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The Berlin–Tokyo Axis and Japanese Military Initiative

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Modern Asian Studies
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The Berlin–Tokyo Axis and Japanese Military
Initiative
Carl Boyd
Modern Asian Studies / Volume 15 / Issue 02 / April 1981, pp 311 - 338
DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X00007095, Published online: 28 November 2008

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Carl Boyd (1981). The Berlin–Tokyo Axis and Japanese Military Initiative.
Modern Asian Studies, 15, pp 311-338 doi:10.1017/S0026749X00007095
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Modern Asian Studies, 15, 2 (1981), pp. 311-338. Printed in Great Britain.

The Berlin-Tokyo Axis and Japanese
Military Initiative
CARL BOYD
Old Dominion University

T H E 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 of Oshima 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 1934 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 1940.
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 staffsystem in 1878,
and since then felt an affinity with the German army. Though on
opposi; te 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 1920s 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 wishes to thank the School of Arts and Letters, Old Dominion University, for
a grant supporting research on this article, a revision of my paper presented in Chicago
at the Inter-University Seminar National Biennial Conference, October 20-22, 1977.
For valuable criticisms of that IUS paper I am indebted to Stanley L. Falk, now Deputy
Chief Historian for Southeast Asia, Center of Military History, Washington, D.C. Parts
of this article appear in somewhat different form in my work The Extraordinary Envoy:
General Hiroshi Oshima and Diplomacy in the Third Reich, 1934-1939 (Washington, D . C :
University Press of America, 1980).
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.
0026-749X/80/0404-0301S02.00 © 1981 Cambridge University Press

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CARL BOYD

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 Vom Kriege 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 1921; 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, 1886-1939, No. 7010,
R-i-a; No. 6452, P-10-1; No. 6452-Q., P-10-1; No. 6452-R, P-10-1; and No. 13147-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, 11 July 1969 and International Military Tribunal for the
Far East, Exhibit 121 (Oshima military record) (hereafter cited as IMTFE). Oshima
was graduated with distinction from these three military institutions in 1902, 1905, and
1915. His dates of rank were as follows: second lieutenant (June 1906), first lieutenant
(June 1909), captain (May 1916), major (January 1922), lieutenant colonel (August
1926), 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 imperial Japanese army] (n.p. [U.S. Army?], n.d.
(1942?]), pp. 186, 190, 194-7.
3
Saburo Hayashi and Alvin D. Coox, Kogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War
(Quantico, Va.: Marine Corps Association, 1959), pp. 220-41. Japanese army officers
who were lieutenant colonels, colonels, or junior major generals were eligible because of
seniority for head attache duty in major nations in the 1930s. Professor Coox has
compiled biographical data concerning 91 officers mentioned in Kogun, of whom 54 were
approximately of Oshima's grade in March 1934. 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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BERLIN-TOKYO AXIS AND JAPANESE INITIATIVE

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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 1930s, whose careers
moved together through the dramatic rise ofJapan as a major military
power to the Japanese collapse in 1945. 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 1930s: 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 1940, he remained close to the throne and personally carried the
Emperor's surrender order to several army and navy units in 1945.
5
See Alfred Vagts, The Military Attache (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967),
6
particularly ch. 4.
IMTFE, Exhibit 3508 (Oshima affidavit).

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CARL BOYD

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 150 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 Waffenamt three 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 1934, when Oshima attended the Niirnberg 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
7

Captain Hugh W. Rowan, assistant military attache, 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 'the Japanese 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
General, Georg Thomas headed a new office for Wehrwirlschaft- und Waffenwesen.
Through an elaborate military economic staff system he would become largely responsible for organizing Germany's peacetime economy toward the requirements of war. In
addition to considerable naval and air strength, by May 1939 land forces of the Third
Reich 'had been increased from seven tofifty-onedivisions, compared with an expansion
from forty-three tofiftydivisions in the period from 1898 to 1914'. Alan Bullock, Hitler, A
Study in Tyranny, rev. edn (New York: Harper and Row, Harper Torchbooks, 1964), p.
511. See also Herbert Rosinski, The German Army (New York: Frederick A. Praeger,
1966), pp. 228-9, a n d Georg Thomas, Geschichte der deulschen Wehr- und Rustungswirtschqfl
(igi3-'943l45) (Boppard am Rhein: Harald Boldt Verlag, 1966), particularly pp. 2-3,
51-68.

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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 the Japanese 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 1934.10 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 Abwehr Abteilung), then naval
Captain Wilhelm Canaris. Some time prior to June 1937 Oshima
obtained similar free access to Lieutenant General Wilhelm Keitel
(Chief of the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht after February 1938).
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 1937 '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 1923-November 1934) he 'worked primarily on Russian espionage
activities'. Masaki Miyake, Mchi-Doku-1 sangoku dbmei no kenkyu [A study on the tripartite alliance Berlin-Rome-Tokyo] (Tokyo: Nanso-sha, 1975), p. 43.1 have not read this
elsewhere and Professor Miyake offers no documentation for the specific point; nor is
Oshima'smilitary record of any help. Oshima had served in Siberia from August 1918 to
February 1919 and it is probable that he had considerable experience with Soviet
intelligence matters. See Walter Voigt, 'Begegnung mit Hauptmann Oshima in Sibirien
1918,' Das Deutsche Rote 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 attache 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 1934, 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, 11, 1 (1977): 49-71. Cf. Ohata Tokushiro, 'The
Anti-Comintern Pact, 1935-1939,' trans. Hans H. Baerwald, in Deterrent Diplomacy:
Japan, Germany, and the USSR, igj^-ig4O, ed. James William Morley (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1976), pp. 23-4.

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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. 1 1 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 Kould
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 the Japanese 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
11

IMTFE, Exhibits 3508 (Oshima affidavit), 3496 (Kawabe Torashiro affidavit,
military attache in Berlin, October ig38-February 1940), 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 and Weltburger (Stuttgart: Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1950), p . 113; Wilhelm Keitel, Generalfeldmarscha.il Keitel: Verbrecher oder Offizier?

ed. Walter Gorlitz (Gottingen: Musterschmidt-Verlag, 1961), p. 99; Oshima to author,
21 November 1966, Oshima interviewed by John Toland, Chigasaki, 24 March 1971;
and Documents on German Foreign Policy, igi8-ig4$, 13 vols, ser. D, 1937-41 (Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949-61), 1: Doc. N0S603, 628 (hereafter cited
I2
as GD).
IMTFE, Exhibit 3508 (Oshima affidavit).

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BERLIN-TOKYO AXIS AND JAPANESE INITIATIVE

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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 Fiihrer'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 1922, was by 1934 a confident in Ribbentrop's entourage and a party to his Dienststelle.1* 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 of Ribbentrop'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 Dienststelle chief. In the spring
of 1935, as early as March, Oshima and Ribbentrop met for the first
time. 16 It was immediately obvious, as Ribbentrop testified after the
13

Ibid.
Oshima to author, 7 May 1971 and Oshima interviewed by John Toland, Chigasaki, 17 January 1967. I am indebted to Mr Toland for a copy of this interview and the
one cited in note 11 above. Hack had close connections injapanese military and business
circles. He often lived in Japan in the 1920s when he was also an adviser to the South
Manchurian Railway Company. For a brief account of Hack's ceremonial role as a
representative of the German-Japanese Society during the Berlin visit of Vice Admiral
Matsushita Hajime and officers of his training ship squadron, see J[ohn] Cfampbell]
White, charge d'affaires ad interim, American Embassy, Berlin, to secretary of state, 15
May 1934, ONI Reports, 1886-1939, No. 11623, U-i-b, NA, RG 38.
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. Professor Baerwald in his introduction to the Ohata essay
cited in note 10 above endorses my conclusions: 'One point emerges with crystal
clarity . . . : it was Oshima who was the prime instigator of the Anti-Comintern Pact. On
this issue all previous commentaries concerning the origins of the pact. . . have now
been superseded' (p. 4). The valuable translation of the Ohata essay was published on 29
December 1976, regrettably too late to be cited in my article above, though I made
extensive use of the original 1963 Japanese edition.
16
Oshima to author, 21 November 1966. Oshima stated that their first meeting was
'at a luncheon held in March or April 1935.' See also Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I, p. 44; cf.
Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 24. Oshima and Ribbentrop met much earlier in
14

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CARL BOYD

Second World War, 'that Japan 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.x 7 Ribbentrop told Hitler about his unofficial
talks with the enthusiastic Japanese 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 ifJapan or Germany went to war against Soviet Russia, the
other one should not take actions beneficial to Soviet Russia.'18 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 with Japanese 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 and Japanese armies would cooperate.' The telegrams gave only the general picture, but one 'received the
•935 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 new Japanese
Military Attache, Oshima, are pretty thick these days. Something's brewing . . . some
poison cup is being prepared' (Bella Fromm. Blood and Banquets: A Berlin Social Diary
[New York: Harper, 1942], p. 193). The recently discovered Hack Papers have been
used by Bernd Martin, 'Die deutsch-japanischen Bezierhungen wahrend des Dritten
Reiches' in Hitler, Deutschland und die M'achte: Materialien zur Assenpolitik des Dritten Reiches,

ed. Manfred Funke (Diisseldorf: Droste, 1977), pp. 454-70. They reveal only that
Oshima and Hack discussed German-Japanese collaboration on 17 September 1935
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. 460-1).
17
International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals, 42 vols (Nuremberg: Secretariat of the Tribunal, 1947-49), I o : 2 4°18
Oshima to author, 7 May 1971. See also Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 24
and IMTFE, Proceedings, pp. 34, 076-77 (Oshima).

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BERLIN-TOKYO AXIS AND JAPANESE INITIATIVE

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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 1931 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 for Japan'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, 9-10.
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 1944 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-Adolf Jacobsen,
Nationalsozialistische Aussenpolitik, 1933-1938 (Frankfurt am Main: Alfred Metzner Verlag
1968), 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.

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CARL BOYD

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 the Japanese side, understood the
complexity of the negotiations. Thus, in early May when Ambassador
Mushakqji 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 Mushakqji
20
I M T F E , Exhibit 3492 (Wakamatsu affidavit). See also O h a t a , ' T h e Anti-Comintern', p . 25.
21
'Interrogation of Wakamatsu,' I P S 453, 9-10 M a y 1946, R G 331. See also
I M T F E , Exhibit 3492 (Wakamatsu affidavit).
22
O h a t a , ' T h e Anti-Comintern Pact,' p . 29. See also Frank William Ikle, German-

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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 in Japan;
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. On July 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 16th Ribbentrop, recently appointed ambassador to London, confidently wrote
Hitler:
I have, during the last two weeks, been in negotiation with the Japanese
Ambassador and with General Oshima on the question of the conclusion of the
Anti-Comintern agreement as well as of the proposed [secret] political agreeJapanese Relations, 1936-1940 (New York: Bookman Associates, 1956), p. 30. The ambassador, Viscount Mushakoji, was on leave to Japan from July 1935 until he returned to
Berlin on 30 April 1936. 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 ambassador just as he did not, in fact, consult Counselor
Inoue Kqjiro, 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 (Togo Shigenori,
Director of the Foreign Ministry's European-Asiatic Bureau, March 1933-October
1937); and Ernst L. Presseisen, Germany and Japan: A Study in Totalitarian Diplomacy,
1933-1941 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1958), p. 85. (The E u r o p e a n - A m e r i c a n
Bureau was renamed the European—Asiatic Bureau in 1934 when a separate American
Bureau was created in the J a p a n e s e Foreign Ministry.)
23
Mamoru Shigemitsu, Japan and Her Destiny: My Struggle for Peace, ed. F. S. G.
Piggott, trans. Oswald White (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1958), p. 124.
24
For the best account of R a u m e r ' s work on the proposal and the meeting in Villa
Wahnfried, see T h e o Sommer, Deutschland und Japan zwischen den M'achten, 1935-1940

(Tubingen J. C. B. Mohr, 1962), pp. 26-42. See also Jacobsen, Nationahoiialistische
Aussenpolitik, pp. 425-6, and G e r h a r d L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany:
Diplomatic Revolution in Europe, 1933-36 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago
Press, 1970), pp. 342-6.

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CARL BOYD

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 Mushakqji in Berlin on October 23rd; the two ambassadors formally signed the documents for their governments in the
Dienststelle building on the Wilhelmstrasse on 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 Nichi,
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-1930s. 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, en route to 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
25

G D , ser. C, 1933-1937 (Washington, D.C.: U . S . G o v e r n m e n t Printing Office,
' 9 5 7 - )> 5 : D o c - N o - 5°926
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 measures which would tend to ease the
situation of the U n i o n of Soviet Socialist Republics' (GD, D, 1: Doc. No. 463, note 2a).
27
Cited by H u g h Byas, New York Times correspondent in Tokyo, New York Times, 26
N o v e m b e r 1936, p . 26.
28
' O r t h o d o x J a p a n e s e 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 p y r a m i d and then to be pumped upward through the chain of command
until, when they reach the top, they represent the consensus of the institution which the
seniors can d o little to influence and are expected to represent'. J a m e s William Morley,
introduction to Hosoya Chihiro, 'The Tripartite Pact, 1939-1940,' trans. J a m e s William Morley, in Deterrent Diplomacy, p. 184.

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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 remedy Japan'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
of Japan 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 with Japan. Serious negotiations, however, were delayed for nearly a year because of the change of
Japanese cabinets in February and July, the change of Japanese ambassadors in Rome, and the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war. With the
concurrence of the Japanese military, in the autumn and early winter of
1937, Foreign Ministry negotiations between Japan and Italy began
and proceeded smoothly. When Ribbentrop, in London, learned indirectly from Ambassador Mushakqji 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
30

Shigemitsu, Japan and Her Destiny, p. 124.
Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' pp. 39-46.

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German-Japanese anti-Comintern agreement on 6 November 1937,
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,' Vierleljahrshefte fur ^eilgeschichte, 2, 2 (April 1954): 196, and Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I, p. 116.
J a p a n e s e Foreign Minister Arita H a c h i r o said at a Privy Council meeting in early 1939
that he understood ' t h a t Italy did not join the secret pact [annexed to the Agreement
against the C o m m u n i s t International] because she did not know of its existence'
( I M T F E , 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 G e r m a n , Italian, and Japanese) a tract-like item
described the mission of the new nations a n d emphasized their common purpose a n d
h a r m o n i o u s relations. T h e piece concluded with a m a p of Eurasia on which superimposed lines connected the countries involved in the following series of agreements:
1. Conclusion of the G e r m a n - J a p a n e s e Anti-Comintern Agreement: 25 November
1936
2. Italy's accession to the G e r m a n - J a p a n e s e Anti-Comintern Agreement: 6
November 1937
3. Conclusion of the J a p a n e s e - H u n g a r i a n Cultural Agreement: 15 November 1938
4. Conclusion of the G e r m a n - I t a l i a n Cultural Agreement: 23 November 1938
5. Conclusion of the G e r m a n - J a p a n e s e Cultural Agreement: 25 November 1938
6. Conclusion of the G e r m a n - S p a n i s h Cultural Agreement: 2 4 j a n u a r y 1939
7. J o i n i n g of M a n c h u k u o in the Anti-Comintern Agreement: 24 February 1939
8. J o i n i n g of H u n g a r y in the Anti-Comintern Agreement: 24 February 1939
9. Conclusion of the Italian-Japanese Cultural Agreement: 23 M a r c h 1939
10. J o i n i n g of Spain in the Anti-Comintern Agreement: 27 March 1939
See 'Die S e n d u n g der jungen Volker/La missione dei popoli giovani,'
i, 1 (15 M a y 1939): 11.

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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 1937] 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 1914,
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 in Japan'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 the Japanese 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
33
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,

Mchi-Doku-I, pp. 143-8.

34

Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 50.

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was concluded the Japanese 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 new Japanese Ambassador to Germany, Togo Shigenori, would
be opposed to a military alliance with the Third Reich. Togo 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 Togo 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 Mushakqji 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 1938. The third secretary of
the embassy, Narita Katsushiro, 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
35

I M T F E , Exhibit 3614 (Narita affidavit).
Ibid., Exhibits 3619 (Shudo affidavit), 3620 (Sakaya affidavit) and 3618 (Kasahara
affidavit). Major General Kasahara was dispatched to G e r m a n y in J a n u a r y 1938 as an
officer attached to the A r m y General Staff. He seems to have h a d no specific mission at
the time, although technically he was one of the assistant military attaches at the
embassy. H e stayed in Berlin to study the G e r m a n language a n d the political situation
before his possible appointment as military attache.
36

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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 Ministry strongly urging Ambassador Togo'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 Togo. 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
37
38

Ibid., Exhibit 3619 (Shudo affidavit).
Ibid., Proceedings, p. 35,656 (Togo).
Ibid., Exhibit 3618 (Kasahara affidavit of 23 October 1947).

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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 Togo at his
Berlin post, but Togo 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 Tog5.
Later Kojima reported that during the crisis over the Sudetenland in
September all the ambassadors from nations considered friendly to
Germany were invited to Munich—Togo declined the invitation.
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
triangle.' 42
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 ( K a s a h a r a
affidavit of 20 September 1947). T h e five most important members of the government
m a d e up the Five Ministers' Conference: Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and War,
Navy, and Finance Ministers.
41
Ibid., Exhibit 3614-A (Narita t o T o g o , 6 December 1938); see also Proceedings, p p .
35,391-92, 35,401-2 (Narita). O s h i m a confirmed his use of Ribbentrop's private airplane in a letter to the author on 7 M a y 1971.
42
Ernst von Weizsacker, Memoirs of Ernst von Weizsacker, trans. J o h n Andrews (Chicago: H e n r y Regnery, • 951), p. 201.
43
I M T F E , 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, T o g o was told by the Foreign Ministry that 'arrangements should be
m a d e for official negotiations through diplomatic channels . . . ; the army was notifying
Military Attache O s h i m a to that effect' (ibid., Proceedings, p. 33,754). We know
(Exhibit 3646 [Togo affidavit]) that T o g o was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet

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negotiations to 'the formal diplomatic channel' because it already
expected that Oshima would replace T5go as Ambassador to Germany.
The army would continue to maintain control of the negotiations
through its own ambassador, Oshima. 44
T5go'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 TSgo'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. Togo wrote after the war:
Union on October 15th and (Exhibit 3523 [Ugaki to Konoye, 16 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 16th. 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 reassignment to Moscow. A good account of Ugaki's diplomacy and his
resignation at the end of September is in David J. Lu, From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl
Harbor: Japan's Entry into World War II (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, 1961),
pp. 36-40. Still very good is John M. Maki's older work, Japanese Militarism: Its Cause and
Cure (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), pp. 219-20. See 'Magic,' SRS 1622, 30 March
1945, RG 457 for indications of the reemergence of Ugaki, known as a political
moderate, in the affairs of state. War Minister Itagaki broached the matter of Oshima's
appointment to Ugaki as early as July. See The Saionji-Harada Memoirs, igji-ig^o:
Complete Translation into English (Washington, D.C.: University Publications of America,
1978), pp. 2,154, 2,205, a n d 2>213> covering diary entries from late June to 7 August
1938. 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-General Kasahara Yukio to Japan with the German plan, on the assumption that
Kasahara would be made the new military attache in Germany' (Ohata, T h e AntiComintern Pact,' p. 51).
44
Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' p. 70.
45
IMTFE, Exhibit 3620 (Sakaya affidavit).

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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 afterward a request from
the Foreign Minister to assent to my transfer to 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
that by remaining there I might be able to exert some restraint upon the militarists, and might
even be able to sabotage the military alliance scheme. I, therefore, requested the Foreign

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, TogS'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 Togo was probably
inevitable in 1938. 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 the Japanese government had gained in
shaping foreign policy by 1938.
46

Ibid., Exhibit 3646 (Togo affidavit). Emphasis added.
Ibid., Exhibits 3523 (Foreign Minister Ugaki to Prime Minister Konoye, 16
September 1938), 3523-A (Prime Minister Konoye to Foreign Minister Ugaki, 22
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 1938). These letters concern the proceedings of the Emperor's appointment of
Oshima as ambassador. In early October Prince Konoye held the Prime Minister and
Foreign Minister portfolios concurrently. On October 15th Togo was officially
appointed ambassador to Moscow where he arrived on the 29th.
47

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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 T5go'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 the Japanese 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
kabuto no o wo shimeyo.'50

The tenor of their conversation was much more felicitous than Hitler
could have expected it to be with former Ambassador T6g5. The Fiihrer
knew Oshima and approved of his outlook and work during recent
48

Oshima to author, 21 November 1966.
New York Times, 22 November 1938, p. 6.
50
Oshima tells this story in Bungei Shunju (April 1940). 'Katte kabuto no o wo
shimeyo' [After winning, keep the string tight on your helmet] (Library of Congress,
Reel W T [War Trials] 21, International Military Tribunal, Doc. No. 756). See P.
Ehmann, Die Sprichwirter und bildlichen Ausdr'ucke der japanischen Sprache, 2nd edn (Tokyo:
49

Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Natur- und Volkerkunde Ostasiens, 1927), p. 133, where the
Japanese proverb is rendered in German: 'Nach dem Siege (muss man) das Helmbandfester
binden.'

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CARL BOYD

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 commit Japan to a European military alliance. In
the European alliance, Japanese decision makers foresaw no substantial
benefit to Japan'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 a Japanese attack on Vladivostok and across the Amur River, would nullify any Soviet Russian
interference with Hitler's moves to gain continental domination and
Lebensraum in 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. 51
Hitler and Ribbentrop, however, discovered in 1939 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 Staffand 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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333

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 1939 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 1939 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 instructions and 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
52

O h a t a , ' T h e Anti-Comintern Pact,' p . 86. This m e m o r a n d u m of 28 M a r c h 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
T h e j a p a n e s e political scientist, Masao M a r u y a m a , examined Oshima's a r g u m e n t
at the I M T F E . 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

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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 whether Japan 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 Fiihrer had
decided to resolve the so-called Poland problem through the use of force;
therefore, German diplomacy sought bilateral arrangements which
would counter the Polish-British-French coalition of April 1939. 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. 34,174). 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, 1969), 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 OrientlWest, 7, 3 (May 1962): 33-45, and 7, 7 (July 1962): 37-53.
54
Ohata, 'The Anti-Comintern Pact,' pp. 90-3, Miyake, Nichi-Doku-I, pp. 180-5,
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 —1941, from Contemporary Diaries,' Modern Asian Studies, 10, 1 (1976),
especially pp. 14-16. The author observes incisively (p. I5n) 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, 1940-1941,' in
Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, ig3i-ig4i, ed. Dorothy Borg and
Shumpei Okamoto with the assistance of Dale K. A. Finlayson (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1973), p. 157.

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KYO AXIS AND JAPANESE INITIATIVE

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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. 5 7
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

G D , 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 ' T h e Pact
of Steel' in Toscano, The Origins of the Pact of Steel, pp. 307-402.
56
Galeazzo Ciano, The Ciano Diaries, 1939-1943, ed. Hugh Gibson (New York:
Doubleday, 1946), p. 135.
57
See Lu, From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor, pp. 5 4 - 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'
59
(GD, D, 1: Doc. No. 463, note 2a).
Times (London), 22 September 1939, p. 7.
60
Berlin-Rom-Tokio
1, 7 (15 November 1939): 10, and the Times (London), 26
October 1939, p. 7. Oshima was given many gifts by his National Socialist friends before
leaving G e r m a n y . It is not clear from whom a m o n g the high-ranking Third Reich

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October, passed through New York, and arrived in Japan in December
1939. 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 1940 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 in Japan [from December 1939 to
January 1941].' 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 in Japan
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 on June 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 ofJapanese 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 Saburo. 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 1946, National
Archives, Washington, D.C., Record Group 331).
61
New York Times, 10 November 1939, p. 8 and ibid., 13 December 1939, p. 1.
62
'Interrogation of Ott, Eugen,' IPS 324, 5 March 1947, RG 331.
63
Miyake, Mchi-Doku-I, p. 238.
64
'Botschaft des Fiihrers an die japanische Nation,' Berlin-Rom-Tokio 2, 12 (15
December 1940): 14.

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65

of Germany, Italy, and Japan signed on 27 September 1940. 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 remember him 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 in Japan's policy toward Europe in the 1930s. 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 1940 treaty. The three Axis powers declared
they would
undertake to assist one another with all political, economic and military means
when one of the three Contracting Parties is 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, From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor, pp. 106-19, for a thoughtful
account of the negotiations leading to the 1940 Tripartite Pact. See also Takeshi
Haruki, ' T h e Tripartite Pact and Soviet Russia: An Attempt at a Q u a d r i p a r t i t e Pact,'
in Hogaku ronbun shu [A collection of law treatises] (Tokyo: Aoyama Gakuin University,
'964). PP- 1-2766
'Interrogation of O t t , Eugen,' IPS 324, 5 March 1947, R G 331.
67
Morley, introduction to Hosoya, ' T h e Tripartite Pact,' in Deterrent Diplomacy, p.
185. In the Tripartite Pact concluded over a year before the attack on Pearl H a r b o r the
Japanese navy and certain anti-Axis allies insisted, contrary to the text of the published
treaty, that J a p a n reserve its independence to decide war. This was accomplished in the
secret protocol, a series of letters exchanged in Tokyo between Foreign Minister
Matsuoka and G e r m a n Ambassador O t t , the latter who signed without the authorization or knowledge of the G e r m a n government. See Morley's explanations and his
discussion (pp. 181-90) of Hosoya's seminal essay (pp. 191-257). See also J o h a n n a
Menzel Meskill, Hitler and Japan: The Hollow Alliance (New York: Atherton Press, 1966),
esp. pp. 12-25.
68
T h e text of the Tripartite Pact, in English in the original, is in G D , D, 11: Doc. No.

118.

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Oshima's extraordinary work resulted in the 1936 Berlin-Tokyo treaty
against the Communist International; that pact was the precursor of the
1940 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.
The Japanese 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 1941 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
69

I M T F E , Exhibit 560 (Ott to Ribbentrop, 13 December 1940).
See, for instance, 'Botschafter Oshima an " B e r l i n - R o m - T o k i o " / U n messaggio
deH'ambasciatore O s h i m a , ' Berlin-Rom-Tokio, 3, 2 (15 F e b r u a r y 1941): 11-12; 'Botschafter O s h i m a beim Fiihrer/L'ambasciatore Oshima ricevuto dal Fiihrer,' ibid., 3, 3
(15 M a r c h 1941): 13; and 'Botschafter Oshimas Ankunft in Berlin,' Ostasiatische Rundschau, 22, 2 ( F e b r u a r y 1941): 43-4.
7
' O s h i m a surrendered to United States armed forces in M a y 1945. Later that year he
was returned to T o k y o to stand trial before the International Military Tribunal for the
F a r East. His indictment included several counts, but he was found guilty only on Count
1, over-all conspiracy. Sentenced in November 1948 to life imprisonment, Oshima was
released from S u g a m o Prison on parole in December 1955 and granted clemency in
April 1958. O s h i m a Hiroshi died at his home in Chigasaki, J a p a n on 6 J u n e 1975. He
was 89 years old.
70

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