U.S., Britain too nervous, says Ōhashi (2-17-41)

Reading Eagle (February 17, 1941)

Tokyo’s intentions are misrepresented, cabinet member asserts
Tokyo, Feb. 17 (AP) –
Dōmei, Japanese news agency, quoted Vice Foreign Minister Chūichi Ōhashi today as saying that:

…other Pacific powers are becoming too nervous about the Far Eastern situation and are applying unwarranted pressure against Japan.

Dōmei quoted him as saying in reply to questions before the House of Representatives Accounts Committee:

Although our rights and interests in the South Seas are vital questions, we hope to settle them without resorting to force.

“Widespread misreports that Japan was planning imminent action in the South Seas” apparently produced the Washington conference held by U.S. Secretary of State Hull with envoys of Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, Ōhashi continued.

These nations seen intent upon suppressing Japan.

‘Will face issue’

The agency quoted Ōhashi as saying:

However, if any nation increases the pressure against Japan because of these misreports, Japan would be obliged to face the issue, which might cause serious consequences.

The statement was interpreted as apparently referring to the reported concentration of British troops near the Thailand border.

Simultaneously, Dōmei said, Ōhashi delivered what observers said may have been a hunt against increased American naval forces at Manila, saying:

Japan is interested in the Philippines as a friendly neighbor and therefore desires that the islands won’t endanger Japan in the future.

To reopen conference

He also announced that the Japanese-Netherlands East Indies economic conference would be reopened soon at Batavia as a result of conversations in Tokyo between himself and Netherlands Minister J. C. Pabst.

The conversations have been suspended for some time because “the Dutch attitude at first was not auspicious and misreports led to increased tension in the East Indies,” Ōhashi said.

Expects U.S.-Mexico agreement

In a Tokyo broadcast heard in New York, Dōmei said Foreign Minister Yōsuke Matsuoka told the budget committee of the Japanese House of Representatives the United States and Mexico possibly might conclude a military agreement, “especially in view of the situation prevailing,” but declined to say what his government’s attitude would be toward it.

The news agency said Matsuoka acknowledged considerable Mexican pressure against Japanese fishermen in Mexico’s west coast. However, he “expressed an optimistic view regarding this question,” Dōmei said.

Asked concerning the refusal of the Dutch East Indies to be included in the Japanese proposed “Greater East Asia,” the agency said Matsuoka replied:

Japan does not claim leadership for all peoples within the Greater East Asiatic sphere on common prosperity, but the Japanese nation is in possession of the capabilities of leading them.