million dollars. The latter country is now endeavouring to extend assistance to Great Britain on a large scale by mobilizing her entire resources, while the Burma route is being seriously and successively damaged by appropriate measures taken by our loyal and gallant air forces. It seems highly problematical, therefore, what assistance Great Britain and the United States can actually afford the Chiang regime. In the light of such an international situation, the Japanese Government, in pursuance of their fixed policy, recognized the National Government at Nanking and on November 30 of last year concluded with the latter the Sino-Japanese Basic Treaty. This treaty embodies the three basic principles of good neighbourliness, economic co-operation and joint defence against communist activities. It stipulates that both Japan and China respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and undertake close economic co-operation on the basis of equality and reciprocity, and that Japanese forces be stationed in certain specified areas in Mengchiang and North China. Not only does Japan demand no territorial cession and no indemnities, but she has willingly pledged to China a policy of abolishing extraterritoriality and also of restoring the "concessions" to China. This is an eloquent testimony of her sincere desire for the attainment of a moral union of the Asiatic peoples. Now that the Basic Treaty has been signed and the Joint Declaration by Japan, Manchoukuo and China issued, it is incumbent upon us to concentrate our efforts on assisting the Nanking Government to develop into the general Government of China both in name and in fact.

We have thus maintained an attitude to surmount all obstacles for the purpose of establishing a sphere of co-prosperity throughout greater East Asia with Japan, Manchoukuo and China as its pivotal point.

Let me now make a brief survey of our relations with the Netherlands East Indies, French Indo-China, and Thailand, which lie within the above-mentioned sphere of common prosperity.

The Netherlands East Indies and French Indo-China, if only for geographical reasons, should be in intimate and inseparable relationship with our country. Therefore, the situation which has hitherto thwarted the development of this natural relationship must be thoroughly remedied, and relations of good neighbourliness secured for the promotion of mutual prosperity. With this in view, early in September last, the Government dispatched Mr. Ichizo Kobayashi, Minister of Commerce and Industry, to the Netherlands East Indies as a special envoy. Mr. Kobayashi was obliged to return to Japan by circumstances preventing his prolonged sojourn abroad, when a definite stage had been reached in his negotiations with the Netherlands East Indies authorities concerning purchases of oil and other urgent questions. As his successor, the Government have recently sent to the Netherlands East Indies Mr. Kenkichi Yoshizawa, formerly Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has already resumed the negotiations with the Netherlands East Indies authorities.

As regards French Indo-China, it formed the most important route of supply for Chungking since the beginning of the China Affair. Consequent, however, upon the sudden change in the European situation last June, a change has occurred in the relations between Japan and French Indo-China, resulting in the closure of the border between French Indo-China and China itself, and the entry by agreement, of Japanese armed forces into French Indo-China. Negotiations are now in progress in Tokyo in an amicable atmosphere on the basis of the Notes exchanged between the French Ambassador and myself in August last. It is my opinion that a realization by France of the necessity for co-operation with Japan, the light of the new situation in the world in general and in East Asia in particular, is responsible for this development.

In connection with the French Indo-China question, I should like to refer to the relations between our country and Thailand. It may be recalled that at the General Assembly of the League of Nations dealing with the Manchurian Affair, in 1933, the Thai delegate did not leave the Assembly hall but remained in his seat, and boldly announced his abstention from voting. This is still fresh in the memory of our people.

In June, last year, a Treaty of Amity and Neutrality was concluded by Japan with Thailand. With the exchange of ratifications, completed on December 23 at Bangkok, the bonds of friendship between the two countries have been drawn still closer. A movement is now stirring the Thai people for the recovery of the lost territories which are at present incorporated in French Indo-China. The Thai troops are confronting the French Indo-China forces across the border with frequent conflicts occurring between them. Japan, the leader in East Asia, cannot afford to remain indifferent to such a dispute, which she hopes will be settled at the earliest possible opportunity.

An exchange of diplomatic representatives has taken place between Japan and Australia. We expect that the two countries will make contributions toward the promotion of the peace of the Pacific by further advancing their friendly relations through cordial co-operation and the elimination of unnecessary misunderstandings.

The relations between Japan and Near Eastern countries have recently increased in cordiality. Our ratification of the Treaty of Amity with Iran is only one of many proofs that illustrate this happy state of affairs.

Japan and the Argentine have agreed to elevate the status of their Legations in each other's country to that of Embassies. With Brazil, a cultural agreement was signed in September last, and it has already been sanctioned by His Majesty the Emperor. Relations between Japan and Brazil are thus growing more and more cordial. It is a matter for hearty congratulation that Japan and those Latin American countries have of recent years become increasingly closer in their political, economic and cultural relations.

While diplomatic relations have taken such a favourable turn, the development of the European war has obliged us to suspend or temporarily withdraw some of our diplomatic establishments in that region. But Japan's diplomatic service abroad is being steadily strengthened on the principle of attaching special importance to specific countries. We are specially reinforcing our diplomatic machinery in greater East Asia.

In establishing a sphere of common prosperity in greater East Asia, and ensuring the peace of the Orient, it is not desirable that the present diplomatic relations between Japan and the Soviet Union should be left as they are. The utmost efforts are being made, therefore, to remove mutual misunderstandings and, if possible, to bring about a fundamental and far-reaching adjustment of diplomatic relations. We are pursuing negotiations at this moment upon such questions as the frontier demarcation between Manchoukuo and Outer Mongolia, the fisheries and the Japanese concessions in North Saghalien. Regarding the fisheries question in particular, an agreement of views has already been reached concerning the establishment of a mixed commission composed of Japanese and Soviet representatives for the purpose of revising the long-term treaty and also the conclusion of modus vivendi for fishing industry for this year. On this point both Germany and Italy share Japan's desire. The provisions of Article V of the Three Power Pact also make it clear, in accordance with the above-mentioned intentions of Japan, that the Pact is not directed against the Soviet Union. We earnestly hope that the Soviet Union will understand Japan's true intentions and that the two countries, actuated by the spirit of mutual concession and conciliation, will succeed in achieving the readjustment of their relations.

Japan's foreign trade, with the exception of that with Manchoukuo and China, is conducted mostly with Great Britain, the United States and their respective colonies and possessions. Since notifying Japan of the abrogation of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation in July, 1939, the United States has been enforcing in succession embargoes or restrictions on the exports to Japan of aircraft, arms and ammunition, aviation gasoline, machine tools, scrap iron, iron and steel manufactures, copper, nickel and other important war materials, while the British Dominions and colonies are in various ways interfering with Japan's shipping. The Japanese Government have lodged protests against such actions on each occasion, but this tendency has recently been so greatly aggravated that Japan must meet the situation adequately prepared. No other course is left to Japan but to go forward with perfecting herself as a state highly organized for national defense, not only in order to meet this pressure that I have referred to but also to secure an economic life of self-supply and self-sufficiency within the region of greater East Asia.

In this connection, I should like to refer to our relations with the United States. The United States has evinced no adequate understanding of the fact that the establishment of a sphere of common prosperity throughout greater East Asia is truly a matter of vital concern to Japan. She apparently entertains an idea that her own first line of national defense lies along the mid-Atlantic to the East, but westward not only along the eastern Pacific-but even as far as China and the South Seas. If the United States assumes such an attitude, it would be, to say the least, a very one-sided contention on her part, to cast reflections on our superiority in the Western Pacific, by suggesting that it betokens ambitious designs. I, for one, believe that such a position assumed on the part of the United States would not be calculated to contribute toward the promotion of world peace. Speaking frankly, I should extremely regret such an attitude of the United States for the sake of Japanese-American friendship, for the sake of peace in the Pacific and, also, for the sake of the peace of the world in general. It is my earnest hope that a great nation exerting the influence that the United States does will realize her responsibility for the maintenance of peace, will reflect deeply on her attitude with truly God-fearing piety, will courageously liquidate past circumstances and bend her utmost efforts to allay the impending crisis of civilization.

The prevailing confusion of the international situation shows no sign of subsiding, but on the contrary, it tends to increase. Should the United States unfortunately become involved in the European war, and should Japan, too, be compelled to participate in the war, another great World War both in name and reality would ensue, precipitating a situation which would defy all attempts at saving it. Should the war take its furious course, unleashing formidable new weapons which have not hitherto been used, no one could guarantee that it would not develop into a war spelling the downfall of modern civilization. The Three Power Pact has been concluded for the purpose not only of making sustained efforts for the establishment of a sphere of common prosperity throughout greater East Asia, but of preventing, in its course, any further extension of the present disturbances. We must endeavor to terminate the current war as speedily as possible and to settle the chaos in which the world is plunged. We must, meanwhile, study in advance to discern some formula for the prevention of the recurrence of any such disturbance in the future.

With an unbroken line of Emperors reigning since its foundation, our Empire constitutes a unique family-State unparalleled in the world for unity and solidarity, which grow stronger with every national emergency. It is reassuring, moreover, to observe that the Japanese Empire is endowed with most favorable geographical conditions, powerful enough to influence the course of world politics. Establishment of the new world order, the goal of the Three Power Pact, if only time be given, will surely be accomplished. There is no room for doubt that it will be crowned with brilliant success. If the Japanese people are fully and firmly prepared for this task, the future of our Empire will indeed be great and glorious.

In concluding my address, I respectfully pay my tribute to the spirits of those loyal and valiant officers and men, our countrymen, who have fallen in action, and at the same time, I tender my warm thanks to the armed forces of our nation for enduring so many hardships and privations, devoting to them my most sincere wishes for every success in the field.

[1] Contemporary Japan, February. 1941.