Memorandum by the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)
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St. S. Nr. 614

BERLIN, August 22, 1939.

After the Reich Foreign Minister late yesterday evening had briefly informed the Japanese Ambassador by telephone from the Berghof about the latest turn between Berlin and Moscow, I received Herr Oshima about midnight for a conference which lasted about one hour. The Japanese Ambassador as usual showed himself well disposed. At the same time, I discerned in him a certain uneasiness, which increased in the course of the conversation.

I first described to Oshima the natural course of events which had led us to today's conclusion of a non-aggression pact. When Oshima expressed his own concern, we finally came to an agreement as to how Oshima might convince his Government of the necessity and the advantage of the current proceedings.

The ideas of Oshima were, as was to be expected, along two lines:

1) If Russia were relieved of anxiety in Europe, she would strengthen her East Asiatic front and put new life into the Chinese war.

2) The jurists in Tokyo (and there were a great many of them) would debate the consistency of our present proceedings with certain earlier German-Japanese conversations.

Oshima added that there was no use in trying to interfere with accomplished facts. He did, however, look for a certain shock in Japan, and he would like to abate this by making a telegraphic report tonight.

My discussion was along lines somewhat as follows:

1) We were doing nothing which would put in question our friendly relationship with Japan. On the contrary, we would continue to maintain that, and we esteemed the personalities, like Oshima, who had acted and would act most vigorously to that end.

2) The present proceedings were not a cause for surprise inasmuch as the Reich Foreign Minister had informed the Ambassador some months previously that a normalization of German-Russian relations was worth attempting.

3) Such an arrangement would also put us in a position to take steps to bring about a period of quiet in Japanese-Russian relations and to insure its continuance for a considerable period of time. That Japan was at the moment not seeking a Japanese-Russian conflict was certain. I had even received from the Russian side the impression that a Moscow-Tokyo agreement would be welcomed there.

4) Since the Anti-Comintern discussions (which had been mentioned by Oshima) had been undertaken, the front of our enemies had been dislocated both by Japan and by Germany. It was clear as day that for Japan England had become Enemy No. 1, just as Germany also was threatened much less by Russian than by English policy. The agreement which was being reached with Moscow was serving the interests of both of us.

5) If Oshima referred to certain earlier German-Japanese conversations, we would not argue the point with him that we had sought tirelessly to improve German-Japanese relations. We had waited for half a year to hear some echo from Japan. The Japanese Government, therefore, had the priority and Oshima had certainly had the merit of having always recognized this, and of having urged that these negotiations be speeded up.

6) Our economic, and also certain political, discussions with Moscow had lasted for some time. The negotiations for a non-aggression pact were, however, of very recent origin. It was only in the last two or three days that the possibility of this had appeared. Polish arrogance might force us into war even in the course of this week. With only such a limited amount of time available, we had been absolutely compelled to act.

The Ambassador took note of these remarks and in conclusion he assured me of his unaltered intention to work further for German-Japanese friendship. Besides. he hoped to be able to have a brief conference yet today with the Reich Foreign Minister, if the latter passed through Berlin, in order to give his report to Tokyo still more weight. If it were necessary, Oshima would come to the airfield.


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