President Roosevelt's message to Emperor Hirohito of Japan (12-6-41)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D-NY) Emperor Showa Hirohito O Norman

Almost a century ago the President of the United States addressed to the Emperor of Japan a message extending an offer of friendship of the people of the United States to the people of Japan. That offer was accepted, and in the long period of unbroken peace and friendship which has followed, our respective nations, through the virtues of their peoples and the wisdom of their rulers have prospered and have substantially helped humanity.

Only in situations of extraordinary importance to our two countries need I address to Your Majesty messages on matters of state. I feel I should now so address you because of the deep and far-reaching emergency which appears to be in formation.

Developments are occurring in the Pacific area which threaten to deprive each of our nations and all humanity of the beneficial influence of the long peace between our two countries. Those developments contain tragic possibilities.

The people of the United States, believing in peace and in the right of nations to live and let live, have eagerly watched the conversations between our two Governments during these past months. We have hoped for a termination of the present conflict between Japan and China. We have hoped that a peace of the Pacific could be consummated in such a way that nationalities of many diverse peoples could exist side by side without fear of invasion; that unbearable burdens of armaments could be lifted for them all; and that all peoples would resume commerce without discrimination against or in favor of any nation.

I am certain that it will be clear to Your Majesty, as it is to me, that in seeking these great objectives both Japan and the United States should agree to eliminate any form of military threat. This seemed essential to the attainment of the high objectives.

More than a year ago Your Majesty’s Government concluded an agreement with the Vichy Government by which five or six thousand Japanese troops were permitted to enter into Northern French Indochina for the protection of Japanese troops which were operating against China further north. And this Spring and Summer the Vichy Government permitted further Japanese military forces to enter into Southern French Indochina for the common defense of French Indochina. I think I am correct in saying that no attack has been made upon Indochina, nor that any has been contemplated.

During the past few weeks it has become clear to the world that Japanese military, naval and air forces have been sent to Southern Indochina in such large numbers as to create a reasonable doubt on the part of other nations that this continuing concentration in Indochina is not defensive in its character.

Because these continuing concentrations in Indochina have reached such large proportions and because they extend now to the southeast and the southwest corners of that Peninsula, it is only reasonable that the people of the Philippines, of the hundreds of Islands of the East Indies, of Malaya and of Thailand itself are asking themselves whether these forces of Japan are preparing or intending to make attack in one or more of these many directions.

I am sure that Your Majesty will understand that the fear of all these peoples is a legitimate fear in as much as it involves their peace and their national existence. I am sure that Your Majesty will understand why the people of the United States in such large numbers look askance at the establishment of military, naval and air bases manned and equipped so greatly as to constitute armed forces capable of measures of offense.

It is clear that a continuance of such a situation is unthinkable.

None of the peoples whom I have spoken of above can sit either indefinitely or permanently on a keg of dynamite.

There is absolutely no thought on the part of the United States of invading Indochina if every Japanese soldier or sailor were to be withdrawn therefrom.

I think that we can obtain the same assurance from the Governments of the East Indies, the Governments of Malaya and the Government of Thailand. I would even undertake to ask for the same assurance on the part of the Government of China. Thus a withdrawal of the Japanese forces from Indochina would result in the assurance of peace throughout the whole of the South Pacific area.

I address myself to Your Majesty at this moment in the fervent hope that Your Majesty may, as I am doing, give thought in this definite emergency to ways of dispelling the dark clouds. I am confident that both of us, for the sake of the peoples not only of our own great countries but for the sake of humanity in neighboring territories, have a sacred duty to restore traditional amity and prevent further death and destruction in the world.

Brooklyn Eagle (December 7, 1941)

FDR sends appeal to Hirohito in final move to avert war

Japan intimates collapse of peace talks imminent


Washington, Dec. 6 (INS) –
President Roosevelt, in a desperate, last-hour attempt to avert outbreak of a major conflict in the Pacific, tonight addressed a personal message to Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

Tokyo, Dec. 7 (UP) –
Japan indicated early today that she stands on the verge of abandoning efforts to achieve settlement of the Pacific crisis by diplomatic negotiation at Washington.

At the same time, warnings circulated that Soviet Russia – with an estimated Far Eastern army of 840,000 – has swung in with America, Britain, China, Holland and the British Dominions in a united front against Japan.

The press, bellwether of Japanese opinion, thundered that the moment of supreme sacrifice was at hand. A government spokesman said Japan’s “patience” may be tried only a little longer.

Japanese economic preparations against what is called the “open strengthening of anti-Japanese encirclement” were believed completed with adjournment of a highly significant meeting of 300 top Japanese industrial and business leaders who comprise the East Asia Economic Council.

Russia seen as new enemy

The sensational report that Russia is casting her lot with the so-called ABCD powers appeared in the newspaper Hochi which attributed it to “undisclosed Tokyo quarters.”

The Japanese press is under closest government censorship. It was presumed that Hochi’s report had the approval of the government if it did not in fact emanate from government quarters.

Hochi said that Russia has decided to abandon her neutrality policy in the Far East which has been based on the Russo-Japanese pact signed last spring.

Instead, Hochi said, Russia is throwing its lot in with the United States, having interpreted the statement of Secretary of State Cordell Hull at Washington on the U.S.-Japanese negotiations as presaging open war between Japan and America and an increase of military forces in the Far East “irrespective of European defeats” of the democratic powers.

The imminent arrival of Maxim Litvinov, the new Soviet Ambassador to the United States at Washington, was said to increase the prospect of Russia’s participation in moves against Japan.

The newspaper estimated the strength of the Russian red banner Far Eastern armies at 840,000 men, despite reported transfers of some Soviet troops from the Eastern theater to the Western front.

The statement that Japan’s “patience” is drawing to an end was made by Lt. Gen. Teiichi Suzuki, president of the cabinet planning board in an address to the East Asia Economic Council.

He said:

Japan’s patience will no longer be necessary in event the countries hostile to peace in East Asia – countries whose identity now is becoming absolutely clear – attempt to continue and increase Far Eastern disturbances.

We Japanese are tensely watching whether or not President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill will commit the epoch-making crime of further extending the world upheaval.

Session called most vital

The council’s session was regarded as of most importance. It concluded its deliberations with the statement that:

No matter how intensified are the efforts of the hostile powers to hamper the project construction of the new order in East Asia, we will repulse them thereby striving for lasting prosperity in East Asia.

The council represents the top Japanese industrialists of Japan, Manchukuo, China and Mongolia and was believed to have completed plans for Japanese self-sufficiency in event of extension of the encirclement threat.

The Dōmei News Agency declared that the next move by the United States, whatever that might be, will decide the fate of Japanese-American negotiations. It reiterated that Tokyo is unable to accept what is called here “American fantastic ideals” with regard to the Pacific.

Dōmei took the view that President Roosevelt’s inquiry regarding Japanese intentions in French Indochina was designed to sound out Japan’s real intentions and said Japan:

…is sternly watching the United States’ next move while on the other hand not neglecting its vigilance. The ABCD fronts are frantically strengthening themselves in the southwestern Pacific. The fact that the government is displaying an invincible attitude is most reassuring.

The press took the line that the White House had ignored diplomatic practice in releasing Japan’s reply to Mr. Roosevelt’s inquiry and thus was seeking to place the blame on Japan for the collapse of negotiations.

Press sees situation as grave

All newspapers said the situation was exceedingly grave. Government quarters declined comment on Washington’s release of the Japanese reply, they did not say whether Japan is replying to Hull’s declaration of the fundamentals on which a Pacific settlement must be based.

Nichi Nichi said the British pressure in Thailand is increasing and that:

…the time for alteration of the Thai government’s neutrality is believed at hand.

The NYK Line ordered its branches in Singapore and Bombay closed. The government approved the request of the Japanese minister to Mexico to return home to attend to personal affairs. The action had no political significance.

The government appointed Col. Tadafumi Waki and Col. Kosei Uchida assistant military attachés to the Washington Embassy, replacing the attachés previously returned to Japan.