Negotiations with China and Soviet Union derailed
The Koiso Cabinet had an eye on bringing the Pacific War to an end. One plan aimed to make U.S. and British forces withdraw from China by persuading Wang Chao-ming Nationalist regime in Nanjing and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist regime in Chongqing to form a unified government.
According to conditions for peace made by the Imperial Supreme War Council on September 5, 1944, Japan would be satisfied with China’s benevolent neutrality with the United States and Britain; approve establishment of a unified Chinese government upon Chiang Kai-shek’s return to Nanjing; and pull out its troops if U.S. and British forces stationed in China also withdrew.
Vice War Minister Kaneshiro Shibayama was sent to Nanjing in September to tell the leaders of the Nanjing regime of these conditions. Although Chen Kung-po (Chen Gongbo) and Chou Fo-hai (Zhou Fohai), agreed to accept the conditions, the negotiations stalled and were aborted with Wang Chao-ming’s death on November 10, 1944.
Along with this plan, the so-called Miao Pin maneuver was gearing up. If the Japanese approach to Nanjing was a fastball, the Miao Pin plan could be called a political curveball.
Miao Pin, Vice President of the Kaoshi Yuan, an organ of the Nanjing government in charge of validating the qualifications of civil servants, was also in contact with the Chongqing government.
This strategy was promoted by Prime Minister Koiso but strongly opposed by Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, who suspected Miao Pin was a spy working for the Chongqing government.
“Using his espionage activities against Chongqing as bait, [Miao Pin] frequently revealed internal information about the Nanjing government to make us think he was a good informant. He tried to topple the Nanjing government and stir up disorder in the Japanese government while communicating with the Chongqing side by radio,” Shigemitsu said.
Koiso regarded Miao Pin as someone who could act as a go-between and convey Japan’s intentions to the Chongqing government.
Taketora Ogata, State Minister without portfolio, reported on Miao Pin to Koiso around September 1944. According to a letter written by Miao Pin, which Ogata handed to Koiso, Chiang Kai-shek was deeply concerned that Japan’s defeat would be tantamount to China losing the “lips.” By “lips,” Miao Pin obviously viewed Japan as de facto cover for defending the “teeth” (Nationalists) from internal and external forces. The letter went on to say Japan’s defeat would immediately harm China itself and cause turmoil that would keep his hands full and prevent him from saving the country from the emergence of communist China, invasion by the Soviet Union, and being divided up by the United States and Britain.
In March 1945, Koiso arranged a plane to bring Miao Pin to Japan. However, Foreign Minister Shigemitsu, War Minister Hajime Sugiyama and Navy Minister Mitsumasa Yonai held grave reservations about the visit. To settle the confusion, the Emperor ordered Koiso to send Miao Pin home to China in early April.
Meanwhile, Japan also was devising a plan to ask the Soviet Union to broker a peace deal between Japan and the Allied Powers after Japan had done likewise between Germany and the Soviet Union.
Shigemitsu issued an order for Japanese Ambassador to Germany Hiroshi Oshima to broker peace between Berlin and Moscow, but the Soviet Union rejected the dispatch of Koki Hirota, an envoy from Japan, at talks between Japanese Ambassador to Moscow Naotake Sato and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov on September 16, 1944.
The Koiso Cabinet frittered away precious time on these negotiations, which offered only the slimmest possibility of success, and was forced to resign en masse on April 5, 1945.