Japanese-American relations (Dec. 1941)

Japanese Foreign Office (December 1, 1941)


From: Tokyo.
To: Hsinking.
1 December 1941

_ _ _ _ _ In the event that Manchuria participates in the war _ _ _ _ _ in view of various circumstances it is our policy to cause Manchuria to participate in the war in which event Manchuria will take the same steps toward England and America that this country will take in case war breaks out.

A summary follows:

  1. American and British consular officials and offices will not be recognized as having special rights. Their business will be stopped (the sending of code telegrams and the use of shortwave radio will be forbidden). However it is desired that the treatment accorded them after the suspension of business be comparable to that which Japan accords to consular officials of enemy countries resident in Japan.

  2. The treatment accorded to British and American public property, private property, and to the citizens themselves shall be comparable to that accorded by Japan.

  3. British and American requests to third powers to look after their consular offices and interests will not be recognized.

However the legal administrative steps taken by Manchoukuo shall be equitable and shall correspond to the measures taken by Japan.

The treatment accorded Russians resident in Manchoukuo shall conform to the provisions of the Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact. Great care shall be exercised not to antagonize Russia.

JD-1: 7092                                (H) Navy Trans. 12-5-41 (5-AR)
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From: Tokyo
To: Washington
1 December 1941

Re my #857*.

  1. The date set in my message #812** has come and-gone, and the situation continues to be increasingly critical. However, to prevent the United States from becoming unduly suspicious we have been advising the press and others that though there are some wide differences between Japan and the United States, the negotiations are continuing. (The above is for only your information).

  2. We have decided to withhold submitting the note to the U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo as suggested by you at the end of your message #1124***. Please make the necessary representations at your end only.

  3. There are reports here that the President’s sudden return to the capital is an effect of Premier Tojo’s statement. We have an idea that the President did so because of his concern over the critical Far Eastern situation. Please make investigations into this matter.

JD-1: 6983 (D) Navy Trans. 12-1-41 (S-TT)

*JD-1: 6921 (S.I.S. #25496) 
**JD-1: 6710 (S.I.S. #25138) 
***Not available.
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From: Tokyo
To: Washington
1 December 1941
Circular #2436

When you are faced with the necessity of destroying codes, get in touch with the Naval Attaché’s office there and make use of chemicals have on hand for this purpose. The Attaché should have been advised by the Navy Ministry regarding this.

JD-1: 6939                                (D) Navy Trans. 12-1-41 (S-TT)
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From: Tokyo
To: Washington
1 December 1941
Circular #2444

The four offices in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila have been instructed to abandon the use of the code machines and to dispose of them. The machine in Batavia has been returned to Japan. Regardless of the contents of my Circular message #2447*, the U.S. (office) retains the machines and the machine codes.

Please relay to France, Germany, Italy, and Turkey from Switzerland; and to Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico from Washington.

JD-1: 6984                                (D) Navy Trans. 12-1-41 (S-TT)
*Not available.
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From: Tokyo
To: London
1 December 1941
Circular #2443

Please discontinue the use of your code machine and dispose of it immediately.

In regard to the disposition of the machine please be very careful to carry out the instructions you have received regarding this. Pay particular attention to taking apart and breaking up the important parts of the machine.

As soon as you have received this telegram wire the one word SETUJU in plain language and as soon as you have carried out the instructions wire the one word HASSO in plain language.

Also at this time you will of course burn the machine codes and the YU GO No. 26 of my telegram. (The rules for the use of the machine between the head office and the Ambassador resident in England.)

JD-1: 7091                                   (H) Navy Trans. 12-5-41 (L)
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From: Washington
To: Tokyo
1 December 1941
#1225 (Part 1 of 3) [a]

When I and Ambassador Kurusu called on Secretary Hull on the 1st, we conveyed to him the matter contained in your message #857*. Roughly speaking, Hull’s reply stayed within the bounds of his earlier explanations. He placed the most emphasis on two points, namely, the tone and trend of the Japanese Government’s expressions and movements and that of the general public opinion organs; and, the increase in strength of the garrisons in French Indochina.

From the beginning of today’s conference, Secretary Hull wore a deeply pained expression. Without wasting any time, he brought up the subject of the Premier’s statement, (see my message #1222**), and said that that was one of the reasons for the President’s sudden return to Washington. (Upon our arrival at the State Department, we found not only newspaper men, but even some members of the Departmental staff crowding the corridors. Some of these speculators were of the opinion that the issue of war or peace was to be immediately decided upon. In general, the scene was highly dramatic.)

We, therefore, replied that we were convinced that the Premier’s statement had been erroneously and exaggeratedly reported in the vernacular. We pointed out that regardless of who the speaker may be if only an excerpt from his speech is reported, without having the entire text available, it is quite possible that the reader will get exactly the opposite meaning from that intended by the speaker.

We went on to advise the Secretary that we were at present awaiting the delivery of the entire text.

During the course of our explanations, the Secretary showed visible signs of relief.

He said:

Since our talks were begun recently, there has not been a single indication of endorsement and support from Japan. I have not heard of any steps being taken in Japan aimed at facilitating these conversations, all of which is exceedingly regrettable.

25778                                        (D) Navy Trans. 12-5-41 (2)
JD-1: 7042
[a] For Part 2 see S.I.S. #25715.
*JD-1: 6921 (S.I.S. #25496).
**Available, dated 30 November (S.I.S. #25761).


From: Washington
To: Tokyo
1 December 1941
#1225 (Part 2 of 3) (Parts 1 and 3 not available)

(Message having the indicator 20803* is part one of three.)

For this reason CHA has been the target of considerable attack and dissatisfaction. It was admitted that he was in a very tight spot. As the President recently said, it is clearly understood that the people of Japan, after over four years of the Japanese-Chinese incident, are very tense.

Japan, too, is highly desirous of having peace on the Pacific assured by successfully concluding these negotiations. It is our hope that he would give his support and encouragement to the efforts that Hull and we are making in this direction.

With regard to the matters pertaining to French Indochina the government of the United States, too, cannot help but feel concern since it has been receiving report after report during the past few days, from U.S. officials stationed in that area, of unusual movements of the Japanese army and navy; the landing of various types of arms; and the movements of transport vessels. Concern is felt as to the goal of all these activities (the implication was that they feared that they were going to be used not only against Thailand but in the southwestern Pacific area).

As to what plans the responsible persons in the Japanese army and navy are planning are not difficult to guess if one goes on the assumption that the Japanese army and navy joins forces with the Germans even if, in actuality, that is not what is taking place, preparations must be made for this possible eventuality, and all nations concerned must concentrate their fighting forces in that area.

JD-1: 7042                                   (D) Navy Trans. 12-4-41 (7)
*Not available, probably is Part 1 of this message.


From: Washington
To: Tokyo
1 December 1941
(Purple) #1225 (Part 3 of 3)


In the final analysis, that means that Hitlerism is being given indirect support, and for this reason please exercise the utmost of caution.

In view of the fact that Japan is acting in the manner described above, there is absolutely no way of bringing about a settlement of the situation.

Disruptions in Japanese-U.S. relations is exceedingly unfortunate, not only for our two countries, but to the world in general. There shall be nothing constructive about a Japanese-U.S. war. We fully realize that it can be nothing other than destructive. For this reason, we are still highly desirous of bringing these conversations to a successful conclusion.

However, with the existence of the above described conditions, and because of the nature of this country, the Secretary of State and the President are placed in an exceedingly difficult position.


It seems mutually regrettable that all of our efforts which lead to the 21 June and 25 September proposals, should have been in vain.

In general he expressed his agreement to this.


The recent situation in Japan and the U.S. public opinion made it necessary for us to return to the most recent proposal.

We then said that behind the problems at hand, there has always been the China problem.

I said:

As I have pointed out on several occasions, this has been the bitterest experience since the Washington Conference. Peace between Japan and China could not be attained through any such terms as were contained in your most recent proposal. We hear your argument to the effect that you cannot stand by and do nothing while China dies. The converse of that argument should be even stronger. That is, that it is of the utmost importance for us to avoid standing by and watching our own respective countries die, just because of the China problem.

Hull indicated his agreement with this, but went on to say:

Because the situation is as I have already described, I hope that Japan will take steps to bring about order through her public organs.

JD-1: 7042                                   (D) Navy Trans. 12-5-41 (2)
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From: Washington
To: Tokyo 
1 December 1941

Re my #1222*

Following up the reporting of Premier Tojo’s speech, the press here carried reports of the speech delivered by Vice President Ando of the Imperial Rules Assistance Association, on the 30th. Special attention was paid in these dispatches to those parts of the speech in which the Vice President advocated the reinvigorating of the alliance ties with Germany and Italy, and where he pointed out the United States as being the biggest obstacle to the establishment of the Far Eastern Co-Prosperity Sphere.

This report together with the report of President Roosevelt’s sudden decision to return immediately to Washington and the disclosure of Hull’s conferences with the British Ambassador on the 29th and the 30th is attracting considerable attention of the general public.

The general tone of these reports is that Roosevelt decided to cut his vacation short and rush back to Washington because Hull advised him by telephone that Premier Tojo had made an unusually strong speech, and relayed to him that a Far Eastern crisis may be at hand. Within governmental circles, although decisive comments were withheld, the general opinion seems to be that Tojo’s speech indicates the refusal of the Japanese Government to accept the proposals submitted to it by the United States on the 26th. These circles also seem to feel that the speech indicated Japan’s decision to give up hope for the talks and to resort to stronger measures.

The press on the 1st carried a U.P. dispatch from Tokyo reporting that though Japan was not satisfied with the United States’ reply, Japan is desirous of having the discussions continue for at least two more weeks. In view of the reports of the Premier’s speech, this report has an ominous tone about it.

Some of the newspapers comment that since Japan’s invasion of Thai has already been definitely mapped out, the above is merely a means of stalling for time so as to give the Japanese a chance to seize the most opportune moment with respect to developments in Europe, to launch this attack.

JD-1: 7054                                   (D) Navy Trans. 12-4-41 (1)
*Not available.


From: Washington
To: Tokyo 
1 December 1941 

Indications are that the United States desires to continue the negotiations even if it is necessary to go beyond their stands on the so-called basic principles. However, if we keep quibbling on the critical points, and continue to get stuck in the middle as we have been in the past, it is impossible to expect any further developments. If it is impossible from the broad political viewpoint, to conduct a leaders’ meeting at this time, would it not be possible to arrange a conference between persons in whom the leaders have complete confidence, (for example, Vice President Wallace or Hopkins from the United States and the former Premier Konoe, who is on friendly terms with the President, or Adviser to the Imperial Privy Council Ishii). The meeting could be arranged for some midway point, such as Honolulu. High army and navy officers should accompany these representatives. Have them make one final effort to reach some agreement, using as the basis of their discussions the latest proposals submitted by each.

We feel that this last effort may facilitate the final decision as to war or peace.

We realize of course that an attempt to have President Roosevelt and former Premier Konoe meet, failed. Bearing in mind the reaction to that in our nation, it may be to our interest to first ascertain the U.S. attitude on this possibility. Moreover, since we have no guarantee either of success or failure of the objectives even if the meeting is held, careful consideration should first be given this matter.

We feel, however, that to surmount the crisis with which we are face to face, it is not wasting our efforts to pursue every path open to us. It is our opinion that it would be most effective to feel out and ascertain the U.S. attitude regarding this matter, in the name of the Japanese Government. However, if this procedure does not seem practical to you in view of some internal condition, then how would it be if I were to bring up the subject as purely of my own origin and in that manner feel out their attitude. Then, if they seem receptive to it the government could make the official proposal.

Please advise me of your opinions on this matter.

JD-1: 7055                                   (D) Navy Trans. 12-4-41 (1)


From: Washington 
To: Tokyo 
1 December 1941 

Re your #865.*

The immediate reasons for the President’s sudden return to Washington are as I reported in my message #1222**. Basically speaking, however, the United States has been aroused against us by the reports of Premier Tojo’s speech to Parliament, and by the speech of Cabinet official Kaya and Suzuki to the Convention of the Imperial Rules Assistance Association. The dispatches concerning these speeches have gave one the impression that anti-foreignism, crushing of Britain and the United States, were the points most emphasized.

Japan’s true motives are being further doubted here because of the reports of increased troop movements in French Indochina.

Thus, in the midst of this atmosphere, fraught with suspicion as it was, the report of Premier Tojo’s speech arrived, in which it was alleged that the Premier advocated the purging of all Britons and Americans out of the Far East.

Since the alleged speech was made at a time when the United States was expectantly awaiting our reply to their official note of the 26th to Japan, particular importance was attached to it. (It is possible that the U.S. Government assumes that the speech was made by way of expressing our complete disapproval of the U.S. proposal and that it foreshadowed our launching a military campaign. Some of the newspapers go to the extreme of commenting that if the speech is given a literal interpretation it can mean nothing except a declaration of war.)

The President’s speeches concerning foreign affairs are consistently very cautiously worded, for they are usually taken as a description of U.S. national policy. It is almost natural that people who are accustomed to interpret speeches in that manner, reacted the way they did to the Premier’s speech.

I assume that you have already taken measures to do so, but may I suggest that when the Prime Minister or any Cabinet officer is to touch upon Foreign Affairs, careful consideration be given to those factors. I make this suggestion only because our country is at a very critical point in her history. Even if the worst eventuality materializes, we should be in a position to show all neutrals and outsiders the complete innocence on our part.

JD-1: 7056                                   (D) Navy Trans. 12-4-41 (1)
*JD-1: 6983 (S.I.S. #25605)
**Not available.

From: Honolulu (Kita)
To: Tokyo
1 December 1941
#241 (In 2 parts, complete)

Re your #119*.

Report on ship maneuvers in Pearl Harbor:

  1. The place where practice maneuvers are held is about 500 nautical miles southeast of here.

Direction based on:

  1. That direction taken when the ships start out is usually southeast by south and ships disappear beyond the horizon in that direction.

  2. Have never seen the fleet go westward or head for the “KAIUI” straits northwards.

  3. The west sea of the Hawaiian Islands has many reefs and islands and is not suitable as a ocean maneuver practice sea.

  4. Direction of practice will avoid all merchant ship routes and official travel routes.

Distance based on:

  1. Fuel is plentyful and long distance high speed is possible.
  2. Guns can not be heard here.
  3. In one week’s time, (actually the maneuvers mentioned in my message #231** were for the duration of four full days of 144 hours), a round trip to a distance of 864 nautical miles could be reached (if speed is 12 knots), or 1152 nautical miles (if speed is 16 knots), or 1440 nautical miles (if speed is 20 miles) is possible, however, figuring on 50% of the time being used for maneuver technicalities, a guess that the point at which the maneuvers are held would be a point of about 500 miles from Pearl Harbor.
  1. The usual schedule for departure and return of the battleships is: leaving on Tuesday and returning on Friday, or leaving on Friday and returning on Saturday of the following week. All ships stay in port about a period of one week.

JD-1:7294 26053 (Y) Navy Trans. 12-10-41 (2)

*Available dated 23 November. 

From: Washington
To: Panama
1 December 1941
(J 19)

Report passage through the Canal of the USS MISSISSIPPI, NORTH CAROLINA, WASHINGTON, WASP.

JD-1: 7318 26084                            (G) Navy Trans. 12-10-41 (X)
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U.S. State Department (December 1, 1941)


Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs

Washington, December 1, 1941.

The Thai Minister called on his own initiative, accompanied by his Military Attaché, Colonel Kunjara, on Mr. Adams and Mr. Smyth December 1, 1941. The Minister said that he had brought Colonel Kunjara along in order to explain the general military situation.

Colonel Kunjara said that according to his latest information the Japanese have approximately 150,000 troops in Indochina, about equally divided between northern and southern Indochina. He expressed the conviction that the real objective of any Japanese attack from Indochina would be the Burma Road, and he felt that it would be far easier for the Japanese to reach the Burma Road by going through Thailand than by attacking from northern Indochina through the difficult mountain country of Yunnan. He said that the Japanese could attack from southern Indochina into Thailand, using mechanized equipment, and then proceed north along the railroad from Bangkok; just south of Chiang Mai a paved motor road branches off from the railroad and the Japanese could go north along this road to the Thai-Burma border and/or the Thai-Indochina border. He believed that the Japanese would then probably cut through a corner of Burma toward the Burma Road. He pointed out that the pass through the mountains of northern Thailand would be far less difficult to cross from a military viewpoint than would be the passes which would have to be crossed by an Army attacking from northern Indochina. For this reason he was extremely apprehensive that the Japanese intended shortly to launch an attack against Thailand from southern Indochina.

Colonel Kunjara gave the following information in regard to the Thai military and naval forces: the total strength of the Thai army is about 200,000 but only 40,000 are well-equipped and trained. The Thai air force possesses about 200 combat planes, of which 108 are pursuit planes (slower than current Japanese pursuit), 30 bombing planes and the balance observation and general service planes. There are about three pilots for every plane. The Thai artillery includes 15 regiments of field artillery (12 guns to a regiment) and one regiment of medium artillery. The mechanized equipment includes 80 tanks (all eight tons or under), several hundred trucks, and one platoon of armored cars. The Thai navy is composed of the following vessels: two heavy gunboats (2,400 tons), two light gunboats (1,200 tons), two sloops, nine first-class torpedo boats, five submarines, five smaller torpedo boats, twelve mosquito boats, and 36 naval planes. The naval personnel amounts to about 6,000 men.

Colonel Kunjara expressed the belief that a Japanese attack against Thailand would be carried out by a land attack through Cambodia and by a simultaneous naval attack; he believed that one Japanese naval force would attack along the coast in the region of Bangkok, while a second force would attempt to land men along the Kra peninsula in order to cut railroad communications with Malaya.

Colonal Kunjara said that the military equipment now most urgently needed by Thailand was heavy artillery, bombing planes and pursuit planes. The Minister expressed the hope that means could be found to make this equipment available immediately in order that Thailand might be better able to resist aggression by Japan.

Mr. Adams informed the Minister that the information given by Colonel Kunjara and the request of the Minister would promptly be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities of this Government.

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740.0011 Pacific War/675

The British Ambassador to the Secretary of State

Washington, 1 December, 1941.

Dear Mr. Hull:
I received last night a telegram from the Foreign Office, of which I send you a copy, as the point may possibly arise in the course of your discussions this morning.

You will remember you mentioned the point to me as I was leaving your office yesterday.

Yours very sincerely,



The British Foreign Office to the British Embassy

London, 30.11.41.

It is conceivable that United States Government may raise with you the question of the compatibility of the operation referred to with our treaty of non-aggression with Thailand. It may be useful for you to know therefore that we have given careful consideration to this point.

  1. In July last we informed the Thai Government that we should regard the grant of bases to Japan as an infraction of that treaty. Similarly (although we have as yet made no communication to the Thai Government) we should not feel we could allow the treaty to be a bar to our entering Thailand if a Japanese invasion occurred or was clearly impending. But it would be greatly preferable if in these eventualities we could act in co-operation with the Thai Government. If therefore it were decided to undertake the operation, we should naturally do our best to secure Thais’ consent. It would be important however not to reveal to the Thai Government prematurely the existence of our plan owing to the danger of leakage to the Japanese.
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740.0011 P. W./1245

Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations

Washington, December 1, 1941.

The Netherlands Minister informed me by telephone this morning that the Government of the Netherlands East Indies had ordered a comprehensive mobilization of its armed forces.


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740.0011 Pacific War/661: Telegram

The Consul General at Singapore to the Secretary of State

Singapore, December 1, 1941 — 7 p.m.
[Received December 1 — 9:17 a.m.]


Governor today issued a proclamation declaring state of emergency and calling out military, naval and air volunteer forces of Straits Settlements. Military authorities issued statement at the same time stressing that this does not signify immediate deterioration of the situation but is only precautionary step permitting mobilization to be effected without undue dislocation of civil activities.


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793.94/17016: Telegram

The Consul General at Canton to the Secretary of State

Canton, December 1, 1941 — 2 p.m.
[Received December 1 — 9:24 a.m.]


There has been considerable movement of Japanese troops during the past three days, it being estimated that about 4,000 with equipment have come to Canton from the West River area and intermediate places. Beginning yesterday troops and equipment have been moving eastward by train and road toward Whampoa and Croyshektan [sic] on the East River. This morning loaded pack animals some of which were camouflaged and some 20 tanks accompanied by trucks carrying gasoline were seen moving in that direction. Large truck parks near the city which were recently filled are now largely empty.

In the light of the general situation and of recent developments in this area including road building and repairs and the presence of camouflaged pack animals and of pontoon bridge sections among the supplies being transported eastward this movement would appear to be in the direction of the Hong Kong border and to denote a redis-position of troops in anticipation of possible eventualities. However, as it has been in any case reported that four coastal transports including two fully loaded with troops were seen late last week proceeding seaward on the lower Pearl River it is possible that the main movement is to Indochina.

Various reports indicate that many pill boxes are being erected as defense works along the edge of the city particularly on the north and east sides and that anti-aircraft defenses are being put up east of the airfield.

Sent to the Department, repeated to Chungking, Beiping, Hong Kong.


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Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs

Washington, December 1, 1941.

Dr. E. Stanley Jones called at his request. He said that during the last day or two he had gathered the impression that the Chinese Government was blocking the putting into effect of a temporary arrangement which might afford a cooling-off spell in the Far Eastern situation. He said that he had called on the Chinese Ambassador, whom he had known for a good many years, and had asked him whether this report was accurate; that the Ambassador had replied that it was not; and that the Ambassador had referred to a comment attributed to Mr. Kurusu shortly after his arrival here to the effect that Japan did not desire mediation of its conflict with China by any power. Dr. Jones said that he had then inquired of the Chinese Ambassador whether the Japanese made a distinction between mediation and good offices, to which the Ambassador had replied that he did not know and had indicated that he was not interested.

Dr. Jones said that after talking with the Chinese Ambassador he had talked with Mr. Terasaki of the Japanese Embassy; that Mr. Terasaki had stated that the Japanese Government did not desire mediation, but that it desired the extension of good offices by the United States. According to Dr. Jones, Mr. Terasaki had also said that Japan was in the mood of a person who had been in a fight, that Japan was not reasonable and logical in its reactions at this time, and that what was needed was some act by the United States which would enable Japan to be more reasonable. Dr. Jones said that Mr. Terasaki had mentioned especially the lifting in some way of the embargo on oil.

When Dr. Jones mentioned that Japan was interested in the United States’ exercising its good offices between China and Japan, I said that of course one very pertinent consideration in connection with that matter was whether Japan desired to act in a genuinely peaceful way toward China. I made no other comment at that time.

Dr. Jones said that, without in any way attempting to give credit to himself, he probably spoke to larger gatherings of American church people than any other person in the United States; that he had expected, when he began some months ago mentioning to such audiences the question whether some peaceful way could not be found for resolving the difficulties between China and the United States, that he would be severely criticized; that on the contrary he had found a very receptive attitude on the part of his audiences; and that in his opinion the bulk of solid American opinion, which he said was not an especially vocal element, would definitely welcome the bringing about of a peaceful adjustment in the Pacific situation.

Dr. Jones then spoke again of his idea of having New Guinea turned over to Japan as affording a face-saving way to Japan of getting out of China. Dr. Jones said that he had discussed this matter with a good many people and that on the whole the response was favorable. He said that he had discussed this matter with the Australian Minister here, who had said that of course Japan’s presence in an area so near to Australia would perturb Australia, but that that factor could be taken care of should the United States enter into a non-aggression treaty with Australia. I commented that the practice of the United States was not to enter into treaties containing pledges of military action by this country. Dr. Jones replied that at the present time the United States in fact was protecting Australia and he indicated that he did not see why such a provision could not be written into a treaty. Dr. Jones said also that he had discussed the Far Eastern situation with Mr. Justice Murphy, Mr. Hayden, and Mr. McNutt. Mr. Jones intimated that all of these gentlemen were interested in the idea which he put forth that Japan should be given some additional land to which its people could go.

I told Dr. Jones that all I could say was that I could assure him that the appropriate officers of the Government were making every effort to give most careful and painstaking thought to all ideas and suggestions,



711.94/2503: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan to the Secretary of State

Tokyo, December 1, 1941 — 8 p.m.
[Received December 1 — 3:02 p.m.]


For the Secretary and Under Secretary.

  1. During the past few days I have talked with several prominent Japanese, most of whom appear to be already familiar with the terms of the Department’s recent draft proposal and some of whom have been in direct personal touch with the Foreign Minister. They generally reflect a pessimistic reaction, emphasizing what they purport to regard as the unconciliatory “tone” of the draft and the difficulty of bridging over the Japanese and American positions. They all, however, appear to desire continuance of the Washington conversations.

  2. In all recent talks I have emphasized my personal view that the American draft conveys a broad-gauge objective proposal of the highest statesmanship, offering to Japan in effect the very desiderata for which she has ostensibly been fighting and a reasonable and peaceful way of achieving her constantly publicized needs. The Japanese Government is now in a position to mould public opinion to the justified conception that Japan can now achieve without force of arms the chief purposes for which she has hitherto allegedly been fighting. These unofficial views have been indirectly conveyed to the Foreign Minister. I have furthermore expressed astonishment that the Prime Minister, at this critical moment, should have seen fit to deliver so bellicose an address as his speech yesterday, and I have indicated the serious and deplorable impression which that speech is bomid to exert on the American Government and people.

  3. Tonight’s newspapers report that the Cabinet at its meeting today, while realizing the difficulty of adjusting the respective positions of the two countries, nevertheless determined to continue the Washington conversations.



892.51/237: Telegram

The Minister in Thailand to the Secretary of State

Bangkok, December 1, 1941 — 4 p.m.
[Received December 1 — 3:11 p.m.]


  1. In August Japan pressed the Thai Government to advance ticals against yen credits. The Thai Government courageously refused and thinking to avoid entanglement in the yen bloc and also hoping that Japan would have no gold insisted on payment in gold. It also refused Japan’s request that gold be “earmarked” and left in Japan and demanded shipment to Bangkok. Negotiations culminated on November 27 in a request from Japan that the Government supply 80 million ticals in notes against gold deposited in Bangkok and the Government felt powerless to refuse, especially as the gold was left for free use. This is substantially the account of these events given me by financial adviser Doll, and it seems credible.

  2. For a number of days no United States dollar exchange has been obtainable in Bangkok. This has of course effected a practical embargo on all purchases from the United States whether by the government or private individuals and firms. Funds cannot be sent for the support of students in the United States and the Philippine Islands. The result has been actual hardship and a feeling of depression. This is not a condition conducive to enthusiastic resistance to Japan and support by the Thais of the principles upheld by the United States and Great Britain.

  3. It is of course undeniable that the Thai purchases of Japanese gold have circumvented the presumed object of the American and British freezing orders in that they have facilitated acquisition by Japan of rice, rubber and tin. In extenuation it may be noted that the Government has steadfastly protected American and British opportunity to buy the same materials even without insisting on receiving the all important dollar exchange. Thailand has resolutely followed a course of impartiality. Unable to promise the military assistance for which the Thai Government has repeatedly asked, the American and British Governments could hardly have expected this small country to go further than it has in disregarding the threats of a powerful and predatory neighbor.

  4. I therefore earnestly believe that it would be only just, as well as politic, to give Thailand an immediate allotment of dollar exchange. Whether or not Thai gold shall be accepted as security or purchased outright seems unimportant compared to the desirability of extending this country’s assistance and encouragement in a moment of anxiety and distress. Thai Government is solvent and has an honorable financial record, and security could well be relaxed. Through export control, the credit would be [at] all times subject to American supervision except in respect to the small portion used for personal remittances.

  5. I am expecting momentarily a communication from the Minister for Foreign Affairs on this general subject.


711.94/2502: Telegram

The Chargé in Germany to the Secretary of State

Berlin, December 1, 1941 — 5 p.m.
[Received 9:20 p.m.]


While there is no German comment on specific aspects of the situation in the Pacific, the semi-official Dienst aus Deutschland this afternoon makes the following statement:

The authorities in Berlin are absolutely convinced that Japan in conducting its contact with Washington is guided by its determination to protect its vital interests as a great power in the Far East and to adhere to the principles of its foreign policy as laid down in various pacts. The relationship of confidence between Japan and the European Axis powers could therefore not be in any way impaired by the negotiations with the United States which aim at a peaceful clarification of the Far Eastern situation. The participation of Japan in the Berlin meeting of the anti-Comintern powers was itself sufficient evidence that the principles of Japanese foreign policy could not be affected by the attempt to reach a diplomatic settlement with Washington.

The Dienst aus Deutschland further states that Berlin is not in any way disturbed at the alarming reports coming from British and American sources in the past day or two regarding the Far East since it considers such stories to be primarily a weapon used by Washington in the hope of extorting concessions from Japan.


711.94/2487: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in China

Washington, December 1, 1941 — 7 p.m.


The Department notes from your telegram under reference that the Chinese Foreign Minister informed you that on November 25 the Chinese Ambassador at Washington had informed the Department that the attitude of China toward the temporary arrangement with Japan under tentative consideration at that time was “negative”. You will have observed from the Departments telegram under reference reporting inter alia the Chinese Ambassador’s conversation with the Secretary on November 25 that China’s attitude was made known to this Government and to various circles in Washington through various channels and through telegrams to several individuals.

The Secretary of State, whenever he has discussed with the Chinese Ambassador the matter of the current conversations with the Japanese, has made it plain that we have made no sacrifice of principles; that we expect to make none; that we have aided China; that we expect to continue to do so to the best of our ability; and that, should matters which concern China come up for discussion, we expect to consult with the Chinese Government at appropriate stage.

As reported in your telegram under reference the Chinese Foreign Minister described frankly and with force the psychological effects on the Chinese public and the Chinese will to continue resistance which might be expected should there be adopted an arrangement such as the modus vivendi which we had under consideration at that time. It will be recalled that the Generalissimo in his recent messages to the President and the Prime Minister of England also spoke frankly and forcefully of the psychological effects of a successful Japanese invasion of Yunnan Province. As you were informed in the Department’s telegram under reference the Secretary of State in speaking to the Chinese Ambassador on November 25 pointed out that one of the prime points of the draft temporary modus vivendi which this Government was then tentatively considering was to protect Yunnan Province and the Burma Road from the imminent danger described by the Generalissimo and in addition to suspend the Japanese menace, for at least three months, to the whole South Pacific area and the Philippines.

In his conversation with you the Chinese Foreign Minister described serious and difficult internal and external problems of China. This Government is not unaware of those problems and we believe that the Chinese Government is also aware of many serious and difficult problems facing us and other similarly disposed powers such as Great Britain and the Netherlands.

We have on many appropriate occasions assured, and we may now again assure, China that in these trying and difficult days its interests have been and are being given most careful consideration in our study of our own problems and the problems of other nations and peoples.

It may be noted that there have occurred recently several examples of badly confused mechanics for the conduct of diplomatic relations between the governments resisting aggression. Those relations are so complicated that it is most difficult to carry on such relations in a systematic and sound manner. There have for example been examples of intrusion into delicate and serious situations on the part of individuals who are not completely or adequately informed of the facts. Before taking action of any sort it would seem to be advisable to understand completely each other’s views. Each of the nations resisting the courses of aggression now rampant in the world should endeavor to realize that the other nations are in the light of all considerations endeavoring to pursue the best possible courses and it therefore would seem to be desirable for each such nation to continue a resolute course in the present critical world situation.

You are authorized, if a favorable opportunity presents itself, to make oral use of the foregoing, or portions thereof, providing you believe that it might be helpful in commenting on the points raised by the Foreign Minister as reported in your telegram under reference.



Memorandum of a Conversation

 Washington, December 1, 1941.

The Japanese Ambassador and Mr. Kurusu called at their request at the Department. Mr. Kurusu said that he noted that the President was returning to Washington in advance of his schedule and inquired what the reason for this was. The Secretary indicated that one of the factors in the present situation was the loud talk of the Japanese Prime Minister. The Secretary added that the Prime Minister seemed to be in need of advice which would deter him from indulging in such talk at a time when the Ambassador was here talking about good relations. The Secretary then asked the Japanese how they felt about the general trend in the world situation, especially the situation in Libya and Russia. The Japanese Ambassador replied to the effect that their attention had been largely engrossed in the situation as between the United States and Japan. The Secretary observed that from our point of view we felt much interest in and were very much encouraged about the news from Libya and Russia and it looked as if we might be turning the corner into a more favorable situation.

The Ambassador and Mr. Kurusu endeavored to convince the Secre­tary that in this country we seem to take a more serious view of the Japanese Prime Minister’s utterances than was, warranted. Mr. Kurusu said that what the Prime Minister had done was nothing more than a ten‑minute broadcast. The Secretary pointed out that a broadcast was all the more effective. Mr. Kurusu said that the Prime Minister had been misquoted and asked whether we had heard anything from Ambassador Grew. The Secretary replied that we had heard nothing from Ambassador Grew and that we felt that the Associated Press was reliable and that we should give credence to its reports of what the Prime Minister said. Mr. Kurusu said that Japanese news services did not always correctly translate statements into English.

The Secretary said that he had been talking peace for nine months with the Japanese Ambassador, both of them acting in entire good faith. He said that during all the time that Matsuoka was holding forth on the Tripartite Alliance and engaging in general bluster, the Secretary had ignored all of that. Then while the talks were in progress last July the Japanese moved suddenly into Indochina with­out any advance notice to this Government, and possibly the Ambas­sador was not informed of the Japanese Government’s intention in advance. Then, too, the Secretary said, the Japanese press had been conducting a blustering campaign against the United States. The Secretary said that this Government had no idea of trying to bluff Japan and he saw no occasion for Japan’s trying to bluff us, and he emphasized that there is a limit beyond which we cannot go further and that one of these days we may reach a point when we cannot keep on as we are.

Mr. Kurusu said that the Japanese Government had been very much surprised at the reaction in this country to the Prime Minister’s state­ments and he would see to it that the Secretary was given a correct translation of the Prime Minister’s statements. He said he hoped we would get something from Ambassador Grew. He then said that he was pleased to inform the Secretary that the document we had given them on November 26 had been communicated to the Japanese Government, that the Japanese Government is giving the case study, and that within a few days the Japanese Government’s observation thereon would be communicated to us. He then said that the Jap­anese Government believed that the proposal which they submitted to us on November 20 was equitable and that full consideration had been given therein to the points of view taken by both sides in the conversations; that the Japanese Government finds it difficult to un­derstand the position taken by the Government of the United States; and that the proposal which we had communicated to them seemed to fail to take cognizance of the actual conditions in the Far East. He said that his Government directed him to inquire what was the ultimate aim of the United States in the conversations and to request this Government to make “deep reflection of this matter”. Mr. Kurusu said that the Japanese offer to withdraw its troops from southern Indochina still stands; that Japan has shown its extreme desire to promote a peaceful settlement.

The Secretary replied that we had to take into account the bellicose utterances emanating from Tokyo and that never would there be pos­sible any peaceful arrangements if such arrangements have to be based upon principles of force. He pointed out that the methods the Japanese are using in China are similar to those which are being adopted by Hitler to subjugate Europe. The Secretary said that he had called attention to that during the progress of our conversations and that we cannot lose sight of the movement by Hitler to seize one‑half of the world. He said that we believe that the Japanese militarists are moving in a similar direction to seize the other half of the earth, and that this Government cannot yield to anything of that kind. He explained that this is why we desire to work things out in a way that would promote peace, stability and prosperity and that this is why he has thus far made no complaint, notwithstanding the fact that the Japanese press has heaped filthy abuse on this country.

The Ambassador expressed the view that as a matter of fact there is not much difference between Japan’s idea of a co‑prosperity sphere and Pan‑Americanism, except that Japanese methods may be more primitive. He denied that it was Japan’s purpose to use force. The Secretary asked whether, when the Japanese Government was mov­ing on the territory of other countries, inch by inch by force, the Ambassador, thought that this was a part of our policy. The Ambas­sador replied that Japan was motivated by self‑defense in the same way as Britain had been motivated by her acts, for example, in Syria; that Japan needed rice and other materials at a time when she was being shut off by the United States and other countries and she had no alternative but to endeavor to obtain access to these materials.

The Secretary observed that the Japanese are saying that the United States has no right to interfere with what Japan is doing in eastern Asia; that when the Japanese keep their troops in Indochina this constitutes a menace to the South Sea area, irrespective of where in Indochina the troops are stationed; that the stationing of these troops in Indochina is making it necessary for. the United States and its friends to keep large numbers of armed forces immobilized in east Asia, and in this way Japan’s acts were having the effect of aiding Hitler. The Secretary reminded the Ambassador that he had made it clear to the Ambassador that we could not sit still while such developments were taking place.

The Ambassador commented that today war is being conducted, through the agency of economic weapons, that Japan was being squeezed, and that Japan must expand to obtain raw materials. The Secretary pointed out that we were selling Japan oil until Japan suddenly moved into Indochina; that he could not defend such a situ­ation indefinitely; and that the United States would give Japan all she wanted in the way of materials if Japan’s military leaders would only show that Japan intended to pursue a peaceful course. The Sec­retary emphasized that we do not propose to go into partnership with Japan’s military leaders; that he has not heard one whisper of peace from the Japanese military, only bluster and blood‑curdling threats. The Secretary added that he had been subjected to very severe criticism for his policy of patience but that he would not mind if only the Japanese Government could back him up.

The Secretary went on to enumerate various points in the Japanese proposal of November 20. He reminded the Ambassador that on November 22 he had promptly told the Ambassador that we could not sell oil to the Japanese Navy, although we might be prepared to consider the release of some oil for civilian purposes. He made it clear that this Government was anxious to help settle the China affair if the Japanese could reach a settlement in accordance with the basic principles which we had discussed in our conversations, and that under such circumstances we would be glad to offer our good offices. The Secretary went on to say that under. existing circum­stances, when Japan was tied in with the Tripartite Pact, Japan might just as well ask us to cease aiding Britain as to cease aiding China. He emphasized again that we can’t overlook Japan’s digging herself into Indochina, the effect of which is to create an increasing menace to America and her friends; that we can’t continue to take chances on the situation; and that we will not allow ourselves to be kicked out of the Pacific. The Secretary called attention to reports that we have received from the press and other sources of heavy Japanese troop movements into Indochina and endeavored to make it clear that, when a large Japanese army is anywhere in Indochina, we have to give that situation all the more attention when Japanese statesmen say that they will drive us out of east Asia. He pointed out that we cannot be sure what the Japanese military leaders are likely to do, that we do not know where the Japanese Army intends to land its forces, and that for this reason we cannot sit still but will have to puzzle these things out in some way. The Secretary explained that this situation had been very painful to him and he did not know whether the Ambassador could do anything in the matter of influ­encing the Japanese Government. Mr. Kurusu said that he felt it was a shame that nothing should come out of the efforts which the conversations of several months had represented. He said he felt that the two sides had once been near an agreement except for two or three points, but that our latest proposals seem to carry the two sides further away than before:

The Secretary pointed out that every time we get started in the direction of progress the Japanese military does something to over­turn us. The Secretary expressed grave doubts whether we could now get ahead in view of all the threats that had been made. He pointed out that the acts of the Japanese militarists had effectively tied the hands of the Ambassadors and he did not know whether the Am­bassadors could succeed in having anything accomplished toward untying their hands. Mr. Kurusu brought up again his contention made on previous occasions that China had taken advantage of the Washington Conference treaties to flaunt Japan, and commented that if we don’t look out China will sell both the United States and Japan down the river. The Secretary observed that h$ has been plowing through various contradictions in Japanese acts and utterances. He pointed out that the Japanese had been telling us that if something quick is not done something awful was about to happen; that they kept urging upon the Secretary the danger of delay, and kept press­ing the Secretary to do something. He said that in view of all the confusion, threats and pressure, he had been brought to the stage where he felt that something must be done to clear the foggy atmosphere; that his conclusion was that he must bring us back to fundamentals; and that these fundamentals were embodied in the proposal which we had offered the Japanese on November 26. He said that we have stood from the first on the points involved in this proposal. He pointed out that everything that Japan was doing and saying was in precisely the opposite direction from the course we have been talking about in our conversations, and that these should be reversed by his government before we can further seriously talk peace.

Mr. Kurusu endeavored to make some lame apology for the direct military mind of the Japanese Army and commented that General Tojo was in position to control the situation. The Secretary asked what possibility there was of peace‑minded people coming out in Japan and expressing themselves. He expressed doubt whether any­body in Japan would be free to speak unless he preached conquest. The Ambassador commented that the Japanese people are not talking about conquest. The Secretary pointed out that we all understand what are the implications of such terms as “controlling influence”, “new order in east Asia”, and “co‑prosperity sphere”. The Secretary observed that Hitler was using similar terms as synonyms for pur­poses of conquest. The Secretary went on to say that there was no reason for conflict between the United States and Japan, that there was no real clash of interests. He added that Japan does not have to use a sword to gain for herself a seat at the head of the table. He pointed out that equality of opportunity is in our opinion the key to the future peace and prosperity of all nations.

Mr. Kurusu disclaimed on the part of Japan any similarity between Japan’s purposes and Hitler’s purposes. The Ambassador pointed out that wars never settle anything and that war in the Pacific would be a tragedy, but he added that the Japanese people believe that the United States wants to keep Japan fighting with China and to keep Japan strangled. He said that the Japanese people feel that they are faced with the alternative of surrendering to the United States or of fighting. The Ambassador said that he was still trying to save the situation. The Secretary said that he has practically exhausted himself here, that the American people are going to assume that there is real danger to this country in the situation, and that there is nothing he can do to prevent it.

The Ambassadors said that they understood the Secretary’s position in the light of his statements and they would report the matter to the Japanese Government with a view to seeing what could be done.


U.S. Department of State (December 2, 1941)

740.0011 Pacific War/666: Telegram

The Consul General at Batavia to the Secretary of State

Batavia, December 2, 1941 — 4 p.m.
[Received 4:18 p.m.]


The Japanese steamship Husi (Fuji) left Surabaya November 29 for Keelung with 1,800 Japanese men, women and children evacuated from the Netherlands Indies. This leaves only 400 to 500 Japs in this country against about 7,000 on July 1. These evacuations have occurred since the beginning of the present American-Japanese discussions in Washington, but chiefly during the past 3 weeks.

A few days ago the Japanese Consul General warned all of his local nationals through various Japanese organizations that the Husi would be the last evacuation ship to visit this country and that evacuation was desired by the Japanese Government. Representatives of Japanese shipping companies, banks, retailers and other firms then met with the Japanese Consul General who emphasized the desire of his Government that evacuation proceed as quickly as possible. During this meeting the following decisions were made: all small shopkeepers to turn their stocks over to a large retailer and then evacuate, the large firm to retain only a skeleton staff to liquidate the business; all small importers to follow the same procedure; shipping companies to close branches in the Netherlands Indies and retain only a small staff at one main office; banks to ask for further instructions from Japan but Yokohama Specie Bank will probably be the only one to remain; Japanese plantations and Borneo Oil Company to retain only nucleus staffs; consular officers to remain except for women and children.

The general opinion, both official and civil, is that hostilities are unavoidable and that the Netherlands Indies will be attacked in the near future. All elements of the Netherlands Indies army were mobilized today in outer possessions but not in Java. On the other hand, all air force reservists were mobilized today throughout the Netherlands Indies. They will not be concentrated, however, but will remain at their home bases at least temporarily.

Local reaction to our discussions with Ambassadors Nomura and Kurusu is that time is being lost; that Japan must be fought and that it is dangerous to delay further; that Japan is in a hopeless position, being unable to retreat from her announced policies and that she must continue her aggressive policy unless stopped by force of arms.


740.0011 Pacific War/570: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom

Washington, December 2, 1941 — 9 p.m.


Existing communication channels and procedures are considered wholly adequate for the transmission of urgent and important information and for insuring that information of this character receives the prompt attention of the appropriate high authorities in Washington. These arrangements provide for communication between the Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet, and the Commander-in-Chief, British Chain station, the Commander-in-Chief of the Netherlands Navy and the Chief of the Netherlands Navy Department in the Netherlands East Indies. Arrangements have also been made for local cooperation on the spot between American army and navy intelligence officers and their British counterparts.

In view of the foregoing it is not believe that any new arrangements need be made.


892.6363/167: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Singapore

Washington, December 2, 1941 — 11 p.m.


In concurrence with the British Government we wish to facilitate the supply to Thailand under adequate control of certain quantities to be agreed upon of aviation grade gasoline and aviation grades of lubricating oils. A complete description of the arrangements tentatively agreed upon between this Government and representatives here of the British and Netherlands Governments will be cabled to you shortly. Completion of these plans may require several days, and meanwhile we wish to facilitate the immediate delivery of small quantities of appropriate grades of aviation lubricating oils to Thailand. We understand from the Standard Vacuum Oil Company in New York that it will be possible for them to ship by first boat approximately 15 tons of aviation grade lubricating oils from their own stocks at Singapore. While they will make their own arrangements with the Thai Government for the purchase of this material, we request that you communicate with the local representative of this oil company and render all assistance possible to expedite this delivery. It is requested that you discuss this arrangement with the British authorities at Singapore to insure against duplication and to facilitate issuance of export licenses. We understand that the British Government has already arranged to supply a limited quantity of aviation grade gasoline pending agreements referred to earlier for continued supplies.

The above information is being transmitted to the Legation at Bangkok.




Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations

Washington, December 2, 1941.

The attached copy of a message dated November 22 from the United States Treasury representative at Hong Kong contains statements based upon an interview with the former Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs in effect as follows:

  1. There are “pro-Axis” and “peace” groups in the Chinese Government which consider that in the “negotiations” between the United States and Japan, the United States will yield to Japan to a large extent, and which see in these “negotiations” opportunities to consolidate their own position for their special interests in China. The “pro-Axis” group tries to arrange peace with Japan through Germany; the “peace group” tries to bring about peace by direct bargaining with Japan.

  2. There is an anti-Axis group which hopes that the United States will itself bring about a peace involving the withdrawal of Japanese troops from North China.

  3. The third principal body of opinion in China is in favor of continued active resistance and believes that a maximum possibility of peace is less than 50%, that the United States will not let China “get worst of bargain.”



The Chinese Ambassador to the Adviser on Political Relations


In three telegrams dated November 27 and 28, Dr. Quo Tai-chi and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek expressed their confidence in the President and the Secretary of State and in the fundamental principles of their foreign policy.

Both of them have studied my long telegram of November 24 reporting the discussions between the Secretary and the four envoys at the office of the Secretary, and also my report of the conversation between the Secretary and myself in his apartment on the evening of the 25th. Both the Generalissimo and the Foreign Minister were reassured by the sympathetic and helpful spirit underlying these conversations.

They wished me to point out to the United States Government the following facts which, because of very great distance, might not have been fully appreciated on this side of the ocean:

  1. The almost incredibly great faith of the Chinese people in the efficacy of the economic pressure on our enemy which has been in force for the last four months is such that the mere rumor of any possibility of its relaxation has already begun to produce a truly panicky feeling throughout China.

  2. Such panicky feeling has been caused partly by Japanese propaganda which, during the past week (especially on November 24, 25, 26), had broadcast reports of an approaching general relaxation of freezing and trade restrictions by the United States and Japanese Governments on the understanding that Japan would undertake not to move southward and that the United States would not interfere with the war in China.

  3. The whole question is psychological and spiritual: It is a question of the morale of a whole people which has been fighting a very hard war for four years and a half, and which, in its hardship and long suffering, has pinned its great hope on the international situation turning in our favor and, in particular, on the economic sanctions that the democratic powers have been able to put into force during the last months. It is no exaggeration to say that this question fundamentally affects the spirit of our fighting forces and our people.

  4. In his telegram to me, the Foreign Minister tells me that the Government had information that a certain leader in the North (not specified by name) might be so shaken by a possible weakening of our international position as to make moves detrimental to the prosecution of our war of resistance.

Both Generalissimo Chiang and Dr. Quo want me to convey to the Secretary of State their observation that Japan has been so weakened by the long war in China and by the economic pressure of the democratic powers that she cannot afford to risk a war with the great naval powers.

In a latest telegram to me, Dr. Quo expresses great gratification in the latest reply of the Secretary to the Japanese envoys, which, he understands, reaffirms the fundamental principles repeatedly enunciated by the United States Government.


Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs

Washington, December 2, 1941.

Question whether the Department should release to the public the text of the documents handed to the Japanese Ambassador on November 26

It is difficult to come to a definite conclusion in regard to the question of the advisability of making public the documents which the Secretary handed to the Japanese Ambassador on November 26 until decision shall first have been arrived at on several other important questions. Among these questions are:

  1. Whether this Government decides not to tolerate further and new steps of aggression by Japan; and

  2. Whether the President is to send a message to Congress on the Far Eastern situation and, if so, when.

The principal argument in favor of making the documents public is that the American public would be informed thereby of the full scope of the reply made by this Government to the Japanese Government, and the American public would be enabled to see for itself that this Government was taking a stand foursquare with the fundamental principles in which this country believes.

The disadvantages in making public the documents in question at this time may be outlined as follows:

  1. The press in this country and the American public would construe the documents as something in the nature of an ultimatum to Japan, whereas they are now regarded as matters presented for consideration by the Japanese Government.

  2. The statement in the documents that Japan will withdraw all her armed forces from China would, if made public at this time, be construed by China as a commitment on the part of the United States to see that that was accomplished. Moreover, there is no reference in the documents presented to the Japanese to the question of Manchuria, and China would almost certainly contend that the language as used in the documents presented to the Japanese Ambassador committed the United States to insisting that all Japanese armed forces be withdrawn from Manchuria and that Manchuria be regarded as all other parts of China. Any such claims on China’s part would not be legally warranted by the language used in the documents under reference. However, that China would make use of the language along the lines indicated seems clear beyond doubt.

  3. To make public at this time the text of the provision relating to the Tripartite Alliance would afford Germany a useful pretext toward influencing Japan to closer association with Germany. Even should we come to the point of war with Japan, it seems to me advisable that in our broad strategy we endeavor in so far as practicable to keep alive dissatisfaction and animosity between Germany and Japan.

The making public at this time of the documents handed the Japanese Ambassador will not, it is believed, “kill” the story that for a brief period this Government was giving tentative consideration to some sort of a temporary modus vivendi with Japan. It is believed, further, that the American people in general believe that the Government is taking a strong stand in discussions with Japan.

If this country should become involved in hostilities with Japan, practically all objection to making public the documents under reference would disappear. Even then, however, it would seem advisable to make those documents public not by themselves but along with other documents giving a fairly complete account of the entire conversations.

In the meantime, if it should be felt that further publicity need be given to the contents of the documents under reference, it is suggested that the substance of the documents might be communicated orally to American correspondents as background.


Memorandum of a Conversation

Washington, December 2, 1941.

After calling on Mr. Ballantine by appointment Mr. Terasaki asked if he might have a short chat with Mr. Schmidt.

Mr. Terasaki said that he had been greatly distressed by the newspaper reports of the so-called Tojo speech on November 30 and handed Mr. Schmidt a copy of the document he had previously given Mr. Ballantine (a copy is attached). Mr. Terasaki said that he had, immediately after noticing the press reaction in this country to the statements attributed to Premier Tojo, telegraphed to his Government deprecating remarks of that sort by the Prime Minister during the course of conversations here in Washington. Mr. Terasaki said that both he and his Government had been “flabbergasted” and went on to say that he had been greatly relieved to receive last night from Tokyo the message he had given Mr. Ballantine and Mr. Schmidt.

Stating that his remarks were confidential and off the record Mr. Terasaki said that when Mr. Kurusu had talked with Mr. Yamamoto, Chief of the American Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Office, last Sunday night and had referred to the speech which General Tojo had made, Mr. Yamamoto had been nonplused and had asked “What speech?"

Mr. Terasaki referred to his request to Mr. Ballantine that Mr. Ballantine inform him as to the manner in which the Department desired the Japanese explanation of General Tojo’s speech to be made public. Mr. Terasaki asked Mr. Schmidt if he would remind Mr. Ballantine to get in touch with Mr. Terasaki as soon as he had any information on this subject.



Statement Handed by the First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy to Mr. Joseph W. Ballantine

December 2, 1941

The so-called speech of Premier Hideki Tojo was originally drafted by members of the office staff of the East Asia Restoration League, a non-governmental organization of which Mr. Tojo happens to be President, as a congratulatory address to be delivered on November 30, on the occasion commemorating the first anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty Concerning the Basic Relations between Japan and China, under the auspices of the said League.

However, November 30 happened to be Sunday; the League staff gave out the manuscript to the newspaper reporters upon their request on the night of November 29 (Saturday), before the said draft was examined by either the Premier himself or other Government officials, and this unapproved manuscript was printed in the metropolitan newspapers.

As a matter of fact, the Premier himself made no speech of any kind on the 30th. Moreover, neither the Premier nor other government authorities had any knowledge as to the content of the said speech.

It should further be noted that the reported statement:

For the honor and pride of mankind we must purge this sort of practice from East Asia with a vengeance.

…is a mistranslation of the original text. There is, in the original text, no such expression as “purge” or “with a vengeance.” The correct translation of the statement should be:

For the honor and pride of mankind, this sort of practice must be removed.


Memorandum of a Conversation

Washington, December 2, 1941.

The Under Secretary said that the Secretary was absent from the Department because of a slight indisposition and that the President had therefore asked Mr. Welles to request the Japanese Ambassador and Mr. Kurusu to call to receive a communication which the President wished to make to them. Mr. Welles then read to Their Excellencies the following statement (a copy of which was handed to the Ambassador):

I have received reports during the past days of continuing Japanese troop movements to southern Indochina. These reports indicate a very rapid and material increase in the forces of all kinds stationed by Japan in Indochina.

It was my clear understanding that by the terms of the agreement — and there is no present need to discuss the nature of that agreement — between Japan and the French Government at Vichy that the total number of Japanese forces permitted by the terms of that agreement to be stationed in Indochina was very considerably less than the total amount of the forces already there.

The stationing of these increased Japanese forces in Indochina would seem to imply the utilization of these forces by Japan for purposes of further aggression, since no such number of forces could possibly be required for the policing of that region. Such aggression could conceivably be against the Philippine Islands; against the many islands of the East Indies; against Burma; against Malaya or either through coercion or through the actual use of force for the purpose of undertaking the occupation of Thailand. Such new aggression would, of course, be additional to the acts of aggression already undertaken against China, our attitude towards which is well known, and has been repeatedly stated to the Japanese Government.

Please be good enough to request the Japanese Ambassador and Ambassador Kurusu to inquire at once of the Japanese Government what the actual reasons may be for the steps already taken, and what I am to consider is the policy of the Japanese Government as demonstrated by this recent and rapid concentration of troops in Indochina. This Government has seen in the last few years in Europe a policy on the part of the German Government which has involved a constant and steady encroachment upon the territory and rights of free and independent peoples through the utilization of military steps of the same character. It is for that reason and because of the broad problem of American defense that I should like to know the intention of the Japanese Government.

The Japanese Ambassador said that he was not informed by the Japanese Government of its intentions and could not speak authoritatively on the matter but that of course he would communicate the statement immediately to his Government. Mr. Kurusu said that, in view of Japan’s offer of November 20 to transfer all its forces from southern Indochina to northern Indochina, it was obvious no threat against the United States was intended. Both Mr. Kurusu and the Ambassador endeavored to explain that owing to lack of adequate land communication facilities in Indochina a rapid transfer of forces from northern to southern Indochina for purposes of aggression against countries neighboring southern Indochina could not be easily effected. Mr. Kurusu asked whether the reports to which the President referred were from our authorities. Mr. Welles said that he was not in position to say any more on that point than was contained in the statement.

The Ambassador said that it appeared to him that the measures which Japan was taking were natural under the circumstances, as the strengthening of armaments and of military dispositions by one side naturally leads to increasing activity by the other side. Mr. Welles stated that, as the Japanese Ambassador must be fully aware, this Government has not had any aggressive intention against Japan. The Ambassador said that, while he did not wish to enter into a debate on the matter, he wished to point out that the Japanese people believe that economic measures are a much more effective weapon of war than military measures; that they believe they are being placed under severe pressure by the United States to yield to the American position; and that it is preferable to fight rather than to yield to pressure. The Ambassador added that this was a situation in which wise statesmanship was needed; that wars do not settle anything; and that under the circumstances some agreement, even though it is not satisfactory, is better than no agreement at all.

Mr. Welles pointed out that the settlement which we are offering Japan is one which would assure Japan of peace and the satisfaction of Japan’s economic needs much more certainly than any other alternative which Japan might feel was open to her.

Mr. Kurusu said that having just recently arrived from Japan he could speak more accurately of the frame of mind which is prevalent in Japan than could the Ambassador. He dwelt briefly upon the reaction which has been caused in Japan by our freezing measures and he said that this produces a frame of mind which has to be taken into account.

Mr. Welles pointed out that, as the Ambassadors must fully understand, there is a frame of mind in this country also which must be taken into account, and that frame of mind is produced by the effect of four years of the measures taken by Japan in China causing the squeezing out of American interests in Japanese-occupied areas. Mr. Kurusu then repeated what he had said two or three times previously about the effect of the Washington Conference treaties upon China which had caused China to flaunt Japan’s rights. He said that in view of the actual situation in the Far East there were points in our proposal of November 26 which the Japanese Government would find it difficult to accept. Mr. Welles asked whether we may expect shortly a reply from the Japanese Government on our proposal. The Ambassador replied in the affirmative, but said that it might take a few days in view of the important questions which it raised for the Japanese Government. Mr. Kurusu expressed the hope that the American Government would exercise cool judgment in its consideration of questions under discussion between the two Governments. Mr. Welles said that we are asking for cool judgment on the part of Japanese statesmen.

Then Mr. Kurusu said that the Japanese felt that we had made real progress in our discussions and that the Japanese Government had been hopeful of being able to work out with us some settlement of the three outstanding points on which our draft of June 21 and the Japanese draft of September 25 had not been reconciled. He asked whether the Secretary would be willing to consider resuming our efforts to reconcile our differences on those three points, in view of all the progress that had been made, instead of approaching the problem from a new angle as we had done in our latest proposal which seemed to the Japanese Government to require a completely fresh start.

Mr. Welles said that our proposal of November 26 represented an effort to restate our complete position, as it has always stood. He said, however, that he would be glad to refer to the Secretary Mr. Kurusu’s suggestion.


Japanese Foreign Office (December 2, 1941)


From: Tokyo (Togo)
To: Washington 
December 2, 1941 


#867. (Strictly Secret)

  1. Among the telegraphic codes with which your office is equipped burn all but those now used with the machine and one copy each of “O” code (Oite) and abbreviating code (L). (Burn also the various other codes which you have in your custody.)

  2. Stop at once using one code machine unit and destroy it completely.

  3. When you have finished this, wire me back the one word “haruna.”

  4. At the time and in the manner you deem most proper dispose of all files of messages coming and going and all other secret documents.

  5. Burn all the codes which Telegraphic Official KOSAKA brought you. (Hence, the necessity of getting in contact with Mexico mentioned in my #860 [a] is no longer recognized)

Army 25640 Translated 12-3-41 (X) Corrected 12-4-41

[a] S.I.S. #25550 in which Tokyo wires Washington advising them to have KOSAKA return to Japan on the Tatsuta Maru which sails on the 28th. If this makes it impossible for KOSAKA to make his trip to Mexico, make some other arrangements with regard to KOSAKA's business in Mexico.


From: Tokyo (Togo)
To: Havana 
December 2, 1941 
J 19-K 9 
Circular #2445 Strictly secret.

Take great pains that this does not leak out.

You are to take the following measures immediately:

  1. With the exception of one copy of the O and L code, you are to burn all telegraph codes (this includes the code books for communication between the three departments and the code books for Army and Navy communication).

  2. As soon as you have completed this operation, wire the one word Haruna.

  3. Burn all secret documents and the work sheets on this message.

  4. Be especially careful not to arouse the suspicion of those on the outside. Confidential documents are all to be given the same handling.

The above is preparatory to an emergency situation and is for your information alone. Remain calm _ _ _ _ _ _ .

Also sent to Ottawa, Vancouver, Panama, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Seattle and Portland.

Army 25879                                            Trans. 12/8/41 (3)


From: Bern (Mitani)
To: Ankara
December 2, 1941
J 19-K 9
(Tokyo Circular #2447)

Orders have been issued to our diplomatic officials in North America (including Manila), Canada, Panama, Cuba, the South Seas (including Timor), Singora, Chienmai, and to all our officials in British (including our Embassy in London) and Netherlands territory to inform me immediately upon the burning of all their telegraphic codes except one copy of Oite and “L”.

Relay from Berlin to Lisbon, Helsinki, Budapest and Vienna; from Rome to Bucharest, _ _ _ _; relay from Berne to Vichy, Ankara, Lisbon, Madrid; relay from Rio to Buenos Aires, Lima, Santiago, _ _ _ _, Mexico, Panama, Bogota; relay from Bangkok to Hanoi, Saigon; relay from Canton to Haihow, _ _ _ _ .

Army 25837                                           Trans. 12/16/41 (M)