The Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty and the supplementary articles which the secretary has just read out, are of such great import that I, as Chairman, take it upon myself to report on them. As you know, this is a treaty to terminate the 18-month long war which started last year. We have lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers and have spent well over one billion yen [Note: equivalent to 5 to 10 trillion yen at present] on this war. We had reached a stalemate in which it was difficult to project an end to the war, when we, along with Russia, received counsel from the President of the United States of America to engage in a negotiation for peace. Consequently, this treaty was concluded. Since it holds major ramifications, breaking new ground in our relationships, I would like to report to you on it myself from the Chair.
|The Council, I presume, is aware that, prior to the peace talks, the Cabinet had fully deliberated our position, and, with the Emperor’s authorization, gave detailed instructions to the full powered Delegation. We submit that the Delegation, under instructions from the Emperor, did its utmost best vis-a-vis its counterpart to bring the negotiation to a conclusion. Yet, this treaty has aroused much controversy among the public who are widely divided on the issue. I believe that we must calmly assess the situation since the opening of the war. In taking a decision for the Emperor on the ratification of the treaty, we must ensure that any cause for concern is removed and that he may rest at ease.|
|There are many opinions about this treaty. We cannot ignore the views of the public, but the Council is responsible for matters of State of great importance. The Council’s role is different from that of the House of Representatives. It must stay aloof from public quarrels in assisting the Emperor to judge and decide on grave affairs. This is what we officially stand for. It is our professional responsibility to live up to his expectations wholeheartedly, so that he may be able to make a sound decision.|
|After careful thought, the Council is well advised that despite all the conflicting views expressed in public, and considering that in a negotiation there is afterall the other party to cope with, our Delegation has done its level best in following the Emperor’s orders.|
|Our enemy has been defeated in the fields of Manchuria, but they still have the power to continue the war. They have lost the battles but are not yet asking to surrender nor seeking peace. They agreed to enter into the peace talks after considering the conditions of the world which surround them. Consequently, and despite the best efforts of our Delegation, it is true that not all of our demands have been accepted.|
|Irresponsible views voiced in public do not easily align with government positions. If our Delegate who is invested with full powers cannot draw a compromise after making all possible efforts, should the government terminate the war with this treaty or should we break off the negotiations? If we fail with this negotiation, I have no doubt in my mind that we will not be able to project an end to this war.|
|When we are faced with an urgent decision on a grave matter of State such as this, the government must act responsively, avoid risk, choose the safe path, and reach a swift decision. Today, we are here to request the Emperor’s approval of our decision to ratify this treaty on grounds of humanity and the national interest, instead of sacrificing yet more lives in the tens of thousands and squandering another billion plus yen of military expenses.|
|Given the gravity of the issue at hand, I trust that you have given it thorough consideration bearing your share of responsibility with the Emperor on matters of national concern. I stated my view as Chairman, believing it my duty to respond to His Majesty’s query from a holistic perspective instead of dwelling with details. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to raise them as the Ministers in charge are also with us today. I sincerely hope you will take a decision founded on careful consideration.|
If you feel there is no need to express your views, or to ask any questions, I would like to proceed to a vote. I propose that the Emperor should ratify the treaty. I ask those in favour to stand up.
[Unanimously voted for]
The proposal has been approved unanimously.