Japanese Say U.S. Friendship Vital (1933)

Here's a story by United Press former UP General Manager Roy Howard from 1933 Japan.)


(Copyright, 1933, by United Press in all Countries)

TOKYO, June 23, 1933 (UP) -- Japanese-American friendship, understanding and co-operation are of the utmost importance to peace, not only in the Far East but in the world, in the opinion of his imperial majesty, Hirohito, emperor of Japan.

This fact was forcefully impressed on me today when I was granted the first audience extended to an American newspaperman by any Japanese ruler.

There exists today no question capable of disturbing the good relations existing between Japan and the United States, in the opinion of Foreign Minister Count Yasuya Uchida, to whom I was referred for an outline of the government's attitude toward the present world situation.

On the contrary, according to the foreign minister, Japan and the United States are today bound more firmly than ever before by powerful commercial ties. These should be greatly strengthened in the immediate future, as American trade in Manchoukuo, already on the upgrade, continues to expand, and this expansion demonstrated that the creation of the Far East's newest republic will in no way menace the "open door" in the Far East.

My introduction to the emperor was made by the American ambassador, Joseph C. Grew, with whom I motored to the palace. The conversational exchange between the emperor and myself cannot be termed an interview, as the rules of the court prohibit direct quotation. This rule never has been waived. Furthermore, foreign policy is not primarily the interest of his majesty, but of the foreign minister.

However, it is permissible to state that the emperor did evidence a clear understanding of and a keen interest in the subject of Japanese-American friendship and good will, present and future. He declared the subject one on which his interest constantly was focused because of his belief that the maintenance of Japanese-American understanding and good will is bound to have a powerful and benign effect on the peace of the world.

The cordial earnestness of his manner and the simplicity and directness of his statements carried an inescapable ring of sincerity and conveyed very definitely the suggestion that the wave of a much more friendly feeling toward the United States, now evident throughout Japan, is also reflected in the imperial palace.

Our meeting occurred in the Phoenix Hall, formal audience chamber, which is a relatively small but gorgeously lacquered room, hung with tapestries but devoid of furniture, except for the emperor's chair of red lacquer, set between two ancient cloisonni vases of huge proportions.

The emperor wore the simple khaki uniform of a generalissimo, a service cap tucked under his left arm and his left hand resting on the hilt of his sword.

At my introduction, he extended his right hand in western fashion for a firm handshake, with all the vigor and warmth of one accustomed to professional greetings. A pleased smile occasionally punctuated his remarks-a smile which did much to take the chill from the otherwise icy formality of a ritualistic presentation.

Throughout our conversation, a similar cordiality characterized the words of the official interpreter, but the bowed faces of the two chamberlains behind his majesty remained completely without expression. Outside the chamber entrance, other somberly clad functionaries maintained equally blank faces, as though no word of our conversation penetrated their understanding. Throughout our exchanges, it was obvious that, while he spoke only in Japanese, his majesty is conversant in English.

Replying to one of his statements relative to his deep interest in the development of a close understanding and mutual faith between our countries, I remarked that I had come to the Far East in the hope of being better able, as a journalist, to contribute to this objective. He nodded in smiling approval and began his next remark, relative to my visit to Manchoukuo, without awaiting the interpreter's translation.

At the conclusion of the audience, his majesty, injecting momentarily a purely personal note into his remarks, again shook hands. Then, resuming the austere formality prescribed for imperial audiences, he stood rigid while first I, then the ambassador, backed out of the chamber.

As we left, I was given a copy of the latest imperial rescript, in which the emperor said:

"The advancement of international peace is what, as evermore, we desire and our attitude toward enterprises of peace shall sustain no change. By quitting the League of Nations and embarking on a course of its own, our empire does not mean that it will stand aloof in the extreme Orient, nor that it will isolate itself thereby from the fraternity of nations.

"It is our desire to promote mutual confidence between our empire and all other powers and make known the justice of its cause through the world."

After leaving the palace, I visited the veteran Count Uchida at the Foreign Office.

Recounting to Count Uchida the emperor's expression of his interest in Japanese-American relations, I inquired about the government's opinion on what the present and future appear to offer in that direction.

"Japan and the United States owe it to the world and to posterity to keep the Pacific true to its name," the minister replied. "We are convinced of the absolutely vital need of Japanese-American amity and goodwill for the promotion of Far Eastern peace. There is no question between the two countries capable of disturbing their good relations.

"Moreover, in the matter of trade, the two countries are bound by mutual interest that cannot be severed without disaster to both. Japan is your best customer in the whole Orient, whilst the United States is our best customer anywhere. I believe this economic bond, which will grow stronger as its importance is better understood, will be intensified with the peace of the Far East. And, regarding the policies she must accordingly pursue, there surely can be no objection on the part of other powers.

"I have faith in the ultimate willingness of America to co-operate in these policies, of which the primary objective is peace."

A question about Japan's world policy in view of her withdrawal from the League of Nations, elicited the following reply:

"A fundamental of Japan's national policy, which has governed all her diplomatic relations, including recognition of Manchoukuo, is to preserve peace in the Far East.

"Japan recognized Manchoukuo in order to eradicate the root of trouble in the Orient. Her most sincere with is only to see Manchoukuo in a position where she will be able to maintain peace and order and develop her industrial and commercial resources in a manner not only to benefit her own inhabitants but also those of other nations.

"Japan has and will continue to observe scrupulously the principles of the open door and equal opportunity in Manchoukuo and China. The United States need have no fears on this score. The fact is that the trade of the United States with Manchoukuo actually is growing under the new order. Moreover, there cannot be serious competition between your trade and ours in Manchoukuo. They are widely divergent.

"Japan, as a close neighbor, is deeply concerned with and regrets the political chaos in China. I would like to repeat that we are interested in the rehabilitation and stabilization of China and have no designs there, in the Philippines or elsewhere."