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TheBerlin-Tokyo Axis andJapanese MilitaryInitiative
CARL BOYD Old Dominion University THE initial alignment, by means of the Anti-Comintern Pact, of the Japanese government with the Third Reich in 1936 was made possible by the extraordinary activities ofOshima Hiroshi, then military attache to Berlin. Colonel Oshima, whose diplomatic role far transcended his early rank and authority, moved from the rank of Colonel and position of attache in I934 to Lieutenant General and Ambassador by 1938. Oshima, both daring and enterprising, had the full support of his military superiors and certain pro-Axis Japanese; thus his role in Germany proved crucial to the making of major changes in Japanese foreign policy. He both represented and expressed military and totalitarian tendencies in the Japanese army, government, and society, helping those tendencies to reach dominance in Japan by I940. In 1934 the appointment of a superbly qualified officer to Berlin had been especially important to the Japanese Army General Staff. The Japanese military had adopted the German general staff system in 1878, and since then felt an affinity with the German army. Though on opposite sides in the First World War, during the Weimar Republic there continued to be a reciprocal relationship between the armed forces of the two nations, victorious Japan and vanquished Germany. During the early I920s the Japanese government employed hundreds of German military technicians in Japan, and Japanese military agents combed the Republic buying strategic equipment: for example, diesel The author to Old for wishes thanktheSchoolofArtsandLetters, Dominion University, a grantsupporting research thisarticle,a revision my paperpresented Chicago on of in
at the Inter-University Seminar National Biennial Conference, October 20-22, 1977.
General HiroshiCshimaand Diplomacy the ThirdReich,i934-1939 (Washington, D.C.: in University Pressof America, 198o). In accordance with Japanese usage,Japanese names are given in this article with the surname first, and a macron is used over a long vowel in all Japanese words except well-known place names, e.g., Tokyo. In quoted passages and source citations the practice of the publisher is followed.
Forvaluable criticisms thatIUS paperI amindebted StanleyL. Falk,nowDeputy of to D.C. Parts of for ChiefHistorian Southeast Asia,Center Military Washington, History, formin my work TheExtraordinary of this articleappearin somewhat different Envoy:
1981 Cambridge University Press
engines for the rapidly developingJapanese submarine force, and prototypes of aircraft engines.1 By the time of Oshima's appointment as attache in March 1934, Hitler had announced Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations and the Geneva Disarmament Conference. The Japanese Army General Staff knew that Germany had long violated the military restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles and that the new Hitler government was probably about to embark upon a major rearmament program. Oshima's professional credentials made him highly qualified for assignment to the Third Reich. He spoke German fluently, having studied the language and Clausewitz's VomKriege for nine years in an army district military preparatory school, the Military Academy, and the Army War College.2 He initially went to Germany as assistant
military attache in 192 ; in February 1923 he was transferred to Vienna
to become military attache in the Japanese legation for Austria and Hungary. Oshima's education and military experience in Europe, however, were not enough to assure him assignment to the Berlin post in 1934; his credentials were not necessarily superior to those of officers of similar grade.3 Oshima had the advantage of belonging to a distinguished military family, of being known in the military upper echelons. His father,
1 Office of Naval Intelligence File, Naval Attache Reports, I886-I939, No. 7010, R-i-a; No. 6452, P-Io-I; No. 6452-Q, P-Io-I; No. 6452-R, P-Io-I; and No. I3147-A, U-I-b, National Archives, Washington, D.C., Record Group 38. Hereafter these naval records in the National Archives are cited as ONI Reports, 1886-1939, NA, followed by the record group (RG) number. 2 Oshima Hiroshi to author, I I July 1969 and International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Exhibit I21 (Oshima military record) (hereafter cited as IMTFE). Oshima was graduated with distinction from these three military institutions in 1902, I905, and 1915. His dates of rank were as follows: second lieutenant (June I906), first lieutenant (June 1909), captain (May 1916), major January 1922), lieutenant colonel (August I926), colonel (August 1930), major general (March 1935), and lieutenant general (March 1938). Oshima's rate of promotion to colonel was slightly better than the average rate of his contemporaries and graduation from the Army War College (Rikugun daigakko) practically assured him of an eventual general officer grade. See Heigo [Military terms and the organization of the imperialJapanese army] (n.p. [U.S. Army?], n.d. (1942?]), pp. I86, I90, I94-7. 3 Saburo Hayashi and Alvin D. Coox, IKogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War (Quantico, Va.: Marine Corps Association, 1959), pp. 220-41. Japanese army officers who were lieutenant colonels, colonels, orjunior major generals were eligible because of seniority for head attache duty in major nations in the I930s. Professor Coox has compiled biographical data concerning 91 officers mentioned in Kogun, of whom 54 were approximately of Oshima's grade in March I934. All of the latter number had graduated from the Military Academy, almost all had graduated from the Army War College, and 41 had military experience in Europe before 1934. At least 20 of those with European experience in this random and incomplete sampling had served specifically in Germany.
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Lieutenant General Oshima Ken-ichi, Minister of War during the First World War, was a close associate of Field Marshal Prince Kan'in Kotohito, Chief of the Army General Staff in the I930s, whose careers moved together through the dramatic rise ofJapan as a major military power to the Japanese collapse in I945. Each officer had served as official emissary on important missions abroad.4 Thus, the appointment of Oshima to Berlin in 1934 was probably influenced by the old comradeship, by the Chief of the Army General Staff's feeling that the younger Oshima would follow his family's tradition of loyal and distinguished service to the Emperor and his army. The extent to which Oshima would seize the initiative in becoming an able and energetic army representative, however, would not become apparent until he arrived in Berlin and became acquainted with National Socialist officialdom. Oshima's original instructions were typical of any service attache system in the 930s: among other duties, he was to observe and report on military technical innovations which might threaten to alter the balance of power.5 General Ueda Kenkichi, Deputy Chief of the Army General Staff, instructed him specifically 'to watch and [to] investigate ... the stability of the Nazi regime, the future of the German army, relations between Germany and Russia, and particularly between the armies of the two countries.' He was also expected 'to collect information and report [directly to the Army General Staff] on Soviet Russia.'6 Such instructions, again, were standard, and traditionally were carried out by the military attache who attempted to establish a strong rapport with various generals in the host country, or foster close relationships with their subordinates. The attache would also observe military maneuvers and, most importantly, would carefully read military journals and newspapers searching out data concerning economic, scientific, political, and social factors which reflected the host country's potential for waging war.
4 In 1896 the elder Oshima attended the coronation of Czar Nicholas II as an aide to then General Count Yamagata Aritomo, the father of the modern Japanese Army. Earlier in the decade Oshima and Kan'in had studied at the Ecole de Guerre(Oshima also studied in Germany) and during the Boer War they toured Europe, dining with Queen Victoria, with whom Oshima conversed in German and Kan'in in French. Kan'in, granduncle to then Crown Prince Hirohito, accompanied the heir apparent to Europe in 1921; the elder Oshima was a member of the Imperial Diet in the 1930s and of the Privy Council throughout the Second World War. After Kan'in resigned as Chief of the Army General Staff in I940, he remained close to the throne and personally carried the Emperor's surrender order to several army and navy units in I945. 5 See Alfred Vagts, The Military Attache (Princeton: Princeton University Press, I967), 6 IMTFE, Exhibit 3508 (Oshima affidavit). particularly ch. 4.
From the beginning it was clear that Oshima would excel in his Berlin assignment; he was extremely eager to pursue General Ueda's instructions. Shortly after Oshima's arrival in 1934, the American military attache in Berlin estimated that there were as many as I50 Japanese agents in Germany, working under the immediate supervision of the office of the Japanese military attache. Though many of these alleged agents were probably Japanese students in German universities, U.S. Army Captain Rowan reported to his superiors in Washington that some of the students were of unusually high caliber: one student at the University of Berlin, for example, was actually a professor of chemistry at Tokyo University.7 Furthermore, the American officer learned from the chief of the German army armaments office that 'the Japanese military attache visits the Waffenamtthree or four times more than any other military attache.'8 Thus, if we are to assume that the 'special students' mentioned were indeed agents, and considering the fact that Oshima had ready access to the Waffenamt,a secret National Socialist war office normally off limits to foreigners, it was with considerable ease that he was able to keep his Tokyo superiors informed of significant developments in the economic base of German rearmament. By September I934, when Oshima attended the Nurnberg rally, he was convinced that the will of National Socialism had triumphed, that German military strength was being rejuvenated. The observation and collection of intelligence data concerning the Soviet Union, which was the other major part of Oshima's assignment, proved to be a more difficult task. The Japanese army had long watched the rise of Soviet military strength with keen interest. In 1929 Oshima's predecessor in Berlin, then Colonel Omura Yurin, hosted a conference of Japanese military
Captain Hugh W. Rowan, assistantmilitary attach6, American Embassy, Berlin, to Military Intelligence Division, Office of Chief of Staff, War Department, 17 May 1934, ONI Reports, 1886-1939, No. 13147-A, U-i-b, NA, RG 38. 8 Ibid.Rowan was convinced that 'theJapanese Military Attache is being given access to important technical information in possession of the German army' (ibid.). The growing technical and economic needs of Hitler's armed forces soon rendered the small armaments office obsolete. Not long after Rowan's report was filed, Colonel, later und General, Georg Thomas headed a new office for Wehrwirtschaft- Wafenwesen. Through an elaborate military economic staff system he would become largely responsible for organizing Germany's peacetime economy toward the requirementsof war. In addition to considerable naval and air strength, by May I939 land forces of the Third Reich 'had been increasedfrom seven to fifty-onedivisions, compared with an expansion from forty-threeto fifty divisionsin the period from 1898 to 1914'. Alan Bullock, Hitler,A in rev. Study Tyranny, edn (New York: Harper and Row, Harper Torchbooks, 1964), p. 511. See also Herbert Rosinski, The German Army(New York: Frederick A. Praeger, der Wehr- Ristungswirtschaft und 1966), pp. 228-9, and Georg Thomas, Geschichte deutschen (I918-g943/45) (Boppard am Rhein: Harald Boldt Verlag, 1966), particularly pp. 2-3,
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attaches in Europe. The representative from Tokyo was Lieutenant General Matsui Iwane, a recent director of military intelligence at Army General Staff Headquarters. The Berlin conference focused on the Soviet Union, and topics discussed included sabotage, espionage, and the employment of White Russians for intelligence purposes.9 There seems to be little evidence that theJapanese actually collaborated with Germany on such matters at that time, for the Weimar government's attitude toward the Soviet Union was considerably different from Hitler's attitude. However, Oshima vigorously sought access to German information concerning the Soviet Union in I934.10 Oshima approached the most important German officials with proposals for Japanese-German cooperation in obtaining intelligence about the Soviet Union. By at least January 1935 he was working closely on the matter with the new head of German central military intelligence (Die AbwehrAbteilung), then naval Captain Wilhelm Canaris. Some time prior to June I937 Oshima obtained similar free access to Lieutenant General Wilhelm Keitel after February 1938). (Chief of the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht
9 IMTFE, Proceedings, pp. 28, 839-40 (Hashimoto) and pp. 33,884-94 (Matsui). Japanese military attaches in the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, Poland, Austria, Italy, and Turkey attended the Berlin conference. It included some figures important in the events leading to the Second World War. For example, Lieutenant Colonel Hashimoto Kingoro, military attache in Turkey, was sentenced to life imprisonment at the postwar Tokyo trial for his part in the I937 'rape of Nanking,' sinking of the U.S.S. Panay, and shelling of H.M.S. Ladybird. Matsui, Hashimoto's commander-in-chief in China, was sentenced to death. A Japanese scholar has recently written that while Oshima was military attache in Vienna (February I923-November 1934) he 'worked primarily on Russian espionage activities'. Masaki Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I sangokudomeino kenkyu[A study on the tripartite alliance Berlin-Rome-Tokyo] (Tokyo: Nanso-sha, I975), p. 43. I have not read this elsewhere and Professor Miyake offers no documentation for the specific point; nor is Oshima's military record of any help. Oshima had served in Siberia from August 19 8 to February I919 and it is probable that he had considerable experience with Soviet intelligence matters. See Walter Voigt, 'Begegnung mit Hauptmann Oshima in Sibirien I9 8,' Das DeutscheRote Kreuz, 7 (February 1943): 32-3. 10 It was believed in the Japanese Army General Staff that German military intelligence on the Soviet Union was excellent at the time of Oshima's appointment. Therefore, it was not unusual that a General Staff intelligence officer, Colonel Iinuma Minoru, should privately request (irai) the new military attachi to explore the possibility of working with the Germans in Soviet intelligence matters. The request was made informally, almost by way of a suggestion, before Oshima left Tokyo in I934, but the point was not included in his official orders. Oshima individually took the initiative. See my article entitled 'The Role of Hiroshi Oshima in the Preparation of the Anti-Comintern Pact,' Journal of Asian History, II, I (I977): 49-7I. Cf. Ohata Tokushiro, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact, 1935-1939,' trans. Hans H. Baerwald, in Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany, and the USSR, I935-1940, ed. James William Morley (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), pp. 23-4.
By 1938 Oshima's sources among key National Socialists included Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, and Joachim von Ribbentrop. The collaborative work of this network involved not only an agreement to exchange information about the Soviet Union, but also an agreement to give assistance to any White Russian independence movement. The collaborators went so far as to distribute anti-communist literature in the Soviet Union. Further, in July 1938 Oshima arranged with his Tokyo superiors to allow a German officer to interrogate a former Ukranian commissar for domestic affairs, who was at that time seeking political asylum in Japan." Often, when Oshima became involved in such unauthorized political negotiations, he disclaimed responsibility, delegating the possible blame for such cooperative intelligence operations to Lieutenant Colonel Usui Shigeki and other subordinates in the Japanese embassy. Oshima was directly responsible to the Army General Staff and could work independently of the Japanese ambassador; the Japanese service attache system authorized the military representative to negotiate and conclude purely military agreements with the military of the host government. In such cases, as Oshima testified after the Second World War, 'no participation of the ambassador is tolerated. 12 Matters which were of a purely military nature, however, were so determined by Oshima himself, and German officials. Thus, their criteria for judgement in totalitarian diplomacy became conveniently broad, expedient. Oshima, as military attache, took advantage of such special prerogatives; he exploited every opportunity for enhancing relations, not only between theJapanese and German armies, but between the two governments as well. He had a keen instinct concerning the real source of power within Hitler's hierarchy. He recognized, as he revealed after the Second World War, that 'it was only Hitler and Ribbentrop who decided German foreign policy, and that it was therefore of no use to talk to their subordinates. I always talked over important matters ... directly with
IMTFE, Exhibits 3508 (Oshima affidavit), 3496 (Kawabe Torashir6 affidavit, military attach6 in Berlin, October 1938-February I940), 3493 (Kasahara Yukio affidavit, assistant military attache in Berlin, January-November 1938), 488 (Oshima interrogation), and Proceedings, pp. 6,026-28 (memorandum of a conversation between Oshima Hiroshi and Heinrich Himmler, 31 January 1939); Karl Heinz Abshagen, Canaris: Patriot und Weltbirger (Stuttgart: Union Deutsche VerlagsgesellKeitel: Verbrecher oder Offizier? schaft, I950), p. I I3; Wilhelm Keitel, Generalfeldmarschall ed. Walter Gorlitz (Gottingen: Musterschmidt-Verlag, I96I), p. 99; Oshima to author, 21 November 1966, Oshima interviewed by John Toland, Chigasaki, 24 March 197I; and Documentson GermanForeign Policy, 1g98-1945, 13 vols, ser. D, 1937-41 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949-61), i: Doc. Nos 603, 628 (hereafter cited 12 IMTFE, Exhibit 3508 (Oshima affidavit). as GD).
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them.'13 Although Oshima made that statement in general reference to his policy as ambassador after October 1938, his policy as military attache was not much different. Oshima used one of his old associates from Weimar days to gain access to Ribbentrop, the Fuhrer's personal ambassador-at-large, and chief of the Dienststelle-an agency which was separate from the Foreign Ministry and suitable for Hitler's arbitrary methods of diplomatic negotiations. Friedrich Wilhelm Hack, an export-broker of German arms with whom Oshima had secretly negotiated the purchase of German weapons in I922, was by I934 a confident in Ribbentrop's entourage and a party to his Dienststelle.14 During informal meetings in 1934, Oshima learned a great deal from Hack concerning specific people and their influence in the growing bureaucracy of National Socialist Germany. The emphasis which Hack placed on the strength ofRibbentrop's anti-Russian and anti-communist views made him realize that these sentiments could possibly serve as a basis for negotiating some sort of Japanese-German alliance aimed at the Communist International and the Soviet Union.15 Hack willingly played the role of intermediary between his long-time Japanese associate, Oshima, and his new Dienststellechief. In the spring of I935, as early as March, Oshima and Ribbentrop met for the first time.16 It was immediately obvious, as Ribbentrop testified after the
author, 7 May 1971 and Oshima interviewed by John Toland, Chigasaki, I7 January 1967. I am indebted to Mr Toland for a copy of this interview and the one cited in note I I above. Hack had close connections inJapanese military and business circles. He often lived in Japan in the I920S when he was also an adviser to the South Manchurian Railway Company. For a brief account of Hack's ceremonial role as a representativeof the German-Japanese Society during the Berlin visit of Vice Admiral Matsushita Hajime and officers of his training ship squadron, see J[ohn] C[ampbell] American Embassy, Berlin, to secretary of state, 15 White, charge d'affaires ad interim, 15 For a more detailed discussion of the origins of the 1936 German-Japanese Agreement against the Communist International, see my previously cited article on 'The Role of Hiroshi Oshima in the Preparation of the Anti-Comintern Pact.' Oshima was the prime instigator of the Anti-Comintern Pact.' Oshima was the prime instigator of the Anti-Comintern Pact. ProfessorBaerwald in his introduction to the Ohata essay cited in note io above endorses my conclusions: 'One point emerges with crystal clarity ... : it was Oshima who was the prime instigatorof the Anti-Comintern Pact. On this issue all previous commentaries concerning the origins of the pact... have now been superseded' (p. 4). The valuable translationof the Ohata essaywas published on 29 December 1976, regrettably too late to be cited in my article above, though I made extensive use of the original 1963Japanese edition. 16 Oshima to author, 21 November 1966. Oshima stated that their first meeting was Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 24. Oshima and Ribbentrop met much earlier in
'at a luncheon held in March or April 1935.' See also Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I, p. 44; cf. May 1934, ONI Reports, i886-I939, No. 1623, U-I-b, NA, RG 38.
14 Oshima to
Second World War, 'thatJapan had the same anti-Comintern attitude as Germany,' and the two men met secretly, often at Hack's house, during the summer. They discussed Oshima's proposal for some sort of Japanese-German alliance. 17Ribbentrop told Hitler about his unofficial talks with the enthusiasticJapanese military attache, and in the autumn Hitler, Oshima, and Ribbentrop met to discuss Oshima's original proposal further: to conclude 'a treaty between Japan and Germany to the effect that if Japan or Germany went to war against Soviet Russia, the other one should not take actions beneficial to Soviet Russia.'1 This was a 'no-aid' defensive military proposal, though political aspects were intertwined. Hitler showed interest in the proposal, but he wanted to know what Oshima's superiors in the Army General Staff thought of it. Earlier in the summer Oshima had informed the Chief of the Army General Staff of his informal negotiations, although he had apparently omitted specific details. At any rate, there appeared to be no urgency in the matter because Lieutenant Colonel Wakamatsu Tadaichi of the Army General Staff would be in Berlin in December for a previously scheduled meeting withJapanese military attaches stationed in Europe. Wakamatsu could, Staff officers reasoned, discuss the matter with Oshima and listen to the Germans when he arrived. Shortly before Wakamatsu left Tokyo, however, additional cables arrived from Oshima informing the Lieutenant Colonel of the unauthorized negotiations among the attache, Hitler, and Ribbentrop. An astonishing picture was revealed. Wakamatsu recalled the outline of Oshima's messages: 'Each country would gather and exchange information against Russia and if hostilities should occur, the German andJapanese armies would cooperate.' The telegrams gave only the general picture, but one 'received the
1935 than stated in most scholarly works dealing with the subject. This point is confirmed in the diary of Bella Fromm, a diplomatic columnist for the Ullstein papers, for on 6 April 1935 she recorded that 'it seems that Rib[bentrop] and the newJapanese Military Attache, Oshima, are pretty thick these days. Something's brewing ... some A poison cup is being prepared' (Bella Fromm. BloodandBanquets: BerlinSocialDiary [New York: Harper, I942], p. I93). The recently discovered Hack Papers have been used by Bernd Martin, 'Die deutsch-japanischen Bezierhungen wahrend des Dritten Reiches' in Hitler,Deutschland dieMichte:Materialien Assenpolitik Dritten und zur des Reiches, Oshima and Hack discussed German-Japanese collaboration on 17 September I935 and that by October 4th Oshima had prepared a draft treaty for Ribbentrop. Martin suggests, however, that presumably the initial Oshima-Ribbentrop meeting was some
time earlier (pp. 460-I). berg: Secretariat of the Tribunal, I947-49), 10: 240. 18 Oshima to author, 7 May 197 . See also Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern ed. Manfred Funke (Diisseldorf: Droste, I977), pp. 454-70. They reveal only that
17 International Military Tribunal, Trialof theMajorWarCriminals, vols (Nurem42
Pact,' p. 24
and IMTFE, Proceedings, pp. 34, 076-77 (Oshima).
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impression that ifJapan desired a military alliance of some sort, it could be concluded.'19 Although Ribbentrop was then unknown in Tokyo, the Japanese General Staff speculated, correctly, that he was a very important German official. News of such secret military-political discussions between Oshima and the Fiihrer startled the Japanese General Staff officers, who, although in favor of the idea of a Japanese-German entente, particularly if it were aimed at a traditional adversary to Japanese expansion in Asia, actually lacked jurisdiction in the political aspects of the discussions and had no contingency plan of the magnitude envisaged in Oshima's scheme. These unprecedented activities of the Japanese military attache presented the Army General Staff with a dilemma. The Japanese military had long been accustomed to influencing government foreign policy in East Asia. The 193I Manchurian Incident, where independent local action afforded the army headquarters in Tokyo an opportunity to exploit it, was perhaps the most striking example of such influence. In an era of European totalitarianism Oshima's exploits in distant Berlin provided the Japanese military with limitless opportunities for promoting its self-interest and influence. The General Staff's decision would be a watershed forJapan's European policy in the 1930s, but before it was taken there were many uncertainties in the way. The question of how the army should deal with Oshima was a delicate matter. It was placed in the hands of the Chief of the Army General Staff, Field Marshal Prince Kan'in Kotohito. He trusted Oshima and, as mentioned earlier, knew his family well. Kan'in personally instructed emissary Wakamatsu, before he left for Berlin in November, to assess the intentions of the German army and government while discussing the possibility of concluding an anti-communist agreement. The terms of Wakamatsu's special assignment, however, give us particular insight into the General Staff's lack of preparation for dealing with the new
19 'Interrogation of Wakamatsu, Tadakazu [Tadaichi], Lt. General,' IPS 453, 9-I0. May 1946, National Archives, Washington, D.C., Record Group 331. Presumably it was at this first meeting that Hitler initially told Oshima that it was 'Germany's intention to split up the Soviet Union into several small states.' Oshima reminded Hitler of this 'fall of 1935' private statement during their September 944 conversation about Japan's proposal for a German-Russian peace. See 'Magic' Diplomatic Summary, SRS, 1420, 9 September 1944, National Archives, Washington, D.C., Record Group 457. On the other hand, there is evidence that on 22 July 1936 Hitler declared to Oshima that Russia had to be split up into its 'original historical sections'. Hans-AdolfJacobsen, NationalsozialistischeAussenpolitik,1933-1938 (Frankfurt am Main: Alfred Metzner Verlag I968), pp. 426, 819. In any event, it is reasonable to assume that Oshima was never reluctant to discuss political matters with Hitler and that his 'no-aid' proposal was military only in a very narrow sense.
situation presented by Oshima. After the war Wakamatsu said that he had been ordered to 'find out ... who Ribbentrop was, his position, and his relations with the German Government.'20 The General Staff officers were ignorant of the Dienststelle and did not understand why its chief, Ribbentrop, was involved in the discussions with Oshima. Prince Kan'in was interested only in some sort of anti-Comintern political agreement with Germany at that time. He needed more information before making a decision on Oshima's proposal for a 'no-aid' military agreement. A German-Japanese political agreement could offer Japan a new opportunity for dealing more effectively with her communist antagonist: moreover, Kan'in thought the agreement would enhance Japanese relations with the Western democracies. In that view Kan'in had the support of the new Deputy Chief of the Army General Staff, Lieutenant General Sugiyama Gen, whose assessment emphasized the disadvantages of Japan's state of international isolation. Japan needed an ally. Sugiyama believed that not only might an anti-Comintern agreement with Germany be of some appeal to Western democracies where communism was a threat, but such an agreement could also provide Japan with some military advantages. He estimated that the partial encirclement of the Soviet Union through an agreement with Germany, coupled with Japanese military, economic, and political strength in China and Manchukuo, would reduce the Soviet military threat to Japan. Kan'in approved of Oshima's efforts, and he included in Wakamatsu's instructions the specific order to 'inform Oshima to continue his investigation'; nevertheless, Oshima was to seek an antiComintern pact with the Germans, not a military alliance.21 With the full support of his deputy chief, Kan'in yielded to the precedent Oshima attempted to set in European totalitarian diplomacy. Initially, the General Staff refused to pass the matter on to the Foreign Ministry, although inevitably they would have to. When they finally did in the spring of 1936, only Oshima, on theJapanese side, understood the complexity of the negotiations. Thus, in early May when Ambassador Mushakoji received a Foreign Ministry telegram in which he was told that the question about how to proceed in future negotiations was left open to his judgement, the ambassador, one Japanese scholar has written, 'asked Oshima to continue in charge [of negotiations] until Hitler . . . arrived at a decision.'22 For Oshima convinced Mushak6ji
IMTFE, Exhibit 3492 (Wakamatsu affidavit). See also Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern', p. 25. 21 'Interrogation of Wakamatsu,' IPS 453, 9-Io May I946, RG 33I. See also IMTFE, Exhibit 3492 (Wakamatsu affidavit). 22 Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 29. See also Frank William Ikle, German20
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that he, as military attache, acquired a unique understanding of the proposal during the last ten months when the ambassador was inJapan; therefore, Oshima argued that he was in the best position to continue to represent Japan's interests in future negotiations. The Vice Foreign Minister during the three preceding years, Shigemitsu Mamoru, concisely summarized the situation: 'in Tokyo it was the Army that drove the Government, in Berlin it was Oshima that drove Mushakoji.'23 In early July 1936 Ambassador Mushakoji asked Ribbentrop to prepare a complete German version of the proposed treaty. The essence of the treaty had already been negotiated with Oshima; the text was formally designed by Hermann von Raumer, an able member of Ribbentrop's Dienststelle. Raumer delivered a draft to Oshima in Bayreuth, where the Japanese military attache, like Hitler, attended the annual Wagner Festival. OnJuly 22nd, in the serene setting of Wagner's villa, Oshima, Raumer, Ribbentrop, and Hitler made the final revisions to a two-part draft treaty, the Anti-Comintern Pact, with an attached secret protocol.24 Negotiations continued for several weeks, but no major changes were made to the document finished at Bayreuth. On August I6th Ribbentrop, recently appointed ambassador to London, confidently wrote Hitler: I have, during the last two weeks, been in negotiation with the Japanese Ambassadorand with General Oshima on the question of the conclusion of the Anti-Comintern agreement as well as of the proposed [secret] political agreeRelations, I936-I940 (New York:Bookman Associates, I956), p. 30. The ambasJapanese sador, Viscount Mushak6ji, was on leave to Japan fromJuly 1935 until he returned to Berlin on 30 April I936. The absence of the ambassador had no appreciable effect on Oshima's political negotiations with the Germans. One can safely assume that Oshima would not have consulted the ambassadorjust as he did not, in fact, consult Counselor Inoue K6jiro, charge d'affaires ad interim.See IMTFE, Proceedings, pp. 35,408-9 (Yamaji Akira, a junior secretary in the second section of the Foreign Ministry's European-Asiatic Bureau, April 1934-September 1936); p. 35,643 (T6g6 Shigenori, Director of the Foreign Ministry's European-Asiatic Bureau, March 1933-October 1933-I941 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, I958), p. 85. (The European-American Bureau was renamed the European-Asiatic Bureau in 1934 when a separate American Bureau was created in theJapanese Foreign Ministry.) Piggott, trans. Oswald White (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1958), p. I24. 24 For the best account of Raumer's work on the proposal and the meeting in Villa
23 Mamoru Shigemitsu,
1937); and Ernst L. Presseisen, Germanyand Japan: A Study in Totalitarian Diplomacy,
Japan and Her Destiny: My Strugglefor Peace, ed. F. S. G.
Wahnfried, see Theo Sommer, Deutschland und Japan zwischen den Machten, I935-I940 (Tiibinger: J. C. B. Mohr, I962), pp. 26-42. See also Jacobsen, Nationalsozialistische Aussenpolitik,pp. 425-6, and Gerhard L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany: Diplomatic Revolution in Europe, 1933-36 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, I970), pp. 342-6.
ment. The Ambassador informed me that his Government had in principle approved these agreements.25 The pact and a secret supplementary agreement were initialed by Ribbentrop and Mushakoji in Berlin on October 23rd; the two ambassadors formally signed the documents for their governments in the Dienststelle building on the Wilhelmstrasseon November 25th. Significantly, Oshima's original proposal made to Ribbentrop, that neither Japan nor Germany 'take actions beneficial' to the Soviet Union in the event of war between the Soviet Union and either country, survived intact after some twenty months of negotiations. That proposal became the heart of article one in the secret supplementary agreement.26 It was obvious that there had been a major campaign to transform Oshima's precedent, his ambitions for totalitarian diplomacy, into Japanese policy toward Europe. The Japanese newspaper, Nichi Jichi, though omitting Oshima's paramount role, stated that 'the enthusiasm of the Army was so strongly expressed that the Cabinet was obligated to conclude the agreement as national policy. ... It is a first step along a new path. It marks the turning point of Japanese policy.'27 It is also significant to note that many traditionally pro-German Japanese army officers approved of Oshima's adventures in the Germany of the mid-I930S. From that point forward, the General Staff and the War Ministry continued to accept Oshima's advice and became Oshima's defenders in government deliberations.28 Shigemitsu, enrouteto Moscow in November 1936 as the new ambassador, delineated Oshima's role explicitly: Oshima's telegrams and reports were highly regarded by the Army. Oshima's views became the basis of the Army's reading of the situation in Europe. They
GD, ser. C, 1933-I937 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office,
), 5: Doc. No. 509.
liam Morley, in DeterrentDiplomacy, p. 184.
Article I of the Secret Additional Agreement to the Agreement against the Communist International: 'Should one of the High Contracting States become the object of an unprovoked attack or threat by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the other High Contracting State obligates itself to take no measureswhich would tend to ease the situation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' (GD, D, I: Doc. No. 463, note 2a). 27 Cited by Hugh Byas, New YorkTimescorrespondentin Tokyo, New YorkTimes,26 November I936, p. 26. 28 'Orthodox Japanese administrative theory places great emphasis on the ringisei,a system whereby reports and proposals are expected to be initiated at the bottom of a bureaucratic pyramid and then to be pumped upward through the chain of command until, when they reach the top, they representthe consensusof the institution which the seniors can do little to influence and are expected to represent'.James William Morley, introduction to Hosoya Chihiro, 'The Tripartite Pact, I939-1940,' trans. James Wil-
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knew little of world conditions. They were answerable to no one for their decisions and it suited them to swallow Oshima's views wholesale.... The Axis policy of the Army, which in turn directed the Government, came eventually to be Japan's fixed course.29 The first step had been the conclusion of the German-Japanese AntiComintern Pact in November 1936; the Pact was symbolic of the new rapprochement with Germany, which would culminate in the tripartite alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan in 1940. After the conclusion of the Pact the Japanese Foreign Ministry regained a certain amount of control in policy matters concerning European states. Foreign Minister Arita wanted to remedyJapan's state of isolation by concluding additional anti-Comintern pacts. In fact, shortly before the Pact with Germany was concluded, Tokyo showed some effort to negotiate similar anti-Comintern agreements with the British and Dutch. The overtures of Japan's Ambassador to Great Britain, Yoshida Shigeru, and the soundings of Yamaguichi Iwao, charge d'affairs of the Japanese legation in Amsterdam, revealed that the two European governments were not interested. Indeed, most Western democracies, contrary to Arita's expectations, grew even more wary ofJapan and Germany after the consummation of the Anti-Comintern Pact. A pact with Italy seemed promising. Just after the conclusion of the 1936 Pact with Germany, Mussolini and his Foreign Minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano, informed the Japanese Foreign Ministry that Italy would consider negotiating a similar pact withJapan. Serious negotiations, however, were delayed for nearly a year because of the change of Japanese cabinets in February and July, the change ofJapanese ambassadors in Rome, and the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war. With the concurrence of theJapanese military, in the autumn and early winter of I937, Foreign Ministry negotiations between Japan and Italy began and proceeded smoothly. When Ribbentrop, in London, learned indirectly from Ambassador Mushakoji of the proposed bilateral agreement with Italy, he went to Rome to meet with Mussolini, Ciano, and Japanese Ambassador Hotta Masaaki. He proposed to make Italy an equal member of the year-old German-Japanese Pact.30 Thus, the Japanese Foreign Ministry had seized the initiative in expanding the anti-Comintern group of nations, although its bilateral intentions with Italy had been subverted by Ribbentrop. Italy became a member of the
29 Shigemitsu, Japan and Her Destiny, p. I24.
Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' pp. 39-46.
German-Japanese anti-Comintern agreement on 6 November I937, thereby creating the basis for the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis.31 By the end of March 1939, Hungary, Manchukuo, and Spain were brought into the so-called New World Order built and protected by the tripartite powers.32 Japan was represented in all anti-Comintern negotiations by its Foreign Ministry, and the army was in complete agreement with all proposals for strengthening the Axis bloc. With the consummation of the Anti-Comintern Pact, Japanese militaristic and totalitarian sentiments found both a new outlet and a new direction in European affairs. Such sentiments were found primarily among pro-Axis factions of middle-ranking officers in the army and right wing radicals in the bureaucracy. These factions formed a nucleus group of renovationists. They grew in strength after 1936 and sought to bolster German-Japanese relations by changing the ideological pact against the Comintern into a military alliance with the Hitler government. Oshima, an ardent spokesman for the renovationists in GermanJapanese relations, was active in the pro-Axis endeavor. Earlier, he had served as instigator.
31 The Italians did not participate in the Secret Additional Agreement to the Agreement against the Communist International, nor were they invited. Indeed, the Italian government was not officially informed of the secret supplementary agreement. See Gerhard L. Weinberg, 'Die geheimen Abkommen zum Antikominternpakt,' Vierteljahrsheftefiir Zeitgeschichte, 2, 2 (April I954): 196, and Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I, p. 116. Japanese Foreign Minister Arita Hachir6 said at a Privy Council meeting in early I939 that he understood 'that Italy did not join the secret pact [annexed to the Agreement against the Communist International] because she did not know of its existence' (IMTFE, Exhibit 491 [minutes of the Privy Council meeting, 22 February 1939]). 32 A new periodical was sponsored by the tripartite powers. In the first issue of Berlin-Rom-Tokio (often written in German, Italian, and Japanese) a tract-like item described the mission of the new nations and emphasized their common purpose and harmonious relations. The piece concluded with a map of Eurasia on which superimposed lines connected the countries involved in the following series of agreements: I. Conclusion of the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Agreement: 25 November 1936 2. Italy's accession to the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Agreement: 6 November 1937 Cultural Agreement: 15 November 1938 3. Conclusion of theJapanese-Hungarian 4. Conclusion of the German-Italian Cultural Agreement: 23 November 1938 5. Conclusion of the German-Japanese Cultural Agreement: 25 November 938 6. Conclusion of the German-Spanish Cultural Agreement: 24January I939 7. Joining of Manchukuo in the Anti-Comintern Agreement: 24 February I939 8. Joining of Hungary in the Anti-Comintern Agreement: 24 February 1939 9. Conclusion of the Italian-Japanese Cultural Agreement: 23 March 1939 Io. Joining of Spain in the Anti-Comintern Agreement: 27 March I939 See 'Die Sendung derjungen Volker/La missione dei popoli giovani,' Berlin-Rom-Tokio, I, I (I5 May I939): II-
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Very little documentation exists concerning the first attempts to strengthen the Anti-Comintern Pact into a closer alignment with Germany, but it is fairly clear that the initiative did not rest solely with Oshima. The first indication of this is seen in a cable sent by the Italian ambassador in Japan to Foreign Minister Ciano: About two months ago [November I937] the Japanese General Staff offered to sign a military alliance with Germany, an offer that was refused by the latter because it feared the unstable situation in the Far East and possible initiatives by Japanese extremists that might precipitate events for which Berlin was not yet prepared.33 Doubtless, there were suggestions from within the bureaucracy of the Japanese Army General Staff for strengthening ties with Germany, but the historical record remains unclear until early 1938. By then Hitler was ready to explore the possibility of concluding a German-Japanese military alliance. The Fiihrer's plans for expansion in Europe were more clearly formulated than previously, and in his anticipated war with France he would, in fact, unlike the Kaiser in 19 I4, take measures to avoid a two-front war at the outset. Hitler speculated that a military alliance with Japan, perhaps including the option to utilize the Kwantung army inJapan's puppet state, Manchukuo, would serve to neutralize the Russians. Furthermore, Japanese naval strength would serve as a deterrent against British readiness to assist the French, or, at least, reduce British effectiveness in a Franco-German conflict. In January Ribbentrop made advances toward Oshima suggesting a military alliance between Germany and Japan. Oshima enthusiastically reported this news of Ribbentrop's move and, typically Oshima was instructed to proceed secretly with the new negotiations. He was to report developments only to the Army General Staff. In this way Oshima, as would have been expected, became a fervent spokesman in Germany for strengthening the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact. Ribbentrop's proposal encouraged theJapanese Army General Staff to renew its earlier interest in such a military alliance with the Third Reich. In June the Staff sent Oshima proposals which included the suggestion that Italy be invited to join in a tripartite defense pact aimed at the Soviet Union.34 Although details of the tortuous and prolonged negotiations from January 1938 to August 1939 are not the concern of this essay, it is relevant to note that after the anti-Comintern agreement
Auriti to Ciano, 21 January 1938, as cited in Mario Toscano, The Origins of the Pact of Steel, 2nd edn rev. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), p. 7. See also Miyake, 34 Nichi-Doku-I, pp. 143-8. Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 50.
was concluded theJapanese military continued to play a dominant role in shaping diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Berlin. Oshima attempted to keep his negotiations with Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister since February 1938, as secret as possible. He felt that the newJapanese Ambassador to Germany, Togo Shigenori, would be opposed to a military alliance with the Third Reich. T6go was well known for his opposition to many of the policies of National Socialist Germany. Once again, although the Japanese military realized the ambassador and his Foreign Ministry would eventually have to become involved, General Staff officers hoped that before that time Oshima would progress so far into negotiations with Ribbentrop that the Foreign Ministry would have no choice but to accept the proposed military alliance. In that way, the Foreign Ministry would be forced to instruct Ambassador T6g6 to accept, if only with reluctance, Oshima's preeminence in diplomatic matters with the National Socialists. The situation, as anticipated by the military, would not be unlike that which Ambassador Mushakoji had been confronted with two years earlier. The Japanese military scheme did not work as smoothly as the Army General Staff had hoped. An open clash, which influenced negotiations, developed between Ambassador Togo and General Oshima. The chief of the military affairs section in the War Ministry, Kagesa Sadaaki, had confided in Yamada Yoshitaro, his associate in the European-Asiatic Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, the fact that Oshima was negotiating some sort of military alliance with Ribbentrop. Yamada, realizing the serious implications of Oshima's activities, asked Vice Foreign Minister Horinouchi Kensuke about the accuracy of the report. Horinouchi, in turn, queried Togo in a cable to Berlin. Togo and the entire embassy staff learned of Oshima's activities in April I938. The third secretary of the embassy, Narita Katsushir5, recorded the fact that Ambassador Togo, who 'was strongly opposed to the strengthening of the AntiComintern Pact,... immediately upon learning of the negotiations ... presented to the [Japanese] foreign minister his views to that effect.'35 Narita's account was confirmed in similar postwar testimony by Shudo Yosuto (commercial attache), Sakaya Tadashi (first secretary), and Major General Kasahara Yukio.36
affidavit). Major General Kasahara was dispatched to Germany in January 1938 as an officer attached to the Army General Staff. He seems to have had no specific mission at the time, although technically he was one of the assistant military attaches at the embassy. He stayed in Berlin to study the German language and the political situation before his possible appointment as military attache.
Ibid., Exhibits 3619 (Shudo affidavit), 3620 (Sakaya affidavit) and 3618 (Kasahara
IMTFE, Exhibit 3614 (Narita affidavit).
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Togo and Oshima clashed bitterly in their views. Togo felt that a German-Japanese military alliance would be of no help in Japan's efforts to end her war with China, and that it would eventually involve Japan in a conflict with Hitler's European adversaries. Oshima obviously did not share the ambassador's feelings of foreboding. Members of the embassy were divided on the question of the alliance. Most importantly, in the context of this essay, a schism developed in the embassy staff over the issue of military interference in diplomatic matters. The commercial attache wrote that in March or April 1938 the Naval Attache of the Embassy sent a cable to the Navy Ministrystrongly urging AmbassadorT5og's removal on the ground that he was on bad terms with the German Foreign Minister and that his retention in the circumstances of the time, when it was necessary to promote JapaneseGerman cooperation, was not in the interest of the country. The cable stated also that the matter had been talked over with the Military Attache. This became known to us when the content of the cable was transmitted from the Foreign Ministry to Ambassador Togo. Upon learning of this the members of the staff were indignant, and, feeling that the conspiracy of [the] Army and Navy to take over the Embassy could not be ignored, moved for the defence of the Ambassador and the Embassy.37 Nevertheless, Oshima continued negotiations and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop continued to ignore Ambassador Tog6. Togo admitted later that by May 1938 'the discord between Ribbentrop and me became impossible to conceal.'38 Military influence in shaping relations with the Third Reich had become so pronounced that Oshima's supporters were able to engineer his appointment as Ambassador to Germany. In mid-July Oshima sent his courier, Major General Kasahara, to Tokyo to explain details of the alliance proposal to army and navy authorities, and to Foreign Minister Ugaki Kazushige. To the Foreign Minister he insisted that Ambassador Togo was not on good terms with German authorities, and they considered him to be uncooperative.39 On August 26th, not long before Kasahara left Tokyo for Berlin, the Five Ministers' Conference approved in principle the proposal that he had brought from Germany. More significantly, however, the Five Ministers' Conference made the decision to have the negotiations 'transferred to the formal diplomatic channel as soon as possible,' Oshima recalled after the war. Oshima's military superiors told him, however, 'that there would be no harm in
Ibid., Exhibit 3619 (Shud6 affidavit). Ibid., Proceedings, p. 35,656 (Togo). Ibid., Exhibit 3618 (Kasahara affidavit of 23 October 1947).
communicating [the decision of the Five Ministers' Conference] to the Germans in the meantime.'40 A shake-up in the embassy at Berlin was about to occur. Foreign Minister Ugaki had wanted to keep Ambassador T5og at his Berlin post, but Tog5 was eventually forced to concede his position under intense pressure from various quarters. Naval Attache Kojima Hideo in Berlin had warned his Tokyo superiors that highly ranked German diplomatic officials paid no attention to Ambassador Togo. Later Kojima reported that during the crisis over the Sudetenland in September all the ambassadors from nations considered friendly to declined the invitation. Germany were invited to Munich-Togo Oshima flew from Berlin to Munich in Foreign Minister Ribbentrop's private airplane to attend the conference.41 Obviously, Ribbentrop favored the appointment of Oshima, and by August he may have communicated that personal preference to the Japanese Foreign Ministry through German Ambassador Eugen Ott in Tokyo. Ernst von Weizsacker, State Secretary of the German Foreign Ministry, although claiming too much influence for his superior, stated flatly that Ribbentrop 'managed to have this soldier-who was an enthusiastic admirer of the German military revival-appointed ambassador in Berlin. This was thought to be a good way of consolidating the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo
Oshima recalled the sequence of events in a postwar statement. In September 1938, just after he received news of the Five Ministers' Conference of August 26th, Oshima said that he received another 'telegram from the General Staff asking whether I had any objection to being appointed Ambassador, an idea which it was said was being suggested in Tokyo.'43 Thus, the army probably agreed to transfer the
40 Ibid., Exhibit 3508 (Oshima affidavit). See also ibid., Exhibit 3493 (Kasahara affidavit of 20 September I947). The five most important members of the government made up the Five Ministers' Conference: Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and War, Navy, and Finance Ministers. 41 Ibid., Exhibit 3614-A (Narita to Tog6, 6 December I938); see also Proceedings, pp. 35,39I-92, 35,401-2 (Narita). Oshima confirmed his use of Ribbentrop's private airplane in a letter to the author on 7 May 197I. 42 Ernst von Weizsacker, Memoirs of Ernst von Weizsicker, trans. John Andrews (Chicago: Henry Regnery, I951), p. 20 . 43 IMTFE, Exhibit 3508 (Oshima affidavit). Oshima's postwar affirmation does not reveal the exact date of the army's September telegram sounding him out about the ambassadorship in Berlin. However, at the end of August, Councilor Usami Uzuhiko recalled later, T6og was told by the Foreign Ministry that 'arrangements should be made for official negotiations through diplomatic channels ... ; the army was notifying Military Attache Oshima to that effect' (ibid., Proceedings, p. 33,754). We know (Exhibit 3646 [Tog6 affidavit]) that T6og was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet
negotiations to 'the formal diplomatic channel' because it already expected that Oshima would replace Togo as Ambassador to Germany. The army would continue to maintain control of the negotiations through its own ambassador, Oshima.44 Togo's record of opposition to Oshima's activities and to efforts to strengthen the Anti-Comintern Pact probably encouraged Foreign Minister Ugaki to seek a solution by having Oshima replace Togo. Togo objected vigorously to the decision to allow Oshima to communicate officially with Ribbentrop before he, the ambassador, was to assume responsibility for the negotiations. The first secretary of the embassy recalled Togo's reaction:
The Ambassador strongly urged the Foreign Minister's reconsideration, insisting that ... it was not proper for a military attache to be charged with matters other than military affairs. Within a few days after the dispatch of this message, Ambassador Togo received a cable from the Foreign Minister requesting his agreement to his transfer to Moscow. Ambassador Togo refused to assent to the Foreign Minister's request, answering him that he would rather remain in Berlin to work on GermanJapanese affairs, which just then required the most careful attention. The response was another telegram from the Foreign Minister urging the Ambassador's assent, which he then gave.45
Togo's own account of his reassignment to Moscow is similar to the story from the first secretary. T5og wrote after the war:
Union on October 15th and (Exhibit 3523 [Ugaki to Konoye, I6 September 1938]) that the Foreign Minister asked the Prime Minister 'to obtain the Emperor's approval' for the appointment of Oshima 'to the post ofJapanese Ambassador to Germany,' a matter 'already arranged with Your Excellency informally' before September i6th. Thus, it is likely that the army compelled Foreign Minister Ugaki to agree to Oshima's appointment to ambassador in Berlin before Ugaki's successor, Foreign Minister Arita, asked Togo to agree to reassignmentto Moscow. A good account of Ugaki's diplomacy and his resignation at the end of September is in David J. Lu, FromtheMarcoPoloBridgetoPearl Harbor: Japan'sEntryinto WorldWarII (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, I96 ), pp. 36-40. Still very good isJohn M. Maki's older work, Japanese Militarism: Cause Its and 1945, RG 457 for indications of the reemergence of Ugaki, known as a political moderate, in the affairsof state. War Minister Itagaki broached the matter of Oshima's appointment to Ugaki as early as July. See The Saionji-Harada Memoirs,i93-i9g40: Translation English(Washington, D.C.: University Publications of America, into Complete I938. There is also the suggestion, though only by inference, that in mid-July Oshima believed he was going to be named Ambassador to Germany, for he 'dispatched Major-GeneralKasahara Yukio toJapan with the German plan, on the assumptionthat Kasahara would be made the new military attache in Germany' (Ohata, 'The AntiComintern Pact,' p. 5 1) 44 Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 70. 45 IMTFE, Exhibit 3620 (Sakaya affidavit).
1978), pp. 2,154,
Cure(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), pp. 2 I9-20.
See 'Magic,' SRS 1622, 30 March
and 2,213, covering diary entries from late June to 7 August
I answered with my objections to a tripartite pact, pointing out the difficulties in and disadvantages of cooperation with such a dictator as Hitler. The result of my sending this cablegram was that I received shortly afterwarda requestfrom the Foreign Minister to assent to my transferto the post of Ambassador to the USSR. My position was then somewhat peculiar. The Moscow post had long been my ambition; and I was certainly not, in the usual sense, a success in Berlin. It was, however, obvious that my removal from Berlin would facilitate the realization of the course of action which I had feared and fought; and Ifelt Minister to leave me in Berlin for the time being. A second and more peremptory request for my assent came the following day, to which I could only submit.46 Thus, Togo's refusal to tolerate Oshima's interference in diplomacy probably weighed heavily in Foreign Minister Ugaki's decision to yield completely to military demands and to nominate Oshima to become Envoy Extraordinary and Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Germany.47 The decision to promote Oshima and transfer T5og was probably inevitable in I938. Ambassador Togo, as stated, had strongly opposed Oshima's active role in diplomacy, and had disapproved of his goal. Togo's challenge created a predicament which the Japanese government was forced to deal with, and the military was willing to exert whatever pressure was required to strengthen its point of view. Japan found herself alienated from Stalin's government and the governments of the Western democracies; thus, the idea of developing closer ties with European Axis powers had a new appeal, one that was universal, no longer confined to the traditionally pro-German military circles. With increasing military and totalitarian tendencies in Japanese society, the promotion of General Oshima to the rank of ambassador was viewed by many as a plausible, expedient, solution to the Togo-Oshima impasse. Such a solution, while being convenient, managed to skirt the fundamental issue; it was also an indication of the considerable strength that the more militaristic elements of theJapanese government had gained in shaping foreign policy by 1938.
that by remainingthereI mightbe able to exertsomerestraintuponthemilitarists, and might evenbe able to sabotagethemilitaryalliancescheme.I, therefore, requested the Foreign
September 1938), 3523-B (Foreign Minister Konoye to War Minister Itagaki, 6 October 1938), and 3523-C (War Minister Itagaki to Foreign Minister Konoye, 7 October 938). These letters concern the proceedings of the Emperor'sappointment of Oshima as ambassador. In early October Prince Konoye held the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister portfolios concurrently. On October I5th T6og was officially appointed ambassador to Moscow where he arrived on the 29th.
47 Ibid., Exhibits 3523 (Foreign Minister Ugaki to Prime Minister Konoye, I6 September 1938), 3523-A (Prime Minister Konoye to Foreign Minister Ugaki, 22
Ibid., Exhibit 3646 (Tog6 affidavit). Emphasis added.
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There was a certain awareness among members of the Five Ministers' Conference, however, that the selection of mission chiefs, especially for key foreign posts, ought to be made with a higher purpose in mind: the ambassador ought, at least, to be compatible with his host government. Ministers in Tokyo felt that the government could not afford, at that crucial point in international relations, the situation that prevailed during Togo's tenure. Beyond that point, there was little consensus among Cabinet members, and such an equivocal state of affairs provided the most determined factions with an excellent opportunity for decisiveness. The candidacy of Oshima was singularly compelling; beyond the fact of his special rapport with German officials, he knew the National Socialist government perhaps better than any other Japanese. As Oshima candidly disclosed later, 'I was selected ambassador to Germany in October 1938 because I had many acquaintances among German military officers, to say nothing of Hitler, Goring, and Ribbentrop.'48 National Socialist officials warmly welcomed Oshima as the official senior representative of theJapanese government. Since the chancellery in Berlin was being repaired in November, Oshima and four other newly appointed representatives from Belgium, Albania, Manchukuo, and the Dominican Republic were taken by special train to present their credentials to Hitler in his Berghof retreat near Berchtesgaden. Oshima, the first of the representatives to be received by Hitler, expressed delight about being able to continue his work in Germany at a time characterized 'by the formation of ever closer connections between Germany and Japan and by the growing sympathy and understanding that Japan finds in the German people.'49 Oshima congratulated Hitler on the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and Hitler's response greatly impressed him. Hitler cleverly quoted an old Japanese proverb which stressed the importance of wary watchfulness after success: 'katte kabutono o wo shimeyo.'50 The tenor of their conversation was much more felicitous than Hitler could have expected it to be with former Ambassador Togo. The Fuhrer knew Oshima and approved of his outlook and work during recent
Oshima to author, 21 November 1966. 49New York Times, 22 November 1938, p. 6. 50 Oshima tells this story in Bungei Shunju (April 1940). 'Katte kabuto no o wo
Ehmann, Die SprichwIrterund bildlichenAusdricke derjapanischenSprache,2nd edn (Tokyo: Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Natur- und Volkerkunde Ostasiens, I927), p. 133, where the Japanese proverb is rendered in German: 'Nach dem Siege (muss man) das Helmbandfester binden.'
shimeyo' [After winning, keep the string tight on your helmet] (Library of Congress, Reel WT [War Trials] 2I, International Military Tribunal, Doc. No. 756). See P.
years. He had good reason to believe that in Oshima he had a Japanese ambassador who was favorably predisposed to the policies of the Third Reich, and one upon whom he could rely to represent sympathetically German views before the Japanese government. But Hitler misinterpreted the Konoye Cabinet's promotion of Oshima to ambassador as an indication that the entire Japanese government was approaching an attitude toward the Third Reich which had been held by Oshima for years. Certainly the Japanese government, like the German government, adhered increasingly during the decade to the use of military force, or threat of its use, as a tool of policy. However, by late 1938 the Japanese government's willingness to employ force in China was not an affirmation of a willingness to commitJapan to a European military alliance. In the European alliance, Japanese decision makers foresaw no substantial benefit toJapan's Asian policy. Therefore, before the German invasion of Poland the Konoye and Hiranuma Cabinets were cautious and circumspect in considering the proposed alliance. Although there was much debate, in essence, the Japanese could not reach a consensus on any proposal beyond a limited defensive military alliance aimed solely at the Soviet Union. The Germans, dissatisfied with what they considered halfway measures, insisted upon a much stronger alliance (including political, economic, and military assistance) aimed at France and Great Britain, as well as the Soviet Union. The Germans hoped that such an alliance, involving the threat of aJapanese attack on Vladivostok and across the Amur River, would nullify any Soviet Russian interference with Hitler's moves to gain continental domination and Lebensraumin eastern Europe. Furthermore, such an alliance would force the French and British to send military power to their East Asian territories, thereby weakening Anglo-French opposition to the European Axis powers.5 Hitler and Ribbentrop, however, discovered in I939 that Oshima had less influence in shaping German-Japanese relations as ambassador than he had previously as military attache. There was no single military point of view concerning the inclusiveness of the proposed treaty; confusion continued to reign in the Army General Staff and War Ministry. On the other hand, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Navy Minister and their allies were resolute in their determination to avoid concluding a treaty which would risk antagonizing the Western democracies.
51 It may have been that the Germans felt compelled to emphasize the anti-Western
part of the proposed tripartite military pact because Italy's principal aspirations were to be realized at French and British expense. See Toscano, The Origins of the Pact of Steel, p. 63.
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Thus, in negotiations for the military alliance Oshima, who as ambassador was responsible to a more comprehensive body than the Army General Staff, lacked his previous base of strong support in Tokyo. To complicate matters further, the factious Japanese government was nearly stalemated in its efforts to reconcile policy differences. As a result, Foreign Ministry and army communiques and instructions sent to Oshima were often ambiguous. Oshima found a way, as usual, to work the situation to his advantage: such equivocal communications from Tokyo allowed him great latitude for interpretation. Through backstairs maneuvering and sometimes deliberate misinterpretation of instructions, Oshima consistently opted in favor of the more sweeping proposals for the military alliance. It is not surprising, then, that as he strove in I939 to implement his long-cherished ambitions in German-Japanese relations, Oshima would run afoul of the wishes of the marginally dominant forces opposing the conclusion of a strong and comprehensive military alliance with Germany. Oshima's behavior in distant Berlin became so frustrating in some circles that in March I939 Emperor Hirohito, in an almost unprecedented move, intervened. The Emperor demanded that the five senior cabinet ministers submit to him a signed statement explaining what action the government was prepared to take if Oshima continued to disobey Foreign Ministry instructions. The ministers promised the Emperor that should Oshima raise objections to the new instructionsand fail to act in accordance with them, our government shall take whatever action is necessary to insure the smooth continuation of the negotiations, such as recalling the two ambassadors and appointing other delegates to replace them.52 Negotiations were to be broken off if the Germans continued to refuse to compromise on the issue of the antagonism of the Western democracies. Oshima continued to distort or disregard Foreign Ministry instructions. He was a prime mover in the creation of an environment in which the conclusion of the military alliance seemed probable. Oshima then used that environment as a basis for his actions even though they were at variance with his Foreign Ministry instructions.53 But the Hiranuma
Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 86. This memorandum of 28 March 1939 applied also to Shiratori Toshio, career diplomat and ardent spokesman for the renovationists in the Foreign Ministry, who was appointed Ambassador to Italy in September 1938. Working closely with his colleague in Berlin, Shiratori's behavior in negotiations with the Italians was extremely pro-Axis and arbitrary. 53 TheJapanese political scientist, Masao Maruyama, examined Oshima's argument at the IMTFE. In response to a question concerning his support of the Tripartite Pact of 1940, Oshima said: 'I myself, of course, supported it because it had already been decided 52
Cabinet was so divided that it could not agree on recalling Oshima or discontinuing the negotiations.54 Because of its unwillingness or inability to act decisively, the only way to avoid an open split and the fall of the cabinet-for which neither of the contending sides wished to be held responsible-was to prolong the agonizing and abortive deliberations. The balance of political forces in the government was extremely precarious; therefore, the War and Foreign Ministers alike opted for the prolongation of the unproductive debates. Before Hitler's invasion of Poland, no explicit policy had been formulated on whetherJapan would become a belligerent or provide military assistance during a war that did not involve the Soviet Union. Hitler grew impatient with Japan's reluctance to commit herself to the Third Reich's policy of European expansion. The Fuhrer had decided to resolve the so-called Poland problem through the use offorce; therefore, German diplomacy sought bilateral arrangements which would counter the Polish-British-French coalition of April I939. On May 22nd the Germans and Italians concluded the pretentiously named Pact of Steel, a military alliance in which the two powers agreed
as a national policy and was also supported by the Japanese people at large' (IMTFE, Proceedings, p. 34,I74). Professor Maruyama notes that 'here is a man who, having contributed to the formulation of a certain plan, uses the new environment and the new state of public opinion brought about by the realization of that plan as a basis for defending his actions'. Masao Maruyama, Thought and Behavior in Modern Japanese Politics, ed. Ivan Morris, (expanded edn, London: Oxford University Press, I969), p. 104. The chapter in which this citation appears, 'Thought and Behaviour Patterns of Japan's Wartime Leaders,' translated by Ivan Morris, appears also as a two-part article in Orient/West, 7, 3 (May I962): 33-45, and 7, 7 (July 1962): 37-53. 54 Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' pp. 90-3, Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I, pp. i80-5, and Saionji-Harada Memoirs, pp. 2,467, 2,475, 2,486-90, and 2,494-97. The best and most detailed account in English of the Emperor's efforts to use his prerogative in diplomacy in the spring of 1939 is Charles D. Sheldon, 'Japanese Aggression and the Emperor, 1931-I941, from Contemporary Diaries,' Modern Asian Studies, 10, I (1976), especially pp. I4-16. The author observes incisively (p. 15n) that Oshima 'and Shiratori functioned less as ambassadors than as traditional go-betweens, by neglecting their roles as communicators between governments and reformulating the positions taken on both sides to make them more acceptable to the other side. In this way, neither government really knew the real position of the other until confronted with proposals which were not of their own making.' Professor Hosoya calls Oshima's pattern of diplomatic behavior 'military diplomacy.' 'In "military diplomacy" goals are absolute while means are flexible. A "military diplomat" is like a military leader who must often make arbitrary decisions on the battlefield and carry them out resolutely in order to win. If victorious, his behavior is justified even though he may have ignored instructions from above'. Hosoya Chihiro, 'The Role ofJapan's Foreign Ministry and Its Embassy in Washington, 1940-194I,' in Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-AmericanRelations, 1931-1941, ed. Dorothy Borg and Shumpei Okamoto with the assistance of Dale K. A. Finlayson (New York: Columbia University Press, I973), p. 157.
KYO AXIS AND JAPANESE
to assist and support each other in 'warlike complications' with all 'military forces on land, at sea and in the air.'55 Though Mussolini believed that peace would last for several years, in little more than three months Hitler threw much of Europe into war. Unprepared militarily for such a war, Italy declined to intervene and Hitler eventually released Mussolini from the obligations of the Pact of Steel so that, in the opinion of the Italian Foreign Minister, Mussolini would not 'pass as a welcher' in the eyes of the German and Italian people.56 More significant in Hitler's methodical preparation for war was the conclusion of a bilateral agreement isolating Poland and avoiding a two-front war. In deepest secrecy, starting as early as April and continuing through the summer of 1939, German diplomacy worked for a rapprochement with the Soviet Union. The Germans succeeded by concluding the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact on August 23rd. The procrastination of the Tokyo government made the Germans more determined to find alternatives to the long-awaited military alliance with Japan.57 The Nonaggression Pact angered many in the Japanese government who rightly considered Hitler's action as a violation of the secret supplementary agreement to the Anti-Comintern Pact.58 German agreement with the Soviets also created a new and complex European situation which the Hiranuma Cabinet was incapable of dealing with. The Cabinet terminated all negotiations and resigned on August 28th. The new cabinet of Abe Nobuyuki, formed in a mood of distrust for the Third Reich and pro-Axis forces in Japan, soon recalled Oshima and advocated the establishment of a balanced foreign policy. After a visit to the Eastern war zone in Poland,59 a series of farewell receptions hosted by Hitler, Ribbentrop, and other key figures in the National Socialist government,60 Oshima left Germany at the end of
55 GD, D, 6: Doc. No. 426. For a thorough analysis of the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, see 'Birth of the Bilateral Alliance' and 'The Pact
of Steel' in Toscano, The Origins of the Pact of Steel, pp. 307-402. 56 Galeazzo Ciano, The Ciano Diaries, I939-1943, ed. Hugh Gibson (New York: Doubleday, I946), p. 135. 57 See Lu, From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor, pp. 54-8, for an insightful
discussion of the German-Soviet rapprochement. 58 Article II of the Secret Additional Agreement to the Agreement against the Communist International: 'For the duration of the present Agreement [five years], the High Contracting States will conclude no political treaties with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics contrary to the spirit of this Agreement without mutual consent'
leaving Germany. It is not clear from whom among the high-ranking Third Reich
59 Times (London), 22 September (GD, D, I: Doc. No. 463, note 2a). I939, p. 7. 60 Berlin-Rom-Tokio i, 7 (15 November 1939): io, and the Times (London), 26 October 1939, p. 7. Oshima was given many gifts by his National Socialist friends before
October, passed through New York, and arrived inJapan in December I939. En route to Japan he openly shared his pro-German views with reporters and predicted a German victory.61 During the next year until his reappointment in December I940 as Ambassador to Germany, Oshima received very little public attention. He held no government post, and, as the German ambassador in Tokyo at the time of Oshima's reappointment recalled after the war, 'Oshima kept himself much apart from political activities during his stay inJapan [from December 1939 to January I94I].,62 Nevertheless, his opinions were occasionally solicited by pro-Axis Japanese as the turn of events helped to strengthen their voice in the affairs of state. Hitler's haste to conquer weakened, and then temporarily discredited, Japanese military schemes to ally Japan with the European Axis powers. Nevertheless, at the end of the decade there remained inJapan considerable admiration for Hitler's boldness, for his unhesitating use of force in European affairs. The success of the German armed forces was impressive. A deceptive lull followed the conquest of Poland, but in April of the new year Denmark and Norway were occupied. In May the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg were overrun by Hitler's forces. France requested an armistice onJune 17th. The large number of fantastic German victories tended to strengthen the political position of pro-Axis forces in Japan; conversely, Hitler's conquests weakened the arguments of those who had been critical of Japanese military initiative in shaping policy toward Germany. Japanese scholars agree that by the summer of 1940 'the person on the scene as the main figure on the Japanese side of Japanese-German diplomacy was no longer Oshima.'63 Oshima was replaced as Ambassador to Germany by the civilian diplomat Kurusu Sabur6. Coolness characterized German-Japanese relations during the first part of Kurusu's yearlong tenure in Berlin.64 But a new Foreign Minister in July 1940, Matsuoka Yosuke, advanced an Axis-centered policy and Matsuoka, not Oshima, became the chief architect of the Tripartite Alliance
officials he received a picture of a swastika, but the following dedication appeared on the frame: 'To my friend Ambassador Hiroshi Oshima in grateful memory of the years of untiring devotion to the creation of German-Japanese friendship' ('Ott, Eugen: Analysis of Documentary Evidence,' IPS 324, Doc. No. 4045, 25 June I946, National Archives, Washington, D.C., Record Group 331). 61 New fork Times, io November 1939, p. 8 and ibid., 13 December 1939, p. i. 62 'Interrogation of Ott, Eugen,' IPS 324, 5 March I947, RG 331. 63 Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I, p. 238. 64'Botschaft des Fiihrers an die japanische Nation,' Berlin-Rom-Tokio 2, I2 (15
of Germany, Italy, and Japan signed on 27 September I940.65 Indeed, Oshima regretted strongly that he had failed in German-Japanese relations to achieve in six years what Matsuoka appeared to accomplish in a few months. Oshima was envious. German Ambassador Ott later recalled Oshima's reaction. I rememberhim the day of the signing of the [ 1940 Tripartite] Pact in the house of Mr. Matsuoka;it was an evening reception and we made a toast to the happy conclusion of the Pact. Oshima was present and looked very angry obviously being not used in these negotiations. Personally I think he was, after having failed in former years with his own endeavors to come to a closer cooperation, very envious that Matsuoka had succeeded in this respect.66 The Tripartite Pact was the denouement of Japanese military influence inJapan's policy toward Europe in the I 930s. There were many complicated factors which contributed to the successful conclusion of the Japanese army's drive for a military alliance with the victorious Axis powers. Of no little consequence was 'a pervasive national mood for action' which included a certain panicky tenor 'lest Japan "miss the bus" in seizing Europe's lost colonies.'67 During Oshima's six-year tenure in Berlin a complex sequence of events strengthened military and totalitarian tendencies in Japan, and eventually produced the I940 treaty. The three Axis powers declared they would undertake to assistone another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three Contracting Partiesis attacked by a power at present not involved in the European War or in the Sino-Japanese Conflict.68 With the encouragement and support of pro-Axis factions in Japan,
65 See Lu, Fromthe MarcoPolo Bridgeto Pearl Harbor, pp. 106-I9, for a thoughtful account of the negotiations leading to the I940 Tripartite Pact. See also Takeshi Haruki, 'The Tripartite Pact and Soviet Russia: An Attempt at a Quadripartite Pact,' in Hogaku ronbun [A collection of law treatises] (Tokyo: Aoyama Gakuin University, shu
1964), pp. 1-27.
'Interrogation of Ott, Eugen,' IPS 324, 5 March I947, RG 33I. Morley, introduction to Hosoya, 'The Tripartite Pact,' in Deterrent Diplomacy, p. 185. In the Tripartite Pact concluded over a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese navy and certain anti-Axis allies insisted, contrary to the text of the published treaty, thatJapan reserveits independence to decide war. This was accomplished in the secret protocol, a series of letters exchanged in Tokyo between Foreign Minister Matsuoka and German Ambassador Ott, the latter who signed without the authorization or knowledge of the German government. See Morley's explanations and his
discussion (pp. I8 1-90) of Hosoya's seminal essay (pp. 191-257). esp. pp. 12-25.
Menzel Meskill, HitlerandJapan: TheHollowAlliance(New York:Atherton Press, 1966),
See also Johanna
The text of the Tripartite Pact, in English in the original, is in GD, D, I I: Doc. No.
Oshima's extraordinary work resulted in the 1936 Berlin-Tokyo treaty against the Communist International; that pact was the precursor of the I940 alliance. The Japanese military was not satisfied, however, with Oshima's removal; before the end of 1940 it 'urged Oshima to accept' reappointment as ambassador to the Third Reich. Ribbentrop was informed of this move by his German source in Tokyo, Ambassador Ott. TheJapanese army wanted 'to have a completely reliable proponent of the Alliance policy with Germany occupy the most important ambassadorial post in Europe.'69 Needless to say, Oshima's arrival in Germany in February I941 was greeted with much fanfare in the National Socialist press.70 Amidst air raids on 14 April 1945, however, Oshima's departure from Berlin for Badgastein high in the Alps was an ignominious ending to his unique role in Japanese military diplomacy.71
IMTFE, Exhibit 560 (Ott to Ribbentrop, 13 December I940).
See, for instance, 'Botschafter Oshima an "Berlin-Rom-Tokio"/Un messaggio
Oshima,' Berlin-Rom-Tokio, 3, 2 (15 February I941): 11-12; 'Bot-
schafter Oshima beim Fuhrer/L'ambasciatoreOshima ricevuto dal Fiihrer,' ibid., 3, 3
71 Oshima surrenderedto United States armed forcesin May 1945. Later that year he was returned to Tokyo to stand trial before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. His indictment included several counts, but he was found guilty only on Count I, over-all conspiracy. Sentenced in November 1948 to life imprisonment, Oshima was released from Sugamo Prison on parole in December 1955 and granted clemency in April I958. Oshima Hiroshi died at his home in Chigasaki,Japan on 6June 1975. He was 89 years old.
(I5 March 1941): 13; and 'Botschafter Oshimas Ankunft in Berlin,' OstasiatischeRundschau, 22, 2 (February I941): 43-4.
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