Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

June 7, 1942

Quezon thinks this is a business war, caused by slavish imitation by Japanese of the Western powers’ methods of monopoly. If the Japanese had not closed the open door in China, there would have been no war. It was totally needless, in any case, for the Japanese could have undersold all commercial rivals with all of her own products in China and she had already regained for China control over her own customs administration. If the “open door” had been maintained, the United States could then have held their Chinese market only on petroleum and tobacco.

In Japan in 1937, Quezon met members of the House of Peers and of the Diet who were opposed to the militarists —not so now. One of the Peers who was speaking of the recent Coronation said it was the last, as a religious ceremony with all the “Son of Heaven” cult. Quezon says he is never entirely at his ease in conversations with Japs —they have been until recently, for too many centuries isolated from the rest of the world.

Thinks it is a mistake to assume the Japanese are naturally an Empire and the Chinese not; on the contrary, the Chinese have always been imperialists when they were strong enough, and the Japanese only recently so. China in the past tried to conquer Japan. If the Chinese now argue that the aid promised by the United States to China has not been satisfactorily supplied, he would reply, if he was an American, that the Chinese got us into this war anyway.

Quezon is absolutely opposed to the plan to let the Chinese remain armed after this war, and the Japanese entirely disarmed. “The Japanese could teach us civic virtues, but the Chinese only ‘trickery and corruption.'” Would prefer to have the Indians armed.

I asked him whether, in the peace settlement, the Dutch East Indies would be given back to the Netherlands? He replied: “That would be an outrage. The Malays should be allowed to unite. For years the Javanese have been looking to the Filipinos to lead them to freedom. The movement started when General Wood was Governor General; we smuggled their leaders into the Philippines with the connivance of the Collector of Customs (Aldanese); Ramon Fernandez helped them and gave them money. I must soon begin to work on this with the English, the Australians and the New Zealanders. At the Peace Conference, I intend to make a loud noise. If we were to be united politically, I would be willing to have the capital in Java. It is not mere numbers that count, but intelligence.”

He thinks we could make a satisfactory peace with Japan at any time, but Roosevelt would not consider it for a moment. Believes the Japs would consent to leave the Philippines outside their “Co-prosperity sphere.”

“The greatest political danger to Don Sergio and me now is that the Japanese may declare the independence of the Philippines themselves.” “If so” he added “I would not stand in the way for one moment, but would resign and not spend one more penny of the money of the Philippines in the United States, even though that would reduce my family and myself to starvation.” He said that if he were President of the Philippine Republic, and the Japanese sent for him now to return to be head of an independent country, he might consider it. But he is only president of the Commonwealth which owes allegiance to the United States, and he is irrevocably tied up with that. If the proposition of independence were put to the Filipinos now by Japan they would vote overwhelmingly for it —there would be no need of Japanese soldiers to carry out the election.

Roosevelt did not insist that the Filipinos should continue the war against the invading Japanese. On the contrary, on January 3rd, 1942 in response to his cable of the day before from Corregidor, in which Quezon had questioned the right of the United States to make the Filipinos carry on a war for a power which could not protect them, Roosevelt had wired MacArthur to permit the highest ranking Filipino officials to surrender the Philippine Army, and then ordering MacArthur to carry on the fight to his last man.

Quezon then told of some Indians who were on the steamer with him when he was crossing the Pacific in 1916 with the Jones Law in his pocket. Two or three of them came up to congratulate him on his great achievement and ask his help for Indian independence.  “This,” he replied, “I am not in a position to give.” They were taken aback and asked: “Aren’t you in favor of our independence?” “Yes, I’m in favor of it, but with your 350 million people, all you have to do is to have every Indian sneeze at the same moment. Give me one half of your population and I would have the English begging me for their independence.” They retired angry and confused.

He thinks that, physically, the Siamese most resemble the Filipinos. They went over to the Japanese before the war began because their former territories in Indochina which had been seized by the French, had been given back to them by the Japanese.

Discussing the two photos in the Manila Tribune ofJan (?) 1942 showing first George Vargas reading to the Japanese officers his acceptance of the post as head of the Executive Commission set up by them, and the second showing the group of Philippine representative citizens who had been summoned, or chosen to accept this new form of temporary government, I commented on the presence there of former Chief Justice Avanceña. Quezon remarked that it was a damned shame that the group insisted on the presence on that occasion of that old man.

He thinks Kihara, former Vice Consul at Davao, whom he likes, is the go-between between the Japanese High Command and the Executive Commission of Filipinos.

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