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JAPAN AND AMERICA, c1930-1955:


Series Two: The O'Ryan Mission to Japan and Occupied China, 1940

Publisher's Note

This small microfilm project brings together an important cluster of surviving papers collated by Professor Elizabeth Tsunoda, Professor Warren Hunsberger and Mrs Whitney relating to the O’Ryan Mission to Japan and Occupied China in 1940. It covers the Diary of Dr Samuel N Whitney; Correspondence and Papers of Dr Whitney, Professor Hunsberger, General O’Ryan and other members of the Economic and Trade Mission.

“The O’Ryan mission papers include a diary, draft reports, and notes on interviews with Japanese businessmen and government officials conducted by a team of Americans invited to survey conditions in Japan and Japanese-occupied areas of China during the summer of 1940. A private initiative organized by business interests on both sides of the Pacific, the mission sampled a wide spectrum of Japanese opinion at a critical juncture in American-Japanese relations. The papers offer a unique perspective on Japanese and American thinking as each country made the decisions¬ that led inexorably to Pearl Harbor.”

Professor Elizabeth P Tsunoda
Department of History
Washington University in St Louis
and Consultant Editor

In 1940 General John F O’Ryan, backed up by two economists (Dr Simon Whitney and Professor Warren Hunsberger), and a Japanese-American interpreter (Hannah Syroboiarsky), travelled to Japan and Occupied China. Sponsored by the New York investment firm of Eastman Dillon and the Japan Economic Federation, the O’Ryan mission visited the main centres in Japan, Manchuria, North China and Central China, talking to both Japanese and non-Japanese business leaders and residents. This project contains a wealth of fascinating information collected on their trip, which Professor Hunsberger described as “one of the unsung moves in US-Japan relations after the 1940 denunciation of the trade treaty between the two nations”. Material includes:

  • The Diary of Dr Simon N Whitney. (196pp. A4 typescript)
  • Papers identifying persons met and selected guest and passenger lists relating to the O’Ryan mission
  • Publicity concerning the mission
  • General O’Ryan’s broadcast speech on Tokyo radio station JOAK, August 1940
  • Statements from the Japan Economic Federation
  • Materials from Frank S Booth, an American with long residence in Japan and an advisor for Nichiro Fisheries
  • Additional notes on conversations and conferences, including hand-written material provided by Professor Warren S Hunsberger, in June 1983, from earlier notes
  • Papers relating to China, especially Shanghai and Nanking
  • Internal mission papers and memoranda on substantive matters
  • Correspondence between Dr Whitney and General O’Ryan in March 1941 concerning General O’Ryan’s report to the Japan Economic Federation
  • Mission schedules and itineraries
  • Papers relating to Professor Hunsberger’s role
  • Correspondence relating to Professor Hunsberger’s 1943 Pacific Affairs article on the O’Ryan mission
  • Report of the economists Dr Whitney and Professor Hunsberger to General O’Ryan, dated 11 September 1940

The following is a brief extract from the Whitney Diary:

“Warren and I talked an hour with Alfred Massnet, 69 year old French consulting engineer, who came to Manchuria in 1931. He says Manchuria has vast resources (gold the best, able to produce twice what is coming out now, soda widespread, other metals, iron however very poor) and North China the richest undeveloped resources on earth (vast cheap and excellent coking coal, fine sites for hydroelectric projects etc.) But he warns vehemently against investing in Manchuria, as the army will undoubtedly squeeze one out (as he was squeezed out of his gold mine in Chosen, although he admits at a good price, and apparently later out of Manchuria) and he thinks it a bad gamble in China, unless by chance they prove to have learned a lesson.”

“I applaud your interest in the 1940 O’Ryan mission to Japan, and Japanese-occupied Manchuria, North China, and Central China.”

Warren S Hunsberger
Professor Emeritus
School of International Service
American University, Washington DC

We are most grateful to the National Archives & Records Administration¬ and the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library for allowing us to include the small amount of material in the National Archives and at the FDR Library at Hyde Park relating to the O’Ryan mission in this project.

We also wish to acknowledge the help and support of Professor Elizabeth Tsunoda, Professor Warren Hunsberger and Mrs Simon N Whitney in making this project possible.



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