The newspapers this morning gave Premier Hideki Tojo’s speech of yesterday to the Diet in Tokyo in which he promised independence to Burma. He also said: “The people of the Philippines deserve independence, because they understand Japan’s real aims and are ready to collaborate. . . . It is encouraging to observe an ever increasing movement among Filipinos for collaboration with Nippon.
I called this to Quezon’s attention and he was much disturbed. His own letter to President Roosevelt on the subject of “independence now” was dated January 25, but has not yet been sent; it is understood that the Executive branch of the government, except the Department of State, is in favour of a joint resolution by Congress stating that the “Philippines are and of right ought to be independent.” The Secretary of State (Hull) is also in favour of this, but he has little or no influence in his Department. The “permanent officials” headed by Dr Stanley K. Hornbeck are disposed to have no step taken in that direction until after the war and after it can be seen what the situation really is in the Far East.
After reading Tojo’s statement to the Diet, and a subsequent declaration by George Vargas expressing his readiness to accept “independence with honour” as already twice promised by the Japanese, Quezon was galvanized into immediate activity. I told him he should see Roosevelt at once and press the matter for all he is worth. Vargas’ statement as interpreted by Quezon shows that Tojo’s “independence” will not become a reality “for three months yet” and he, Quezon, must go into action in order to get the United States grant of independence first.
He said that the masses of the Filipino people would accept Tojo’s independence eagerly; that the leaders would know that this sort of “independence” would not be worth having, but would fall in line all the same. “This would be a very serious matter to my people–and to myself” he honestly added. After a pause Quezon continued: “When the United States gets back to the Philippines they will then have to fight not only the Japanese, but the Filipinos, as well, and I would be more likely to fall to a Filipino bullet than I was likely to be shot by the Japanese during the battle of Bataan.”
He had told us yesterday at Commissioner Elizalde’s luncheon, at which we gave him our official Mont Tremblant report, that the Japanese in the Philippines had already given to the small farmers of the Philippines land on which they lived and worked “a measure we will have to allow to stand when we regain our country, even if we have to recompense the landed proprietors.”
Altogether it looks to me as if the Japanese were “outsmarting” us in political warfare. It reminds me of what I told Professor Robert Gooch, in Charlottesville, 13 months ago when Churchill came to Washington and the “global” war was decided on, which meant simply “go for Hitler and abandon the Pacific until later.” I then said to him that if they are completely abandoned now, you may later have the Filipinos as well as the Japanese against you in the end.
Quezon’s draft of a letter to Roosevelt stresses three points:
(1) the proclamation of Philippine independence and the recognition of the Philippine Republic by the Japanese.
(2) the rehabilitation and development of the Philippine economy.
(3) the guarantee of the future military security, political integrity and economic progress of the Philippines.
“It would be both wise and proper to proclaim Philippine independence now, rather than wait until 1946.”
He recommends the passage of a joint resolution by Congress advancing the date for independence to April 9th (the anniversary of the fall of Bataan) or the 4th of July, 1943.
This would be a “shot heard round the world” he urges–the most telling psychological blow that could now be delivered in opening the “Battle for the Far East.”
“A further and very important consideration is the possibility that Japan may, at any time, proclaim Philippine independence and establish a puppet state there. If this should happen” he urged, “before America recognizes Philippine independence, Japan will have gone far toward making the United States a laughing stock or a mere opportunist in the Far East.” (He should modify this language… in the recent abrogation of the extraterritoriality treaties. Axis propaganda hammered at the theme that this was “a plagiarism of the magnificent gesture of the Japanese”).
…In exchange for a guarantee of military security the Philippines will offer to the United States:
“The use under a generous lease of strategic air and naval bases which will act as the center of America’s power for peace in the Far East” and… “all the trained and proven Filipino man power needed to man these bases.”
…The assistance of the Filipino armed forces, etc.