1995 Volume 1995 Issue 109 Pages 54-69,L8
At the beginning of 1945 American forces landed in the Philippines and Manila fell. As the war situation grew still more desperate, Konoe Fumimaro attended the court on February 14 for the first time in over three years and presented a long memorial to the Throne. In this memorial Konoe adomitted that defeat was inevitable but reasoned that defeat itself did not necessarily mean the end of the national polity, as the real threat was a communist revolution which could occur as a result of defeat. Therefore Konoe concluded that Japan should seek to terminate the war as immediately as possible.
Until now studies about this memorial have focused mainly on his fear against the danger of a communist revolution. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to reexamine his aim in this memorial.
Not only Konoe but also the Jushin, Hiranuma, Kido, and Wakatsuki, had strongly expressed the same view. It is natural that the ruling class has such feeling, and Konoe, who was a prince, has been frightened by the fear of a communist revolution from his youth.
Konoe also stressed that the Manchurian Incident and Sino-Japanese War and their expansion into the Pacific War were skillfully plotted by one group within the army which have long time aimed at a communist revolution. But Konoe was strongly influenced by Ueda Shunkichi, Yosida Shigeru, and other some adherents of Kodoha, who had helped draft this memorial to begin to hold this conspiracy. Moreover this idea has been developed and intensified by his strong anger toward the army, which regarded his detachment as negativism and watched him with deep suspicion, the Sorge Incident, and his political motive to attempt a Kodoha revival.
More noteworthy is Konoe's grasp of the international scene. On the one hand he pointed out that the Soviet Union was pushing revolution not only in Europe but also in East Asia. On the other hand he observed that America and Britain had not yet decided over forcing Japan to abolish the national polity. Through obtaining much accurate information from the Department of Foreign Affairs and other channels, he was somewhat optimistic about American opinion. Amongst his contacts, Ogata Shoji, chief of the second section of the Investigation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, played a most important role by talking and submitting the memorandum to Konoe about the international situation.
In particular Konoe was very sensitive to the trend about Japan in America and knew well that there were some influential persons like Joseph Grew and Hugh Byas, who understood the position of Konoe and Japan. He concluded that Japan must terminate the war immediately by negotiating with America in order to avoid a communist revolution and to preseve the national polity.
Four months later Konoe agreed to go to the Soviet Union as special envoy by the Emperor's entreaty. Though he personally distrusted the Soviet Union, he had one secret plan to negotiate directly with America using this chance. But his plan was not realized, as the Soviet Union did not accept the Konoe mission.