The Imperial Japanese Mission to the United States, 1917



On returning home, Viscount Ishii embraced the first opportunity to give fitting conclusion to the work of the Mission he headed and to the various speeches he delivered in America, by imparting to the Japanese public the impression gained, during his memorable tour, of "the very friendly attitude of the American government and people toward Japan and of the "tremendously virile force" at work in the United States for the prosecution of the war.

The opportunity occurred at a Tokio banquet given in honor of Viscount Ishii and his associates on December 17 by representative Japanese and Americans.

The proceedings of the function were cabled by the Tokio. representative of the Associated Press as follows:

Tokio, Dec. 17. Viscount Kikujiro Ishii, head of the Japanese Mission, which recently visited the United States, was the guest of honor at the banquet given this evening, which was attended by two hundred Japanese and Americans. Baron Eiichi Shibusawa, President of the American-Japanese Association, and Chairman of the Tokio Bankers' Association, presided. The guests at the function were the members of the Special Mission which visited the United States, Roland S. Morris, the American Ambassador, and the staff of the American Embassy.

The banquet was the most representative gathering in recent years, and gave to Viscount Ishii his first opportunity to speak to the Japanese public since his arrival from the United States. The speech has been circulated broadcast and has been made a feature by newspapers throughout the country.

Responding to the toast of the evening, Viscount Ishii said:

Since last I met you I have been given extraordinary opportunities to address great audiences. There are many words and sentiments which I would wish to add now, but in this presence, indeed before the whole world, I declare that I would not modify or withdraw anything I said in the course of our visit to America. We had a wonderful trip and a wonderful experience. We sailed upon a voyage of discovery in search of treasure and found it.

It affords me the keenest gratification to tell you that we bring back to all the people of Japan from all the people of America a message charged with an earnest spirit of good will and a sincere desire for a good understanding and friendship. The answer to your message of good will was delivered to us by the whole people of America, by men whose names stand highest in the roll of American honor. Let there be no doubt among you as to the sincerity of the message. There was no false note in it; there was no discordant tone in the voices welcoming us. We are well aware that our personalities played no part in the treatment we received from the President and people of the United States, which was intended for our Emperor and our people.

Now returning from our voyage of discovery, we bring to our gracious sovereign and the people of our nation the assurance that the true gold of America lies at the very heart of its people. We are very earnest in our desire to convince the whole people of this country of the value and real meaning of the reception of this Mission at the hands of the people of the United States. Here let me refer to the notes exchanged between Japan and America. For the consummation of this international agreement I stand personally a debtor to President Wilson and Secretary of State Lansing for unusual courtesies and consideration. As the result of the frank exchange of opinion we arrived at an agreement, which must help America, China and Japan.

The mutual declarations with regard to China ought not to be the subject of suspicion at any time. Neither should they under any consideration give offense, because where no offense is intended, no offense can be given.

There is no suggestion of interference in China in the policies of the government in the recognition of the fact that Japan stands in special relation with or has special interest in China.

Chinese friends tell us that China and Japan are like the two wings of a bird, the two wheels of a carriage, or as the lips to the teeth. It is difficult for me to understand, therefore, why a highly intelligent people should now take umbrage because of this putting into writing of the special relations between Japan and China or of the special interests of Japan in China. I confidently believe that the time will come soon when our Chinese friends, in their quick discernment of the world situation, will be satisfied to be partners in the new agreement, which so materially contributes to strengthening the good relations, not only between America and Japan, but between Japan, America and China.

With such a renewed conception of international amity and solidarity, guaranteeing unbroken tranquillity in eastern Asia, the undivided energies of Japan and China should henceforth be directed toward strengthening the forces now struggling in the common cause, which China has e espoused, as well as Japan.

I am now happy to be able to state before you that there are now no longer questions with regard to China between Japan and the United States. In a speech before a magnificent assemblage at a dinner in the city of New York, I said that for many years the common foe of Japan and America has been the worst enemy of China. German influence is responsible for most of the unfortunate misunderstandings and widespread misinformation impairing the relations between the two countries. If the Chinese government or people should now be misled by an ill advised interpretation of this new instrument it would be a matter of sincere regret to me, as, I am sure, it would be to the eminently fair, broad-minded and splendid statesman who stands at the head of the diplomatic affairs of the United States.

Describing matters of chief importance connected with the visit of the Mission, Viscount Ishii paid a fine tribute to "the loyalty, patriotism, unity and magnificent self-sacrifice of the whole people of the United States looking to effective participation in the war." He said that the country was united in support of the President, adding:

The resources are so vast and the spirit so pronounced that none can doubt the result when once this tremendously virile force gets into action. No words of mine can describe the overwhelming sense of power, the latent, determined, grim and unrelenting purpose where the seen and unseen forces of America are gathering for the final blow, which must win this war. We are proud indeed to be the comrades and partners of such allies. We are proud to have a share and a place among the armies moving forward to the set objective.

The Emperor's Message of Thanks to President Wilson

Viscount Ishii and his associates were received in audience by His Imperial Majesty the Emperor on the morning of November 28. On their departure from the palace, His Majesty caused the following telegram to be sent to President Wilson:

I have just been extremely pleased to hear from Viscount Ishii a personal account of the hearty welcome accorded my special mission to the United States, and once more tender to Your Excellency, and through Your Excellency to the American people, my profound thanks for and my deep appreciation of that warm display of sincere international friendship which is of all good augury for the future of the two nations and which will be held in grateful memory in my country.

Appendix A: The Root-Takahira Exchange of Notes, 1908

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