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Magic Backgraound of Pearl Harbor Volume II

(May 12, 1941—August 6, 1941)

PDF Version [100.2MB]

Magic Background of Pearl Harbor cover image



(May 12, 1941—August 6, 1941)

Department of Defense

United States of America

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, DC 20402 (8-part set; sold in sets only)



Outline of Volume 2
PART A HULL-NOMURA CONVERSATIONS (May 12, 1941-August 6, 1941) 3
1. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 12, 1941) 3
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 3
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 5
2. Revisions of the Japanese Proposal 5
3. Ambassador Nomura Attempts to Restrain Mr. Matsuoka 6
4. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 14, 1941) 6
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 6
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 7
5. Ambassador Grew Interviews Mr. Matsuoka 8
6. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 16, 1941) 9
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 9
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 10
7. Axis Nations Notified of Hull-Nomura Conversations 10
8. Mr. Matsuoka Disavows Threats to Ambassador Grew 10
9. American Newspaper Divulges Points of Hull-Nomura Conversations 11
10. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 20, 1941) 11
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 11
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 12
11. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 21, 1941) 13
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 13
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 14
12. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Rebukes Ambassador Nomura 14
13. Japan Seizes American Goods En route to Chungking 15
14. Radio Address of President Roosevelt (May 27, 1941) 15
15. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 28, 1941) 16
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 16
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 17
16. Mr. Matsuoka Requests American Pressure on China 18
17. Publicity Leaks Concerning the Hull-Nomura Conversations 18
18. Special Committee Meeting (May 30, 1941) 19
19. The United States Submits a Proposal to Ambassador Nomura (May 31, 1941) 19
20. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 2, 1941) 20
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 20
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 20
21. Special Committee Meeting (June 4, 1941) 20
22. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 6, 1941) 21
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 21
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 22
23. Tokyo Grows Impatient at the Delay of the United States' Answer 23
24. Luncheon of Japanese-American Diplomats (June 9, 1941) 23
25. Dissension Among Japanese in Washington 24
26. Mr. Matsuoka Reaffirms Japanese Allegiance to the Tripartite Pact 25
27. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 15, 1941) 26
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 26
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 26
28. Special Committee Meeting (June 15, 1941) 27
29. Special Committee Meeting (June 16, 1941) 27
30. Special Committee Meeting (June 17, 1941) 28


31. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 21, 1941) 29
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 29
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 30
32. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 22, 1941) 31
  (a) Secretary Hull's Report 31
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 32
33. Ambassador Nomura Defends His Actions 32
34. Ambassador Nomura Urges the Adoption of the "Understanding" 33
35. Tokyo Warns Its Diplomats of a Crisis 33
36. America's Attitude Toward the German-Russian War on July 1, 1941 33
37. Special Committee Meeting (July 2, 1941) 34
38. Japan Decides to Move Southward and Act in Accordance with the Tripartite Pact 36
39. Ambassador Nomura Urges Japan Not to Act in Accordance with the Tripartite Pact 36
40. Ambassador Nomura Reassures Secretary Hull 36
41. Interview with Ambassador Nomura 36
  (a) State Department's Report 36
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 38
42. Ambassador Nomura Analyzes President Roosevelt's Diplomatic Activities 38
43. Mr. Matsuoka Replies to President Roosevelt 39
44. Ambassador Nomura Reports German-British Peace Negotiations 39
45. Secretary Hull Refutes Ambassador Nomura's Report 40
46. Ambassador Nomura Pleads for Speedier Action from Tokyo 41
47. Ambassador Nomura Requests Permission to Return Home (July 10, 1941) 42
48. Mr. Matsuoka Again Rebukes Ambassador Nomura (July 11, 1941) 43
49. Ambassador Nomura Replies to the Rebuke of the Foreign Minister (July 14, 1941) 45
50. Interview with Ambassador Nomura (July 14, 1941) 46
  (a) State Department's Report 46
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 46
51. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Condemns the Oral Statement and Attacks Ambassador Nomura (July 14, 1941) 47
52. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Submits New Proposals (July 14, 1941) 48
53. Interview with Ambassador Nomura (July 15, 1941) 49
  (a) State Department's Report 49
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 50
54. Ambassador Grew Delivers an Oral Statement to the Japanese Foreign Office 51
55. Dissolution of the Japanese Cabinet (July 17, 1941) 51
56. Mr. Wakasugi Confers with Mr. Hamilton (July 16, 1941) 51
57. Japanese Foreign Office Delivers Oral Statement to Ambassador Grew 52
58. Mr. Wakasugi Returns the American Oral Statement of June 21, 1941 52
59. Welles-Nomura Conversation (July 18, 1941) 53
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report 53
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 53
60. Mr. Wakasugi Explains the Nature of the Japanese-American Negotiations to Tokyo 53
61. Ambassador Nomura Requests Instructions from the New Japanese Cabinet 54
62. Ambassador Nomura Visits Rear Admiral Richard K. Turner 55
63. Mr. Wakasugi Visits Acting Secretary of State Welles 56
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report 56
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 57
64. Welles-Nomura Conversation (July 23, 1941) 57
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report 57
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 59
65. Tokyo Informs Ambassador Nomura that Japan Will Occupy Part of French Indo-China 59
66. Details of the Secret Japanese-French Agreement 60
67. Tokyo Assures the United States of Its Peaceful Intentions Despite the Occupation of French Indo-China 61
68. Roosevelt-Nomura Conversation (July 24, 1941) 62
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report 62
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 63


69. Mr. Wakasugi Confers with Mr. Hamilton (July 25, 1941) 65
70. Ambassador Nomura's Relations with Admiral Stark, U. S. N. 65
71. Japanese-American Conversation 66
  (a) State Department Report 66
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 66
72. Ambassador Nomura Decides to Send Mr. Wakasugi and Colonel Iwakuro to Japan 66
73. Attempts to Preserve Peace 67
74. The United States Freezes Japanese Assets (July 25, 1941) 67
75. Ambassador Grew Visits Foreign Minister Toyoda (July 25, 1941) 68
  (a) Ambassador Grew's Report 68
  (b) Foreign Minister Toyoda's Report 68
76. Ambassador Grew Visits Foreign Minister Toyoda (July 26, 1941) 69
  (a) Ambassador Grew's Report 69
  (b) Foreign Minister Toyoda's Report 69
77. Ambassador Grew Visits Foreign Minister Toyoda (July 27, 1941) 70
  (a) Ambassador Grew's Report 70
  (b) Foreign Minister Toyoda's Report 70
78. Welles-Nomura Conversation (July 28, 1941) 71
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report 71
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 71
79. Ambassador Nomura Warns Tokyo of the Dangers of War 72
80. The United States Restricts Japanese Economic Activities 72
81. The Bombing of the Tutuila (July 30, 1941) 72
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report 72
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 73
82. Ambassador Nomura Warns Tokyo of the Seriousness of the Tutuila Affair 73
83. Ambassador Nomura Suggests that Japan Discontinue the Bombing of Chungking 73
84. Tokyo Orders the Discontinuance of Bombing at Chungking 74
85. Ambassador Nomura Reports British-German Peace Negotiations 74
86. Welles-Nomura Conversation(July 31, 1941) 75
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report 75
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 75
87. Japan Explains to Germany Its Policy in the Hull-Nomura Conference 75
88. Tokyo Decides to Continue the Hull-Nomura Conversations 76
89. Ambassador Nomura Consults an American Cabinet Member 77
90. Ambassador Nomura Analyzes American Economic Restrictions Against Japan 77
91. Ambassador Nomura Requests the Assistance of Ambassador Kurusu 78
92. Welles-Wakasugi Interview (August 4, 1941) 78
  (a) Acting Secretary Welles Report 78
  (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 80
93. Japanese Reports from the United States 82
94. Japanese Reports from the Panama Canal 83
95. Japanese Reports from Cuba 84
96. Japanese Reports from the Philippine Islands 84
97. Japanese Reports from the Hawaiian Islands 86
98. Ambassador Nomura Reports Anti-Convoy Feeling in America 87
99. Japanese Reports on World Reaction to President Roosevelt's Speech of May 27, 1941 87
  (a) United States 87
  (b) Italy 88


  (c) China 88
  (d) Portugal 88
100. Japanese Scrutinizes Passenger Lists 89
101. Japanese Speculations as to Entry of the United States into War 89
102. Incidents Disturbing Japanese-American Relations 89
  (a) The Okada Incident 89
  (b) The Tachibana Incident 90
  (c) Restrictions on Gasoline Exports to Japan 90
  (d) Compromise of Japanese Codes 90
  (e) American Missionaries in Korea 91
103. Japan Fears American Seizure of Its Vessels 91
104. Japan Analyzes the Silver Shirts Movement 95
105. Japan Attempts to Employ American Negroes as Spies 95
106. Rumors of a British-German Peace 96
107. Japan Reports on American Industrial Expansion 96
108. Japanese Interest in Russian-American Friendship 96
109. Japanese Security Precautions 96
110. Japan Establishes an Espionage Net in Mexico to Acquire Intelligence from the United States 98
111. Japan Seeks Essential Military Supplies in Mexico 99
112. Japanese Apprehension Concerning the Prospective Effects of the American-Mexican Negotiations 99
113. Japan Establishes Espionage Routes from the United States to Mexico 100
114. Japanese Plans to Operate A Secret Radio in Mexico 102
115. Japanese Concern with Mexico's Pro-American Attitude 102
116. Japan Considers the Evacuation of Its Nationals in the United States 103
117. Japan Attempts to Exert Economic Pressure Against Mexico 103
118. Japanese Reaction to American-Mexican Agreement (July 15, 1941) 104
119. Diplomatic Protection of Japanese Funds in Mexico 104
120. Japan Acquires Intelligence Concerning the United States 106
121. Alleged American Economic and Political Pressure in South America 107
  (a) Brazil 107
  (b) Chile 108
  (c) Argentina 108
  (d) Ecuador-Peru 109
  (e) Colombia 109
  (f) Venezuela 109
122. Japanese Security Precautions 110
123. Minor Incidents Disrupt Japanese-British Relations 110
124. Japan Recalls Ambassador Shigemitsu from London 111
125. Japanese Interest in British-German Peace Talk 111
126. Japanese Reports on British Shipping 112
127. Japan Protests British Aid to China 112
128. Japan's Anxiety Concerning British-Russian Relations 112
129. Britain Inquires About Japanese Attitude Toward the German-Russian War 113
130. Japan Fears British Seizure of Its Ships (July 25, 1941) 113
131. Japan Protests British Reconnaissance in Far East 113
132. Ambassador Craigie Unsuccessfully Urges Japan to Uphold Far Eastern Peace 114
133. Canada Terminates Existing Commercial Treaty With Japan 114
134. Germany and Italy Explain the Hess Flight 115
135. Japan Suspects a Move for British-German Peace 115
136. Ambassador Oshima Analyzes Germany's Plans 117
137. Ambassador Oshima Rebukes Foreign Minister Matsuoka 117


138. Germany Attempts to Offset Japanese-American Negotiations 118
139. Germany and Italy Disturbed by Japanese-American Negotiations 118
140. Germany Alleges That Mr. Matsuoka Promised Japan's Aid in a War Against Russia 119
141. Japan Stresses Its Allegiance to Axis 120
142. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Attempts to Prevent German-Russian War 121
143. Japan Informs Its Diplomats of the Japanese-American Negotiations 122
144. Japan Loses by Economic Collaboration With Germany 122
145. Strengthening of Japanese-German Political Ties 123
146. Japanese-Italian Collaboration 123
147. Japanese Estimate of German Strength (June 3, 1941) 123
148. Germany Protests Against Criticism by Japanese Press 124
149. Croatia Signs the Tripartite Pact 124
150. Japan Assists an Axis-Supported Indian Revolutionary 124
151. Germany's Attitude Toward Portugal (June 1941) 124
152. Japan Congratulates Germany on the Fall of Crete 125
153. Vichy Begins to Collaborate with Germany 125
154. Great Britain Opposes Vichy 126
155. Japanese Concern Over British Control of Iraq 126
156. Turkey Signs Commercial Agreement with Germany 126
157. Japan Persuades Germany to Eliminate Pro-Chinese German Officials 127
158. German Merchants Seek Chinese Markets 127
159. Japan Seeks a German-Nanking Commercial Agreement 128
160. Japan Reports a Lull in Japanese-American Negotiations 128
161. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Resigns (July 18, 1941) 128
162. Japan Retaliates Against the American Freezing Order 129
163. Ambassador Oshima Attempts to Change Japan's Policy 129
164. Rumor of Russia Withdrawing Its Troops From German Borders (May 1941) 130
165. Russia Restricts the Transportation of War Materials 130
166. Russia Seeks to Avoid War With Germany 130
167. European Observers Predict a German-Russian War 131
168. Japanese-Russian Trade Agreement (June 9, 1941) 131
169. Japanese-Russian Agreement as to Boundary Lines (June 10, 1941) 132
170. Russia Supplies Essential Materials to Germany 133
171. Germany's Demands on Russia 133
172. Japanese Diplomats Urge Russia to Accept German Demands 133
173. German Leaders Warn Japan of the Coming War 134
174. Germany Denies Negotiating with Russia 134
175. Prospects of an Anglo-Russian Oil Agreement 135
176. Ambassador Tatekawa in Moscow Doubts the Possibility of a German-Russian War (June 16, 1941) 135
177. Ambassador Oshima Warns of the Imminence of the Russian-German War 135
178. Japanese-Russian Financial Relations Remain Stable 136
179. Japan Denies Its Friendly Relations With Russia Have Inconvenienced Germany 136
180. Germany Attacks Russia (June 22, 1941) 136
181. Japan Assures Germany of Its Support of the Axis 137
182. Japan Investigates a German-British Rapprochement 137
183. Japan Gauges World Reaction to the Russo-German Conflict 138
  (a) Great Britain 138
  (b) United States 138
  (c) Spain 139
  (d) Sweden 139
  (e) Finland 139
  (f) Manchukuo 139
  (g) China 141
  (h) Turkey 142
  (i) Hungary 142


  (j) India 142
184. Japan Is Warned of Soviet Strength 143
185. Russia Seeks Japan's Support of the Neutrality Pact 143
186. Ambassador Tatekawa Urges Support of Neutrality Pact 145
187. Germany Seeks Active Support for the Tripartite Pact 145
188. Japanese Ambassadors in Rome and Berlin Urge Support of Germany 145
189. Japan Decides Against Intervention in German-Russian War 146
190. Germany Displeased With Japan's Non-Intervention 147
191. Japanese Reports on Progress of Russo-German War 147
  (a) Report from Moscow 147
  (b) Report from Vladivostok 148
  (c) Report from Berlin 149
  (d) Report from Hsinking, Manchuria 150
  (e) Report from Ankara, Turkey 151
  (f) Report from Stockholm, Sweden 151
192. Japan Assists in Exchange of Embassy Officials by Belligerent Powers 151
193. Germany Demands Withdrawal of Polish Diplomats from Tokyo 152
194. Japanese-German Trade Continues Through Russia 153
195. Admiral Teijiro Toyoda Becomes Foreign Minister (July 18, 1941) 154
196. Japan Hesitates to Provoke Russia 154
197. France Protests Against Japanese Aggression 154
198. France Begins Collaboration with Germany (June 1941) 155
199. Japan Requests German Aid in Acquiring Indo-Chinese Bases 155
200. Japan Requests Germany to Withdraw from French Indo-Chinese Negotiations 156
201. Japan Presses France to Recognize the Nanking Government 156
202. Japan Desires a Joint Defense Treaty for French Indo-China 157
203. French Resistance to Japanese Economic Control 157
204. Axis Cooperation in French Indo-China Trade 157
205. Japan Delivers an Ultimatum to France (July 12, 1941) 158
206. Terms of Japanese Ultimatum to France 158
207. Japan Attempts to Justify Its Ultimatum 159
208. Japan Points to Secret American and British Agreements 159
209. Tokyo Issued Propaganda in Explanation of Its Action in French Indo-China 160
210. French Foreknowledge of Japanese Plans 161
211. The Hankow Incident (July 12, 1941) 161
212. Japanese Policy Towards French Concessions in China 161
213. Japanese Preliminary Demands in Hankow 162
214. Japan's Final Terms in Hankow Incident 162
215. Japan's Plans to Use French Indo-China as a Base for Attacks on Singapore and the East Indies 163
216. Japan Sets the Date for the Occupation of French Indo-China 163
217. Japan Requests Germany and Italy to Recommend to France Acceptance of Japan's Proposals 164
218. New Japanese Cabinet Continues Japan's Policy Toward French Indo-China 164
219. Japan Informs Germany of Its Irrevocable Decision to Occupy French Indo-China 164
220. Japan Demands a French Agreement by July 22, 1941 164
221. Ambassador Kato Learns Unofficial Details of Anticipated Agreement 165
222. Tokyo and Vichy Discuss Details of the Agreement 165
223. France Accepts Japan's Ultimatum (July 21, 1941) 166
224. Ambassador Kato Explains France's Acceptance 166
225. Tokyo Agrees to Accept the French Protocol 167
226. France Begins Pro-Japanese Propaganda 167
227. Japan Launches a World-Wide Propaganda Campaign 167
228. Japan Refuses to Set a Time Limit on the Occupation of French Indo-China 168
229. Japan and France Sign a Joint Defense Agreement for French Indo-China 168
230. Japan Thanks Germany for Its Assistance 169
231. British Press Attacks the Japanese Occupation 169


232. Japan Reorganizes Its Representation in French Indo-China 169
233. Japanese Leaders Congratulate French Authorities 169
234. Conflicting Rumors of a Japanese-Chinese Peace 170
235. American and British Aid to China 170
236. Japan Fears Chungking-Chinese Communist Collaboration 171
237. Japan Safeguards Its Codes and Secret Documents 172
238. Japan Negotiates for Critical Products in China 172
239. Japan Curtails Chungking's Supplies 173
240. Chinese Reaction to German-Russian War 173
241. Japanese Report of Divergent Views of Chungking and Chinese Communists 174
242. Japan Decides Not to Occupy Macao 175
243. Japan Suspects an American-British-Chinese Military Alliance 175
244. China Joins Anti-Axis Propaganda Association 175
245. Japanese Espionage in China 176
246. Japan Learns of a Chungking-Chinese Communist Agreement 176
247. President Roosevelt Appoints a Political Adviser to Chiang Kai-shek 177
248. Japanese Use of Newspapers in China 178
249. Japan Deals with Its Chinese Allies 178
250. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek Reorganizes His Armies 179
251. Effect of the United States' Freezing Order on China 179
252. Japanese Restrictions on Shipping and Travel 180
253. Japan Makes Plans to Conquer Siberia 180
254. Germans in Nanking Request an Explanation of Japanese-American Negotiations 180
255. Japan is Disturbed by German-Russian-Chungking Communications Agreement 181
256. Japan Prepares a Reception for Mr. Wang Chin Wei 181
257. Germany Recognizes Nanking 181
258. Italy Recognizes the Nanking Government 182
259. Chungking Severs Relations with Germany and Italy 182
260. Japan Requests France to Recognize the Nanking Government 183
261. Axis-Dominated Countries Recognize Nanking 184
262. Japan Removes Anti-Axis Chinese Diplomats 184
263. Japan Attempts to Win Over Chinese Diplomats from Chungking 184
264. Nanking Requests Return of Ambassador Honda 185
265. Japan Controls Nanking's Relations with Germany and Italy 185
266. Reorganization of the Nanking Government 186
267. Formal Installation of Mr. Wang 186
268. Japan Attempts Political and Economic Domination of Netherlands East Indies 186
269. Dutch Opposition to a Japanese Order 187
270. Japan Makes New Proposals to the Dutch 188
271. Dutch Indignation at Japanese Newspaper Attacks 189
272. Japanese Propaganda in the Netherlands Indies 189
273. The Netherlands Reject the Japanese Proposals (June 6, 1941) 189
  (a) No Special Privileges for Japanese 189
  (b) Restriction of Certain Enterprises to Dutch 190
  (c) No Need for Cables 190
  (d) No Expansion of Coastal Navigation 190
  (e) Dutch Restrictions on Imports Into the Indies and Exports to Japan 191
  (f) Netherlands Proposals 191
274. Japanese Negotiators Recommend Acceptance of Dutch Proposals 191
275. Japanese Security Precautions for Diplomatic Codes 192
276. Japan Discriminates Against Dutch Firms 192
277. Japanese Business Methods in the East Indies 192
278. Japan Foresees the Discontinuance of Negotiations 193


279. Japan Plans to Publicize the Discontinuance of Its Negotiations 193
280. Japanese Minister in Batavia Protests Against Tokyo's Procedure 194
281. Tokyo Accedes to Minister Daihyo's Request 194
282. The Netherlands East Indies and Japan Issue a Joint Communiqué (June 17, 1941) 194
283. Japan's Urgent Need for Petroleum and Tin 195
284. The Netherland Indies Reduces Shipping to Japan 196
285. Japan Suspects American Support of Netherlands Indies 196
286. Reaction of Netherlands Indies to German-Russian War 197
287. After Effects of Discontinuance of Japanese-Dutch Negotiations 198
288. Netherlands Indies Resent Japanese Intelligence Activities 198
289. The Netherlands East Indies Reduces Exports to Japan 199
290. Dutch Reprisals Against Japanese Communications 199
291. Japan Allays Dutch Fears Concerning a Japanese-British War 199
292. Japan Releases a Confiscated Cargo 200
293. The Netherlands Indies Freezes Japanese Funds 200
294. Economic Cooperation of the Netherlands Indies with England and the United States 200
295. Japan Retaliates by Freezing Netherlands Assets 201
296. Japanese Nationals are Evacuated From the Netherlands Indies 202
297. East Indian Merchants Purchase Japanese Stocks 202
298. Japan is Urged to Further Retaliation Against the Dutch 203
299. Japan Plans to Convert Its Frozen Funds 203
300. Japanese Intelligence Reports on Thailand 204
301. Japan Attempts to Acquire Most of Thailand's Exports 204
302. Japan Sends Oil Experts to Thailand in Guise of Diplomats 204
303. Japanese-Thaiese Petroleum Negotiations 205
304. Britain Supplies Oil to Thailand 205
305. Japan Mediates a Thailand-French Indo-China Dispute 205
306. Thailand Desires Continuation of Japanese Pressure on French Indo-China 206
307. Details of Japanese-Thaiese Agreement 206
308. Japanese Interest in Survey of Thailand's Border 206
309. Japanese Propaganda Activities in Thailand 203
310. British Opposition to Japanese Control of Thailand's Exports 207
311. Estimated Value of Japanese-Thaiese Exports 207
312. British-Thaiese Economic Agreement 207
313. Japan Fears British Influence in Thailand 207
314. American-Thaiese Proposals 208
315. Japan Plans to Offset British Influence 208
316. Japan Expands Its Communications System in Thailand 208
317. Japan Informs Thailand of the Japanese-French Agreement 208
318. Japan Decides Not to Stop British-Thaiese Agreement 209
319. Implementation of French-Thaiese Treaty 209
320. Japanese Interest in Thailand Affected by American-British Freezing of Funds 209
321. Japanese-Thaiese Rice Negotiations 211
322. Thailand Plans to Recognize Manchukuo 211
323. Japan Requests a Mutual Exchange of Ambassadors 211




DoD Comment:

The reader will note that beginning with Volume II an additional Part was added to each of the original Volumes. This new part covers Japanese intelligence activities as reflected in their diplomatic messages. Of particular interest, no doubt, will be the references to espionage in the continental United States and in the Hawaiian Islands.

Following the usual format for the series, the textual portion is based on the Japanese messages. An Appendix contains the actual messages themselves.



Part A

Hull-Nomura Conversations.

(a) Secretary Hull's Reports.
(b) Ambassador Nomura's Reports.

Part B 

Japanese Intelligence Reports in Diplomatic Messages.

(a) Japanese Reports from the United States.
(b) Japanese Reports from the Panama Canal.
(c) Japanese Reports from Cuba.
(d) Japanese Reports from the Philippine Islands.
(e) Japanese Reports from the Hawaiian Islands.

Part C

Japanese Diplomatic Activities Throughout the World.

(a) Japanese-American Relations.
(b) Japanese-Mexican Relations.
(c) Japanese-South American Relations.
(d) Japanese-British Relations.
(e) Japanese-Axis Relations.
(f) Japanese-Russian Relations.
(g) Japanese-French Relations.
(h) Japanese-Chungking Relations.
(i) Japanese-Nanking Relations.
(j) Japanese-Dutch Relations.
(k) Japanese-Thaiese Relations.



(May 12, 1941- August 6, 1941)  


Consideration of the Japanese Proposal of May 12, 1941 and Interruption of Conversations Following the Movement of Japanese Troops into Indo-China1. 

1. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 12, 1941).    

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.2  

The Japanese Ambassador called at Secretary Hull's apartment in a very disturbed state because on the preceding day he had given some documents to Mr. Hull by mistake. Requesting that these documents be returned, the Ambassador delivered other papers which contained his official instructions.  

To Secretary Hull's inquiry about the change of the provision in the original proposal which had spoken of Japan's keeping out of the South Pacific in a military way, Ambassador Nomura replied that the original statement had restrained Japan alone, but that the proposed modification was designed to impose equal restrictions on all countries. Furthermore, Ambassador Nomura insisted that Japan would not use force in the South Pacific since its sole desire was to keep war out of that whole area. The Secretary of State then inquired whether the three principles expressed by Prime Minister Konoye in December 1938 were the basis for the "New Order" in eastern Asia. 

Indicating that both documents which he had just given to Secretary Hull were official, the Japanese Ambassador explained that they had been submitted separately to permit eventual transmission to the press of only the main document, with the explanatory manuscript omitted. Secretary Hull commented that he would receive the papers unofficially and would study them informally before coming to any decision.3

One of the two documents handed to the Secretary of State by Ambassador Nomura had  already been deciphered in its several versions by United States cryptanalysts; first, when the original Japanese version had been sent to Tokyo for approval on April 13, 1941; second, when sent in English to Tokyo on April 30;4 third, when it was returned from Tokyo to Washington on May 9;5 fourth, when it was re-submitted by Ambassador Nomura to Tokyo on May 12;6 fifth when the final text of the proposal was transmitted in its approved form from Tokyo to Washington.7

The other document was an "Oral Explanation" for proposed amendments to the original draft. This had been deciphered by American experts on May 12, 1941.8 The reader will note the difference between the text of the "Oral Explanation" presented to the American State Department by Ambassador Nomura and the text of the deciphered secret dispatch from    


1 Chapter title taken from the divisional arrangement of the State Department documents in S.D., II, 332.
2 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", May 12, 1941, S.D., II, 418-419.
3 II, Ibid.
4 Appendix I, 54.
5 Appendix I, 55-59.
6 Appendix II, 1-7. Hereafter referred to as II, 1-7.
7 II, 8-9.
8 S.D., II, 423-425, II, 10-12.


Foreign Minister Matsuoka to Ambassador Nomura.9  The submitted "Oral Explanation", outlining Japanese activities in the Southwest Pacific area, did not emphasize Mr. Matsuoka's statement that Japan sometimes found it necessary to use armed force in achieving peace. Although stating that Japan desired to settle international questions peacefully, the Foreign Minister said:    

In the future developments of the international situation, the Imperial Japanese government, should it ever be provoked beyond endurance, will not be able to avoid exercising military force and that she give a guarantee not to do so would be very difficult. However, regardless of the future developments of this situation, it is very clear that Japan alone could not determine such a course.10 

The Japanese insisted on making a specific reference, in Section II of the proposal, to Japan's obligations under the Tripartite Pact of military assistance to Germany and Italy. Another proposed change in Section III, dealing with the China affair was said to be in perfect agreement with the ideas expressed by the United States. It referred to the three principles of Prime Minister Konoye:  

1. Neighborly friendship.
2. Joint defense against communism;  
3. Economic cooperation—by which Japan does not intend to exercise economic monopoly in China nor to demand of China a limitation in the interest of Third Powers.11

It was further explained that these principles implied the following:

1. Mutual respect of sovereignty and territories;
2. Mutual respect for the inherent characteristics of each nation cooperating as good neighbors and forming a Far Eastern nucleus contributing to world peace;
3. Withdrawal of Japanese troops from Chinese territory in accordance with an agreement to be concluded between Japan and China 
4. No annexation, no indemnities;
5. Independence of Manchukuo.12

According to the Japanese proposal, the United States was to promise secretly to discontinue aid to Chiang Kai-shek, if he refused to enter into negotiations for peace with Japan. Furthermore, the Japanese wished to delete the prohibition against a large-scale Japanese immigration into Chinese territory on the grounds that the Japanese people might consider that America was dictating Japanese immigration policy concerning China, as it had always done with reference to the United States. However, despite its demand for the deletion of this clause, the Japanese government fully understood and accepted its true meaning and purpose. 

The Japanese proposal left naval, aerial, and mercantile marine relations in the Pacific for further discussion until an "understanding" had been reached and the diplomatic situation had become clear. The suggestion that naval squadrons from each country pay a courtesy visit to the other nation would be considered in the future as a separate proposal. Another Japanese change would omit, until a full "understanding" had been reached, the proposal that the United States grant Japan a gold credit. 

An important deletion was made by the Japanese of a phrase indicating that Japan would carry on activities in the Southwestern Pacific by peaceful means "without resorting to arms". This was deleted as inappropriate and unnecessarily critical because, according to the Japanese, the peaceful policy of Japan had long been evident. 


9 II, 10-12.
10 II, 11.
11 S.D., II, 423-425, II, 12.
12 II, Ibid.


An agreement to restrict future transfers of territories in the Far East was omitted because  Japan claimed that it would involve military and treaty obligations requiring complicated  legislative procedure in both countries. For the same reason, a statement referring to the independence of the Philippine Islands was also altered. The phrase—"and to the Southwestern  Pacific area"—was omitted from a discussion of Japanese immigration because the Japanese  felt that this question should be solved by direct negotiations with authorities in that area.  Japan desired the proposal for the holding of a conference to be deleted since it felt that it  would be more desirable to estimate first the effects of the "understanding". Announcement  of the joint acceptance of the "understanding" would be drafted in Tokyo and cabled to Washington for approval.13 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.14 

Ambassador Nomura's secret report of this interview recorded Secretary Hull's request for a formal explanation of the three basic principles of Prime Minister Konoye. The Japanese Ambassador asked Tokyo to modify his instructions so as to permit him to explain these principles advantageously.15  Ambassador Nomura mentioned his efforts to assure Secretary Hull that Japan had no aggressive ambitions in the Southwest Pacific. When asked by Mr. Hull why one of the provisions  of his original document had been changed, Ambassador Nomura had replied that the modification had been made simply to avoid restrictions on Japan alone, since the original proposal permitted other countries to act freely in that area. This statement agreed with Secretary Hull's report of Ambassador Nomura's reply.16 The Secretary of State then remarked to Ambassador Nomura that every precaution was being taken to ensure the secrecy of their conversations.17 

2. Revisions of the Japanese Proposal. 

For a day or two after Foreign Minister Matsuoka had sent to Washington the final, approved version of Ambassador Nomura's original proposal, suggestions for interpretation of the meaning and changes in the document kept arriving from Tokyo. One message requested that it be made clear that the attitude of the United States government toward the European War, as stated in the proposal, merely represented a declaration of attitude on the part of the American government and was not to imply Japanese approval of that attitude.18

Changes in important passages,19 coding mistakes,20 and omissions of important sentences21 indicated that Foreign Minister Matsuoka had some reasons for claiming that Tokyo could not proceed as hastily as Ambassador Nomura had desired. 

Ambassador Nomura was disturbed at the many requests from Tokyo for minor and major changes in the so-called approved version of the proposal which he had already handed to Secretary Hull, for he now asked Mr. Matsuoka to limit all further instructions to only major matters and to permit him to exercise his own discretion on all minor details.22 Stressing the 


13 S.D., II, 423-425, II, 10.
14 II, 13.
15 II, Ibid.
16 S.D., II, 418-419, II, 8.
17 II, 14.
18 II, 16.
19 II, 17-18.
20 II, 19, 22.
21 II, 23-25.
22 II, 26.   


gratitude of all Japanese diplomats in Washington for the support given by the Foreign Minister to the "understanding", Ambassador Nomura stated that since only President Roosevelt, Mr. Hull, and Postmaster General Walker were aware of the contents of the negotiations, it would be disadvantageous to create the impression that Japan had not entered the discussions well prepared. Ambassador Nomura remarked:   

If we continue to submit minor revisions from time to time, I am afraid that the United States may get the impression that we have entered into this business without being too well prepared. This naturally, reflects upon my integrity and may give rise to doubts in the other parties concerned as to my sincerity. This could lead the negotiations into a failure.23 

Foreign Minister Matsuoka, replying two days later that he had carefully noted Ambassador Nomura's request, proceeded to order several more changes in the proposal. However, he did grant to the Japanese Ambassador permission to make the changes whenever a favorable opportunity arose.24

3. Ambassador Nomura Attempts to Restrain Mr. Matsuoka. 

A bluntly worded telegram from Foreign Minister Matsuoka was received by Ambassador Nomura on May 13, 1941. Intended for delivery to Secretary of State Hull, it stressed that Japan had entered the current negotiations only on the premises that, first, the United States would not enter the European war, and second, that the United States would agree to advise Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to make peace with Japan as quickly as possible.25

Ambassador Nomura replied that no official negotiations had begun as yet, since all discussions that had occurred so far were "off the record" private conversations. Pointing out that he had directed all his efforts to achieving the two points mentioned by Foreign Minister Matsuoka, the Japanese Ambassador warned that the presentation of this dispatch to Secretary Hull would interfere with the establishment of the "understanding". Ambassador Nomura asked that the Foreign Minister approve of his withholding the message since he intended to bring up the subjects mentioned by Mr. Matsuoka at an opportune moment during one of his conversations with Mr. Hull.26 

4. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 14, 1941) 

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.27 

Ambassador Nomura called at Secretary Hull's hotel apartment on May 14, 1941 to deliver a proposed amendment to the original draft under discussion.28 The Japanese Ambassador had nothing to say about the points at issue except to stress that there was no danger to the United  States from a war in Europe. When Secretary Hull emphasized the necessity of self-defense on the part of the United States, Ambassador Nomura replied that the United States, in the opinion of Japan, would not be in danger. 

Repeating some points from his speech of April 24, 1941 to the American Society of International Law, the Secretary of State declared that the United States would be in great jeopardy if Chancellor Hitler's plan to attack South America proceeded unimpeded. According to Mr. Hull, the Japanese Ambassador was impressed with his statements since Ambassador  Nomura responded that only a few individuals and small groups among the Japanese wanted war with the United States. 


23 II, Ibid.
24 II, 27-28.
25 II, 29.
26 II, 30.
27 "Memorandum by Secretary of State", May 14, 1941, S.D., II, 425-426.
28 S.D., II, 426. 


Ambassador Nomura brought up the difficult problem of reconciling the attitude of the United States towards the European war with Japan's obligations to Germany and Italy under the Tripartite Pact. Commenting that Ambassador Nomura was probably aware from newspaper stories that Ambassador Grew had called upon Mr. Matsuoka, who had been rather offensive during the visit in his references to the United States,29 Mr. Hull said that he knew Mr. Matsuoka was a politician, who was addicted to the use of bluffing language. However, there was still some uncertainty as to whether or not the Foreign Minister would hinder or defeat further conferences in regard to peace. Ambassador Nomura agreed that Mr. Matsuoka was very much a politician, but denied that the Foreign Minister was powerful enough to defeat the purpose of their conversations.30 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.31 

According to Ambassador Nomura, the conversation of May 14, 1941 was quite pleasant throughout. Secretary Hull implied that a preliminary understanding with China and England would be necessary before the China affair could be settled. In a discussion of American self-defense, the Japanese Ambassador stated that since America was completely safe from invasion, it was difficult for the Japanese people to understand why so  many in the United States desired to enter the war. The Secretary of State answered that his speech to the American Society of International Law, on April 24, 1941, expressed his own views concerning the dangers to America. An attack on South America would be one of Chancellor Hitler's first objectives after he had successfully conquered the rest of Europe. Chancellor Hitler would have to control the seas to do this, but there was always a possibility that an English Quisling would surrender the British navy to the Germans.

Ambassador Nomura reminded Secretary Hull that England had promised not to turn over its navy to the Germans under any circumstances, but Mr. Hull countered by recalling that though France had made similar promises, Darlan and Laval seemed to be ready to transfer the French fleet to Germany. Since there was a possibility of the British navy being turned over to the Germans, it was absolutely necessary for the United States to aid the Churchill government, not merely to protect democracy as a whole, but to protect the United States itself. According to Secretary Hull, it seemed to be Japan's policy to prevent the United States from aiding Britain, even if this meant war, for Foreign Minister Matsuoka had actually threatened war in his conversation with Ambassador Grew.  

Ambassador Nomura then asked if the flight of Rudolph Hess to Scotland had any implications of peace, but Secretary Hull, replying that he knew of no such motives, stated that the flight was an indication to him of the German government's deterioration. (See Part C-Japanese-Axis Relations, Section 134.)

Despite the assurances of Ambassador Nomura, Secretary Hull was not convinced that the Japanese had given up hope of a southward expansion. The Secretary of State pointed out that Chancellor Hitler had been signing treaties only to break them ever since 1933, and many another treaty-makers in history had broken pacts to suit his convenience.  

Ambassador Nomura concluded his report by urging the Japanese government to make every effort to convince Secretary of State Hull of its sincere intentions. Ambassador Nomura's position at this point in the negotiations is best expressed in his own words:  


29 See Section 5-(Ambassador Grew Interviews Mr. Matsuoka
30S.D., II, 426.
31 II, 31-33.


I firmly believe that we should enter into this Understanding while the United States is interested in the proposition and before any outside interference enters into it. Towards this end, I am making every possible effort. All the persons concerned in this matter are of the same opinion.32 

5. Ambassador Grew Interviews Mr. Matsuoka.33 

The interview of Ambassador Grew with Mr. Matsuoka had been marked by the belligerent attitude of the Japanese Foreign Minister who insisted that America's convoying of ships to Great Britain would certainly lead to war with Germany. According to Mr. Matsuoka, a neutrality zone in the Atlantic or any other ocean was contrary to international law, and Chancellor Hitler, who desired to avoid war, so far had shown great "patience and generosity" in not declaring war on the United States. Mr. Matsuoka doubted, however, that the German leader could exercise patience indefinitely.

If Germany sank American ships in the Atlantic, and if the United States then attacked German submarines, this would be an act of American aggression which would call into question the application of the Tripartite Pact. There was no doubt in Mr. Matsuoka's mind that war would then ensue between Japan and the United States. According to the Japanese Foreign Minister, the issue was exclusively in the hands of President Roosevelt, and he felt that the "manly, decent, and reasonable thing" for the United States to do was to declare war openly on Germany, instead of engaging in actual war under cover of neutrality.

When Ambassador Grew emphatically resented this statement concerning the "decent thing" to do, Mr. Matsuoka agreed to withdraw it, and when Mr. Grew reminded him that Japan had attacked China without a declaration of war, the Foreign Minister, remarking that the situations were entirely different, changed the subject. Each allegation of Mr. Matsuoka was answered in turn by Ambassador Grew who reminded him that far from breaking international law, the United States was determined to maintain the freedom of the seas against Germany's illegal submarine warfare. However, both Mr. Matsuoka and Mr. Grew finally agreed that further debate was useless, since a meeting of minds was impossible. 

Mr. Grew discussed Japan's policy in the South Pacific, and stressed the fact that despite the assurances of Japan concerning its peaceful intentions, many highly placed Japanese were openly advocating the use of force. Mr. Matsuoka, deploring the use of a policy of force as well as anti-foreign agitation in Japan, stated that his government was about to ban publication of this type of propaganda for Japan was determined to carry out the southward advance by peaceful measures, "unless circumstances render this impossible". Answering a query concerning the circumstances he had in mind, the Foreign Minister indicated that the British were concentrating troops in Malaya. Though assured that this movement was simply a defense measure by the British, Mr. Matsuoka replied that the Japanese people considered the action provocative. If the Japanese public became further disturbed, pressure might be brought on the government to act.

Ambassador Grew explained that the United States was determined to support Great Britain; therefore, it could not complacently watch the destruction of the British lifeline from the East. In view of this, there was potential danger in the statement that Japan's peaceful intentions depended on "circumstances". Ambassador Grew regretted the negative aspect of current Japanese-American relations since he had hoped to establish something constructive, but the recent change of Japanese policy had made this impossible. Mr. Matsuoka replied that he was hopeful of establishing strong relations in the future, but that everything now depended on one man, President Roosevelt. Ambassador Grew ended the conversation by saying that, henceforth, Japan's relations with the United States would depend upon Japanese actions rather than words.  


32 II, 33. 
33 "Telegram: Ambassador to Japan (Grew) to Secretary of State", May 14, 1941, 5 P.M. (Received May 14, 9:55 A.M.) S.D., II, 145-148.


Immediately after the interview Ambassador Grew received a personal letter, written in the Foreign Minister's own hand, apologizing for his misuse of an English word in referring to America's aid to England. Intending to say "indiscretion", instead he had said "indecent" in remarking that he hoped the American government would be more cautious and careful in its actions.34 

6. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 16, 1941).    

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.35 

The Japanese Ambassador, accompanied by Colonel Hideo Iwakuro, Assistant Military Attaché, and Mr. Katsuzo Okumura, Second Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, called at Secretary Hull's apartment on May 16, 1941 at his request. Mr. Hull outlined the main points of an informal and unofficial oral statement, which he later handed to Ambassador Nomura.36

This oral statement declared that though there had been no time for a careful study of the proposals of the Japanese government, certain preliminary comments could be made. The American government understood that the purpose of the discussions with the Japanese Ambassador was to work out a formula whereby both countries would pledge themselves to preserve peace in the Pacific. In regard to the European war, the United States considered aid to Great Britain as an essential part of its program for self-defense. It was expected that a formula satisfactory to both Japan and the United States could be achieved for the European area, and certain suggestions for accomplishing this agreement were made.  

Expressing the opinion that a treaty based on the principles of the submitted proposal could be arrived at by China and Japan, the oral statement suggested that the points contained in the official Japanese explanation of the proposal be included in the proposal itself. A request was made by the State Department that President Roosevelt be allowed to give Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, in confidence, advance notice of the basic terms by which China and Japan might agree to a peace settlement. Another provision, making Section V of the proposal applicable to both Japan and the United States in limiting their economic activities to peaceful penetration, was acceptable to the American government.37

During the course of the conversation on May 16, 1941 Ambassador Nomura asked Secretary Hull whether the United States might enter the European war, even if its territory were not attacked. Secretary Hull replied that it would be necessary for any country to act in self-defense against an aggressor who followed its announced purpose of unlimited conquest of other nations. Aid to Britain was an act of self-defense on the part of the United States, and any other actions would depend upon the measures of defense considered essential by the military authorities of the United States.  

Ambassador Nomura emphasized Japan's desire for peaceful relations with the United States, though he indicated that it might be called upon to perform certain obligations to the Axis. Secretary Hull reiterated his remarks concerning the attitude of the United States in the matter of self-defense, and indicated that the Japanese would feel the same as the American people under similar circumstances.  


34  II, Ibid., 148.  
35 "Memorandum of a conversation", by Joseph W. Ballantine, Foreign Service Officer, detailed to the Department on special consultation, S.D., II, 427-428.  
36 "Informal and unofficial oral statement handed by the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador (Nomura)", on May 16, 1941, S.D., II, 428-434.  
37  II, Ibid., 430.    


Ambassador Nomura requested that the United States suggest to China at the earliest possible moment that it enter into negotiations with Japan for peace. Secretary Hull remarked that once the preliminary points had been cleared, the remainder of the proposal could be considered very rapidly. Concerning the question of Japan and China's joint defense against communism and the recognition of Manchuria, Mr. Hull declared that if China and Japan could reach an agreement on the other points, there would be little trouble in solving these difficulties.

The Secretary of State, mentioning the revision of Section V of the Japanese proposal, expressed the hope that other countries could be brought in to develop the economic activity of the Southwest Pacific area in a manner similar to the free trade program in South America. Then Mr. Hull, suggesting that Ambassador Nomura might wish to study the newly received American oral statement, stated that he would be ready to see the Japanese Ambassador at any time. Neither Ambassador Nomura nor his companions said anything concerning the oral statement, since they had had no opportunity to examine it.38 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.  

Either no specific report of this meeting was transmitted by Ambassador Nomura, or such a dispatch was not intercepted. However, Ambassador Nomura's report on the conversation of May 28, 1941 mentions a meeting on May 16, 1941. (See Part A—Section 15(b)).  

7. Axis Nations Notified of Hull-Nomura Conversations.  

Ambassador Nomura was notified by Foreign Minister Matsuoka, on May 15, 1941, that since Germany and Italy would be affected by the proposed "understanding" between Japan and the United States, the German and Italian Ambassadors in Tokyo had been told of the Hull-Nomura conversations in a general way.39 The utmost secrecy had been sought because of the delicate nature of the negotiations, which Japan declared had been originated by the United States, and the Axis Ambassadors had been warned to divulge this information only to Chancellor Hitler, Premier Mussolini, and their Foreign Ministers. The Japanese Ambassadors in Germany and Italy had also been told of the nature of these discussions, and all those informed had been requested to exercise every precaution in guarding against publicity leaks. (See Part C—(e) Japanese-Axis Relations, Sections 137-139.)

Mr. Matsuoka told Ambassador Nomura that it was necessary to put in writing the Japanese requests to the United States to stay out of war and to promote peace between China and Japan.40 This had been the subject of a previous exchange between Foreign Minister Matsuoka and Ambassador Nomura.41 

8. Mr. Matsuoka Disavows Threats to Ambassador Grew.  

It will be recalled that Secretary Hull had discussed with Ambassador Nomura a report of a meeting between Foreign Minister Matsuoka and Ambassador Grew,42 who had commented on the truculence of the Foreign Minister's remarks in declaring that Japan would enter the war, if America attacked Germany. Mr. Matsuoka now sent word to Ambassador Nomura that he had neither the intention nor cause to threaten or intimidate Ambassador Grew, and, in addition, he had replied to Ambassador Grew's questions in a conversational tone. According


38  II, Ibid., 428.
39 34.
40  II, Ibid.
41 "See Section 3 - (Ambassador Nomura Attempts to Restrain Mr. Matsuoka).
42 See Section 5 - (Ambassador Grew Interviews Mr. Matsuoka).


to Mr. Matsuoka, the American Ambassador was easily excited and quite hard of hearing, and possibly he had misunderstood the Foreign Minister. The Japanese Ambassador was asked to explain this matter to Secretary Hull.43 

9. American Newspaper Divulges Points of Hull-Nomura Conversations.  

Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo on May 16, 1941 that the New York Herald Tribune of this date carried an article from Tokyo with the headline "Japan Asks the United States to Mediate Sino-Japanese Conflict". It revealed that a Japanese-American "understanding" had been presented to American authorities in Washington.44

According to Ambassador Nomura's report, the article stated that the United States was to help settle the China incident; America recognized Japanese leadership in China; Japan guaranteed the non-use of military force in the Southwest in return for American recognition of Japan's right to carry on economic activity in that area; Japan would agree to deal with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, contrary to its previous declaration, and would permit a third power to mediate the China incident; Japan was to clarify its intentions with regard to its place in the Southwest Pacific, and promised not to take hostile measures against the United States. The article declared that the China incident probably would be settled, but because of various circumstances an "understanding" between Japan and the United States was impossible.45

Foreign Minister Matsuoka promptly confirmed the accuracy of the report, and ascribed the publicity leak to Japanese inhabitants of New York who had reported their suspicions to financial circles in Tokyo. Mr. Matsuoka emphasized his desire to check these leaks, and requested Ambassador Nomura to do likewise.46 

10. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 20, 1941).  

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.47 

Ambassador Nomura, accompanied by Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Tadao Wikawa, an officer of the Cooperative Bank of Japan, visited Secretary Hull at his apartment on the evening of May 20, 1941. Mr. Ballantine and Mr. Maxwell M. Hamilton, Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs for the State Department, were also present. To a question from Secretary Hull concerning the prospects of the proposal under discussion, Ambassador Nomura replied that since the Japanese Army, Navy, Foreign Office, and Cabinet had approved the document, it had been referred to the Emperor.

Stating that if the proposal failed he would be very much embarrassed, Ambassador Nomura implied that he had assured his government of the United States' agreement to the proposal. Asking that the proposal be viewed in a general way rather than criticized for its technicalities, Ambassador Nomura pointed out that there was no essential difference between his original proposal and the draft which had been finally approved by his government.

The Secretary of State remarked that there were two points in regard to China which would have to be discussed; first, the "joint defense against communism", and second, the stationing of Japanese troops in certain parts of Chinese territory. He did not wish to discuss the merits of the two points but would like to know on what basis Japan proposed to negotiate so that when


43 II, 35.
44 II, 36.
45 II, 37.
46 II, 38.
47 "Memorandum of a conversation", May 20, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 434-437.


the United States approached Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek with its proposal for peace with Japan, some information could be given to the Chinese government.48

Colonel Iwakuro expressed his surprise at this question since he believed that the objective of the discussion was peace in the Pacific between the United States and Japan, with the China affair concerning only China and Japan. Mr. Hull agreed that the principal objective was peace in the Pacific, but emphasized that a treaty between Japan and China was essential to this peace. Mr. Hamilton remarked that public opinion was necessary for the success of all treaties, and if it were first agreed that Japanese troops would be withdrawn from China, and then another provision allowed Japanese troops to remain for "defense against communism", unfavorable publicity would arise.

Denying that troops would be retained all over China, Colonel Iwakuro foresaw no difficulty with Chinese authorities in keeping Japanese troops along the northern border since Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek would be very willing to cooperate in restraining Chinese Communists. Furthermore, the term "joint defense against communism" had been a slogan in Japanese-Chinese relations for years, and, consequently, it would be impossible for Japan to abandon it in its negotiations with China. In dealing with the United States, however, Japan might agree, after further study, to use broader language in discussing this point.

As for the wording of Section III of the proposal, the Secretary of State pointed out that if the principles of Prime Minister Konoye were enumerated as the Japanese desired, the term "joint defense against communism" would have to be included. On the other hand, Colonel Iwakuro remarked that if no specific principles were mentioned when accepting Prince Konoye's ideas, the proposal would thereby endorse the destruction of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and the creation of a "New Order in East Asia", which Prince Konoye had also desired. However, the Japanese agreed to study the whole question further when the suggestion was made that "inimical foreign ideologies" could be substituted for the phrase "joint defense against communism".

Referring to Section V, "Activities of the Two Countries in the Southwest Pacific Area", Mr. Hull asked whether it would not be helpful from a Japanese point of view to recognize the right of a country to protect itself under international law, though qualifying the right to permit no occasion for acts of aggression. Colonel Iwakuro rejected this suggestion as merely confusing.

According to Mr. Hull, the proposed agreement would be strengthened if it emphasized that its central purpose was peace in the Pacific. When the Japanese pointed out that the first section of their proposal already conveyed this impression, Secretary Hull suggested that for the sake of emphasis all references to peace in the Pacific should be gathered together in one place in the document. This would impress the people of all nations with the fact that peace was to reign in the Pacific; thus, businessmen would feel confident in commencing financial and commercial operations in the Southwest Pacific. The Japanese agreed to study this matter, and the meeting was adjourned until the following evening.49 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.50 

On May 19, 1941 Ambassador Nomura sent an interim report to Mr. Matsuoka which stated that while trying to discover the American government's intentions through undercover channels, he was continuing his conversations with Secretary Hull. Declaring that the current diplomatic situation revolved around aid to Britain by the United States, Japan's relations to


48 II, Ibid.
49 II, Ibid.
50 II, 39.  


its Axis partners, the China incident, and the southward expansion of Japan, Ambassador Nomura indicated that there were considerable differences of opinion between the two nations and that there was no room for too much optimism.51

In his report on the conversation of May 20, 1941, Ambassador Nomura stressed his belief that Japan should support fully Secretary Hull's economic policy for the Far East, since Japan would profit from such economic development. According to the Japanese Ambassador, after the flight of Herr Rudolph Hess to England, talk of peace had cropped up in Paris and in Vichy, and also among the anti-war minority in the United States. Furthermore, Secretary Hull had remarked that if the "understanding" pact were established, it would be a step in the direction of permanent peace in the Pacific, and it would lead to the achievement of world-wide peace.52 

11. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 21, 1941.)  

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.53 

Ambassador Nomura, accompanied by Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Wikawa, called at Secretary Hull's apartment on the evening of May 21, 1941 to continue the conversation which had been adjourned on the preceding evening. Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine were also present.

Secretary Hull outlined his experience of eight years in dealing with Latin American countries. A long tradition of distrust had to be dispelled by the determined effort of the United States to build up the good will and confidence of its neighbors without the use of force; thus, in a similar manner, Japan could exert a similar influence for good in the regions of Asia.

As for evacuating Japanese troops from China over a period of time, Secretary Hull thought that it would be feasible to utilize the seasoned troops of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in protecting areas where the interests of foreigners were involved. Mr. Hull emphasized that he was not urging the merit of this proposal, but was only raising the question for consideration.

The Secretary of State again asked that the document under discussion be so phrased that its central purpose of peace in the Pacific could not be misinterpreted by anyone. It should be so clear and unequivocal that it would necessitate no explanation by its sponsors. A tentative draft of Section VI, which spoke of peace in the Pacific, was then drawn up to meet the approval of both sides after the Japanese had objected, on the grounds that it indicated American suspicion of Japan, to a previous provision which stated that action taken to protect national interests under international law was not to be made the occasion for aggression.

At the suggestion of Mr. Hull, the Japanese oral statement of May 12, 1941 was now labeled "Annex and Supplement". When the Japanese were asked for permission to incorporate excerpts from Mr. Hull's speech of April 24,1941 into the "Annex and Supplement" to clarify the United States' interpretation of self-defense, Mr. Wikawa expressed his belief that the American government's oral statement in which Mr. Hull's speech was included had been withdrawn.

After Mr. Hamilton replied that the oral statement had not been canceled, Colonel Iwakuro asked why such a simple "understanding" had to be so elaborately documented. Mr. Hull answered that it would be helpful to both sides to clarify the American attitude on the question of self-defense, adding that Mr. Matsuoka had commented favorably to Ambassador Grew on the speech. The Japanese reached no decision in the course of this conversation as to whether or not they would object to the insertion of Secretary Hull's remarks in the "Annex and Supplement".


51 II, 40.
52 "Memorandum of a conversation", May 21, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine. S.D., II. 437-439.
53 II, Ibid. 


Mr. Hamilton then questioned a reference in Section III to the Wang Ching-wei treaties, remarking that the United States had not recognized this regime and pointing out that the treaties mentioned were inconsistent with the principles which both the United States and Japan were ready to accept in the "understanding". Colonel Iwakuro declared that the Wang Ching-wei treaties were a practical application of the Konoye principles; thus, references to them clarified the position of the Japanese nation. Non-recognition of the Wang Ching-wei regime should not militate against a reference to the treaties, and in any case the "understanding" was a confidential document to which the United States would not have to refer in discussing the affair with the Chinese.

Mr. Hamilton pointed out, however, that the United States could not enter into any secret arrangements since such matters would be bound to be known after a few weeks. It was then decided to allow further study on the part of all concerned so that differences could be reconciled at the next discussion.54

Two days later, Ambassador Nomura delivered to the Secretary of State some changes which he desired to have made in his confidential memorandum of May 12, 1941.55 It will be recalled that Foreign Minister Matsuoka sent these revisions to Ambassador Nomura shortly after the delivery of the principal document on May 12, 1941, but Ambassador Nomura had requested permission to withhold them until an opportune moment occurred.  

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report  

Ambassador Nomura made no special report on this conversation. However, on May 29, 1941, he submitted a composite report of several talks with Secretary Hull, including the conversation of May 21, 1941, which the reader will find in Section 15(b).  

12. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Rebukes Ambassador Nomura.  

Ambassador Nomura was reprimanded severely on May 24, 1941, by Foreign Minister Matsuoka. Unfortunately, most of the dispatch from Tokyo was not intercepted by American cryptanalysts so that all the reasons for Mr. Matsuoka's displeasure could not be ascertained. However, it appeared that Foreign Minister Matsuoka had received secret intelligence to the effect that Secretary Hull believed Mr. Matsuoka to be hostile toward the American-Japanese discussions for peace. According to Mr. Matsuoka, there were indications that Secretary Hull had received this impression in part from a conversation with the Japanese Ambassador. The Foreign Minister ordered Ambassador Nomura to reassure Secretary Hull immediately of Mr. Matsuoka's great desire for amity between Japan and the United States, and of his purpose to devise some method of stopping the horror of war which threatened to lead civilization into chaos.56

In his reply, Ambassador Nomura expressed his shocked surprise at the reprimand from his Foreign Minister, which he considered to be baseless.57 Judging from his response to Mr. Matsuoka, some parts of the rebuke must have dealt with a discussion of Japanese diplomatic procedure, for Ambassador Nomura gave the details of his statements to President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull concerning the operations of Japanese diplomacy. According to Ambassador Nomura, Japanese diplomacy was the responsibility of the Foreign Minister, although important army and navy questions having great bearing on diplomatic policy were handled


54 II, Ibid.
55 "Statement handed by the Japanese Ambassador (Nomura) to the Secretary of State on May 23, 1941", S.D., II, 439 440.
56 II, 41.
57 II, 42.


in cooperation with the army and naval ministers. The Prime Minister of Japan also had a great deal of influence, and many Japanese officials and citizens of great ability advised the Foreign Minister. Both the Foreign Minister of Japan and the Secretary of State in the United States held similar positions.

Summing up the situation, Ambassador Nomura disavowed the intelligence in the hands of the Foreign Minister by stating:  

Now, should I have voiced erroneous statements which in themselves are incredible, then by that fact alone I deserve punishment. Had I, as a military man, made any such statement, after it be proven, I believe that I should not be permitted to continue my existence. I am convinced that I have absolutely made no such statement. And as far as the Secretary of State is concerned, I do not believe by any stretch of the imagination that he labors under any misunderstanding. However, as you have requested in your wire, I shall outdo myself in extending my best efforts.

Regardless of the impressions imparted by newspaper dispatches from Japan, I am quite cognizant of Your Excellency's fundamental feelings with regard to the Japan-American question, and do not entertain a single doubt with regard to it. I have even told the Secretary of State as much one or two times.58 

Mr. Matsuoka seemingly accepted Ambassador Nomura's explanation as to the part played by newspaper dispatches from Japan in creating the erroneous impression that the Foreign Minister was hostile to America. In asking Ambassador Nomura to clear up the matter as quickly as possible, Mr. Matsuoka requested also that the Japanese Ambassador try to ascertain the source of this misinformation.59

Though Ambassador Nomura stated that he had informed Secretary Hull of Foreign Minister Matsuoka's friendly feelings with regard to the Japanese-American question, Secretary Hull's memorandum concerning his conversation with the Japanese Ambassador records his impression, received from Ambassador Nomura, that Mr. Matsuoka was a politician who frequently spoke in reckless fashion to evoke popular support of his policy.60 

13. Japan Seizes American Goods En route to Chungking.  

Ambassador Nomura reported to his superiors on May 28, 1941 that American newspapers were publicizing the Japanese seizure of American goods in China, which had been destined for Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The American press believed that the Axis nations were about to exert economic pressure in unison, and so Ambassador Nomura now inquired concerning the procedure which the Japanese government intended to follow.61 

14. Radio Address of President Roosevelt (May 27, 1941).62 

President Roosevelt's speech of May 27, 1941, had been very mild in its treatment of Japan. No direct reference was made to Japan by name and the China affair had been touched upon very lightly. Since the Japanese Ambassador knew that there was considerable difference of opinion among the American Cabinet members concerning the contents of this speech, which had been conveyed to them before its delivery, he reported his conviction that President Roosevelt, despite his determination to carry out every essential measure of self-defense, was anxious to avoid provocation and desired to have the Japanese-United States negotiations continue.63


58 II, Ibid.
59 II, 43.
60 S.D., II, 391, 412-413, 416. "The Ambassador not only did not take issue with anything I [Secretary Hull] had said, but I felt that he was really in harmony with the statements I made about Matsuoka".
61 II, 44.
62 Printed in Department of State Bulletin. May 31, 1941, (Volume IV, No. 101), 647.
63 II, 45.  


15. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 28, 1941).64 

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.  

The Japanese Ambassador called at Secretary Hull's apartment on the evening of May 28, 1941. According to Secretary Hull, the Japanese Ambassador was misinformed in considering that Secretary Hull had spoken in a derogatory manner of Mr. Matsuoka's position in the Japanese government. Mr. Hull denied saying anything of this nature to any one [sic]. It will be recalled that Foreign Minister Matsuoka had just severely reprimanded Ambassador Nomura because he had learned from a secret source that Secretary Hull had an unfavorable impression concerning him.

Speaking of the difficulty arising from the divergent attitude of Japan and the United States toward the European war, Secretary Hull pointed out that Mr. Matsuoka had continually stressed Japan's obligations under the Tripartite Pact to support Germany in the event of America's entry into the war. Thus, unless Japan cleared up this difficulty, American critics of the "understanding" could point out that there was no assurance as to Japan's position toward Hitler, if the United States went to war to maintain the freedom of the seas.

Ambassador Nomura replied that though Mr. Matsuoka talked principally for home consumption in Japan, the Foreign Minister wanted peace with the United States. Once the "understanding" was achieved, the influence of Japanese extremists would be weakened, since the Japanese people were desirous of trading with the whole world. American embargoes had made the Japanese seek the control of an economic bloc, but normal trade relations would be more desirable.

Secretary Hull agreed that Ambassador Nomura and many of his associates were anxious for friendly relations, but he asked the Japanese government to clarify officially the points he had raised. Ambassador Nomura pointed out that it would be extremely difficult for the Japanese government to add anything to the submitted proposal, since the Japanese government had to deal with Germany and Italy as well as with the pro-Axis group at home. However, Japan would make independent decisions in interpreting the Tripartite Pact.

To Secretary Hull's inquiry concerning Japan's plans for withdrawal of its troops from China, Ambassador Nomura, answering that this would have to be negotiated by the Japanese and Chinese governments, indicated that two years would pass before complete evacuation would be effected. However, Japanese troops retained in China for joint defense against communistic activities would not be evacuated, and he did not know the number of troops that would be involved or the areas in which they would operate.

Remarking that the retention of Japanese troops in China would be detrimental to Chinese-Japanese friendship, Secretary Hull suggested that the experience of the United States in South America ought to convince Japan that a more profitable arrangement could be worked out to protect its interests without the use of troops. Ambassador Nomura agreed with Secretary Hull that the presence of Japanese troops in China would lead to provocative incidents, but he did not think it feasible at the present moment to carry out complete evacuation, since Japanese public opinion would not permit it. Ambassador Nomura then cited the severe Japanese criticisms of Prince Konoye for his moderate handling of the Chinese question in the face of the sacrifices Japan had made in that area.

Secretary Hull announced his plans to talk over the situation with the Chinese government in strict confidence before entering into any negotiations, and stated that he had raised the question of evacuating Japanese troops only because the conversations with the Japanese Ambassador were still in an unofficial and exploratory stage. However, Ambassador Nomura said he did not


64 "Memorandum of a conversation", May 28, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II 440-443.


expect the American government to negotiate this question with the Chinese, since America would serve sufficiently the cause of world peace by merely bringing the Chinese and Japanese together into direct negotiations as it had done in 1895 and in the Russo-Japanese negotiations of 1905. When Secretary Hull inquired concerning the Chinese government's reactions to the proposed stationing of troops for joint defense against Communism, Ambassador Nomura replied that the Chinese government had become very much weakened as a result of the war, and that, if America would discontinue its aid, China would be forced to come to terms.

To Secretary Hull's request that the Japanese government consider the two points which he had raised, Ambassador Nomura replied that he believed his government would be unwilling to further clarify the relations of Japan and the United States toward the European war, but as for the second point concerning Japanese troops in China, he promised to consult further with Colonel Iwakuro. The conversation ended with Secretary Hull repeating his plan to talk to China about the proposals since the conversations were still in an entirely informal stage. This fact had also permitted him to discuss unofficially the question of Japanese troops in China.65 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.66 

Ambassador Nomura reported to Foreign Minister Matsuoka that he had held conversations with the Secretary of State on May 16, 20, 21 and 27,67 1941 but had not as yet come to any concrete agreement. According to Ambassador Nomura, Mr. Hull wanted to have all doubts eliminated from the minds of the people concerning the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Stating that on one occasion Secretary Hull had expressed a desire to maintain the status quo in the Pacific, Ambassador Nomura had advised that this would be unacceptable to Japan since it hoped to take the leadership in the development of the southwestern area with the cooperation of the United States. However, he was able to report that the Americans wished to give both countries equal opportunities in this region.

Ambassador Nomura had also informed Secretary Hull that Japanese authorities saw no need for the clarification of the meaning of Article III of the Tripartite Pact. The Japanese Ambassador remarked to Foreign Minister Matsuoka that Secretary Hull and his colleagues were reluctant to place Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in a difficult situation, and for this reason the United States was demanding Japan's peace terms before acting as a mediator in the China affair. The United States refused to refer to Japan's treaty with Wang Ching-wei's government or to the Tripartite Pact, but, according to the Japanese Ambassador, it was willing to make considerable concessions.

The questions of joint defense against Communism and the stationing of troops in China were to be negotiated directly by China and Japan, though the Japanese Ambassador desired the United States to suggest mediation to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek as Dunn and Denby had done in the Sino-Japanese war and Theodore Roosevelt in the Russo-Japanese war. Mr. Hull explained that the United States did not want to use the word "Communism" in the texts because of its relations to Russia and China, but that some expression such as "subversive" would be acceptable.

Ambassador Nomura commented to Mr. Hull that they had held seven discussion, lasting from one to two hours, and although they had talked "off the record" and informally, they seemed to be repeating the same things over and over without achieving results. When Ambassador Nomura asked Secretary Hull for any further suggestions, and was told that two or three minor ones would be forthcoming in a few days, the Japanese Ambassador received the


65 II, Ibid.
66 II, 46.
67 The State Department's Memorandum, S.D., II, 440, indicates that this last conversation was held on May 28, 1941.


impression that Secretary Hull was trying to estimate the effect the "understanding" would have upon other Cabinet members and American officials.

Emphasizing that the real purpose of the "understanding" was to change the psychology of both peoples from one of war to that of peace, Ambassador Nomura warned of the great danger that an incident might occur, while they were discussing technicalities, which would make an agreement impossible.

Ambassador Nomura considered it natural for the United States to estimate the actions of Japan in planning political or militaristic moves, and said that President Roosevelt's recent speech indicated the American government's concern about Japan's movements.68 

16. Mr. Matsuoka Requests American Pressure on China.69 

On May 31, 1941 Foreign Minister Matsuoka criticized Ambassador Nomura's report of May 29, 1941 [See Section 15(b)] for having lessened the dignity of modern Japan by requesting American mediation as had been done in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars. Claiming that Japan's position in the modern world was much different from that of earlier days, he stated:  

The only thing that this Minister would have the United States do with regard to mediating in the China affair, would be for her to tell Chiang Kai-shek: "Negotiate with Japan. If you refuse, we shall stop all aid to you."  

17. Publicity Leaks Concerning the Hull-Nomura Conversations.  

On May 30, 1941 Tokyo sent an urgent dispatch to Ambassador Nomura, indicating that a Domei message of May 26, 1941 had quoted several American Senators to the effect that President Roosevelt's recent speech had not referred to Japan because Japan was moving away from the Tripartite Pact, and was about to restrict the use of military force in penetrating the South Pacific. The story had not been publicized in Japan because of its potentially bad effect on the Japanese extremists, but Mr. Matsuoka's message indicated that he was more indignant because the alleged facts were not true rather than because they had been publicized in America.70

It was evident that many persons in Japan of varying degrees of importance had become aware by now that Japanese-American negotiations were under way.71 Both Foreign Minister Matsuoka and Ambassador Nomura, though differing in their viewpoints, knew that this knowledge would be a disrupting factor in the current conversations, since the pro-Axis military extremists of Japan would not remain quiescent in the face of a possible Japanese-American understanding.

Another news leak occurred on June 6, 1941, when Hallet Abend in the New York Times stated that Japan was considering a neutrality pact with the United States similar to the one she had contracted with Russia.72 Ambassador Nomura, having called together the correspondents of the Associated Press, the United Press, the Tribune, Domei and Asahi to deny that there was any truth in this article, conferred also with Secretary Hull and advised him to take measures to counteract this report. As a result, President Roosevelt stated in his press


68 II, 46.
69 II, 47.
70 II, 48.
71 II, 49.
72 II, 50, for complete text which is recorded here to demonstrate how much was known of the conversations in semiofficial circles.


conference on June 6, 1941 that he knew nothing about the matter, and pointed out that though the Japanese Ambassador and the Secretary of State occasionally had interviews, they discussed only ordinary affairs.73 

18. Special Committee Meeting (May 30,1941).74 

Mr. Hamilton met with Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Wikawa to discuss one of the two points in the Japanese proposal which the American government had found difficult to accept. This was the proposed joint Chinese-Japanese defense against communistic activities. Colonel Iwakuro outlined the Japanese government's plans concerning this point by briefly reviewing Japan's efforts to keep communism out of Manchuria and Japanese territory. Drawing a rough map of the general region of North China, Mongolia, Manchuria and Siberia, he indicated the strategic problems involved in stationing Japanese troops for protection against communistic elements from Outer Mongolia, and for the maintenance of interior lines of communication.

Replying to a question concerning the number of Japanese troops to be kept in China, Colonel Iwakuro declared that one-tenth to one-fifth of the present number—a military secret—of Japanese soldiers in North China would be necessary. These troops would not interfere with Chinese internal affairs, nor would they be stationed in any other areas outside Inner Mongolia or North China. As to the length of time these troops would be maintained in China, Colonel Iwakura stated that they would be there only as long as necessary for protection against Communism. Since there was a possibility of war between Japan and Russia, the situation might be altered.

Stressing the views of the American government that no discussion of the merits of the question was to take place, Mr. Hamilton remarked that the American people would expect their government to follow its declared principles in presenting the Japanese proposal to the Chinese government. He discussed a possible formula wherein there would be no reference to stationing of Japanese troops in Chinese territory, but in which the withdrawal of Japanese troops from China would be arranged to have the troops of North China and Inner Mongolia evacuated last. Then, just before the Japanese were scheduled to evacuate completely, Tokyo could consult with Chungking concerning the measures necessary to suppress current communistic activities. The Japanese were anxious to have Mr. Ballantine and Mr. Hamilton write a tentative draft, but Mr. Hamilton, paying tribute to the knowledge and frankness in discussion of Colonel Iwakuro, urged further consideration of this point by each side.75 

19. The United States Submits a Proposal to Ambassador Nomura (May 31, 1941).  

It will be recalled that on April 9, 1941 an informal and unofficial proposal had been presented to the State Department through the medium of private American and Japanese individuals, with the approval and collaboration of Ambassador Nomura.76 It had then been sent to Tokyo for the consideration of Foreign Minister Matsuoka who finally returned it, after considerable delay, with various revisions for submission to the Secretary of State.77 On May 12, 1941 Ambassador Nomura had presented it to Mr. Hull, who then submitted the American draft on


73 II, 51-52.
74 "Memorandum of a conversation", May 30, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 444-445.
75 II, Ibid.
76 S.D., II, 398-402.
77 S.D., II, 420-422.


May 31, 1941.78 Various differences between the two versions of the proposal were to be the topic of several conversations in June.79

The United States again informed Ambassador Nomura, on May 31, 1941, that it would talk over in strict confidence with the Chinese government the general subject matter involved in the Hull-Nomura conversations, especially as related to China.80 

20. Hull-Nomura Conversations (June 2, 1941).  

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.81 

Ambassador Nomura called at Secretary Hull's apartment on June 2, 1941 to say that he and his associates disagreed with nothing in the American proposal of May 31, 1941 with the exception of some of the phraseology which could be discussed by their representatives while he went to New York.

Deliberately asking Ambassador Nomura whether his government really desired to enter into a settlement for peace in the Pacific, Secretary Hull remarked that he raised the question because of the doubts created by the loud talking of Foreign Minister Matsuoka. The Japanese Ambassador replied that his government was anxious for a fair settlement of the American-Japanese difficulties. Although Mr. Hull expressed the hope that Japan was reconsidering its policy of stationing troops indefinitely in China, Ambassador Nomura offered no encouragement that Japan would change its course.82 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.  

It is believed that Ambassador Nomura made no specific report on this conversation, which lasted only a few minutes, since his report on June 8, 1941 summarized several conversations. (See Section 22(b)).  

21. Special Committee Meeting (June 4, 1941).83 

Associates of Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura met at the Wardman Park Hotel, on the afternoon of June 4, 1941 to discuss unofficially various points of the Japanese and American drafts of the proposal which was first presented to Secretary Hull on April 9, 1941, the last version of which was returned to Ambassador Nomura on May 31, 1941. Mr. Kanome Wakasugi, Japanese Minister-Counselor, Mr. Koto Matsudaira, Second Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. Ballantine were the conferees, and the American draft of May 31, 1941 was the basis for their discussion.

Many minor points involving translations of various phrases were discussed and noted for future decision. The Japanese requested the deletion of one important sentence in the first paragraph of Section II, which read, "Obviously, the provisions of the Pact do not apply to involvement through acts of self-defense." According to Mr. Wakasugi, Japan did not want to be bound by the United States' interpretation of "self-defense", and Japan could not commit herself in advance to future acts of other countries.

Mr. Hamilton said that it was understood from certain sources that the Japanese government desired to disassociate itself gradually from its Axis connections, and that one of the propositions


78 "American draft proposal handed to the Japanese Ambassador (Nomura)", on May 31, 1941, S.D., II, 446-454, II, 58.
79 The text of this proposal with various Annexes and Supplements was sent to Japan on June 9, 1941; II, 60-69.
80 S.D., II, 454
81 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", June 2, 1941, S.D., II, 464-455.
82 II, Ibid.
83 S.D., II, 455-464.


of the proposed "understanding" was to facilitate Japan's movement in this direction. Mr. Wakasugi stated that this was a false impression since Japan, fully intending to discharge its obligations under the Tripartite Pact, desired to remain free to decide whether the actions of the United States in Europe would cause Japan to carry out its obligations.

Colonel Iwakuro agreed that Japan was not intending to drift away from the Tripartite Pact, and said, furthermore, that, if the United States entered the European war under circumstances which Japan interpreted as obliging her to act, Japan would take up arms against the United States. However, the "understanding" would solve the difficulties in the Pacific, although trouble might still arise from the actions of the United States in the European war. It was hoped that the improved relations resulting from the "understanding" might lead both countries to collaborate in working for world peace.

The Japanese also requested the deletion of an American "Annex", containing excerpts from Secretary Hull's speech of April 24, 1941 which outlined the United States' position in regard to self-defense. They based their claim on the grounds that if these excerpts were retained, Mr. Matsuoka would desire to include his statements in regard to Japanese obligations under the Tripartite Pact. Answering Mr. Hamilton, who declared that the excerpts would clarify the American position on self-defense, Colonel Iwakuro proposed that Mr. Hull's statement be sent separately to the Japanese government. Various other proposals for revisions in the draft were made at this meeting.84 

22. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 6, 1941).  

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.85 

Ambassador Nomura, with Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Wikawa, called at Secretary Hull's apartment on the evening of June 6, 1941. When the Japanese Ambassador had first examined the American draft of May 31, 1941 he had felt that both parties were in close agreement, and that the "drafting committee" would be able to work out the details. Both Ambassador Nomura and Colonel Iwakuro stressed the sincere desire of their government to achieve an "understanding" as speedily as possible, and pointed out that despite the misunderstanding of the American government, Foreign Minister Matsuoka also was anxious for peace. Replying that he had no doubt of the sincerity of Ambassador Nomura and his associates, Mr. Hull indicated the desire of the United States to have peace in the Pacific, but emphasized his position in regard to self-defense against control of the seas by the Nazis.

To the suggestion of Ambassador Nomura that President Roosevelt request the Chinese government to negotiate with Japan, Secretary Hull replied that it would be advantageous for President Roosevelt to have an "understanding" with Japan as a basis for his discussion with the Chinese. There was a great need for clear cut and unequivocal terms in the proposed agreement so as to permit the document to speak for itself, and to allow no one to suspect the bad faith of either party.

Mr. Hull then handed Ambassador Nomura an informal and unofficial oral statement, outlining the reaction of the American government to the revisions proposed by the Japanese members of the "drafting committee" which had met on June 4, 1941. The Secretary of State referred specifically to the sections relating to China and the Pacific area where the Japanese proposed to omit clear cut provisions relating to non-discrimination in international commercial affairs.86


84 II, Ibid.
85 S.D., II, 465-467.
86 "Informal and unofficial oral statement handed by Secretary of State to Japanese Ambassador (Nomura)", on June 6, 1941, S.D., II, 467-468.


Secretary Hull mentioned his disappointment in noting a vast difference between the proposal as revised by the Japanese and the original document on which earlier discussions were based, since the revisions stressed Japan's alignment with the Axis, resisted the placement of Japan's relations with China on a basis which would contribute to a lasting peace, and avoided clear cut commitments in regard to policies of peace and non-discriminatory conduct in the Pacific. Changes of phraseology were not important, but it was essential "that there be a meeting of minds and mutual understanding of the underlying purposes of the proposed understanding" before proceeding any further.87

When Ambassador Nomura and Mr. Wikawa had read the American oral statement and had informed Colonel Iwakuro of its gist, the Japanese Military Attaché expressed surprise that the American representatives felt the absence of a meeting of minds. Ambassador Nomura, remarking also that he and his associates were in perfect agreement with Secretary Hull as to the principles involved, stated that they would immediately review their proposed revisions in the light of Secretary Hull's oral statement. In a side remark to Mr. Ballantine, Colonel Iwakuro referred to Mr. Wakasugi's presence at the meeting on June 4, 1941 and mentioned Ambassador Nomura's part in bringing Mr. Wakasugi out of retirement. Mr. Ballantine gathered the impression that Colonel Iwakuro thought that Mr. Wakasugi's presence had not been helpful.88 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.89 

Ambassador Nomura commented that after presenting Japan's final draft to the State Department he had conferred several times a week with Secretary Hull until an American plan had been offered unofficially. Since there were several questions concerning the China incident left unanswered in this new document, Ambassador Nomura had decided to appoint a committee of associates to handle the problem, but several conflicts had arisen in the meeting.

Ambassador Nomura had then gone to see Secretary Hull on Saturday afternoon, June 7, 1941.90 Secretary Hull informed him that the primary purpose of the "understanding" was maintenance of peace in the Pacific. This point was not to be glossed over or disguised, and when peace was effected, plans could be made for Japanese and American industrial, financial, and economic cooperation. In solving the difficult Pacific situation, the United States wished to keep the friendship of China to ensure free relations between the United States, China, and Japan. As Secretary Hull had stated in his report,91 Ambassador Nomura suggested that President Roosevelt advised China to make peace, but Secretary Hull responded that this would depend upon the conclusion of the "understanding".

In repeating Secretary Hull's ideas on the question of America's right to self-defense against the encroachment of Hitlerism, Ambassador Nomura hastened to assure Foreign Minister Matsuoka that he was conscious of his superior's views concerning the necessity of keeping the United States out of the European war. According to Ambassador Nomura, the time was not ripe to try to change American thinking on this matter, nor was it an opportune moment to discuss a negotiated peace in Europe since President Roosevelt had denied the peace rumors emanating as a result of the return of Ambassador Winant to Washington. He also warned that the United States regarded the principle of commercial non-discrimination as of primary importance in the


87 II, Ibid.
88 S.D., II, 467.
89 II, 53—56.
90 The State Department documents do not record a conversation on June 7. It is probable that Ambassador Nomura either was mistaken in referring to Saturday, instead of Friday, or he was using Tokyo time in this report.
91 S.D., II, 465.


Pacific, since Secretary Hull had declared that if Japan were unwilling to adopt this point there could be no "understanding".

Ambassador Nomura summarized his conversations with Secretary Hull up to this point as follows:  

Well, I feel that it will be very difficult to get anywhere by outright dealings and feel the need of conducting some other sort of activities which might be more direct. Well, I and my associates are certainly not optimistic, but on the other hand, we are not pessimistic. We will do our very best to carry out your instructions. Unless something unforeseen happens within the next ten days, I think that the points now pending will so crystallize that I will be able to let you know something more or less definite. I do not doubt his zeal in the matter at all. I call on him two or three times a week. We confer until late at night and when I leave he always says, "Come back to see me anytime you wish."92 

23. Tokyo Grows Impatient at the Delay of the United States' Answer.  

Ambassador Nomura received a message from Tokyo, on June 7, 1941, complaining of the unreasonable delay of the United States in replying to Japan's revision of the "understanding". However, though Tokyo was anxious for a speedy answer, it warned Ambassador Nomura not to rush the United States authorities.93 Two days later, on June 9, 1941 Ambassador Nomura was requested to telegraph the entire text of the so-called "unofficial American proposal" which he had received on May 31, 1941.94 Complying with this request, Ambassador Nomura stated that though there were many points unacceptable to him in the proposal just transmitted to Tokyo, the United States authorities were willing to discuss the objectionable parts before submitting it to Japan.95

The Japanese Ambassador desired to eliminate references in the proposal to the right of self-preservation, and also Secretary Hull's speech from the Annex to the proposal. In regard to China, he was anxious to work out a mutually satisfactory clause regarding the desire of both countries for peace, and to substitute a clause regarding peace in the Pacific in place of the statement asking for justice and non-discrimination. Stipulations relating to the prevention of the spread of the European war, and to mutual efforts for future world peace and peace in the Pacific would be desirable.

From Ambassador Nomura's viewpoint, the United States should have recognized Japan's national aspirations in the Far East, and Japan should have accepted those of America in the Western Hemisphere, with neither country acquiring military bases in the territory of the other's particular interest.

Ambassador Nomura also reported that Secretary Hull had been ill for two days, but that various delays would soon be ended.96 Though a preliminary American proposal was already in the hands of Tokyo authorities on June 9, 1941 Ambassador Nomura pointed out that the answer of the United States to the Japanese proposal would probably be forthcoming in a few days.97 

24. Luncheon of Japanese-American Diplomats (June 9, 1941).98 

On June 1941 Mr. Ballantine lunched with Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Wikawa. Colonel Iwakuro attempted, by seemingly casual questions, to ascertain the attitude of the State Department


92 II, 56.
93 II, 57.
94 S.D., II, 446-454; II, 58-69.
95 II, 70-72.
96 II, 72.
97 II, 73.
98S.D., II, 468-470.  


toward the Japanese proposal and its eventual outcome. Informing Colonel Iwakuro that the Secretary of State spoke for the American government in matters of foreign policy, Mr. Ballantine replied that he had nothing to add to Secretary Hull's statement of June 6, 1941 to Colonel Iwakuro and Ambassador Nomura. However, Mr. Ballantine offered to be of assistance, if any points were not clear, and promised to notify Secretary Hull of anything the Japanese diplomats might wish to say to him.

Colonel Iwakuro stated that they understood Secretary Hull's statement very well, but would like to delete the proposed sentence in the first paragraph of Section II which read, "Obviously, the provisions of the Pact do not apply to involvement through acts of self-defense". The Japanese did not intend to imply non-recognition of the American right of self-defense, but the phrase cited above seemed superfluous and would raise difficult questions at home for the Japanese government.

According to Colonel Iwakuro, the relations of Japan and the United States to the European war would have little effect on their relations to each other, and Japan's interpretation of its obligations under the Tripartite Pact would be influenced by the "understanding". Though Japan could not provide in any agreement for all possible situations where the United States might act in self-defense, the Japanese took no exception to the attitude of the American government in this matter.99

As for the section of the proposed "understanding" dealing with peace in the Pacific area, the Japanese intended to accept the American draft. Furthermore, they desired to place the mutual pledges of peaceful actions in the Pacific in the preamble of the "understanding" rather than in Section V as found in the American draft. Mr. Ballantine gathered the impression that the Japanese would agree to retain mutual pledges of non-discrimination in international commercial affairs in the Pacific, but would substitute the phraseology of Prince Konoye under caption three Section III in referring to Japanese peace terms for China.

In regard to the Japanese suggestion that President Roosevelt urge China to make peace with Japan, the Japanese pointed out that with Japanese-American difficulties about to be settled, only the Japanese-Chinese difficulties remained to disturb peace in the Far East. For this reason, the President, on his own initiative, should propose that China seek a settlement with Japan.100

Japan would not agree to limit the retention of its troops in China to one or two years, though the troops would be withdrawn as soon as the need for resisting communistic activities ceased to exist. The luncheon ended on a very cordial note, with Colonel Iwakuro expressing his determination to speak frankly on any difficulty, and Mr. Mikawa indicating that a newly revised Japanese draft would soon be ready for American approval.101 

25. Dissension Among Japanese in Washington.  

Tokyo issued a strong reprimand to its diplomatic representatives in the Japanese Embassy at Washington because of the disharmony existing between several of the members stationed there. The Foreign Office felt particularly concerned because Ambassador Nomura, a naval man and not a career diplomat, had found such a disconcerting state of affairs in the midst of a national crisis.102

A request from Tokyo that something be done to clarify messages sent from the Japanese Embassy added to the woes of the Japanese in Washington, who promised to do better in the future.103 It is interesting to note that the obscurity of the messages, transmitted from the 


99 II, Ibid., 469.
100 II, Ibid., 470.
101 II, Ibid.
102 II, 74.
103 II, 75-76.


Japanese Embassy to Tokyo, was probably due to Ambassador Nomura's own phraseology. The Japanese telegraph officials reported that they were sending the messages in as close conformity as possible with the original draft in order to convey accurately the feelings of Ambassador Nomura, who had discussed matters with the Secretary of State.104 Incidentally, American experts, translating the deciphered dispatches of Ambassador Nomura, also complained of the difficulties involved in rendering good translations of Ambassador Nomura's badly phrased reports.105

Some of the difficulties mentioned above undoubtedly arose because the Japanese were attempting to do too many things with an insufficiency of trained personnel. The usual consular work was suffering because additional men had to be assigned to handle the greatly increased volume of telegraphic work stemming from the intensified Japanese-American negotiations. An urgent call was sent to Tokyo for well trained diplomatic secretaries.106 

26. Mr. Matsuoka Reaffirms Japanese Allegiance to the Tripartite Pact.  

Foreign Minister Matsuoka administered another sharp rebuke to Ambassador Nomura on June 10, 1941 when he learned that Secretary Hull and the Ambassador had agreed to submit a proposal to a "drafting committee" representing both countries.107 Mr. Matsuoka declared that it was necessary first for both countries to come to an agreement before any discussion on important points of disagreement took place.

The Foreign Minister emphasized that such discussions should have been handled by Tokyo rather than by Ambassador Nomura, and he feared that commitments had already been made which would be difficult to explain away. Therefore, all committee meetings were to be stopped at once until the full text of the unofficial American proposal could be discussed in Tokyo, and until further instructions could be issued for the guidance of Ambassador Nomura.

According to Mr. Matsuoka, good relations between the United States and Japan, though important, were not so important as the duty of the Japanese, under the Tripartite Pact, to keep the United States from entering the war, or to prevent any further anti-Axis measures. Reminding Ambassador Nomura of his conversations with him before the Japanese Ambassador's departure for Washington, Mr. Matsuoka expressed his regrets that there were any outsiders who unfortunately believed that Japan would not fight, even if the United States did so.

Since this erroneous belief seemed to be gaining strength as a result of the Japanese-American negotiations, Mr. Matsuoka stated that it was important for the Japanese to disavow it, especially since President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull were scheming to use the "understanding" to heighten this impression. Mr. Matsuoka's summary may be of interest:  

Summing all this up, if the United States fights Germany, no matter what sort of agreement exists, after all it will inevitably have to be broken. That is clearer than the light of day. The important thing today is for us to maintain a relentless attitude. Even though it is beyond our power to make the United States feel friendly toward Germany, we must keep her from making an outright attack. Compared with this, any advice that the United States might give Chiang Kai-shek to make peace with us is of secondary importance. I think we all know that by now.108

A few days later, however, Mr. Matsuoka, having received Ambassador Nomura's explanation of the activities of the committee,109 was somewhat mollified, and apparently agreed to permit


104 II, 77
105 II, 78-79.
106 II, 80.
107 II, 81-83.
108 II, 83.
109 II, 70-73.  


similar meetings of expert assistance to take place. But he did remind Ambassador Nomura that the preliminary proposal should have been telegraphed to the Foreign Office without delay, since it was useful for translation purposes as well as discovering the workings of the minds of President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull.110 

27. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 15, 1941).  

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.111 

Ambassador Nomura, Colonel Iwakuro, and Mr. Wikawa called at Secretary Hull's apartment to assure Mr. Hull that the Japanese government sincerely desired an "understanding" with the United States, and to certify that there was no hostile feeling among higher Japanese army and navy officials against the United States. Ambassador Nomura stated that it was necessary for him to report to his government just how matters stood at this time, and he would like to confer with Secretary Hull as to the points in the Japanese proposal to which the United States would either agree or disagree.

Replying that such procedure on his part might lead to a misunderstanding with the Japanese government, Mr. Hull suggested that the Japanese Ambassador submit a report concerning his own estimate of the situation. Since Mr. Hull and his associates had conversed a number of times with Japanese representatives, the American attitude on certain points should be very clear. When Mr. Hull referred to the sounding out of the Chinese government with regard to peace before any final move was made, Ambassador Nomura indicated that the weak Chungking government was maintained only by American help, and that if this were withdrawn Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek would be obliged to accept Japanese terms.112 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.113 

Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo that he had talked, on June 15, 1941, with Secretary Hull, who was sick in bed. Because of the unavailability of Secretary Hull on the preceding day, June 14, 1941, owing to sickness, Ambassador Nomura had talked to Assistant Secretary Welles about an espionage case on the West Coast.114 According to Ambassador Nomura, Secretary Hull had stated that influential people in Japan did not wish to have an "understanding" between Japan and the United States, and, therefore, he desired Ambassador Nomura to find out whether his government was really in favor of effecting peace between the two countries.

Ambassador Nomura replied that the concessions made by the American government were not really worth consideration, and until the United States offered a concrete and fair proposal it would be useless to request further instructions on the basis of what had been offered.115 However, despite this statement of Ambassador Nomura concerning the lack of concessions by the United States, he knew that both Secretary Hull and the State Department, in the face of a number of influential Americans who were advocating a general oil embargo against Japan, were exercising restraint because of the delicate nature of Japanese-American relations. They had also advised the press to remain calm during this period.116


110 II, 84.
111 "Memorandum of a Conversation", June 15, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 471-472.
112 II, Ibid.; II, 78-79.
113 II, 78-79.
114 II, 85.
115 II, 78-79.
116 II, 86.


28. Special Committee Meeting (June 15, 1941).  

Later, on this same day of June 15, 1941, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine met Colonel Iwakuro, Mr. Wikawa, and Mr. Matsudaira to continue their discussions. The Japanese offered as a basis for discussion a revision of the Japanese draft of June 8, 1941 which had not been previously seen by the American experts.117 In view of this, a request was made, and agreed to by the Japanese, that discussion be deferred until American authorities had studied its provisions.

The conversation then turned to Japanese discriminatory commercial relations in China, e.g., Japanese special companies monopolizing the system of exchange and currency, and Japanese trade and traveling controls imposed in North China which interfered with the trade of any other nation. Although the Japanese contended that these companies were not monopolistic, since foreigners could purchase shares of the companies, the American diplomats pointed out that Japanese attempts to prevent trade competition of other nations were discriminatory. The Japanese maintained that the difficulties experienced by American firms in obtaining raw silk in China could be attributed to the preferential treatment accorded Japanese-supported companies, mines, and other economic enterprises which the Japanese had paid for in North China. However, the Japanese felt that these firms were not monopolistic and they stated that their operation should not preclude American participation in the Chinese silk industry. The Japanese added that because these businesses provided raw materials vital to their country and since Japan had paid for these supplies, they hoped that their retention would not be considered a discriminatory practice. Since Japan had paid for essential supplies, hoped that their retention by the Japanese would not be considered a discriminatory practice. With this exception, there would be no discrimination favoring Japan in the rest of the Chinese trade. This question was left for future discussion by the committee.

As for Japanese troops in North China, Colonel Iwakuro finally stated that they would definitely remain there without any time for their withdrawal. This answer was to be presented to China as a part of the general settlement between Japan and the United States, and Colonel Iwakuro hoped that some formula could be devised which would offset criticism from the United States. In addition, a tentative formula covering the relations of Japan and the United States with the European war was offered by Colonel Iwakuro. The Japanese stated that the restrictions presently imposed on goods would disappear as soon as hostilities ceased, and they insisted that, in times of peace, there were no general restrictions on American trade. Arrangements were then made to have another meeting on the following day.118 

29. Special Committee Meeting (June 16, 1941).119 

Five American and Japanese experts met on June 16, 1941 to continue the discussion of the previous evening. Those present were Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Ballantine, Colonel Iwakuro, Mr. Wikawa, and Mr. Matsudaira. Discussing exchange and currency control, Colonel Iwakuro stated that this would be the responsibility of the Chinese government after the peace settlement, though the Japanese would redeem the military script it had issued in North China.

When asked to interpret a provision of paragraph four of the "Agreed Terms of Understanding" which stated that China's control of foreign trade must not affect Sino-Japanese economic cooperation, Colonel Iwakuro replied that Japan would operate the studied Japanese proposal.120


117 "Draft document received informally from associates of the Japanese Ambassador", June 15, 1941, S.D., II, 473-476.
118 "Memorandum of a Conversation", June 15, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 472-473.
119 "Memorandum of a Conversation", June 16, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 476-478.
120 II, Ibid.  


30. Special Committee Meeting (June 17, 1941).121 

Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Ballantine, and Mr. Max W. Schmidt, of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, met with Colonel Iwakuro, Mr. Wikawa, and Mr. Matsudaira on June 17, 1941. Mr. Ballantine suggested the inclusion of the word "unprovoked" in a rewording of a provision of the "understanding" to make it read:  

The Government of Japan maintains that the purpose of the Tripartite Pact was, and is, designed to contribute to the prevention of the unprovoked extension of the European war.  

According to Mr. Ballantine, this suggestion was made tentatively, since it was already part of a general idea which the United States wished to discuss. Furthermore, it was suggested that excerpts from the Secretary of State's speech, already objected to by the Japanese as part of the Annex and Supplement presented by the United States on May 31, 1941 should be incorporated in an exchange of letters between the Secretary of State and the Japanese Ambassador to clarify the attitude of the United States toward the European war.

Colonel Iwakuro replied that Japan would not favor the publication of Secretary Hull's statement in either an exchange of letters, or as an annex and supplement to an agreement, since the Japanese government had been fully informed of the attitude of the United States toward the European war. The question should be left for further discussion until after an agreement had been reached between the two countries.122 Answering a query of Mr. Wikawa as to the type of reply to be expected, Mr. Hamilton said that it could not be treated as secret, but that it would not necessarily be published. To Mr. Hamilton's suggestion, corresponding to that of Secretary Hull's, that Japan indicate its understanding of the attitude of the United States toward the European war in regard to self-defense, Colonel Iwakuro asked whether the United States would accept Japan's own views on self-defense. Mr. Hull (sic) replied that the question would not have arisen except for Japan's attitude toward the European war as expressed in the Tripartite Pact. When Colonel Iwakuro responded that Japan in turn might want to send a letter incorporating statements by Japanese leaders, Mr. Hamilton pointed out that this would probably not lead to a meeting of minds.123

Discussing the satisfactory relations of the United States with Japan before the signing of the Tripartite Pact, Colonel Iwakuro said that the attitude of the United States left Japan with no other alternative but to join the Axis. Thus, before specific controversies could be solved, it would be necessary first to improve general American-Japanese relations. To a question raised concerning Japanese special companies, such as the North China Development Company and the Central China Promotion Company, Colonel Iwakuro replied that American companies would be allowed to operate in China, with the exception of certain enterprises, which, under Chinese law, must necessarily have more than fifty per cent Chinese ownership.

When Mr. Hamilton remarked that continual complaints were being received from American businessmen, who were suffering from Japanese restrictions of trade in China, Colonel Iwakuro replied that this situation was due to war conditions, and that, when peace arrived, all restrictions in trade and banking would be removed. Equal treatment would be accorded to the nationals of all other powers without any discrimination.

Concerning relations between the government at Chungking and the government of Wang Ching-wei after the proposed peace settlement between China and Japan, Japan desired representatives from both Chinese sections to be present at the peace negotiations, since it believed that both governments would eventually coalesce to form the Chinese government and to sign the peace treaty. This topic was left for future discussion.


121 "Memorandum of a Conversation", June 17, 1941, by Max W. Schmidt, S.D., II, 478-483.
122 II, Ibid., 479.
123 II, Ibid.  


To the suggestion of Colonel Iwakuro that Japan and the United States mutually recognize the defensive position which each country had in East Asia and in the Western Hemisphere, Mr. Hamilton commented that the "Good Neighbor" policy in the Western Hemisphere might be jeopardized, because this suggestion might offend some of the American republics. Mr. Hamilton recommended that this suggestion be excluded from the final proposal.124

The Japanese then asked the United States to state that it had no ambitions for new military or political bases in East Asia. After Colonel Iwakuro pointed out that there was no mention of military bases in Section VI, which declared that neither government had territorial designs in the Pacific, Mr. Hamilton indicated that the raising of the question of military bases at this time would create new issues, which could be left for discussion until after the "understanding" had been achieved.

Colonel Iwakuro suggested that the United States emphasize its peaceful intention by announcing that no new bases would be acquired, but Mr. Hamilton commented that since Japan had planned to establish bases in Thailand, Indo-China, Hainan, and other areas of the Southwest Pacific, the American public would object to restrictions on the United States' freedom. Furthermore, if Japan considered the question of military bases as separate from the acquisition of new territory, other questions would arise concerning Japan's plans for the South Pacific. When Japan claimed that it did not have territorial designs, did it intend to acquire military bases there?

Colonel Iwakuro replied that Japan did not intend to acquire military bases, but that this decision would be governed by the actions of the United States, for example, the acquisition by the United States of a military base in Singapore.

Though the Japanese urged all possible speed in the discussions so that they could inform Tokyo, Mr. Hamilton reminded them that four important questions were still outstanding:

1. Economic non-discrimination in China.
2. Stationing of Japanese troops in China.
3. Attitude of the two governments toward the European war.
4. The statement regarding military bases.

Because these points would have to be discussed with Secretary Hull, another meeting was arranged for the near future.125 

31. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 21, 1941).  

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.126 

Ambassador Nomura called at Secretary Hull's apartment at the latter's request to receive a completely revised American draft of the proposal.127 Secretary Hull also handed the Japanese Ambassador an oral statement which he asked him to read.128 Accompanying the oral statement and redraft were two annexes and supplements, one in regard to the China incident which would be published as coming from the Japanese government, and the other concerning commercial relations as coming from the United States. In addition, there were the suggested texts of letters to be exchanged in outlining the attitude of the two countries toward the Euro-


124 II, Ibid., 481.
125 II, Ibid.
126 "Memorandum of a Conversation", June 21, 1941 by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 483-484.
127 "Draft proposal handed by the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador (Nomura)", on June 21, 1941, S.D., II, 486-489.
128 "Oral statement handed by Secretary of State to Japanese Ambassador (Nomura)", on June 21, 1941, S.D., II, 485-486, II, 87-89. This oral statement was returned to American authorities by Ambassador Nomura on July 17, 1941, S.D., II, 511-514.


pean war, and a suggested letter from Secretary Hull to Ambassador Nomura regarding nondiscriminatory economic cooperation between China and Japan.129

The oral statement expressed the appreciation of Secretary Hull for the efforts of Ambassador Nomura and his associates in bettering American-Japanese relations in the Pacific. However, though many Japanese leaders shared the views of the Japanese Ambassador concerning the desirability of peace, the United States had received reports from many world-wide sources that some Japanese officials were definitely committed to the support of Nazi Germany, and would fight on the side of Hitler should the United States enter the European war as a matter of self-defense.130 (See Part C—e, Japanese-Axis Relations)

Since official spokesmen of the Japanese government were emphasizing Japan's obligations under the Tripartite Pact in an effort to influence Japanese opinion, Secretary Hull asked whether the adoption of the proposed "understanding" would achieve the desired results. The decision of Japan to retain troops in Northern China was also another source of difficulty since it conflicted with America's liberal policy of not interfering with the sovereign rights of another power. The United States desired a clearer indication than had yet been given of the Japanese government's wish to pursue a course of peace.131

After Ambassador Nomura had read this oral statement, Secretary Hull reminded him of Foreign Minister Matsuoka's announcements that any resistance to the aggression of Chancellor Hitler would call for action by Japan under the Tripartite Pact. As for American intentions concerning military bases in the Pacific, the United States had been gradually withdrawing from that region, and in 1922 had agreed not to fortify its territory in the western Pacific. In addition, the United States had been willing to renew this treaty in 1936.

In Secretary Hull's opinion, the Japanese government would be controlled in the future either by the pro-Nazi elements or by those opposed to a policy of aggression, and for this reason, the United States would gladly consider a program for cooperation along peaceful lines. Since both he and Ambassador Nomura shared the belief that an "understanding" at this time of world crisis was most important, Mr. Hull announced that though he would leave for the country to recuperate from his recent illness, his associates would be available for consultation with the Japanese Ambassador and his colleagues at any time.132 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.133 

Ambassador Nomura notified Foreign Minister Matsuoka that he had received from Secretary Hull the oral statement and revised draft of the proposal which were mentioned above. Expressing his dissatisfaction with this latest American proposal, since it was far from being in accord with Mr. Matsuoka's instructions, Ambassador Nomura announced that he was sending the documents to Tokyo. He was convinced that the Japanese government would not accept some of the American terms in regard to the United States' interpretation of self-defense and non-discriminatory commercial relations in China.

In another interview with Secretary Hull on June 23, 1941, Ambassador Nomura had told him frankly that he could not submit this proposal to his government.134 Despite this last


129 S.D., II, 489-492.
130 II, Ibid., 485.
131 II, Ibid., 486.
132 II, Ibid.
133 II, 78-79.
134 On several occasions Ambassador Nomura dated his meetings with Secretary Hull one day ahead of the date given by Secretary Hull in his official documents; e.g., II, 78-79, in which Ambassador Nomura speaks of a meeting on June 22, noted by Secretary Hull, as taking place on June 21, and a meeting on June 23 which Secretary Hull recorded as occurring on June 22.


statement, Ambassador Nomura sent the texts of both documents to Tokyo on June 24, 1941,135 and other messages, clarifying obscure points, were transmitted on the next day.136 On June 24, 1941 Ambassador Nomura summarized the current American-Japanese diplomatic situation by indicating three important discrepancies in the demands of both sides:  

1. When it comes to the European war, Anglo-American self-defense rights, and the Tripartite Pact, they will not yield to anything we advocate.
2. When it comes to the question of our stationing of troops for protection against Communists, they strangely enough declare that they cannot interfere with Chinese-Japanese peace terms, but in the same breath show considerable ire, declaring that this interferes with the sovereignty of a third power.
3. Secretary Hull's pet principle is that of commercial non-discrimination. He repeats that the Pan-American policy of the United States consists of this. He often says that if we applied the principle of non-discrimination to China and all the Pacific, we would have nothing to lose, and it would, as a matter of fact, be to our material interests.137 

According to Ambassador Nomura, the United States would negotiate despite these discrepancies, if it were absolutely certain that Japan earnestly desired peace. However, the United States would not support Japan in its desire to station troops in China, nor in its ambition to exercise economic domination in the Pacific area. Yet, since Japan had been exempted from the freezing of foreign assets, the West coast espionage case involving Japanese naval officers had been settled in a friendly fashion, and Secretary Hull, despite illness, had received him three times, Ambassador Nomura believed that President Roosevelt and his immediate associates were anxious to achieve a peaceful settlement. On the other hand, reports from the American Embassy in Tokyo and from financial circles in New York indicated that many American officials doubted the sincerity of the Japanese government.

In view of all this, Ambassador Nomura believed it would be advantageous, despite the difficulties, to continue negotiations, since the freezing of Japanese credit and additional trade restrictions would follow the rupture of relations.138 

32. Hull-Nomura Conversation (June 22, 1941).  

(a) Secretary Hull's Report.139 

Ambassador Nomura called at Secretary Hull's apartment on June 22, 1941 to announce his intention of sending to Tokyo Secretary Hull's oral statement of the preceding day. He could not account for the disagreement among Japanese authorities to which the American State Department had referred, because from the very beginning he had been conforming to the instructions of his government. Secretary Hull asked whether Mr. Matsuoka, as his recent message to Premier Mussolini had indicated, was using the United States to force China to agree with Japan, and at the same time was leaving Japan free to come into the European war.

Ambassador Nomura replied that though Japan did not want war with the United States, it did not wish to bind itself in advance to some future action. Ambassador Nomura then asked Mr. Ballantine to read to Secretary Hull a Japanese oral statement which suggested that the proposed exchange of letters between Secretary Hull and himself, as described in the documents submitted by Secretary Hull on June 21, 1941, be either omitted or modified.140 Secretary Hull commented that he did not wish to embarrass the Japanese government, nor did he think the Japanese


135 II, 87-92.
136 II, 84-97.
137 II, 79.
138 II, Ibid.
139 "Memorandum of a conversation", June 22, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 492-494.
140 "Informal and unofficial oral statement handed by the Japanese Ambassador (Nomura) to the Secretary of State on June 22, 1941, S.D., II. 494.


government would want to embarrass the United States; his purpose had been to clarify the attitude of the Japanese government so that public opinion in America would not oppose the "understanding".

In reply to Secretary Hull's question whether Germany's entrance into war against Russia might not make it easier for the Japanese government to come to an "understanding", Ambassador Nomura replied that the Japanese government did not desire to repudiate its obligations under the Tripartite Pact. However, the matter would be referred to his government for further study.

The Japanese Ambassador also objected to the draft letter in regard to non-discrimination in international commercial relations, on the grounds that this matter would involve too many details for the present "understanding", and could be treated at a later time. As for the Japanese proposal that the question of troops in China be left for settlement between Japan and China, Secretary Hull pointed out the possible danger of the United States and Japan reaching an agreement which might not be followed by a similar concord between Japan and China, thus embarrassing the United States. According to Ambassador Nomura, this question would be studied further by his government despite Japan's long-established policy of keeping its troops in China for defense against Communism.

Secretary Hull did not offer to withdraw the exchange of letters, but it was decided to have the Japanese Ambassador refer the essential points of the letters to his government for study under an agreement that another alternative from the Japanese Ambassador might be acceptable. In view of the importance of the "understanding", Secretary Hull asked that Ambassador Nomura and his associates remain in touch with Secretary Hull's associates, who would keep him advised.141 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.  

It appears that no specific report concerning this meeting was transmitted to Tokyo by Ambassador Nomura. If he did so, the dispatch is not available.  

33. Ambassador Nomura Defends His Actions.  

It will be recalled that Foreign Minister Matsuoka had severely rebuked Ambassador Nomura for exceeding his authority in discussing certain details of the proposal which the Foreign Office considered part of its own province. On June 25, 1941 Ambassador Nomura replied that he had never transcended the limits of Mr. Matsuoka's instructions, but had devoted all his time to the betterment of Japanese-American relations as an important phase of Japanese national policy. Since there was sufficient reason to believe that the United States doubted the good faith of Japan, Ambassador Nomura had investigated the reasons for this attitude.142

Having discovered that two or three members of the American Cabinet, as well as some of the State Department officials, were not in favor of the proposed "understanding", the Japanese Ambassador remarked that groups in both America and Japan were not in sympathy with his actions and were doing their best to wreck the negotiations. Reminding Mr. Matsuoka that Secretary Hull had asked him on several occasions whether it was not true that certain influential groups in Japan were opposed to the "understanding", Ambassador Nomura indicated that he had strongly denied this charge, and had also refuted the impression that his views did not represent those of the Japanese Government.

The Japanese Ambassador appealed to his past record of friendship with the Foreign Minister and the trying circumstances under which he had assumed his present duties as evidence of his good faith and excellent motives in the current conversations.143


141 II, Ibid.
142 II, 98.
143 II, Ibid. 


34. Ambassador Nomura Urges the Adoption of the "Understanding".  

On June 29, 1941 Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo that he was still awaiting instructions in regard to the documents presented to him by the Secretary of State, but meanwhile, he would offer his opinion as to the action Japan should take. Reiterating his former pleas for a speedy decision, Ambassador Nomura pointed out that though the United States was feverishly preparing to meet any eventuality, it was unlikely to enter the war for some time to come. Therefore, an "understanding" between Japan and the United States would help to restrain America from entering the war. Furthermore, Ambassador Nomura doubted the efficacy of the aid which the United States intended to give to Russia.

If Japan did not make haste in arriving at a decision, the United States might lose interest in the "understanding", and Japan would then have to expand to the south, with a probable collision with the Netherlands East Indies and an eventual diplomatic break with Britain and Australia. As for Japan's allegiance to its Axis partners, Ambassador Nomura stated that adherence to the Tripartite Pact would in no way affect the preservation of peace in the Pacific. He urged that the Japanese governmental authorities persuade the United States of its true interest in the proposed "understanding".144 

35. Tokyo Warns Its Diplomats of a Crisis.  

On June 30, 1941, shortly after Germany had attacked Russia, Tokyo issued a general warning to all of its diplomatic representatives throughout the world that Japan had entered a critical period.145 All intelligence reports were to be dispatched to the Foreign Office as soon as possible, and all documents referring to these reports were to be destroyed by fire.

Instructions were issued concerning the evacuation of Japanese personnel, the voiding of leases for rented property, the safe custody of Japanese government-owned property, and various other items relating to the discontinuance of Japanese diplomatic relations in certain areas. These instructions were not too significant in regard to the Hull-Nomura conversations, since the uneasiness expressed by Tokyo was merely a reflection of the general spirit of many nations not at war at this time. However, the instructions indicated that the Japanese government was preparing for any eventuality.  

36. America's Attitude Toward the German-Russian War (July 1, 1941).  

Ambassador Nomura reported Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles' discussion of America's attitude toward the German-Soviet war. Remarking that America was equally opposed to a communistic or Nazi dictatorship, Mr. Welles declared that the present concern of the United States was the destruction of Hitlerism throughout the world, and for that reason aid to Russia had been ordered.146

President Roosevelt confirmed this statement on June 24, 1941 and said that since Russia had made no request for aid as yet, he did not know what would have to be sent. However, Russia had been exempted from the order of the Secretary of the Treasury on June 14, 1941 which had frozen all European funds in the United States, and, thus, Russia had four hundred million dollars available in the United States for the purchase of American materials. Furthermore, the United States had not invoked the neutrality act in the German-Russian war on the grounds that the act was not necessary for the preservation of American lives and the public peace. Aid to Russia under the Lend-Lease Act was being studied.


144 II, 99.
145 II, 100.
146 II, 101.


Ambassador Nomura assured Tokyo that Japan was exercising a restraining influence on the entrance of the United States into war, but he believed that American public opinion was becoming more settled, and that decisive action only awaited the completion of preparations, which would be a matter of but a few months. Pointing out that many Americans believed in the inevitability of war, he indicated that all preparations were being made for a long struggle.147

Despite the views of Ambassador Nomura in the report described above, he informed his superiors, on July 2, 1941, that President Roosevelt had stressed, in a press conference on the preceding day, the hope that the United States could keep out of the war. Ambassador Nomura believed that this statement of President Roosevelt had been intended as an indirect reply to a speech of Prime Minister Konoye to allay any fears of Japan concerning a possible conflict between a Japanese-American "understanding" and the Tripartite Pact. Prime Minister Konoye had stated that the Tripartite Pact had been designed to keep both Japan and the United States out of the European war.148 According to Ambassador Nomura, Postmaster General Frank C. Walker had conferred with President Roosevelt after the remarks of Prince Konoye, and President Roosevelt had decided to make an indirect reply to the Japanese Prime Minister.149 

37. Special Committee Meeting (July 2, 1941).150 

American and Japanese associates of Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura met for further discussion. Mr. Ballantine, Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Hamilton, Colonel Iwakuro, Mr. Wikawa and Mr. Matsudaira were present.

Mentioning the recent conciliatory interview Prime Minister Konoye had given to the American press, Mr. Wikawa stated that this had been in response to Secretary Hull's oral statement of June 21, 1941. For this reason, Prime Minister Konoye, emphasizing Japan's intention not to participate in or to assist any German program of world conquest, had stressed the absence of reasons for war between the United States and Japan. However, Mr. Ballantine pointed out that the interview had been granted to a Paramount Newsreel representative who had in turn given the information to a United Press correspondent. The interview was not too significant since the Prime Minister's remarks had not been published in Japan, and as reported in America, differed only slightly from previous comments of Japanese statesmen.151

In regard to the implication, in Secretary Hull's oral statement of June 21, 1941, of a division within the Japanese government, Mr. Iwakuro reported that secret information, acquired from State Department channels, indicated that the Hull-Nomura conversations had been closed, and that Japanese funds would be frozen in the near future. This information had resulted in unfortunate losses to the Japanese sinking fund allotted for the purchase of Japanese government bonds.

The Japanese representatives argued that once the "understanding" had been reached, Japan would be able to give evidence of her peaceful intentions, meanwhile, though recognizing the need for quick action, Japan was obliged to move cautiously. Much discussion then arose concerning the unanimity of the Japanese government concerning the proposed "understanding". The Japanese assured their American colleagues that with the exception of some small groups there was complete cooperation in Japan.


147 II, Ibid.
148 N.Y. Times, June 30,1941, 7:2.
149 II, 102.
150 "Memorandum of a Conversation", July 2, 1941, by Max W. Schmidt, S.D., II, 495-499.
151 II, Ibid., 495.


Mr. Schmidt reminded the Japanese diplomats that many of their statesmen had emphasized Japan's commitments under the Tripartite Pact. Consequently, the people of the United States believed that certain Japanese elements, supporting Germany, would oppose an "understanding" with the United States which would prevent Japan's aid to Chancellor Hitler, if the United States went to war against Germany. Mr. Wikawa replied that statements of Ambassador Nomura to Secretary Hull concerning Japanese intentions had the official support of the Japanese Army, Navy and Foreign Office, and Colonel Iwakuro confirmed Japanese unanimity in this respect. Mr. Ballantine indicated that it was not a question of the unanimity of the Japanese government concerning the proposal under discussion, but since there was some doubt as to the peaceful intentions of the Japanese, it was felt that Tokyo ought to present some concrete evidence as a proof of its good will.152 The Americans asked for some concrete evidence that the Japanese government as a whole was anxious for peace instead of military conquest.153

The Japanese diplomats remarked that the Hull-Nomura conversations were kept very secret in Japan, owing to the opposition which might arise from other countries and certain Japanese elements. Furthermore, public statements of Japanese officials were often largely for home consumption. According to Mr. Hamilton, similar secrecy was in effect in the United States, and since President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull were able to "apply the brakes" in matters of policy, it seemed possible for the Japanese government also to adopt peaceful methods. Colonel Iwakuro stated that in view of Japan's Tripartite Pact obligations, it would be difficult to act in this fashion until the "understanding" had been reached.154

Commenting that delays in the current conversations were making both countries feel that the other was "insincere" and "playing with the other", Colonel Iwakuro declared that since their primary objective was to prevent hostilities between the United States and Japan, an agreement to avoid war should be reached first. All other problems could then be settled in the favorable atmosphere resulting from such an agreement.

In the opinion of Mr. Ballantine, however, the essential points at issue were first, Japan's attitude toward the European war, and second, Japan's desire for peace. Agreeing with Colonel Iwakuro that an understanding on fundamentals would facilitate the solution of other problems, Mr. Hamilton mentioned that Secretary Hull could not ignore the evidence from Japan and other sources which indicated that important Japanese elements did not desire peace.

Suggesting that mutual recognition of the right of self-defense would suffice for the exchange of letters proposed in the American draft of June 21, 1941, Colonel Iwakuro remarked that the United States' assistance to Russia was not pleasing to Japan. He expressed his own personal opinion that discussions on the China incident be dropped until the United States and Japan had reached an agreement for peace in the Pacific. Mr. Hamilton responded that peace in the Pacific involved many countries, and, in addition, there could be no peace if certain Japanese elements were to force an attack on the United States at some later stage of the European war.

The most important part of the whole conversation occurred when the Japanese urged that an "understanding" be reached immediately, with details left for the future, so as to eliminate the possibility of war between Japan and the United States. Mr. Hamilton then repeated his statement that if Japan followed peaceful courses, there would be no danger of war.155


152 II, Ibid., 496.
153 II, Ibid., 496-497.
154 II, Ibid., 497.
155 II, Ibid.


38. Japan Decides to Move Southward and Act in Accordance with the Tripartite Pact.  

That the Tripartite Pact was the basis of Japanese foreign policy was reemphasized in an Imperial conference report from Mr. Matsuoka to Japanese diplomats, which disclosed that pressure from various points in the south would be exerted to bring the Chungking regime in China to submission. Preparations for a southward advance by Japan were under way, and the policy already decided in regard to French Indo-China and Thailand was to be executed. Every effort was to be exerted to prevent the United States from entering the war, although if the need should arise, Japan would act in accordance with the Tripartite Pact.156

Tokyo also announced to its representatives that the divesting of English and United States interests in China might be necessary, depending upon the results of Japanese negotiations with the English speaking people. If things came to the worst, Tokyo asked that all areas concerned cooperate in either destroying or seizing mining and other industrial equipment and ships of England and the United States.  

39. Ambassador Nomura Urges Japan Not to Act in Accordance with the Tripartite Pact.  

Ambassador Nomura, on July 3, 1941, informed Foreign Minister Matsuoka that relations between Japan and the United States would worsen if Japan collaborated with Germany against Russia. Because peace had to be maintained in the Far East and Japan's obligations to China had to be fulfilled, he urged Japan to stay out of the German-Russian war. Pointing out that a quick agreement to a Japanese-American "understanding" would make the question of self-defense applicable to both Japan and America, he commented that this would make legitimate a future Japanese stand against Russia.

Ambassador Nomura warned that if Japan moved its army southward at this time, there was absolutely no hope of an agreement with the United States. Knowing from various warnings received from the Foreign Office that a serious move was about to be made by his country, the Japanese Ambassador urged a speed decision as to the American "understanding", no matter what policy in regard to Russia was going to be followed.157 

40. Ambassador Nomura Reassures Secretary Hull.  

On July 4, 1941 Ambassador Nomura handed a note to Mr. Ballantine with the request that its contents be telephoned to Secretary Hull as soon as possible. This was done on July 5, 1941 by a member of the State Department. The text follows:  

WASHINGTON, July 4, 1941.

MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: I am glad to inform you that I am now authorized by the Foreign Minister to assure you that there is no divergence of views in the Government regarding its fundamental policy of adjusting Japanese-American relations on a fair basis.

Yours very sincerely, K. NOMURA.158 

41. Interview with Ambassador Nomura.  

(a) State Department's Report.159 

On July 5, 1941, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine called on Ambassador Nomura to deliver Secretary Hull's comments on Ambassador Nomura's letter of July 4, 1941. The State Depart-


156 II, 103-104.
157 II, 105-106.
158 S.D., II, 499.
159 "Memorandum of a conversation", July 5, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 499-502.


ment notified Ambassador Nomura that it had instructed Ambassador Grew in Tokyo to deliver to Prime Minister Konoye a message asking for assurances that reports of an imminent attack against Russia by Japan were without foundation.160 Mention was also made of American efforts to maintain peace in the Pacific, and the statements of Ambassador Nomura and other Japanese leaders confirming Japan's support of this policy were cited.

Mr. Hamilton indicated that the telegram had been sent before Ambassador Nomura's letter of July 4, 1941 had been received. Though the letter contained assurances of friendliness on the part of Japan which were very pleasing to the United States, Mr. Hamilton remarked that answers of the Japanese government to the fundamental questions raised in Secretary Hull's oral statement of June 21, 1941 would be very helpful. The oral statement had not implied a divergence of views among the Japanese concerning the desirability of the proposed "understanding", but it had asked for evidence which would contradict the impression that certain elements of the Japanese government favored Hitler's world conquest rather than a course of peace.

Ambassador Nomura replied that a comparison of the original proposal and the American revision revealed important differences of viewpoints, which the Japanese government recognized. His letter of July 4, 1941 expressed the desire of his government to continue the conversations until the differences were eliminated. The China incident affected public opinion in Japan much more than in the United States, and, therefore, the Japanese government had to move very cautiously in this matter. However, the Japanese Ambassador promised to inform his superiors of the American viewpoint.

Mr. Hamilton then read to Ambassador Nomura a clipping from the New York Times relating to Japan's plans to acquire naval air bases in French Indo-China and Thailand, which would permit Japanese forces to threaten the Burma Road, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. In view of this, he asked the Japanese Ambassador to explain the contradictory aspects of Japan's discussing a peace settlement for the Pacific while preparing for war. (See Part C—(g) Japanese-French Relations, which indicates that all of Japan's secret plans for the Far East were divulged to the State Department by United States Communication Intelligence).

The Japanese Ambassador replied that his country was forced to prepare for all possible eventualities since newspapers in the United States were full of plans for the encirclement of Japan, aid to China, Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies, visits of American squadrons to Australia, American aid to the Russian Far East, and the acquisition of air bases in Siberia. In addition, the possibility of a petroleum embargo by the United States against Japan made it necessary for Japan to make preparations for defense.

According to Mr. Hamilton, the United States was not preparing to acquire bases in Siberia, and he commented that there was a great difference between preparatory defense measures at home and seizing bases by force abroad. Ambassador Nomura declared that the Japanese government desired peace, and it had no intention at the moment to move either against Russia or southward. It was imperative, therefore, that the "understanding" be concluded as speedily as possible to avoid further aggravations resulting from action and counter-action by both Japan and America. Agreeing with these views, Mr. Hamilton commended Ambassador Nomura's statesmanlike remarks.

Mr. Hamilton then mentioned that associates of Ambassador Nomura had discussed the possibility of Japan's willingness to withdraw all their troops in China within two years. Replying that he was not conversant with details of this matter, the Japanese Ambassador men-


160 "Statement handed by the American Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to Mr. Tomohiko Ushiba, Private Secretary of the Japanese Prime Minister (Prince Konoye)", on July 6, 1941, S.D., II, 502-503.


tioned that the treaty with Mr. Wang Ching-wei would keep Japanese troops in China as long as the Anti-Comintern Pact was valid, which might be for two years but, perhaps, for much longer.

Throughout the whole conversation Mr. Hamilton emphasized that he spoke in the name of Secretary Hull, and at the end he informed Ambassador Nomura that the State Department expected a reply to the message sent to Prime Minister Konoye.  

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.161 

Unfortunately, two-thirds of Ambassador Nomura's report to Tokyo was not intercepted by American cryptanalytical agencies. The intercepted part referred only to the question of Japan's acquisition of bases in French Indo-China and Thailand, and outlined Ambassador Nomura's exposition of Japan's needs for self-defense. There was very little information of value in this message.162 

42. Ambassador Nomura Analyzes President Roosevelt's Diplomatic Activities.  

Ambassador Nomura submitted to Tokyo, on July 7, 1941, a long analysis of American public opinion in relation to President Roosevelt's diplomatic moves.163 The Japanese Ambassador had learned that the United States was already using convoy systems, although Senator George, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had said that the Lend-Lease Act had been passed with the understanding that there would be no convoys, or that convoys would not be instituted without the consent of the Senate. Therefore, Senator George had attacked the government's use of convoys, and the attitude of his committee had stiffened toward the President. However, President Roosevelt had answered this opposition through Secretary Knox, who, speaking in Boston on June 30, 1941 had demanded that the United States Navy take action in the Atlantic immediately. According to Ambassador Nomura, President Roosevelt intended to use Secretary Stimson and Secretary Knox in imposing his definite decision on an indecisive Congress.

As a result of Secretary Knox's speech, a demand arose for a Senate investigation to determine whether or not convoys were being used, but Secretary Knox, in a press conference of July 2, 1941 denied their use. The Japanese Ambassador pointed out that they were already in operation. Moreover, Ambassador Nomura claimed that in the fall of 1940, President Roosevelt had instructed influential members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to use one of the incidents that were occurring between the United States and Japan as a pretext for war. President Roosevelt dropped the plan when members of the committee objected, and in the beginning of 1941, President Roosevelt entirely changed his attitude and earnestly desired an adjustment of United States-Japanese relations.164

According to this same report, President Roosevelt had first hoped, through aid to Britain, to ensure a British victory without entering the war, but Germany's victories in the Balkans and Crete had caused him to change his policy. At that time he had not yet formulated a new policy, and because of the problem of regulating relations with Japan he had postponed his fireside chat for two weeks.

In the view of the Japanese Ambassador, President Roosevelt's move to send aid to Russia had brought an unfavorable reaction from the America First Committee, which claimed ten million members. He also believed that President Roosevelt's calling Colonel Charles Lindbergh a "Copperhead" had been a great failure. Furthermore, twenty-six million Methodists,


161 II, 107.
162 II, Ibid.
163 II, 108.
164 II, Ibid. 


Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Disciples had passed resolutions opposed to war. In view of this disunity in public opinion and in Congress itself, President Roosevelt was undecided as to his future policy, but was determined to decide on some definite course of action.

Ambassador Nomura believed that Japan was America's foremost concern at this time. One way of solving President Roosevelt's dilemma would be to achieve a Japanese-American understanding, but even though President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull were desirous for peace in the Pacific, they doubted Japan's sincerity.

Ambassador Nomura warned his superior that if Japan expanded toward the south, the United States, despite the unpreparedness of the American army, would use the navy which was prepared for war with Japan. Thus, popular opinion would be unified, and America's dilemma would be solved, since its wish to fight on only one front could be realized in view of the German-Russian war, which would permit it to neglect the Atlantic.165 

43. Mr. Matsuoka Replies to President Roosevelt.  

On July 8, 1941 Mr. Matsuoka handed to Ambassador Grew, at the request of Prime Minister Konoye, a message for delivery to the President of the United States.166 Declaring that Japan sincerely desired to prevent the European war from spreading to Greater East Asia and to maintain peace in the Pacific, it stated that so far Japan had not considered the possibility of joining the hostilities against Russia. A confidential copy of the Japanese oral statement delivered to the Russian Ambassador in Tokyo on July 2, 1941, which indicated that Japan would preserve its neutrality with Russia, was attached to this message. The Japanese government also asked whether or not, as indicated by reports from a variety of sources, it was the intention of the President of the United States to intervene in the European war.167

During this interview, Ambassador Grew read to Mr. Matsuoka a statement from Secretary Hull, which refuted certain reports emanating from Tokyo concerning the uncertainty of America's foreign policy.168 Several articles in Japanese newspapers had revealed Japan's fears that the United States and Great Britain would use Russia for military purposes against Japan. In addition, the Japanese press considered American aid to Russia as an unfriendly gesture against Japan.

According to Secretary Hull, the attitude of the United States in regard to the European war had been very clearly stated many times. Its sole aim was to protect the Western Hemisphere against German armies and, accordingly, aid was being given to Great Britain and to any other nation in opposition to those armies, e.g., Russia. All such aid was given in defense of America, and in no way did it threaten the security of nations not on the side of Chancellor Hitler.169 

44. Ambassador Nomura Reports German-British Peace Negotiations.  

While waiting for a reply from Tokyo in response to his telegrams asking for prompt action, Ambassador Nomura reported the existence in American financial circles of a great many rumors concerning American intervention for a German-British peace treaty.170 According to one rumor,


165 II, Ibid.
166 "Statement handed by the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Matsuoka) to the American Ambassador in Japan (Grew)" on July 8, 1941, S.D., II, 503-504.
167 II, Ibid.
168 "Memorandum by the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)", July 8, 1941, S.D., II, 505.
169 II, Ibid.
170 II, 109-110.


an American-born German was working in the United States to bring about peace, and through the efforts of several prominent Americans he had been introduced to Secretary Hull with whom he had conferred concerning peace terms. However, neither President Roosevelt nor his associates would consider the project, though a number of cabinet members were in favor of it. Ambassador Nomura hastened to add that he could not vouch for the accuracy of this story,171 but Mr. Matsuoka replied that he was very much interested in such reports, and asked for further details when available.172 

45. Secretary Hull Refutes Ambassador Nomura's Report.  

Complying with the request of the Japanese Foreign Office, on July 14, 1941 Ambassador Nomura supplied some interesting details of the secret activities of a German agent in America who was attempting to bring about peace between England and Germany.173 According to Ambassador Nomura, a certain ----- [a] accompanied by -----a, had been introduced to the Secretary of State through the good offices of a relative of Secretary Hull, -----a. Ambassador Nomura stated that his tendencies were pro-Japanese.

The Japanese Ambassador reported that -----a, an American of German extraction, who had lived in Berlin from 1920 to 1939 as representative of American financial interests, had become intimate with Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering. Owing to his favorable position he had been able to protect the -----a properties in Germany, and had underwritten the Japan Electric Company through the New York organization of -----a.

-----a had returned to the United States by way of Mexico, carrying with him an offer of a European peace plan made by Chancellor Hitler and Minister Goebbels, and bearing written documents from Nazi officials. Chancellor Hitler proposed to open peace negotiations with Britain at any time through the intercession of the United States. The integrity of the British Empire would be preserved; France, Belgium, and Holland were to continue in existence; Poland and Czechoslovakia were to be eliminated; Norway and Denmark were to be left out of the discussion.

Ambassador Nomura also reported that on February 15, 1941 a meeting had been held at the State Department with -----a, Secretary Hull, the head of the European Division and other competent heads of departments, as well as two members of the Intelligence Section participating in the conversations. -----a had presented Chancellor Hitler's and Minister Goebbel's letter, and he had also requested that a telephone communication be established from the State Department to the Nazi authorities so that his official position in relation to Germany could be established. This had been done, and Minister Goebbels had substantiated his claims.

Four conversations were held between ----a and the State Department officials until April 11, 1941 when in the company of a State Department staff member he had gone by clipper to Berlin via Lisbon. After a conversation with Nazi authorities, he had returned to the United States, on May 27, 1941 under an assumed name to continue negotiations, in the course of which he had already talked with President Roosevelt. According to the Japanese Ambassador, ----a had been charged with negotiating the sale of German ships to the United States, as well as making peace proposals. In addition to -----a, a secret German army representative was negotiating in Washington.


a DoD: All names withheld.
171 II, Ibid.
172 II, 111.
173 II, 112-116.  


The foregoing had caused a great disturbance in the State Department because of the differences of opinion among several members. Ambassador Nomura pointed to the fact that at the time the State Department representative, accompanying -----a, had conferred with Herr Hess, Marshal Goering, Minister Goebbels and the heads of the German army, Herr Hess had stressed the desire of the German leaders for peace. According to Ambassador Nomura's report, the United States and Great Britain had made a mistake in thinking that the massing of German troops on the Russian border was a form of deception and that no attack would be made. On the other hand, the Germans had believed that help to Russia from England and the United States was beyond possibility. Therefore, both governments had erred in their calculations.

Ambassador Nomura also emphasized that one of the reasons for the unsatisfactory progress of the American-Japanese negotiations was that Americans held the erroneous belief that there was a connection between the German peace movements and the Japanese negotiations.174

This extraordinary document elicited a very unusual response from Secretary of State Hull. In the files of United States Communication Intelligence, attached to the copy of the deciphered dispatch which contained this report of Ambassador Nomura, is a statement signed by Mr. Hull. It reads as follows:  

The entire subject matter in the communication of Ambassador Nomura to Tokyo No. 506 of July 14, 1941 beginning with "part 1 of 5" and including parts 2, 3 and 4, (through paragraph 7 of "part 4 of 5") in its entirety is wholly false and unsupported by a single fact or circumstance, other than that during the forepart of this year, -----a secured an ordinary American passport to visit Germany and Italy allegedly on private business for a group of American persons in relation to a proposed purchase of German and Italian ships in North and South American ports, solely for the account of private American interests. The United States government in any event was not concerned in any way whatsoever.


46. Ambassador Nomura Pleads for Speedier Action from Tokyo.  

The first week of July, 1941 passed and still no reply came from Tokyo to Secretary Hull's oral statement of June 21, 1941, though Ambassador Nomura had sent several requests for speedy action. On July 8, 1941 Mr. Matsuoka inquired as to the meaning of the words "his associates" in a passage of the oral statement referring to the Japanese Ambassador and his associates.176 Mr. Matsuoka also requested the texts of the letters which had been suggested for exchange in accordance with the revised American proposal of June 21, 1941.177 These were sent by Ambassador Nomura.178

In view of these tantalizing requests, which indicated the interest of the Japanese Foreign Office in Secretary Hull's oral statement, Ambassador Nomura finally sent a very urgent plea for a definite decision, since the document had been in the hands of Mr. Matsuoka for two weeks. Remarking that American diplomats were very anxious to discover Japan's real intentions, Ambassador Nomura declared that the Americans, who were losing hope of ever seeing an improvement in Japanese-American relations, were beginning to doubt that the current


a DoD: All names withheld.
174 II, 116.
175 II, 112. Attached and signed by Mr. Hull.
176 II, 117.
177 II, 118.
178 II, 119-120.


negotiations would ever amount to anything. Reliable information disclosed that Japanese delays were having an unfortunate effect in the United States, and this, coupled with the American belief that Japan would try to capitalize on the Russian-German war either by moving north against Russia or south against British and Dutch interests, jeopardized the whole Japanese-American situation. Both President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull, who had talked with the Japanese Ambassador seventeen times, according to Ambassador Nomura's own count, were very concerned. The United States Navy also considered the situation to be grave.

According to Ambassador Nomura, the Americans would not give in if Japan remained adamant. He believed that there was a great danger of the United States breaking off negotiations at the first opportunity rather than becoming less hostile. Indicating that the three main difficulties in the way of an "understanding" were first, the interpretation of the right of self-defense, second, the stationing of troops in China, and third, non-discrimination in commerce, Ambassador Nomura remarked that he was at his wit's end, but still did not want to break off negotiations. Expressing his willingness to present any other proposal which Mr. Matsuoka desired, the Japanese Ambassador urged that a decision be reached as quickly as possible on the proposals he had already submitted.179 

47. Ambassador Nomura Requests Permission to Return Home (July 10, 1941).  

On July 10, 1941 Foreign Minister Matsuoka directed Ambassador Nomura to send Minister-Counselor Wakasugi back to Tokyo so that certain information concerning the current negotiations could be supplied without dependence on telegrams.180 Replying immediately to this directive, Ambassador Nomura requested that he be permitted to return to Japan to report the facts in person since his leaving would have no serious effect on the United States.

Pointing out that the United States had been eager to adjust Japanese-American relations immediately after the war had broken out between Russia and Germany he indicated that the United States was now very suspicious of Japan. A speedy conclusion of current negotiations would make possible a settlement of certain difficulties, but under present circumstances there would be no time for Tokyo to recall Mr. Wakasugi in order to obtain the facts of the situation, and then to reappoint him to continue the negotiations. Ambassador Nomura felt that the severance of diplomatic relations between Japan and the United States was much more imminent than the Japanese believed it to be. In view of these circumstances, Ambassador Nomura indicated that it would be useless for him to remain in the United States.181

On the same day, July 11, 1941, that Mr. Matsuoka delivered a severe rebuke to Ambassador Nomura concerning the diplomatic standing of his staff members in the minds of American representatives (See Part A—Section 48—Mr. Matsuoka again Rebukes Ambassador Nomura), Mr. Matsuoka refused to permit Ambassador Nomura to leave his position and return to Japan. Emphasizing his realization that there would be nothing better than to hear Ambassador Nomura report on the situation in person, the Foreign Minister declared that the critical nature of United States-Japanese relations made it increasingly necessary for Ambassador Nomura to remain where he was. Citing Emperor Hirohito's wishes concerning Ambassador Nomura's continuance at his post, Mr. Matsuoka pointed out that the return of the Japanese Ambassador at this time could not be permitted because of its effect on public opinion. Even if the achievement of an "understanding" seemed hopeless, it would be best for Ambassador Nomura to remain at his post to the last and to make the best of the situation.182


179 II, 121-123.
180 II, 124.
181 II, 125
182 II, 126.


Three days later, on July 14, 1941, Ambassador Nomura again asked that he be allowed to give up his post in the United States.183 Apologizing for any displeasure which he had caused Mr. Matsuoka because of his inexperience, he explained that his intention had been to remain and to do his utmost in the United States until the critical diplomatic situation had reached a possible solution. Expressing regret that his telegram had caused his country so much embarrassment, he promised to be especially cautious in the future, although he pointed out that his previous training had permitted him to exercise his own judgment to such an extent that he could not guarantee the absence of further difficulties. Ambassador Nomura expressed his views as follows:  

Therefore, no matter from what angle I regard the question, I cannot help but keenly feel that I should resign as soon as possible for the good of the country. In view of the political situation, I earnestly hope that you will not hesitate in transferring my duties to ----- person whom you have selected as being more in accordance with your desire. I fully realize that I am not the right man. I am, in fact, no more than a temporary stop-gap. As I have assured you previously, I have no intention whatsoever of bringing any degree of disaster to this position before my return to Japan. I most earnestly hope that you would consider this point carefully.184 

Reiterating his opposition to the recalling of Mr. Wakasugi, he remarked that the point in question had been an "off the record" discussion of a private nature and was not important enough to require a personal report. Furthermore, Mr. Wakasugi had been sent to assist Ambassador Nomura in the performance of his duties, and wished to remain in Washington as long as Ambassador Nomura was stationed there. However, the Japanese Ambassador remarked that he would offer no further opposition, if Mr. Matsuoka insisted on Mr. Wakasugi's return to Japan.185 

48. Mr. Matsuoka Again Rebukes Ambassador Nomura (July 11, 1941). 

It will be recalled that Mr. Matsuoka had inquired of Ambassador Nomura concerning the meaning of the words "his associates" in a passage of the oral statement.186 Ambassador Nomura responded that the term "associates" referred to all persons who had conferred at his orders with representatives of the United States; that is, Mr. Kaname Wakasugi, Mr. Katsuzo Okumura, Mr. Koto Matsudaira, Colonel Hideo Iwakuro, and Mr. Tadao Wikawa.187 This explanation occasioned another severe rebuke to the Japanese Ambassador by Foreign Minister Matsuoka.

In a long dispatch on July 11, 1941, Mr. Matsuoka declared that the individuals named above were merely members of Ambassador Nomura's staff and were not his associates.188 This condition would remain true until the Foreign Minister named one of them to a specific commission, and even Colonel Iwakuro, who had taken a prominent part in some of the special committee meetings, especially in military discussions, was not to be considered as an associate. Special warning was issued by the Foreign Minister concerning Mr. Tadao Wikawa, who was not connected with the Prime Minister or with any other member of the Japanese cabinet, and who was held in low esteem even by members of the Finance Ministry, to which he had been attached. Mr. Matsuoka directed Ambassador Nomura to correct immediately the misconception of United States authorities that the men mentioned above were his associates.


183 II, 127.
184 II, Ibid.
185 II, Ibid.
186 II, 117.
187 II, 128
188 II, 129.


Mr. Matsuoka also objected to the implication contained in the oral statement that as long as there were questionable persons in the Prince Konoye cabinet, the understanding "could not be effective even if it were signed". According to Mr. Matsuoka, such a statement was a demand that the Japanese reorganize their Cabinet. For this reason Mr. Matsuoka declared that not only the government of Japan but its representatives had a perfect right to reject the oral statement, but in view of the delicate situation of the Japanese-American relations, as well as that of the rest of the world, he had decided to suffer in silence.

The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that Ambassador Nomura had insisted upon a full discussion of various points with the Americans to obtain detailed explanations since "the instrument has had only a very few, if any, comparable parallels in the history of the world".189 Several points were then discussed by Mr. Matsuoka, who requested Ambassador Nomura to correct certain misconceptions of the Americans. First, both Prime Minister Konoye and Foreign Minister Matsuoka had been falsely quoted by the press concerning their remarks subsequent to the signing of the Tripartite Pact. Mr. Matsuoka had actually said that:  

Japan had every intention of being loyal to the terms of the Tripartite Pact, and should the United States go to war forcing a clash between Japan and the United States, there would be, without a doubt, a horrible effect on all mankind.  

Mr. Matsuoka claimed that if all the statements that he had made in Parliament and elsewhere were read carefully and calmly, it would be discovered that he had never exceeded the limits of the remarks expressed above. Complaining bitterly of many misquotations in the press, Mr. Matsuoka stated that he had adopted a policy of refusing to grant any interviews, except to persons whose characters were guaranteed by the United States Embassy, and for whose actions the United States Embassy agreed to be held responsible.

It is interesting to note that in this instance, as in the case of Mr. Matsuoka's complaints against the American and British Ambassadors to Tokyo for misquoting and mistranslating his remarks,190 no specific instances of misquotations were given. It may be safe to assume, therefore, that Mr. Matsuoka objected to the interpretation placed upon his remarks by certain elements of the press. Although the press' interpretation of Mr. Matsuoka's attitude might have been faulty, the following passage in his secret dispatch speaks for itself:  

If the United States expects Japan to double cross her Axis partners, or even wishes Japan to assume a luke-warm attitude towards them on the basis of any of these public statements, the United States is being unreasonable, and is in for a disappointment. I am convinced that if the United States were in the same position as we, she would assume the same, or possibly an even stronger, attitude.191 

Denying that there was a split between members of the Japanese cabinet, and calling all stories to this effect "lying reports", Mr. Matsuoka remarked that such rumors had been started from outside by those who had not been able to obtain cabinet appointments. Remarking that important matters had to be discussed thoroughly from all possible angles, Mr. Matsuoka indicated that this was being done in Tokyo at the moment.

Since rumors of dissension in Japan might have reached President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull, Mr. Matsuoka requested that Ambassador Nomura make every effort to correct such an erroneous opinion, for there was absolutely no difference of viewpoints between Prime Minister Konoye and himself concerning the necessity of improving Japanese-United States relations. Both were anxious to bring about an "understanding pact", as Mr. Matsuoka had made quite clear to Ambassador Nomura from the very beginning of his mission, and the War and Naval Ministers, as well as all the other ministers, were in complete accord in this matter. Ambassador


189 II, Ibid.
190 See Volume I, Section 62—(England's Concern over Japanese Policies), 166.
191 II, 129.


Nomura was requested to explain the situation to President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull so that they would make no mistake.192

The tone of Mr. Matsuoka's reprimand was so indignant that Mr. Taro Terasaki, in a separate dispatch, advised Japanese representatives in Washington that Mr. Matsuoka's message had contained merely the Foreign Minister's immediate reactions to the oral statement. An expression of the official Japanese attitude concerning the American revision of the proposal would be sent to Washington in the very near future.193 

49. Ambassador Nomura Replies to the Rebuke of the Foreign Minister (July 14, 1941).  

A few days later, Ambassador Nomura replied to Mr. Matsuoka's reprimand. Agreeing with the Foreign Minister as to the importance of the oral statement of the United States, Ambassador Nomura did not believe that the Americans were trying to revise the Japanese cabinet, since their only aim was to discover the sincerity of the Japanese in improving mutual relations.194

The feeling of the Americans which had disturbed Mr. Matsuoka had arisen from a misunderstanding, because the American Embassy in Tokyo often sent home disturbing reports, and frequently prominent Japanese, who wished to thwart the Japanese-American negotiations, had also done damage. In addition, Germany and China had tried to end the negotiations, and Germany had originated a broadcast containing rumors of Mr. Matsuoka's resignation. On various occasions from the very beginning of his assignment, Ambassador Nomura had received Mr. Matsuoka's instructions concerning the desire of the Japanese for peace, but whatever the American representatives had been persuaded of Japan's good intentions, rumors from the financial circles of both nations had upset the situation.

Ambassador Nomura's disturbed state of mind concerning his failure to achieve his objectives in his post as Japanese Ambassador is demonstrated in the following passage:  

I believed and never once doubted that it was at this stage the serious policy of the Imperial government to improve Japanese-American relations. But, since then, Oh, how often have I met with opposition! How often have I lost faith in my subordinates! But, in spite of that and enduring it all, to this day I have held to my post and while enduring every sort of bitterness I have stuck to my ideal; that is because I have had faith in what I conceived to be the primary policy of our Government. As I reflect upon the general atmosphere in this country when I took office, I can see how relations between our two countries were following an ever-roughening road. I thought that perhaps I could make our two countries each understand the position of the other; but, alas, I can see that that was only an airy story told in a dream!195 

In view of these unfavorable conditions and the evident dissatisfaction of some Japanese elements, Ambassador Nomura had become convinced that it would be hopeless to deal with the Secretary of State alone; thus, it had been decided to begin unofficial negotiations with certain other prominent Americans as well as with Secretary Hull. Seventeen private discussions had been held with Mr. Hull and several conferences with Postmaster General Frank C. Walker. Since Germany and China were also using secret agents, Ambassador Nomura was convinced that his method of undercover negotiations was the most productive.

As for the significance of the word "associates", according to Ambassador Nomura, the word simply meant cooperators, for example, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Ballantine, and the Postmaster General were associates of Secretary Hull. The United States government did not believe that Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Wikawa were authorized to represent the Japanese government, for it recognized that just as the Postmaster General and Secretary Hull understood the precise limits of their respective jurisdictions, so did Ambassador Nomura's subordinates.


192 II, Ibid.
193 II, 130.
194 II, 131-138.
195 II, 132.  


The Japanese army and navy had been requested to send a competent man as assistant to the Japanese Ambassador, and Ambassador Nomura had supposed that Colonel Iwakuro was sent after consultation between the Foreign Office and military officials. Although Ambassador Nomura was grateful for the warning concerning Mr. Wikawa, after some difficulties at first, the man had been very useful as an interpreter in dealing with important American officials. Since Ambassador Nomura had used the word "associates" innocently, he had been very much perturbed to find he had been acting against Mr. Matsuoka's wishes.

The most important question, however, was whether or not Japan would adjust its relations with the United States at this critical moment, or give up all attempts to solve the difficulties. Warning that if this question were decided too quickly, a good opportunity for solving the problem would be lost forever, Ambassador Nomura then spoke of the necessity for ceasing all further bickering over unimportant details, and stressed his determination to exercise his own judgment until he was ordered back to Japan:  

I, therefore, do not wish to waste time at this critical moment bickering over the question of procedure. Besides, for compatriots to be arguing over details and to be casting suspicion on one another in the face of a serious crisis threatening the country would cause the enthusiasm and courage of those who are sincerely working in this matter to wilt, and would interfere with the progress of the negotiations. Since I feel this very keenly, I do not wish to go further into a discussion of the details.196 

50. Interview with Ambassador Nomura (July 14, 1941).  

(a) State Department's Report.197 

Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine called on the Japanese Ambassador to express Secretary Hull's regrets at his inability, because of illness, to see Ambassador Nomura on the preceding day when he had called at Secretary Hull's hotel at White Sulphur Springs. The American representatives expressed their readiness to convey to Secretary Hull any new impressions which the Japanese Ambassador wished to communicate.

Ambassador Nomura said that he had informed Mr. Cecil W. Gray, Assistant to Secretary Hull, of his recently received instructions from Mr. Matsuoka to stress the unanimity of important Japanese leaders, such as the Prime Minister and the Minister of War, Navy, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, in their desire to improve relations with the United States.

Repeating his remarks, made on other occasions, that there was no question on this point, Mr. Hamilton pointed out that Secretary Hull in his oral statement of June 21, 1941 had cited evidence proving that important Japanese elements did not desire the policy of peace, which was the principal objective of the proposed "understanding". In view of this evidence, Secretary Hull desired to learn if Japan were willing to prevent these elements from crippling the effectiveness of a Japanese policy of peace.

Replying that Secretary Hull had previously mentioned this division in the Japanese government, Ambassador Nomura stated that though there might be rumors concerning a split in Japanese opinion, the Japanese government as a whole desired peace.198 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.199 

Ambassador Nomura reported to Foreign Minister Matsuoka that he had sent his best wishes for a quick recovery to Secretary Hull who was recuperating at a summer resort away from Washington. On July 14, 1941 Mr. Hamilton had returned the visit of Ambassador Nomura to assure the Japanese Ambassador of Mr. Hull's gratitude for his kind thought. Ambassador


196 II, 137.
197 "Memorandum of a conversation", July 14, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 505-506.
198 II, Ibid.
199 II, 139.  


Nomura requested Mr. Hamilton to convey to Secretary Hull his assurances that all authorities in Japan, despite rumors to the contrary, were united in the hope that relations between Japan and the United States could be settled harmoniously.

Replying that Secretary Hull considered peace desirable between the United States and Japan, Mr. Hamilton hoped that Japan would not war against other countries. Ambassador Nomura then answered that the United States as well as Japan was obtaining military bases in other countries.200 

51. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Condemns the Oral Statement and Attacks Ambassador Nomura (July 14, 1941).  

On July 8, 1941 Foreign Minister Matsuoka had requested official confirmation of his belief that the oral statement presented by the United States on June 21, 1941 would not be included as an integral part of the proposal for an "understanding".201

Though he had received no reply from Ambassador Nomura as late as July 14, 1941 concerning his inquiry, Foreign Minister Matsuoka could no longer contain his indignation at the oral statement. Administering another severe rebuke to Ambassador Nomura, he called the oral statement a "detestable document",202 whether or not it was intended to be included as part of the proposal for the "understanding".

Mr. Matsuoka objected to what he considered was an attempt by the United States to direct the affairs of Japan:  

For one country to tell another totally independent power how its Government should be organized and criticize important elements in that Government and to suggest that this person or that person be eliminated, is unheard of. Under these circumstances, even if we would conclude this understanding, its result would be nil. I might say that it would be a mere phantasm. In the last paragraph just before the note there is something abominable written. They ask that we change the set-up of our Government and its attitude. Such a thing belongs to the realm of the fantastic. If my memory serves me rightly, during the summer of 1905, in connection with the Tangiers incident, the German Kaiser asked the French to banish Theophile Delcasse, but France did not listen, of course, and the incident was never settled harmoniously. A country can only tell its dependencies and protectorates such things as that. If you will carefully scrutinize this oral statement, you can well see that so far as the present government of Japan is concerned, it is enough to cause a rupture in the negotiations.203 

Claiming that he had considered every angle of the present negotiations in the hopes of settling the current difficulties pleasantly and without harshness, Mr. Matsuoka indicated that the oral statement had disturbed him deeply.

Attacking Ambassador Nomura and some of his associates for maintaining views entirely at variance with the government of Japan, and insinuating that the Japanese Ambassador's opinions had been influenced by the United States, Mr. Matsuoka expressed himself as follows:  

This Oral Statement: You, Sir, and your so-called fellow travelers, have an attitude which is entirely at variance with the attitude of our present Government and the horrible thing about it is that you have willingly allowed the United States to mold your opinions. Saddest of all, here in Japan you have a few adherents. For the representative of a country to directly oppose the Government he represents is almost unforgivable and I know of no precedent for it in our history. For a representative of a given country to allow foreign leaders to influence him and for him, in turn, to try to influence his Government belongs not only to the realm of the preposterous, but also to that of base rudeness.204


200 II, Ibid.
201 II, 111
202 II, 140-143.
203 II, 140.
204 II, 141.


In explaining the delay in replying to the oral statement which had been in his hands for some time, Mr. Matsuoka claimed that he would have immediately expressed his resentment but for the fact that he wished to avoid offending the United States and had desired to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Reminding Ambassador Nomura that if Japan had presented a similar oral statement to the American government, the United States would have been very indignant, the Foreign Minister stated that it might be possible to adjust Japanese-American relations at some remote time in the future, but that "this sort of hideous document", standing like a shadow between the two nations, would be detrimental to mutual friendship.

Unless the United States rescinded the oral statement, Japan would not consider a plan for an "understanding", since it could not change its present cabinet. Mr. Matsuoka instructed Ambassador Nomura, therefore, to inform the American government that its oral statement was "extremely hateful to us", and without any delay to return the oral statement with the veto of the Japanese government and with the explanation that the long delay had occurred because of the wish of the Japanese not to hurt American feelings. Mr. Matsuoka then promised to send a revised proposal to Washington in a day or so.205 

52. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Submits New Proposals (July 14, 1941).  

Mr. Matsuoka finally sent to Ambassador Nomura a series of proposals, which had been discussed in Tokyo in secret conferences lasting for several days. Recognizing that many points of the American proposal differed from the suggestions of the Japanese, Mr. Matsuoka stated that they had finally decided upon a solution which was in keeping with the plans of the Japanese army.206 He pointed out that they had decided to adopt several of the American clauses, despite their disagreement with them, but that some other clauses were not in conformity with the fundamental national policy of the Japanese and, therefore, were revised for reasons which he gave in detail.

In the clause outlining the attitude of America and Japan in regard to the European war, Mr. Matsuoka insisted on the retention of the principle that both nations would do their utmost to bring about international order by an early restoration of peace in Europe. He also suggested that in the phrase "assist in the bringing about of a settlement of the European war" there be inserted another phrase "at a fitting opportunity in the future" to make it easier for acceptance by the United States.

Analyzing the document, clause by clause and step by step, Mr. Matsuoka gave very detailed instructions to Ambassador Nomura. He insisted that the minutes of the negotiations should contain the repeated warnings of Japan that it did not approve the unfriendly actions of the United States against Germany.

As for the bringing about of peace between Japan and China, the Japanese claimed that it was hard to accept American provisions which drastically revised the gist of their original proposal. Indicating that the phrase "Chiang Regime" would be used instead of the title "Chungking Government" or the "Government of China", Japan wished merely to inform the United States that it earnestly desired to make peace with China, and that the intervention of the United States was requested. This did not mean that Japan wished an agreement with the United States concerning peace with China, since the China incident could not be decided by the intervention of any third country. Furthermore, the United States was to promise to stop assisting Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, if he would not listen to its request.


205 II, 143.
206 II, 144-152.


Concerning commerce between both countries, Japan accepted the American proposal but eliminated the American annex. As for economic activities of both countries in the "Pacific Area", Japan changed the latter phrase to "Southwestern Pacific", because that was where the need for cooperation was felt the most. In regard to the policy of both countries relating to the political stability of the Pacific area, Japan considered that the question of Philippine independence concerned the United States alone, though the independence of these islands and friendly treatment to Japanese residents should be guaranteed.207

An interesting sidelight on the reaction of certain Japanese diplomats to the comments of Mr. Matsuoka was found in a message from Mr. Terasaki, the Chief of the American Division of the Foreign Ministry at Tokyo, to Counselor Iguchi at Washington, in which he stated that both messages had been written by Foreign Minister Matsuoka himself.208 Since the Foreign Minister had understood the American oral statement to mean that the United States was demanding a revision of the Japanese Cabinet, Mr. Terasaki suggested that Ambassador Nomura immediately send an explanation to offset this impression.209 

53. Interview with Ambassador Nomura (July 15, 1941).  

(a) State Department's Report.210 

At the direction of the Secretary of State, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine called on the Japanese Ambassador, on July 15, 1941, to discuss with him three points that had vital bearing on an amicable relationship between Japan and the United States. The first point concerned the oral statement given to Ambassador Nomura by Secretary Hull on June 21, 1941, and Mr. Hamilton expressed Mr. Hull's regrets that no reply had been made by the Japanese.

Ambassador Nomura responded that his letter of July 4, 1941 to Secretary Hull had been intended as an answer by his government to the American oral statement. Since the Japanese government was acting as a unit in spite of certain disagreements on policy, it felt that the United States should not question the attitude of individuals as had been done in Secretary Hull's proposal, since the suggested reconstruction of the Japanese cabinet amounted to an interference in Japan's internal affairs.

Immediately correcting what he believed to be a misinterpretation of the oral statement, Mr. Hamilton disclaimed any desire of the United States to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. To clarify American aims, Mr. Hamilton said that the proposed understanding was based on a policy of peace. Because certain Japanese leaders obviously desired to support Nazi Germany in its movement for world conquest, it was necessary to know the attitude of the Japanese government as a whole.

Stating that his government was bound to an alliance with Germany and Italy, Ambassador Nomura replied that Japan, nevertheless, wished to pursue a course of peace. Declaring that his government had misunderstood the oral statement, the Japanese Ambassador admitted that his seventeen conferences with Secretary Hull had enabled him to understand fully the aims of the United States government. Mr. Hamilton then suggested that Ambassador Nomura explain these aims to his government to clarify all misunderstandings.

In connection with the second point, Mr. Hamilton asked about the recurrent rumors of Japan's plans to acquire naval and air bases in French Indo-China. Although without specific information from the Japanese government, Ambassador Nomura answered that Japan was


207 II, 152.
208 II, 153.
209 II, Ibid.
210 "Memorandum of a conversation", July 15, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 506-509.  


obliged to take precautionary measures against the encirclement being established by the alliance between China and Great Britain and by the increased aid of the United States to the Chungking government. Mentioning that if the United States were in Japan's place it would have acted earlier, the Japanese Ambassador pointed out that the military occupation of Iceland and the possibility of taking Dakar and the Azores were examples of American attempts to maintain their security. Mr. Hamilton reminded Ambassador Nomura that the overrunning of many countries by Germany provided sound reasons for these actions.

After discussing America's Good Neighbor Policy, which Ambassador Nomura admired and hoped that Japan would imitate, the conversation turned to the third and last point under discussion, Japan's obligations to the Axis under the Tripartite Pact. Expressing Japan's hopes that the United States would not enter the European conflict, Ambassador Nomura felt sure that there was nothing incompatible between the terms of the Tripartite Pact and the friendly relations of Japan and the United States. In the event of America's entering the war, Japan would have to use its own judgment whether the terms of Article III of the Tripartite Pact were applicable. The meeting then ended on the same note of cordiality that had been present throughout the entire conversation.

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.211

Ambassador Nomura reported that on the evening of July 15, 1941 Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine had called on him to inquire concerning the accuracy of information which indicated that Japan was planning to acquire naval and air bases in French Indo-China. (See Part C—(e) Japanese-French Relations.)

Ambassador Nomura replied that he knew nothing about these plans except what he had read in the newspapers, but in view of the assistance being given by both Britain and the United States to Chungking and the recent cooperation between the United States and Russia, Japan felt that it was being encircled. It was not surprising, therefore, that such rumors were current, especially since the United States had already occupied Iceland and was alleged to be seeking bases at Dakar and in the Azores. Ambassador Nomura promised, however, to present an official reply after he had an opportunity to consult his government.

The American representatives then asked whether or not, in addition to the Tripartite Pact, Japan had a special agreement with Germany and Italy whereby it would go to war against the United States in case the latter entered the European war. According to Ambassador Nomura, there was no such agreement, but in case the United States did enter the war, the duties specified in the third clause of the Tripartite Pact would come into effect. There was no need of asking Tokyo about these duties since all were acquainted with them. Japan was not able to tell at the moment whether everything the United States would do in the future could be considered self-defense, and for this reason, each movement would have to be considered individually. From the viewpoint of national defense, the United States was the safest of all countries, for there was little danger of invasion from Canada or Mexico. Pointing out that he had already discussed this situation with Secretary Hull, the Japanese Ambassador repeated his arguments about the much greater danger of invasion, as contrasted with the United States, which Japan was experiencing.212


211 II, 154.
212 II, Ibid.


54. Ambassador Grew Delivers an Oral Statement to the Japanese Foreign Office.  

On July 16, 1941 the American Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew, handed an oral statement to the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chuichi Ohashi. This was a reply to the message sent to the President of the United States on July 7, 1941 by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye, who had asked if reports that the American government was planning to intervene in the European war were true.213

The oral statement declared that the policy of the United States was founded on the inalienable right of self-defense, and, benefiting from the experience of some fifteen countries in Europe which had been given categoric assurances by Germany that they would not be molested, the United States intended to employ any reasonable precaution necessary to ensure its present or future territorial integrity. Germany would be prevented from controlling the seas or obtaining any other strategic advantages which would directly threaten American security, for if the United States were to desist in any way from this basic policy, it would undoubtedly facilitate the aims of the aggressor nations to conquer the world by force.  

55. Dissolution of the Japanese Cabinet (July 17, 1941).  

On July 16, 1941 Mr. Matsuoka sent word to Washington that the Japanese Cabinet would have to resign. He ordered that the matter of the oral statement be attended to at once before the dissolution of the Cabinet took place.214

On the following day, July 17, 1941, Prime Minister Konoye and his whole Cabinet resigned. Emperor Hirohito accepted the resignations but asked Prime Minister Konoye to continue the administration of national affairs temporarily until he could select a successor.215 However, the Japanese Emperor requested Prime Minister Konoye to form a new Cabinet, and though it was supposed that much totalitarian and military pressure had been at work to influence his selections, Prime Minister Konoye omitted Mr. Matsuoka.216

Admiral Teijiro Toyoda assumed the responsibilities of the Foreign Office on July 17, 1941, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto replaced Mr. Ohashi as Vice Foreign Minister.  

56. Mr. Wakasugi Confers with Mr. Hamilton (July 16, 1941).217 

In the late afternoon of July 16, 1941, Mr. Wakasugi, the Japanese Minister, called to see Mr. Hamilton in regard to the conversation which had taken place between Ambassador Nomura, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ballantine on the preceding evening. Mr. Wakasugi stated that although both he and the Japanese Ambassador understood fully the terms of the agreement, his government had interpreted them as a mark of American interference in Japanese internal affairs. Because of the governmental crisis that had now arisen, the Ambassador deemed it advisable to return the oral statement which Secretary Hull had given him on June 21, 1941.

Since Secretary Hull had handed this document to Ambassador Nomura personally, Mr. Hamilton expressed his disinclination to accept it without first receiving authorization directly from Mr. Hull. At this point, however, Mr. Hamilton took the opportunity of reiterating that the real purpose of the proposal was to establish peaceful relations between the two countries. Explaining further that the United States had no wish to interfere in the internal affairs


213 "Oral Statement Handed by the American Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs (Ohashi)", July 16, 1941, S.D., II, 509-510
214 II, 155.
215 N.Y. Times, July 17, 1941, 1:5.
216 N.Y. Times, July 19, 1941, 1:4.
217 "Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs", Maxwell M. Hamilton, July 16, 1941, S.D., II, 511-12.


of any government? Mr. Hamilton called for a copy of Secretary Hull's statement of July 16, 1937, and underlined the words, "We advocate abstinence by all nations ----- from interference in the internal affairs of other nations". Mr. Hamilton remarked that Secretary Hull's statement had summarized a fundamental principle which the United States had consistently adhered to in its dealings with all nations.

To Mr. Hamilton's suggestion that the Japanese Ambassador make a report embodying his own views of the oral statement, Mr. Wakasugi replied that this had already been done. Nevertheless, he requested the marked copy of Secretary Hull's statement for Ambassador Nomura. Stressing the urgency of the situation, Mr. Wakasugi also asked that Mr. Hamilton inform Secretary Hull as soon as possible. Mr. Hamilton agreed, but requested that the Japanese Ambassador not press the matter further until he had conferred with Mr. Hull.  

57. Japanese Foreign Office Delivers Oral Statement to Ambassador Grew.  

On July 17, 1941 Mr. Ohashi, the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, handed an oral statement to American Ambassador Grew, which acknowledged receipt of the American reply, dated July 16, 1941, to Prime Minister Konoye's letter of July 7, 1941.218 Mr. Ohashi stated that the Japanese government did not intend to enter into a discussion concerning the points brought out in Ambassador Grew's letter, but it could not ignore the claims of the United States to invoke, without limitations, the right of self-defense. Neither could it concur with the indictment of Germany nor with the statement that those who urged the United States to desist from such a policy would be aiding aggressor nations.  

58. Mr. Wakasugi Returns the American Oral Statement of June 21, 1941.  

In accordance with the desire of the Japanese Ambassador to return the American oral statement of June 21, 1941, Mr. Wakasugi, the Japanese Minister, called on Mr. Hamilton on the afternoon of July 15, 1941.219 Having now obtained permission to accept the document, Mr. Hamilton, reading a prepared statement in order to avoid any misunderstandings, received the oral statement in the name of Secretary Hull. He reminded Mr. Wakasugi that the oral statement was not, in itself, an official communication, but was simply a record of a statement voiced by Mr. Hull. Although both Ambassador Nomura and Mr. Wakasugi had professed to understand the true meaning of the document, though the Japanese government had not, Secretary Hull realized that retention of the statement might be a source of embarrassment.220

Emphasizing that the United States was concerned only with the policy of the Japanese government as a whole, Mr. Hamilton expressed the desire of his country to find in the attitude, utterances and acts of the Japanese government a sincere desire for peace. After expressing his appreciation for the attitude of the United States in regard to this matter, and assuring Mr. Hamilton that he understood fully American aims, Mr. Wakasugi returned the original copy of Secretary Hull's oral statement of June 21, 1941.


218 "Oral Statement handed by the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs (Ohashi) to the American Ambassador in Japan (Grew)", July 17, 1941, S.D., II, 513.
219 "Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs", July 17, 1941, S.D., II, 513-514.
220 "Statement by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton) to the Japanese Minister (Wakasugi)", July 17, 1941, S.D., II, 514.  


59. Welles-Nomura Conversation (July 18, 1941).  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.221 

In the evening of July 18, 1941 Ambassador Nomura called on Mr. Sumner Welles to discuss Japan's isolation which had resulted from the closing of the trans-Siberian railroad. Under the Tripartite Pact, Germany could have rendered assistance to Japan as long as this communication line remained open, but the war with Russia had greatly altered this situation. However, with the cooperation of the United States Navy in the Pacific, the Japanese Ambassador felt certain that Japan would not be isolated.

When Mr. Welles questioned Ambassador Nomura regarding Japan's foreknowledge of the German attack upon Russia, he replied that neither Foreign Minister Matsuoka nor the Japanese government had been given any prior notification. The Acting Secretary of State then reminded Ambassador Nomura that without prior notice to Japan the German government had also entered into a non-aggression agreement with Russia shortly after Japan and Germany had signed an Anti-Communist Pact. This proved that a treaty with Chancellor Hitler was not worth the paper it was written on. According to Mr. Welles, the United States government would undertake negotiations only with a power that kept its obligations and regarded its words as sacred.

Ambassador Nomura then stated that he felt more sanguine with regard to the improvement of relations between the two countries under the new Japanese government, and had already asked for instructions in regard to the informal conversations with Secretary Hull. Both Mr. Welles and Ambassador Nomura expressed the common hope that no new developments would arise with the creation of a new Japanese Cabinet and that peace would be maintained in the Pacific.  

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.  

There is no report in the United States Communication Intelligence files concerning Ambassador Nomura's reactions to this conversation.  

60. Mr. Wakasugi Explains the Nature of the Japanese-American Negotiations to Tokyo.  

Believing that the Foreign Office in Tokyo had certain misconceptions concerning current Japanese-American negotiations, Mr. Wakasugi attempted to explain to his superiors in Japan the informal and unofficial character of the Hull-Nomura conversations.222 Pointing out that the disturbance created in Tokyo by Ambassador Nomura's use of the word "associates", and the furor resulting from the American oral statement of June 21, 1941, gave evidence that Japanese authorities had received false impressions, Mr. Wakasugi asked that the new Foreign Minister be made aware that the negotiations in America were for the most part undercover operations without official sanction from either side. All the conversations were entirely "off the record" and were held away from the State Department, since it had been agreed that nothing official would be initiated until a common basis for an "understanding" could be reached. If no unanimity could be attained, the unofficial talks would be completely disregarded.

Mr. Wakasugi also reminded the Foreign Office that written memoranda did not constitute official negotiations, as was the impression in Tokyo. Admitting that the Japanese had used undercover methods in Washington, Mr. Wakasugi declared that though this was not a normal diplomatic procedure, it was the only course available under the circumstances.


221 "Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State", July 18, 1941, S.D., II, 515-516.
222 II, 156.


Summing up the situation in the light of actual events, Mr. Wakasugi agreed that no real advantage had accrued to the Japanese, and in view of the situation in China, Japanese representatives could not be very optimistic. Commenting that the Japanese representatives had done the best they could, even though the Foreign Office might be dissatisfied, Mr. Wakasugi remarked that it was now too late to retrace their steps; therefore, he requested further consideration.223

Ambassador Nomura informed Tokyo of his certainty that there had been no change in the fundamental Japanese policy of desiring to improve Japanese-American relations on a fair basis. However, he asked that his messages pertaining to the unofficial negotiations with Secretary Hull be studied so that instructions from the new cabinet might be sent to him.224

Remarking that he had studied carefully the instructions sent by the Foreign Office concerning the deletions, additions, and revisions which were to be made in the proposal for an "understanding", Ambassador Nomura pointed out that there were wide differences between the proposals of Japan and the United States. Furthermore, he expressed doubt that these new instructions (See Appendix II, No. 139) would help the negotiations.  

61. Ambassador Nomura Requests Instructions from the New Japanese Cabinet.  

Ambassador Nomura requested the Foreign Office to advise him of its views on two points: first, the attitudes of the two countries concerning the war in Europe, and second, the China incident. As for the first point, Ambassador Nomura claimed that President Roosevelt did not desire to announce at this time that Japan and the United States wished to mediate for peace in the European war. Reference in the proposal to this mediation would be deleted, therefore, and the phrase "encourage world peace" would be inserted. Ambassador Nomura believed that since a compromise had already been achieved, it would be disadvantageous to revive the question.

As to the rights of self-defense, the Japanese Ambassador believed that the United States desired to make the wording of this paragraph as elastic as possible so that it could be applied to any one of various possible developments in the European war. On the other hand, the Japanese could not permit such wide latitude in the interpretation of self-defense since a war could be begun in the name of self-defense. Ambassador Nomura suggested that it would be wise to compromise on some wording in the proposal which would prevent aggressive action, but which would permit self-defense. However, the interpretation of the United States was entirely unacceptable.

As for Part B of the proposal which pertained to the China incident, Ambassador Nomura reported that the Americans would not permit the deletion of the Annex on the grounds that if an agreement could not be reached concerning the contents of the Annex, there would be little use in discussing the actual proposal. Since the United States had been asked to advise China to negotiate peace, the Americans desired to be advised of the basis on which a peaceful settlement would be made.

Reporting that deletion of the Annex would mean the finish of the discussions, Ambassador Nomura advised that in future discussions of the Annex some troublesome questions would be forthcoming from the United States in regard to the stationing of anti-Communist troops and non-discrimination among Far Eastern business firms. He requested, therefore, that he be advised of the Foreign Office's views on these subjects. The Japanese Ambassador also warned that controversy was to be expected because of the Japanese deletion of the Annex relating to trade between the two countries. The granting of equal treatment in the Philippines to Japanese


224 II, 157.


residents, as well as to Filipinos, and the question of Japanese immigration to the United States were further difficulties foreseen by Ambassador Nomura.

Believing that both Americans and Japanese could find a way to agree on the interpretation of self-defense, Ambassador Nomura reported to his superiors that the garrisoning of Japanese troops in China to combat Communism would be very difficult for the Americans to accept. As for the occupation of French Indo-China, Ambassador Nomura reported that a peaceful penetration would not disturb American public opinion, but a resort to military force would bring the negotiations to an end.

Ambassador Nomura reported that Secretary Hull was expected back in Washington in the near future, and that he himself had accepted an invitation to visit Admiral Pratt's home in Maine.225 

62. Ambassador Nomura Visits Rear Admiral Richard K. Turner.226 

After first attempting to contact Admiral Stark and possibly Admiral Ingersoll, Ambassador Nomura called on Admiral Richard K. Turner, on July 20, 1941, to discuss with him certain points that needed to be clarified before any peaceful relationship between the United States and Japan could be based on a sound foundation. Insisting that he was not a trained diplomat and had accepted the post only at the insistence of high ranking naval and the more conservative groups of army officers, he nevertheless realized that the difficulties existing between the United States and Japan must be eliminated satisfactorily or a devastating naval war would ensue.

After numerous conferences with Mr. Hull, the Ambassador was convinced that a perfect concord was impossible, and that because of Japan's commitments to Germany, any agreement reached would have to be informal. He insisted, however, that the treaty with Germany would in no way restrain his country from acting according to its own convictions and for its own ultimate purposes.

Continuing then a discussion of the points which Japan considered essential for an agreement with the United States, Ambassador Nomura mentioned the right of either power to take the necessary steps to ensure self-defense as the basic principle for such a proposal. Using the export restrictions imposed on Japan as an example, the Ambassador pointed out that his country's economic position was now extremely unfavorable, and uninterrupted access to certain raw materials would be indispensable to its correction.

A second point causing friction between the two countries, according to Ambassador Nomura, was the increased support given to the Chungking regime by both the United States and Great Britain. The Japanese government attributed the continuation of the China incident to the constant supply of pilots and planes, and the assistance in the improvement of the Burma Road which America and Britain were continuing.

Since Japan considered the stationing of troops in Inner Mongolia for the suppression of the Chinese Communists in that region essential to the maintenance of its own security, the Japanese Ambassador included this as his third and last point.

Although anticipating an intensified American press campaign against Japan as the result of action in French Indo-China, Ambassador Nomura informed Admiral Turner that within the next few days Japan would occupy French Indo-China purely as a precautionary measure. From his manner, it was evident that the Japanese Ambassador feared that the United States would make further military or economic moves as a result of this action. However, as a conciliatory


226 II, Ibid.
227 "The Director of the War Plans Division of the Navy Department (Rear Admiral Richard K. Turner) to the Chief of Naval Operations (Admiral Stark)", July 21, 1941, S.D., II, 516-520. 


measure, Ambassador Nomura suggested that were America to accept the conditions he had discussed, the Japanese would not take part in Atlantic warfare.

Promising to pass this information on to Admiral Stark, Admiral Turner, commenting briefly on the Japanese Ambassador's disclosure of Tokyo's plan to seize French Indo-China, explained that the security of America was largely dependent upon Great Britain, for, if that country were to collapse to the German military power, Nazism would be able to direct its ambitions toward the Western Hemisphere. The occupation of Indo-China by the Japanese would threaten the British position in Singapore and the Dutch position in the Netherlands East Indies, and it would also strike a severe blow at the integrity of the defense of the British Isles. From the military standpoint then, the United States was interested in sustaining the status quo in the southern portion of the Far East. Admiral Turner further indicated that though the Japanese actually had nothing to fear from the English, Americans or Dutch in these regions, if faced with German power, their problem would be great.

Since his government was collaborating with the Axis nations at this time, Ambassador Nomura felt bound to support their policies, and he ended the meeting with a request for permission to discuss these same matters with Admiral Stark in the near future.  

63. Mr. Wakasugi Visits Acting Secretary of State Welles.  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.227 

At the request of Mr. Welles, and in the absence of the Japanese Ambassador from Washington, Mr. Wakasugi called for further discussion of the topics introduced in the informal conversations of Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura. After first assuring the Japanese Minister that he was authorized to express the views of Secretary Hull, Mr. Welles stated that the objective of these talks was the maintenance of peace in the Pacific by the abandonment of the policies of force or conquest by all nations in this area.

Recalling both Secretary Hull's and his own reiterated expositions of American basic policies, Mr. Welles insisted that the principles of his government would not permit it to aid in the encirclement which Japan feared. From various sources, however, (See Part C—(g) Japanese-French Relations) Mr. Welles had learned that Japan planned to occupy Indo-China in the near future as a precautionary and defensive step against this so-called threat to her security. Since such a move would be at variance with any agreement between the United States and Japan, the Acting Secretary of State felt free to ask frankly the intentions of Mr. Wakasugi's government.

It was realized that the installation of a new government in Japan had somewhat delayed the clarification of Japanese policies with regard to the Pacific, and the United States would be patient until Japanese public opinion would permit the carrying out of a new policy. The seizure of French Indo-China, however, would force all other nations to reconsider their positions.

In reply, Mr. Wakasugi stated that the Japanese Embassy had received no information concerning Japan's intention to seize Indo-China. (See Part C—(g) Japanese-French Relations for information which casts doubts on the accuracy of this statement.) With regard to the new Japanese government, he agreed with Mr. Welles' belief that since Foreign Minister Toyoda was in close accord with the attitude of Ambassador Nomura toward the United States, friendlier relations between the two countries should be achieved. Realizing from Mr. Welles' statements that the occupation of French Indo-China would seriously endanger such a goal, Mr. Wakasugi promised to convey this information to Ambassador Nomura immediately so that he could return to Washington to discuss the matter personally.


227 "Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State July 21 1941 S.D., II, 520-522.  


(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.228 

According to Ambassador Nomura's report of Mr. Wakasugi's visit on July 21, 1941, the Acting Secretary of State said that he had given careful study to recent world conditions, and, in the light of these developments, he wished to express the opinions reached by Secretary Hull and himself regarding the unofficial discussions which had been taking place between Ambassador Nomura and Secretary Hull. Though the objectives of the Japanese representatives were identical with those towards which Secretary Hull was striving, the United States had received definite information from various sources that Japan was planning to disturb the peaceful status of certain areas. Such actions would conflict with the views expressed by the Japanese Ambassador during all the conversations.

Quoting a statement of Ambassador Nomura in which he said that Britain, the United States other nations were pressing Japan in an "encirclement", Mr. Welles indicated that such an expression was similar to the former complaints of Germany. Mr. Welles assured Mr. Wakasugi that Japan misunderstood the United States since the American government had no intention of encircling Japan, and was continuing the talks between Ambassador Nomura and Secretary Hull solely because of its desire to maintain peace. Mr. Welles informed Mr. Wakasugi that if Japan seized the southern portion of French Indo-China within the next few days, as his information indicated, such an act would definitely violate the spirit of the current Japanese-United States conversations which were being held to ensure peace in the Pacific. Mr. Welles then asked that he be advised of the Japanese viewpoint in this regard.

Mr. Wakasugi replied that he was aware that the present conversations were designed to improve Japanese-United States relations and that he was hopeful of their success. He asked if the "reliable source of information" mentioned by Mr. Welles referred to the United States Embassy in Japan. According to Ambassador Nomura, Mr. Welles avoided a clear answer but made a reply that the report was an accurate one. (See Part C—(g) Japanese-French Relations of this volume for the source of Mr. Welles' information.)

Mr. Wakasugi stated that he would report the matter to Ambassador Nomura, and in the meantime, requested permission to make an informal inquiry concerning the possible effect on the Japanese-United States conversations of Japan's planning to make a move into French Indo-China. Mr. Welles replied that such an act would truly violate the spirit of the discussions, and implied that further conversations would be in vain. However, Mr. Welles pointed out that the new Foreign Minister of Japan was a close friend of Ambassador Nomura, and moreover, since the new Cabinet had just taken over, it probably had not decided upon a definite policy as yet. The United States would await developments, therefore, before ending the discussions with the Japanese Ambassador.

Mr. Wakasugi promised to report immediately the details of this conversation to Ambassador Nomura, and then withdrew.229 

64. Welles-Nomura Conversation (July 23, 1941).  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.230 

Two days after the conversation between Mr. Wakasugi and Mr. Welles had taken place, the Japanese Ambassador called on the Acting Secretary of State to discuss the prospective Japanese occupation of French Indo-China. Claiming to be not officially informed, Ambassador Nomura stated that he had learned from press reports that the Japanese government had con-


228 II, 158.
229 II, Ibid.
230 "Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State", July 23, 1941, S.D., II, 522-526.


cluded an agreement with Vichy to send military forces to occupy certain portions of southern Indo-China. (See Appendix II, 819-821, 860)

Stressing the critical economic situation of Japan, especially with regard to such raw material as food supplies and fertilizer, Ambassador Nomura pointed out that deGaullist French agents and Chinese agitators were endangering the flow of goods from these territories to Japan. This was his government's main reason for taking action in that area. The second reason arose from the policies of certain foreign powers who seemed bent on destroying the military security of Japan.

Recognizing the hostile attitude of the press and the American public as a whole toward these recent developments, the Japanese Ambassador still hoped that the government itself would not "reach hasty conclusions", since any retaliatory measures, such as restricting oil exports to Japan, would only inflame Japanese public opinion. If given a little time to express its policies more clearly, Ambassador Nomura felt certain that the new Japanese Cabinet would reach a satisfactory agreement with the United States in spite of the opposition of "third powers".

Mr. Welles replied to Ambassador Nomura, as he had done to Mr. Wakasugi, that the policy the Japanese government was about to pursue was diametrically opposed to the one discussed in the informal conversations with Secretary Hull. He then took up the reasons which Ambassador Nomura had offered in explanation for the approaching action of his country, and refuted them one by one.

First, since any agreement reached with Vichy France must have resulted from pressure brought to bear on that government by Berlin, America could only regard such an agreement as Japan's offering assistance to Chancellor Hitler in his policy of world conquest. Secondly, with regard to Japan's need of raw materials, Mr. Wells was sure that the Japanese Ambassador realized that any satisfactory proposal reached between the two countries would have been predicated on equal economic opportunity and economic security for Japan, as well as other countries concerned in the Pacific. Therefore, the need for military precaution to prevent encirclement could not be regarded as a valid reason for Japan's aggressive steps. Furthermore, Mr. Welles felt certain that neither the governments of Great Britain, the Netherlands, nor even that of China constituted a menace to Japanese interests in the Pacific.

Passing over the activities of Chinese agitators and deGaullist sympathizers as not worthy of mention, Mr. Welles insisted that his government could see no reason for Japan's occupation of French Indo-China other than for purposes of an offensive in the South Seas area. If this were so, the following Japanese purposes which were detrimental to the United States could not be ignored: first, the Japanese government intended to pursue a course of force and conquest, and second, in occupying French Indo-China it was taking the last step before seizing additional territories in the South Seas.

In view of these intentions of Japan, further conversation between representatives of the two countries seemed to be baseless. However, the United States government was still willing to attempt the settlement of this question peacefully and would continue to show the utmost patience in its dealings with Japan. Ambassador Nomura agreed that such had been the stand of American representatives throughout these meetings.

Not attempting to place the blame on either country, the Japanese Ambassador felt, nevertheless, that the procrastination which had prevented these talks from reaching a successful conclusion was largely responsible for Japan's present action. Promising to report this discussion to Tokyo, the Japanese Ambassador parted from Mr. Welles with the intention of discussing the matter further with Secretary Hull, who was to return to Washington in the near future.  


(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.231 

Ambassador Nomura informed Tokyo that he had called on Acting Secretary of State Welles, on the afternoon of July 23, 1941, to explain that Japan's occupation of French Indo-China was essential to its national security and economic safety. Furthermore, he explained that Japan was forced to act in face of embargoes which were being imposed by various countries. Since Japanese penetration of French Indo-China was being carried out peacefully, and with the full approval of the Vichy government, Ambassador Nomura hoped that the United States would not move hastily and would wait for further developments since an export embargo on oil for Japan would greatly disturb the Japanese people. According to Ambassador Nomura, the new Japanese Cabinet was anxious to bring the Japanese-United States conversations to a successful conclusion.

Mr. Welles replied that he could not reconcile the Japanese policy in French Indo-China with the basic principles of the plans under discussion by Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura. Since neither Great Britain nor the United States intended to attack French Indo-China, it was felt that Vichy had submitted as a result of Hitler's pressure, and that Japan intended to use French Indo-China as a base for further southward moves. Moreover, the United States was not making any hasty conclusions since its actions would simply reflect Japan's policies.

In answer to an inquiry from Ambassador Nomura, Acting Secretary Welles said that the Panama Canal had been indefinitely closed for repairs and no particular nation was suffering discriminatory action. Mr. Welles reported that Secretary Hull would return to duty very shortly and would discuss the situation with Ambassador Nomura.232 

65. Tokyo Informs Ambassador Nomura that Japan Will Occupy Part of French Indo-China. 

On July 23, 1941 Foreign Minister Toyoda informed Ambassador Nomura that Japan had come to an agreement with the Vichy government concerning the joint defense of French Indo-China. Japanese occupation would take place in the southern part of French Indo-China on or about July 28 or 29, 1941.233

 Ambassador Nomura was instructed to inform the United States that the territorial sovereignty of French Indo-China would be respected and there would be no interference in the domestic administration of French Indo-China. Furthermore, Japan was definitely interested in the Hull-Nomura discussions and was making this report to the United States about French Indo-China merely because it desired to reach an "understanding" with the United States.234

 Foreign Minister Toyoda informed Ambassador Nomura that he had not yet decided on a definite foreign policy because of his having accepted his post only recently. He explained that the occupation of French Indo-China was unavoidable since it had been decided by the Japanese Cabinet before he assumed office, and was designed to be carried out peacefully for joint defense of French Indo-China. Though he intended to try to decrease friction between Japan and the English speaking powers, Admiral Toyoda warned that certain actions by the United States, such as freezing of assets, would create a very critical situation.235


231 II, 159.
232 II, Ibid.
233 II, 160
234 II, Ibid.
235 II, 161.


66. Details of the Secret Japanese-French Agreement.  

Tokyo sent advance warning to Ambassador Nomura that a statement concerning French Indo-China would be issued at noon of July 26, 1941, Tokyo time (10:00 P.M. Washington time).236 The statement would stress Japan's interest in the joint defense of French Indo-China and the friendly relations existing between France and Japan.237

The details of Japanese procedure in this instance were of great importance, for the knowledge of the contents of these secret reports to Ambassador Nomura gave American State Department officials an intimate understanding of the Far Eastern situation. (See Part C—Section (g) Japanese-French Relations.)

According to previous reports from Tokyo, Japanese Ambassador Kato had interviewed Foreign Minister Darlan in Vichy, and had presented to him Japanese demands concerning joint protection and military cooperation in French Indo-China. A reply was requested from the French by July 19, 1941. Ambassador Kato then interviewed Marshal Petain on July 15, 1941 and Admiral Darlan on July 16, 1941, and on both occasions he requested an immediate reply from Vichy.

On July 19, 1941, Foreign Minister Darlan replied to Ambassador Kato that Japan's demands would require consultation with Germany since France had an armistice agreement with the latter and was not in a position to make a decision alone. The Japanese considered this to be a pretext, and on July 20, 1941, Ambassador Kato returned to Admiral Darlan and demanded that all of the Japanese proposals be accepted immediately. Afterwards, the Japanese Ambassador conversed with another French official and discovered that France was inclined to accept the demands.

On the following day, July 21, 1941, Foreign Minister Darlan made an official reply:  

(1) The French government cannot but submit to the demands of the Japanese government.
(2) The French government guarantees joint defense of French Indo-China on the basis of cooperation with the Japanese government; however, she will not participate in aggressive war.
(3) As soon as informed of the locales wherein Japanese troops will be stationed, France will evacuate them.
(4) The Japanese government will make public a declaration that she will respect the territorial integrity of Indo-China and French sovereignty over the Indo-Chinese Federation, and will make this statement at the earliest possible moment.238 

According to the secret report from Tokyo, Admiral Darlan had used the phrase "cannot but submit to the demands of the Japanese government" to avoid criticism from the French both at home and abroad. The Vichy Foreign Minister also stipulated that Japan must not demand the retirement of French Indo-Chinese troops nor confiscate the material the French troops were using. If the Vichy government were to order French troops to be withdrawn from the areas in which they were stationed, unfortunate incidents would probably ensue because of the troops' displeasure with the order.

Ambassador Kato received the Vichy reply as an acceptance of all the Japanese demands. He handed Foreign Minister Darlan a prepared memorandum of acceptance and asked that the treaty be inscribed as an official document, whereupon he handed Admiral Darlan a proposal and a suggested text for a public statement. The French in turn offered several points, which were included in the correspondence, as follows:

(1) Support on the part of the Japanese government for supplementary defensive measures of the French Indo-China troops.
(2) Continued use of the existent military facilities by the French Indo-Chinese forces.
(3) A statement as early as possible from the Imperial government to the effect that the territorial integrity of French Indo-China and French sovereignty will be respected.


236 II, 162-163.
237 II, 164.
238 II, 165.  


(4) The term concerning the temporary evacuation of French Indo-Chinese troops shall be eliminated.239 

The work on the correspondence was finished on July 22, and on July 23, 1941, in the presence of Rear Admiral Sumita and Governor General Jean Decoux, an agreement was signed at Hanoi. The Japanese army was scheduled to enter southern French Indo-China on July 28 and 29, 1941.240 

67. Tokyo Assures the United States of Its Peaceful Intentions Despite the Occupation of French Indo-China.  

Foreign Minister Toyoda continued to assure Ambassador Nomura that the occupation of French Indo-China was not intended as a blow to the current Japanese-American conversations. Stating that the recent occupation had been a matter of necessity for the maintenance of peace in the Pacific, and claiming that Japan's peaceful attitude was evident from its patience during the long drawn-out negotiations with French Indo-China, Foreign Minister Toyoda denied an American allegation that Japan had assured its Axis partners that the Japanese-American conversations would last only until Japan had completed its southward movement.

He denied also that Japan intended to wreck the conversations, for he insisted that the Japanese government had become united and was very anxious that the discussions be continued. He directed Ambassador Nomura to explain immediately to the United States Japan's real intentions in regard to French Indo-China.241

In another dispatch, Foreign Minister Toyoda expressed his hope that both the leaders of the United States and Japan would display a high degree of statesmanship in maintaining peace in the Pacific. However, the possibility that the United States would freeze Japanese funds or institute a general embargo on petroleum would have an adverse effect on many aspects of Japanese life, and would compel Japan to resort to retaliation. This would lead to a collapse of Japanese-American economic relations and would probably hasten the development of war. Instructions were issued to Ambassador Nomura, therefore, to confer with his financial adviser in requesting the United States to give favorable consideration to these economic factors.242

A message from the Japanese Financial Ministry to its representative in America ordered him to cooperate with Ambassador Nomura in expressing Japanese appreciation to American authorities for the exemption of Japan from the general freezing of assets which had been applied to Germany and Italy.243 However, since rumors relating to the freezing of Japanese assets had arisen, Japan announced that it would be forced to take retaliatory measures, if necessary, by refusing to pay the principal and interest on debts in the United States, as well as by freezing all American property in Japan. The Financial Ministry's representative was instructed to urge American Treasury Department officials to give deep consideration to this matter so that through cooperation Japanese-United States relations would be prevented from becoming worse.244


239 II, 166.
240 II, Ibid.
241 II, 167.
242 II, 168.
243 II, 169.
244 II, Ibid. 


68. Roosevelt-Nomura Conversations (July 24, 1941).  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.245 

At the request of the Japanese Ambassador a secret meeting with President Roosevelt was held with both Mr. Welles and Admiral Stark present to discuss the effect of Japan's plan to occupy French Indo-China. To explain more clearly his government's position, President Roosevelt referred to a conference held that morning with a home defense group under the leadership of Mayor LaGuardia in which the vast quantity of oil exported to Japan was the main topic under discussion. Realizing that the restriction of oil supplies would have furnished the Japanese with an incentive to move down upon the Netherlands East Indies, the United States government had continued its export even during the past two years when America's home supply was fast diminishing. Notwithstanding the criticism that had been leveled against the administration for aiding a country that gave every indication of pursuing a policy of force and conquest, the shipments of oil had been continued. If Japan now attempted to seize oil supplies in the Netherlands East Indies, President Roosevelt stated that the Dutch aided by the British, would resist. America's policy would be one of assistance to Great Britain, thereby causing an extremely complicated and serious international situation.

Reiterating Mr. Welles' assertion that Japan had far more to gain by a peaceful agreement with the United States, President Roosevelt pointed out that not only would the Japanese obtain larger quantities of necessary supplies by this means than they could by force, but they would do so without the tremendous expenses of military occupation. Expressing his disbelief that Great Britain, the Netherlands Indies or China had designs on Japan, President Roosevelt felt forced to say that his government could only assume that Japan's purpose was one of offense rather than defense.

When the Japanese Ambassador expressed his own personal disagreement with this plan of his government, and with the understanding that the new Foreign Minister, Admiral Toyoda, was in agreement with Ambassador Nomura's views on many matters, President Roosevelt proposed a last-minute plan for stopping the aggression. If the Japanese government would withdraw its forces, President Roosevelt promised to obtain an agreement from Great Britain, the Netherlands and China to regard Indo-China as a neutralized country, thereby assuring Japan of the raw materials which she was seeking to secure. Furthermore, President Roosevelt would endeavor to procure a binding guarantee from the pertinent powers not to dislodge the Vichy French agents in that area.

Although promising to pass this proposal on to Tokyo, Ambassador Nomura was not overly optimistic for he indicated that such a step would be difficult because of the face-saving element involved.

Concluding his remarks with the opinion of the United States government that Japan's present policies were largely dominated by Germany, President Roosevelt reminded the Japanese Ambassador that Nazism constituted as grave a danger to the Far East as it did to Europe and the Western Hemisphere, since he believed that Chancellor Hitler was bound on world conquest. In view of this, America and Japan in cooperating with one another would be facing a common enemy. However, Ambassador Nomura denied President Roosevelt's allegation that Japan was under the influence of Germany and was not acting strictly in pursuit of her own policies.


245 II, "Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State", July 24, 1941, S.D., II, 527-530.  


(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.246 

Ambassador Nomura reported that because of the urgency of the current diplomatic situation he had asked the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, to request a personal conference with President Roosevelt. This secret meeting had taken place at 5:00 P. M. 24, 1941, in the company of Acting Secretary Welles and Admiral Stark.

In conformity with the instructions from the Foreign Minister, Ambassador Nomura had explained that the occupation of French Indo-China had taken place because of economic considerations and in view of the necessity of stabilizing that area. Pointing to Japan's intentions to respect French Indo-China's territorial sovereignty, he repeated that the present Japanese Cabinet was eager for a Japanese-American "understanding" in order to maintain peace in the Pacific.

President Roosevelt replied that the American people had been insisting on an oil embargo against Japan, but he had opposed this in order to keep peace in the Pacific. In view of the present situation, however, President Roosevelt hinted that an embargo on oil was imminent. Mr. Roosevelt also remarked that if there were some method whereby French Indo-China could be evacuated, with the various countries concerned guaranteeing its neutrality so that all could have free access to raw materials in that territory, he would spare no effort to bring about an "understanding" since he was extremely sympathetic toward Japan's need of materials.247

On the following day, July 25, 1941, Ambassador Nomura sent a more complete report concerning the same meeting.248 President Roosevelt had said that Chancellor Hitler's aim was subjugation of the world, and Ambassador Nomura reported that Mr. Roosevelt had made the same remark on a previous occasion (March 14, 1941) when his statement had been corroborated by Secretary Hull. According to President Roosevelt, when Chancellor Hitler had finished with Europe he would conquer Africa, and after that there would be no stopping him. Japan would eventually be fighting on the same side of the United States.

Quoting an old Japanese proverb which stated that "if a country likes to fight, it is already on the brink of being destroyed", Ambassador Nomura advised President Roosevelt that there had been no German pressure on Japan, and that his country had acted entirely on its own in occupying French Indo-China. Though President Roosevelt had apparently accepted this explanation, Ambassador Nomura warned his superiors that the American President and public were convinced that Japan, either in cooperation with Germany or independently, was awaiting an opportunity to move both southward and northward.249

Two days later, on July 27, 1941, Ambassador Nomura received instructions from his Foreign Minister to report his conversation of July 24, 1941 with President Roosevelt in even further detail.250 Accordingly, Ambassador Nomura sent a long report giving some minutiae of this historic meeting. During the interview with President Roosevelt, Ambassador Nomura had held a memorandum prepared in Japanese, though he had conversed with Mr. Roosevelt in English, in which he had been carefully coached by Mr. Obata before the visit.

He had explained to President Roosevelt that the reasons for the occupation of French Indo-China by Japan were: first, to obtain foodstuffs which were necessary for the economic existence of Japan, and to avoid being crushed by the economic measures of other nations which


246 II, 170.
247 II, 171.
248 II, 172.
249 II, Ibid.
250 II, 173.


would be imposed if Japan stood idly by; second, for reasons of Japanese national security, since Japan would be in danger if French Indo-China came under the influence of a third country; therefore, a joint defense was planned to stabilize peaceful relations; third, the occupation would take place peaceably, and since Japan would respect French Indo-China's territorial integrity and sovereignty, it would be desirable that the United States not take an extreme attitude.251

Ambassador Nomura expressed his regret that the United States doubted the sincerity of Japan, and emphasizing the Japanese government's desire to reach an "understanding" with the United States, he stated that the new Japanese Cabinet had twice issued instructions concerning this objective.

Admitting that the interpretation of the United States in regard to self-defense was a difficulty in the present discussions, Ambassador Nomura hoped that a compromise would be achieved and that a definite decision as to what constituted exercise of the right of self-defense could be decided after an "understanding" had been reached.

To confirm his opinion that all difficulties between the United States and Japan would eventually settle themselves, Ambassador Nomura remarked that the stationing of troops in China was not permanent and would be dealt with as part of an agreement with the Chinese government. Freedom of commerce would be achieved by a spontaneous settlement.252

According to Ambassador Nomura, President Roosevelt replied that demands for an oil embargo against Japan had been extensive but that he had toned them down because he wished to keep peace in the Pacific. Proclaiming his sympathy for Japan's needs for raw materials, President Roosevelt expressed his disapproval of the occupation of French Indo-China.

Stating that he had not conferred with the State Department on his next suggestion, President Roosevelt remarked that if Japan evacuated its troops from French Indo-China he would spare no efforts to have the various countries concerned guarantee the neutrality of French Indo-China and assure an equitable share of the raw materials in that area for all nations. Ambassador Nomura then discussed these points with President Roosevelt, who, after confirming them, turned to Acting Secretary Welles for comment, but the latter "maintaining a humble attitude" said nothing.253 President Roosevelt at this point took out his cigarette case and offered it only to Ambassador Nomura.

Ambassador Nomura explained to his Foreign Minister that the evacuation of troops which President Roosevelt suggested was strange in one sense but not so strange in another sense, for it confirmed the American Good Neighbor policy in which military power was not used. Pointing out that the avoidance of military power and the principle of non-discriminatory freedom of trade were two points with which both President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Hull were much concerned, Ambassador Nomura commented on the success of such a policy in President Roosevelt's dealings with Latin American countries.

To President Roosevelt's accusation that the recent southern advance of Japan was a result of German pressure, Ambassador Nomura explained that Japan had acted solely on its own initiative. Seemingly, Mr. Roosevelt was not convinced by Ambassador Nomura's arguments.254 Expressing his determination to improve Japanese-American relations, which according to President Roosevelt were deteriorating, Ambassador Nomura stated that although he had not yet been successful, he would not give up his intention to carry on to the end.


251 II, 174.
252 II, 175-176.
253 II, 177.
254 II, 178.


President Roosevelt declared that Hitler was determined to conquer the world and that after he had finished with Europe, he would conquer Africa and continue his attacks, not knowing when to stop. Thus, ten years from this time, Japan would fight on the same side with America against Germany. Ambassador Nomura had answered that those who take the sword would fall by the sword and that Japan was not going to use the sword.255 

69. Mr. Wakasugi Confers with Mr. Hamilton (July 25, 1941).  

Ambassador Nomura reported that he had sent Mr. Wakasugi to deliver to Mr. Hamilton a copy of the English text of a statement concerning the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China, which was to be published on July 26, 1941 by the Japanese government.256 Mr. Wakasugi indicated that Japanese occupation would not affect the sovereignty and integrity of French Indo-China, nor would Japan meddle in the domestic politics of that country. Mr. Wakasugi also handed to Mr. Hamilton a note concerning the halting of traffic through the Panama Canal.

An unofficial discussion then arose concerning Japanese-United States relations, and both men expressed opinions on the possibility of counteracting the unfavorable trend of the current discussions. Remarking that Secretary Hull had worked very hard to maintain friendly relations with Japan in spite of much protest from the American people as well as from his Cabinet colleagues, Mr. Hamilton said that both President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull were convinced that Japan would profit not from the use of arms, but from a policy of peace. In any event, an expansion program of Japan similar to Chancellor Hitler's would make it impossible to continue the unofficial Japanese-United States discussions for peace.257 

70. Ambassador Nomura's Relations with Admiral Stark, U. S. N.  

Ambassador Nomura reported to Foreign Minister Toyoda, a former admiral of the Japanese Navy, that Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, had extended many courtesies to him ever since he had assumed his position as Japanese Ambassador in Washington. Ambassador Nomura believed that Admiral Pratt had spoken favorably concerning him to Admiral Stark. Both Ambassador Nomura and Admiral Stark agreed that peace was desirable, since the only result of a war between Japan and the United States would be mutual exhaustion.

In one of his conversations with Admiral Stark, Ambassador Nomura had commented on the excellent character and qualifications of some of the higher officials in the Navy Department. Ambassador Nomura requested that the following reply of Admiral Stark be relayed to Japanese Naval officials:  

To this, the Admiral replied that both the Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Director of War Plans were exceedingly able men. The same is true of the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. As for the fleets, he continued, both Kimmel and King were recommended by him, and both are of the highest caliber. Although Hart had reached the age of retirement, he had been kept on inactive duty because of the critical times, he added.258


256 II, Ibid.
266 II, 179; "Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton)", July 25, 1941, S.D., II, 265-266.
267 II, Ibid.
268 II, 180.  


71. Japanese-American Conversation.  

(a) State Department Report.259 

On the day following Ambassador Nomura's conversation with President Roosevelt, Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Wikawa invited Mr. Ballantine for lunch to clear up some of the details regarding the new rift in Japanese-American relations. Expressing his regret at recent developments, Colonel Iwakuro informed Mr. Ballantine that the question of Japanese occupation of bases in Indo-China had been raised before he had left for the United States. Though the basis for previous conversations had been to prevent this southward advance, the delay in reaching any understanding had caused officials in the Japanese government, though not its representatives in the United States, to doubt the sincerity of America's intentions. Pointing to Great Britain's recent embargo on rice exported from Burma to Japan and to the deGaullists activities, which threatened Japan's market in southern Indo-China, Colonel Iwakuro insisted that Japan was forced to make a precautionary move.

Although hoping to resume the informal meetings, Colonel Iwakuro assured Mr. Ballantine that they would not influence Japan to reverse its position in the Indo-China situation; nor, would they serve to prevent Japan from moving into Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, as it would be forced to do if further essential supplies were cut off, or if its assets were frozen by the United States. Colonel Iwakuro insisted that the American occupation of Iceland paralleled the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China.

Declining to modify in any way the attitude of the United States concerning Japanese aggression, Mr. Ballantine countered Colonel Iwakuro's charge concerning the American occupation of Iceland by stating that the country was independent, and that its Parliament possessed full constitutional authority to enter into agreements with foreign countries. To the suggestion that America had been influenced by the propaganda of powers interested in preventing the establishment of friendly relations between the United States and Japan, Mr. Ballantine replied that the United States had accumulated evidence that important elements in the Japanese government supported Chancellor Hitler's movement toward world conquest.

The meeting ended cordially, but with little actual optimism by either country's representatives concerning the value of future conversations.  

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.  

There is no record available concerning a Japanese report from Washington in regard to this conversation (DoD comment).  

72. Ambassador Nomura Decides to Send Mr. Wakasugi and Colonel Iwakuro to Japan.  

It will be recalled that Ambassador Nomura had objected strenuously to a previous request from Foreign Minister Matsuoka that Minister Wakasugi be sent back to Japan to report personally on certain Japanese-American affairs. Ambassador Nomura had stressed his desire to retain the services of his assistant, and had pointed out that the situation was so delicate that he needed the presence of Minister Wakasugi. It is evident, therefore, that only a very serious situation could have influenced Ambassador Nomura to request the return of both Minister Wakasugi and Colonel Iwakuro at this time. Although he desired to send a naval representative with the other two emissaries, lack of adequate personnel made such action impossible.260


259 "Memorandum of a Conversation", July 25, 1941, by Joseph W. Ballantine, S.D., II, 530-532.
260 II, 181.


73. Attempts to Preserve Peace.  

Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo that a prominent American Cabinet member was trying to preserve peace between the United States and Japan. This individual was not definitely identified in the text of the message. This Cabinet member told Ambassador Nomura that a secret Cabinet meeting had been held to discuss counter measures to Japan's southward move which it believed had been instigated by Germany to supplement its next attack in Europe.

According to this informant, the American Cabinet believed that continuing the Japanese-American discussions was useless, and it would not accept any excuses for the actions of the Japanese. Though the Cabinet member had been able to prevail on Secretary Hull and other Cabinet members up until this time to prevent the freezing of Japanese assets and the imposition of an oil export embargo, he now reported that both of these measures would soon be adopted, with the freezing of assets put into effect at an unexpectedly early date. However, this Cabinet member was trying to persuade American authorities to postpone these measures until he could discuss the matter with Secretary Hull who was expected to return to Washington in a few days.

In a side explanation to Foreign Minister Toyoda, Ambassador Nomura remarked that because his American friend was a new member of the Cabinet, he had been ignorant of the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China in the previous year. When he had learned of this matter on July 6, 1941, the Cabinet member asked Ambassador Nomura why Japan was making such an issue of its latest move. According to the Cabinet member, both he and Secretary Hull had been "put on the spot" because of recent developments in the Far East. He had recently held a long discussion with President Roosevelt in which Mr. Roosevelt expressed the opinion that some means could be found to make Japan reconsider her policy in the Pacific. Therefore, the Cabinet member would not discontinue his efforts to bring about a conciliation, and he hoped that Japan would respond favorably to his overtures.

According to Ambassador Nomura, Germany was still trying to bring about peace through the influence of the United States, though Japan was in no way involved in the plans proposed by Germany. The Cabinet member reported that though he and other Cabinet members opposed Germany's terms, they were favored by some of his colleagues who were against the Japanese-United States understanding.261 

74. The United States Freezes Japanese Assets (July 25, 1941).  

On July 25, 1941 the United States froze Japanese assets by an order similar to that by which assets of various European countries had been frozen on June 14, 1941. This measure brought all financial, import and export trade transactions in which Japanese interests were involved under the control of the United States, and imposed criminal penalties for violations of the order. Simultaneously, at the request of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, President Roosevelt extended the freezing control to Chinese assets in the United States for the purpose of helping the Chinese government. Japanese banks in Los Angeles were inspected by examiners and all safes were sealed on the evening of July 25, 1941.262

The Japanese were much concerned lest the freezing of commercial assets include interference with the departure of Japanese ships from American ports. According to Ambassador Nomura, when Mr. Wakasugi had conferred with Mr. Hamilton of the State Department, he


261 II, 182.
262 II, 183 


had asked whether or not the American government intended to tie up or seize Japanese ships.263 Mr. Hamilton had replied that the State Department had nothing to do with this, but when Mr. Wakasugi asked for an official declaration concerning the intention of the United States not to seize Japanese ships, Mr. Hamilton replied that he did not think it necessary for the American government to guarantee this point. Ambassador Nomura promised a further report to Tokyo whenever he received definite word regarding the seizure of Japanese ships.264

On July 27, 1941 Tokyo announced that in retaliation against Britain and the United States for freezing Japanese assets, Japanese restrictions on foreign business transactions would be put into effect on July 28, 1941. Similar action would be taken in Manchukuo and in China where all transactions involving Britain and America would be placed on a license basis.265

To Tokyo's request for information concerning the legal authority under which President Roosevelt had acted in freezing Japanese assets in the United States, Ambassador Nomura replied that the authority of the President was derived from the Espionage Act of July 15, 1917; a law authorizing the commandeering of ships; and the law stipulating the order of priority of commercial shipments for the sake of national defense.266 

75. Ambassador Grew Visits Foreign Minister Toyoda (July 25, 1941).  

(a) Ambassador Grew's Report.266A 

Foreign Minister Toyoda informed Ambassador Grew that on the following day Japan would issue an official statement concerning its agreement with France to jointly defend French Indo-China, and for that reason he wished to inform the United States of Japan's reasons and intentions. He handed Ambassador Grew a copy of the Japanese statement, who, after he had read it, replied by citing some of the passages of a statement made to the press by Secretary Welles on the preceding day.

Denying that Japan was being encircled or acting to protect Indo-China, the American Ambassador expressed his pleasure in noting that the Japanese statement said, "Japan has no intention at all of making the southern part of Indo-China a base of armed advancement against adjoining areas". He said, however, that the United States had been so frequently disappointed by the promises of former Japanese Ministers that only facts and actions would be relied upon in the future.

Ambassador Grew then outlined the successive steps of Japan's southward advance, and indicated America's concern with the threats to Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies. Foreign Minister Toyoda again emphasized Japan's peaceful intentions and said that Japan had no territorial ambitions. He asked Ambassador Grew to convey this information to his government, and commented on the importance of avoiding measures which would provoke the Japanese people and disrupt Japanese-American relations.  

(b) Foreign Minister Toyoda's Report.267 

In his talk with Ambassador Grew on July 25, 1941, Foreign Minister Toyoda, pointing out that in the area of Burma, Singapore and French Indo-China, Japan was being encircled by


263 II, 184; "Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton)", July 25, 1941, S.D., II, 265-166.
264 II, Ibid.
265 II, 185
266 II, 186.
266A "Memorandum by the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)", July 25, 1941, S.D., II, 317-318; "Press Release issued by the Department of State on July 24, 1941", S.D., II, 315-317; "The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Toyoda) to the American Ambassador in Japan (Grew)", S.D., II, 318-319.
267 II, 187.


hostile forces, compared Japan's occupation of French Indo-China as a measure of joint defense for that country to Britain's occupation of Syria.

Denying the accuracy of a statement made by Mr. Welles on July 24, 1941 at a press conference, which indicated that the occupation of northern French Indo-China by the Japanese was only a preliminary step toward a further southward advance, Foreign Minister Toyoda indicated that he had informed the American government of the action about to be taken by Japan because of his friendship with the American Ambassador.

According to Admiral Toyoda's report, Ambassador Grew had placed a great deal of importance on the point in the memorandum handed to him by the Foreign Minister, which indicated that Japan did not intend to use southern French Indo-China as a base for further advancement to adjacent territories. According to Ambassador Grew, the United States would be very happy to receive Japan's assurance that no further southward movement was intended.268 

76. Ambassador Grew Visits Foreign Minister Toyoda (July 26, 1941).  

(a) Ambassador Grew's Report.269 

At the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Admiral Toyoda, American Ambassador Grew called to discuss at length the strained situation which had arisen from the establishment of Japanese bases in southern Indo-China and the consequent freezing of Japanese assets in the United States. Since Ambassador Grew had received a report of Acting Secretary Welles' conversation with Ambassador Nomura, he conveyed the substance of it to the Foreign Minister. Profoundly concerned with the rupture of these Washington conferences, and particularly disturbed by Mr. Welles' remark regarding German pressure on the French government, Admiral Toyoda assured Mr. Grew that all French Indo-China negotiations had been carried on without any outside pressure. He also attempted to draw without success a comparison between the Japanese action and the measures taken by England in Syria.

Although Admiral Toyoda reiterated the view that the situation between the United States and Japan was based solely on an American misunderstanding of Japan's true purposes, Mr. Grew refuted this statement with the reply that the United States had learned from experience with other Japanese governments that little credence could be given to their pledges or assurances. Rather than have the meeting end in an atmosphere of defeatism, Ambassador Grew urged the Foreign Minister to exercise his influence in the prevention of further deterioration of relations between Japan and the United States.  

(b) Foreign Minister Toyoda's Report.270 

The Foreign Minister told Ambassador Nomura that Ambassador Grew had read to him the entire contents of a telegram which gave the details of a conversation on July 23, 1941 between Ambassador Nomura and Assistant Secretary of State Welles.

Foreign Minister Toyoda differed with Mr. Welles in his opinion that Japan's actions on French Indo-China had been a result of pressure from Germany. According to the Foreign Minister, Japan had acted only as a result of a friendly treaty between Japan and France for the purpose of jointly defending French Indo-China against the fate of Syria, though Mr. Welles believed that French Indo-China had been occupied to secure bases for further Japanese advances. According to Foreign Minister Toyoda, Japan had no object other than the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.


268 II, Ibid.
269 "Memorandum by the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)", July 26, 1941, S.D., II, 532-534.
270 II, 188.


Announcing his chagrin because Japanese-American relations had deteriorated so rapidly in less than two weeks after the formation of a new cabinet, Foreign Minister Toyoda blamed the situation on American misunderstanding of the real intentions of the Japanese government. Warning that further restrictions by the United States would provoke Japanese opinion, which was already resentful because of United States' aid to China, Foreign Minister Toyoda claimed that it would be difficult for the Japanese government to suppress the emotions of the Japanese people. To the Foreign Minister's inquiry concerning the accuracy of Mr. Welles' quotation of Secretary Hull's remarks that he "was unable to see that there was now any basis for continuing the talks which Admiral Nomura and Mr. Hull had been conducting", Ambassador Grew had made no definite reply on the grounds that he was not yet familiar with the recent order freezing Japanese assets.

Foreign Minister Toyoda instructed Ambassador Nomura and his subordinates to emphasize at every opportunity that Japan's action was one which could not have been avoided in the light of internal and external circumstances.271 

77. Ambassador Grew Visits Foreign Minister Toyoda (July 27, 1941).  

(a) Ambassador Grew's Report.272 

Since the report of President Roosevelt's proposal to Ambassador Nomura had reached Mr. Grew after his meeting on July 26, 1941 with the Japanese Foreign Minister, on July 27, 1941 the American Ambassador called on Admiral Toyoda of his own initiative for an "off the record" conversation concerning these new developments. Emphasizing that he was acting without the official authority of his government and only because the matter warranted immediate action, Mr. Grew then began to discuss the substance of President Roosevelt's suggestion, only to learn that Ambassador Nomura had not yet informed the Japanese Foreign Office of its provisions.

When Admiral Toyoda had heard the terms of the proposed agreement, however, he stated that it had come too late, since public opinion in Japan was now aroused against the United States because of its freezing of Japanese assets. Nevertheless, he agreed to examine the President's proposal more carefully and to discuss it fully with other high officials.

Reminding the Foreign Minister that any reply to President Roosevelt's suggestion would have to be conveyed through the Japanese in Washington after the receipt of his report in Japan, Mr. Grew took this opportunity to express his own personal views. Referring to the full and free access to food supplies and raw materials permitted under this agreement, the American Ambassador stated that President Roosevelt's proposal adequately solved the problem of Japanese encirclement. When asked if this also applied to the Dutch East Indies as well as French Indo-China, Mr. Grew pointed out that the conversations in Washington had dealt with the question of equal opportunity and free movement of trade throughout the entire area of the Pacific.

Foreign Minister Toyoda again reiterated the resentment felt in Japan because of the freezing of Japanese assets by the United States. Though still speaking unofficially, Mr. Grew assured the Foreign Minister that the administration of this Executive Order was extremely flexible, and stated that he believed there would be no reluctance on the part of the American government to facilitate any Japanese efforts toward peace in the Pacific.

While recognizing the "face-saving" element that Japan must be concerned with, Mr. Grew urged Admiral Toyoda to act in conformity with the highest statesmanship, and to relieve the dangerous situation which had arisen.


271 II, 189.
272 "Memorandum by the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)", July 27, 1941, S.D., II, 534-537.


(b) Foreign Minister Toyoda's Report. 

There is no dispatch available which gives the details of this meeting from the Japanese viewpoint (DoD comment). 

78. Welles-Nomura Conversation (July 28, 1941).  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.273 

 On the afternoon of July 28, 1941 the Japanese Ambassador called on the Acting Secretary of State to question him on certain American policies connected with the freezing order. When questioned regarding the status of Japanese vessels in American territorial waters, Mr. Welles stated that the Treasury Department, for the time being and under present conditions, would grant prompt clearance to any of these vessels in American ports, and that licenses would be freely issued to permit the purchase of food supplies for the crew and fuel for the ships.

 Expressing his satisfaction with the attitude of the United States in this matter, Ambassador Nomura then spoke of his desire to see the present difficult situation passed over without further deterioration in the relations between the two countries. Reminding the Japanese Ambassador of the extreme patience demonstrated by the United States in its dealings with Japan, Mr. Welles rejected the Japanese representative's suggestion that some sort of a compromise be drafted.

 Mr. Welles pointed out that the policy of America was the renunciation of force and conquest in the dealings between nations of the Pacific area, and the establishment of equal opportunity on non-discriminatory terms. Since President Roosevelt's proposal had assured Japan of the economic and commercial stability which it desired with regard to the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands and China, there was no conceivable ground for any compromise solution. When Mr. Welles also expressed his surprise that the Japanese Ambassador had not immediately conveyed to Tokyo the complete terms of President Roosevelt's proposal, Ambassador Nomura replied that he had now done so.

 In concluding the meeting, Mr. Welles informed the Japanese Ambassador that it seemed to him that Japan had now undertaken a policy completely different from that which had been under discussion with the United States, and hence any compromise would amount to an abandoning of American principles. When Ambassador Nomura requested that President Roosevelt see Colonel Iwakuro before the latter's departure for Japan, Mr. Welles, though not optimistic, promised to try to arrange an interview. 

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.274 

 Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo that on July 28, 1941 he had conversed with Mr. Welles. Though peace had been maintained between the United States and Japan for ninety years, it was evident, Ambassador Nomura had declared, that unless some way out was found from the present policies being pursued by both Japan and the United States, relations would become increasingly critical.

 Mr. Welles replied that the recent proposals of President Roosevelt were sound and that they were of considerable importance. In spite of this, Ambassador Grew had reported from Tokyo that Foreign Minister Toyoda had not yet been informed of them. Ambassador Nomura replied that only the gist of President Roosevelt's proposals had been reported at first, but a detailed report had been sent later.

Mr. Welles repeated the statement made by President Roosevelt that the United States not interfere with the export of American materials to Japan, if Japan would avoid con-


273 "Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State", July 28, 1941, S.D., II, 537-539.
274 II, 190-191.


quest through the use of force. Furthermore, according to Mr. Welles, the safety of French Indo-China was not in danger.  

79. Ambassador Nomura Warns Tokyo of the Dangers of War.  

In the same report in which Ambassador Nomura discussed his latest conversation with Acting Secretary Welles, the Japanese Ambassador warned his Foreign Office that Japan was moving towards war in East Asia.

Nomura expressed his sentiments as follows: 

If we look at the trend in a detached manner, we find that we are moving alone, heading toward the worst possible eventuality in East Asia, and may come up against Britain, the United States, the Netherlands East Indies and China, and probably the U.S.S.R. as well.

Our duty to restrain the United States in behalf of German ----- (two badly garbled lines) ----- the United States and Germany are avoiding armed conflict. In the meantime, and unconsciously, we are rushing towards a war against Great Britain and the United States; a war in which we would have to stand alone against them.

I beg of you to give careful considerations before you take any steps. It may be true that circumstances may arise which need immediate local attention from the military. Politically, however, I beseech you to take a broad view, consider all of the angles, before making a move. It is my undying hope that you proceed in behalf of the everlasting glory of our country.275 

80. The United States Restricts Japanese Economic Activities.  

On July 29, 1941 Ambassador Nomura was informed that in view of the great increase in the number of Japanese with diplomatic status living in New York, only the ranking Commercial Attaché and Financial Attaché would be placed on the diplomatic list. As for financial and commercial consuls and secretaries already on the diplomatic list, permission to increase their number or to replace them would not be given, in accordance with the policy begun in 1939. For this reason, Assistant Financial Attaché Yosimura would be permitted to reside in New York, but would not be placed on the diplomatic list.276 

81. The Bombing of the Tutuila (July 30, 1941).  

In the midst of the very delicate diplomatic situation created by the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China, an incident of dangerous potentialities occurred at Chungking, where, in an operation by twenty-six Japanese heavy bombers, one bomb struck near the U. S. S. Tutuila in an area very near to the United States Embassy. Acting Secretary of State Welles requested Ambassador Nomura to call upon him so that an official complaint could be registered.  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.277 

Mr. Welles stated that he had called in the Japanese Ambassador on the morning of July 30, 1941 to give him a copy of the report relating to the bombing of the American area in Chungking, and asked him for answers to the following questions:  

1. Did this take place upon instruction by, or knowledge of, responsible authorities?
2. What responsibility, if any, would the Japanese government assume for it?
3. What precise measures in detail does the Japanese government intend to take toward effectively preventing a recurrence of any such action.  

Mr. Welles reminded the Japanese Ambassador of the solemn pledge of the Japanese government at the time of the sinking of the U. S. S. Panay that such action would not be repeated.


275 II, 190.
276 II, 192.
277 "The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)", S.D., I, 719-720.


Furthermore, similar pledges had been repeatedly disregarded. The Japanese Ambassador was requested to take the matter up immediately with his Minister for Foreign Affairs.  

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.278 

Ambassador Nomura reported that Acting Secretary Welles had requested him to call to receive the memorandum concerning the bombing of the U. S. S. Tutuila. Acting Secretary Welles, with an "extremely austere look",279 and stating that he spoke in the name of President Roosevelt, had asked the following questions:  

1. When the Panay incident happened the President got a guarantee that such a thing would not recur, so why did the present incident happen?
2. Under what sort of orders did the Japanese forces and responsible officials permit such a deed?
3. The American Embassy in Chungking and the gunboat are on the other side of the city, supposedly in a safe place, so how did this incident come about? Now, I want to get an immediate explanation from the Japanese government.  

According to Ambassador Nomura's reply to Mr. Welles, the bombing had taken place accidentally since the river at Chungking was very narrow and novice aviators were quite apt to make mistakes. In order to stop such untoward events, it would be necessary either to stop bombing Chungking or to move the American Embassy and the gunboat. Ambassador Nomura then asked permission to delay his official answer until he could report to his government.280 

82. Ambassador Nomura Warns Tokyo of the Seriousness of the Tutuila Affair.  

Ambassador Nomura pointed out that during his first conversation with President Roosevelt on the occasion of his formal introduction early in 1941, President Roosevelt had said that he and Secretary Hull had succeeded in restraining American popular opinion at the time of the Panay incident. However, another such incident would make it impossible to calm the storm.

Ambassador Nomura remarked that the latest incident had been most inopportune because popular demand for the freezing of Japanese funds was subsiding just when it happened. Ambassador Nomura did not attempt to disguise the disturbed feelings of American officials at this moment, as the following passage indicates:  

Today I knew from the hard looks on their faces that they meant business and I could see that if we do not answer to suit them that they are going to take some drastic steps....

Things being as they are, need I point out to you gentlemen that in my opinion it is necessary to take without one moment's hesitation some appeasement measures. Please wire me back at the earliest possible moment.281 

83. Ambassador Nomura Suggests that Japan Discontinue the Bombing of Chungking.  

In conformity with his views that some immediate action would have to be initiated to offset the bad impression created in America by the latest Japanese bombing in China, Ambassador Nomura suggested to his Foreign Minister that the best possible step would be to stop bombing Chungking for a time and to publish this decision without delay.282

Japanese authorities in Tokyo were as much concerned about the bombing of the U. S. S. Tutuila as was Ambassador Nomura himself. The Foreign Minister informed Ambassador Nomura that even before receiving official word from the American Embassy, he had sent


278 II, 193-194.
279 II, 193.
280 II, Ibid.
281 II, 195.
282 II, 196.


Vice-Minister Yamamoto to express the deep regret of the Japanese government at this most unfortunate occurrence.283 Furthermore, the Minister of the Navy sent an officer to call on the American Naval Attaché to express the regret of the Japanese Navy for the damage done by Japanese Naval Air Forces.284

Ambassador Nomura was also informed that the Foreign Minister had requested Ambassador Grew to call on him to receive the expression of the regrets of the Japanese government at the same time that the American Ambassador presented the official text of the American complaint.285 Foreign Minister Toyoda said that the incident was a mistake on the part of an aviator, but that no matter what the cause might be, it was much to be regretted since Japanese authorities had been exercising the greatest caution to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, and had recently issued strict orders concerning them. As a former military man, Foreign Minister Toyoda promised to see to it that Japanese military personnel would give absolute obedience to these instructions in the future.286 

84. Tokyo Orders the Discontinuance of Bombing at Chungking.  

Ambassador Nomura was requested to inform President Roosevelt immediately that, in view of the general state of relations between Japan and America, the bombing of Chungking would be suspended for a time. However, if this action were publicly announced in America, public opinion in Japan might be shocked. Pointing out that such a reaction might defeat the very purpose of the discontinuance of the bombing, Tokyo asked that the United States keep this decision confidential.287

Ambassador Nomura called on Acting Secretary Welles on the afternoon of July 31, 1941 to request that the apology of the Japanese government for the Tutuila incident be conveyed promptly to President Roosevelt. Furthermore, the Japanese government would suspend all bombing operations over the city area of Chungking, and the Japanese government was prepared to pay indemnities for any damage to American property which had occurred from this bombing, though in the opinion of Ambassador Nomura the damage had been accidental.288

After this, Ambassador Nomura was able to report to his government the announcement of the Acting Secretary of State that the United States had accepted Japan's apology in connection with the Tutuila incident and that the matter would henceforth be closed.289 

85. Ambassador Nomura Reports British-German Peace Negotiations.  

Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo, on July 28, 1941, that reports emanating from Turkey concerning British-German peace negotiations were not entirely without foundation. Furthermore, President Roosevelt and Acting Secretary Welles had intimated that Mayor LaGuardia of New York, former national head of civilian defense, had inadvertently divulged some information concerning this. Though Ambassador Nomura was not certain of the truth of these rumors, he pointed out that the German government had expanded its personnel in the United States and was successfully engaged in undercover work, especially among Americans of German extraction.290


283 II, 197; S.D., I, 720.
284 II, Ibid.: S.D., I, 722.
285 II, 198.
286 II, Ibid.
287 II, 199.
288 II, 200-201.
289 II, 202.
290 II, 203


86. Welles-Nomura Conversation (July 31, 1941).  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.291 

Speaking in behalf of President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Sumner Welles informed the Japanese Ambassador that the United States had learned that Japan was now making the same economic and military demands on Thailand as it had on French Indo-China. While denouncing the act as totally without justification, President Roosevelt nevertheless offered to include Thailand in the proposal, which he had made with regard to French Indo-China, to guarantee Japan's trade and territorial integrity.  

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report. 

There is no report available of Ambassador Nomura concerning this meeting (DoD comment).  

87. Japan Explains to Germany Its Policy in the Hull-Nomura Conferences.  

Foreign Minister Toyoda, on July 31, 1941, sent a very important message to Berlin in which he discussed the policy of Japan in its dealings with the United States and in its relations with its Axis partners. Pointing out that Ambassador Oshima in Berlin had been advising the Japanese Foreign Office from time to time concerning what it ought to do to help Germany, which desired assistance in its war against Russia, (See Sections 137-141, 163) Foreign Minister Toyoda stated that after a conference with Japanese military authorities, he wished to enunciate the policies and views of the government, in accordance with which Ambassador Oshima was to act in the future. He reminded the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin that in a cabinet meeting on July 2, 1941 the broad outline of Japanese policy for the future had been drawn, and ever since that time the Japanese government had been devoting every effort to achieve the objectives of that policy.

Although the China incident had already lasted for four years and Japan had expended much strength in trying to end it, the dangers of the new situation which Japan had to face from the north and south made it necessary for it to prepare for an all-out war.292 Despite the fact that Germany should understand the position of Japan very well since German diplomats in Tokyo had been made aware of it, Foreign Minister Toyoda feared that German authorities in Berlin were not fully informed. The reasons for the Japanese seizures of French Indo-China were expressed by Foreign Minister Toyoda as follows:  

Commercial and economic relations between Japan and third countries, led by England and the United States, are gradually becoming so horribly strained that we cannot endure it much longer. Consequently, our Empire, to save its very life, must take measures to secure the raw materials of the South Seas; our Empire must immediately take steps to break asunder this ever-strengthening chain of encirclement which is being woven under the guidance, and with the participation of England and the United States, acting like a cunning dragon seemingly asleep. That is why we decided to obtain military bases in French Indo-China and to have our troops occupy that territory.

That step in itself, I dare say, gave England and the United States, not to mention Russia, quite a set-back in the Pacific that ought to help Germany, and now Japanese-American relations are more rapidly than ever treading the evil road. This shows what a blow it has been to the United States.293 

According to Foreign Minister Toyoda, the Russian-German war had given Japan an excellent opportunity to settle the northern question, and already preparations had been made to take advantage of the situation. Caution would have to be exercised by Japan, however, so that the right moment for an attack would be well chosen, especially since, if the Russian-German war proceeded too swiftly, Japan would not have time to take any effective parallel action.


291 "Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State" July 31, 1941, by Sumner Welles, S.D., II, 539-540.
292 II, 204.
293 II, 205.


Knowing that the Germans were dissatisfied because of Japanese negotiations with the United States, Foreign Minister Toyoda stated that Japan had desired to prevent the United States from getting into the European war, as well as to settle the Chinese incident. He claimed credit for keeping the United States out of the war as follows:  

Let him who will gainsay the fact that as a result we have indelibly impressed upon the United States the profoundness of the determination of the Empire of Japan and restrained her from plunging into the conflict against Germany.294 

Remarking that the Japanese-American conversations had been started at a time which seemed opportune to Japan, Admiral Toyoda stated that complete trust between Japan and Germany was essential. Moreover, he reminded Ambassador Oshima that Germany had started the war with Russia to suit its own convenience when it was least desirable from the Japanese viewpoint, since Japan would now have to settle, not only the Chinese incident, but also to meet a new challenge from the north.295

Assuring Germany that Japan was making every effort to cooperate, Admiral Toyoda declared that the fundamental spirit of the Tripartite Pact consisted of allowing each partner a certain flexibility of action:  

What I mean to say is that each should understand that real cooperation does not necessarily mean complete symmetry of action. In other words, we should trust each other and while striving toward one general objective, each use our own discretion within the bounds of good judgment.

Thus, all measures which our Empire shall take will be based upon a determination to bring about the success of the objectives of the Tripartite Pact. That this is a fact is proven by the promulgation of an Imperial rescript. We are ever working toward the realization of those objectives, and now during this dire emergency is certainly no time to engage in any light unpremeditated or over-speedy action.296 

88. Tokyo Decides to Continue the Hull-Nomura Conversations.  

On August 2, 1941 Foreign Minister Toyoda sent word that careful consideration was being given to the proposal of President Roosevelt that French Indo-China be neutralized in exchange for a guarantee of those essential raw materials which Japan needed. However, the Foreign Office warned that some time would elapse before the Japanese government would be able to express an opinion regarding the proposal because of the critical political situation at home and abroad, and also because of the great importance of the question.

Ambassador Nomura was requested to inform President Roosevelt of Japan's serious consideration of his proposal as indicated by its unusual action in trying to adjust Japanese-American relations.297 Measures had been taken by Japan to avoid exciting Japanese public opinion, though, at the same time, American newspaper correspondents had been granted every facility. Furthermore, in order to avoid the recurrence of such unpleasant incidents as that of the U. S. S. Tutuila, Foreign Minister Toyoda advised the United States to free itself of legal theories and to cooperate with Japan by removing the gunboat to safe waters.298 According to the Foreign Minister, disruption of Japanese-American negotiations would take place unless a higher degree of statesmanship were exercised by leaders of both America and Japan. He asked that the United States reciprocate Japan's action by avoiding fault-finding, and by maintaining an intelligent and constructive attitude. Ambassador Nomura was instructed to convey these sentiments to President Roosevelt so that Japanese-American diplomatic negotiations could continue in the future.299


294 II, 206.
295 II, Ibid.
296 II, 207.
297 II, 208.
298 II, 209.
299 II, 210.  


89. Ambassador Nomura Consults an American Cabinet Member.300 

Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo, on August 2, 1941, that in view of the fact that Japanese-American relations were growing worse constantly and that an embargo was currently being imposed on the export of oil, he had secretly interviewed a member of the American cabinet. During the course of the discussion, the Japanese Ambassador explained that the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China was necessary because of the general diplomatic situation and was not to be permanent. The integrity of adjacent countries, waters, and colonies was to be maintained, and negotiations were to be carried on to facilitate the supply of raw materials. However, the American Cabinet member had then asked whether or not Japan was preparing to occupy Siberia, which demonstrated, according to Ambassador Nomura, that he had paid little attention to the Japanese Ambassador's previous explanation.

The Cabinet member mentioned Secretary Hull's great disappointment at the latest action of Japan, since he had been intensely interested in adjusting Japanese-American relations. Both he and Secretary Hull were being ridiculed by their Cabinet colleagues as having been "easy men", and as having played into the hands of the Japanese.

The American Cabinet member was not identified in Ambassador Nomura's dispatch, however, he played a very active role in support of President Roosevelt's moves to avert a Japanese-American war. Ambassador Nomura reported that in this conversation of August 2, 1941 the Cabinet member stated that President Roosevelt did not want war.301

Nomura summed up his opinions of the current diplomatic situation as follows: 

Now this is the way I look at the matter: The United States is trying to restrain Japan, first of all, by waging an economic war, although the government authorities claim that they are merely taking counter-measures against Japan's policy. But, that the United States is at the same time making military preparations against the possible eventuality of a clash of arms is a fact with which you are already familiar. Furthermore, it seems that in order to attain her object, the United States is endeavoring to get Soviet Russia and China, to say nothing of Great Britain and the Dutch West Indies, to fall in line and cooperate with her. That the Russo-German war is lasting longer than expected has proved to be an advantage to the United States. However, the aforementioned cabinet member did not speak so optimistically as the President, in a newspaper interview yesterday, is reported to have alleged his confidant Hopkins to have spoken. The cabinet member believes firmly in the necessity of this war lasting for several years for the reason that due to destruction of her men and materials, and due to the shortage of oil, Germany would not be able to do anything on a great scale even after the fighting on the Eastern Front has come to an end, and that, since the United States will be able in the meantime to rapidly increase her production, the trend will be in favor of her.302 

90. Ambassador Nomura Analyzes American Economic Restrictions Against Japan.  

According to Ambassador Nomura, the recent embargo on oil shipments to Japan, established by the United States, was the first economic restriction of the United States since the freezing of funds. Pointing out that it was imposed not because of the bombing of the Tutuila but because of Japan's penetration to the south, Ambassador Nomura warned that American economic pressure would continue until it became clear that Japan was going to put an end to its policy of aggression. Meanwhile, it was reported that Japan intended to make new demands for military bases in Thailand, and that Japanese military forces were being increased. Furthermore, the sale of silk to the American public had been stopped, which would be a severe blow to Japan, although unemployment would also affect American silk workers.


300 II, 211.
301 II, Ibid.
302 II, Ibid.


Ambassador Nomura reported that on August 2, 1941 the United States had issued a statement that Japanese aggression in French Indo-China constituted a threat to national security, and that the attitude of the United States toward France would be determined by the actions of Vichy in surrendering its territory to the Axis. In addition to this, Acting Secretary Welles, the British Ambassador, and the Ministers of Australia and South Africa had conferred on war measures and had discussed Dakar. According to the Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Harry Hopkins was in Moscow to ensure Russo-American cooperation in case of an attack in the north by Japan.303

Further details concerning American supervision of Japanese banks in Los Angeles as a result of the recent freezing directive were forwarded to Tokyo by Ambassador Nomura.304 Tokyo announced that if America did not freeze the assets of Japanese diplomatic establishments, consulates and staff members in the United States and its other possessions, the Japanese government, in turn, would exempt American diplomatic establishments, consulates, and staff members in Japan, including Manchuria, Taiwan, and Chosen, from the regulations governing foreign transactions.305 

91. Ambassador Nomura Requests the Assistance of Ambassador Kurusu.  

On August 4, 1941 Ambassador Nomura reported that American newspapers, which were much concerned with Japanese-American relations, supported the strong position taken by the American government.306 The Gallop Poll indicated that hostility toward Japan was running high, but newspaper editors believed that there was still some hope for a peaceful settlement.

Though Ambassador Nomura believed that the United States considered Japanese-American relations more important than its difficulties with Germany, he expected the situation to grow less critical gradually. Much would depend upon the course of the European war. Although Colonel Iwakuro and Mr. Wakasugi would report on the diplomatic situation to Foreign Minister Toyoda at Tokyo in the near future, Ambassador Nomura warned that the situation might change rapidly within a few days. Conscious of his tremendous responsibilities, Ambassador Nomura expressed himself as follows to Foreign Minister Toyoda:  

Now I am in a responsible position. Though I could not offer any excuses, if I made a miscalculation now, there might be regrettable consequences. Furthermore, my astuteness is quite limited. Therefore, as soon as there is a means of transportation available, I would like for you to send me some such Foreign Office expert well versed in affairs at home and abroad as Ambassador Kurusu to work with me for awhile.

I know nothing at all about the Government's high policy which is shrouded in secrecy, so how can you expect me to take any action whatever when my hands are thus tied? Please think this over and send me a man immediately.307 

92. Welles-Wakasugi Interview (August 4, 1941).  

(a) Acting Secretary Welles' Report.308 

Since Japanese Minister Wakasugi was leaving Washington to report personally to Prince Konoye and Foreign Minister Toyoda, he called on Acting Secretary of State Welles to ask for his analysis of the current state of relations between the United States and Japan. It was Mr.


303 II, 212.
304 II, 213-214.
305 II, 215.
306 II, 216.
307 II, Ibid.
308 "Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State", August 4, 1941, by Acting Secretary (Sumner Welles), S.D., II, 540-546.


Wakasugi's opinion that in order to bridge the gap between the two countries, Tokyo needed only a clear picture regarding the policies of the American government.

Agreeing fully with the Japanese Minister, Mr. Welles expressed the appreciation of Japan and the Japanese people that he had developed through his years of service as Secretary of the American Embassy in that country. Because of the friendly relations which had then existed between the two countries, Mr. Welles saw no good reason for their present state of decline. Mr. Wakasugi remarked that in the approximately thirty years he had spent in the United States, never before had such a dangerous crisis been reached.

Although Mr. Welles felt that the policies of his government had been clearly defined in various communications with Japan since 1939, as well as in letters exchanged between the Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister, and in the conversations with representatives of the Japanese government, nevertheless, he reiterated them at Mr. Wakasugi's request. As its fundamental premise, the United States maintained a policy of peace in the Pacific by the renunciation of all use of force and conquest against the autonomous peoples in that area, and by the establishment of equal opportunity and fair treatment for all powers interested in the Pacific. If Japan had adopted such a procedure, it would have enjoyed the opportunity of obtaining free access to raw materials and food supplies without endangering its national security by a military or naval engagement.

The national policies of the two countries had not converged during recent years, however, for Japan had steadily adopted an attitude of aggression toward the other peoples of the Far East. Mr. Welles remarked that this could be regarded only as the creation of a military overlordship of the Japanese Empire which was to be imposed on the countries in the South Pacific, and, perhaps, in time over other areas as well. In an attempt to explain his country's situation, Mr. Wakasugi stated that when Japan awoke from its long sleep of isolation, it found itself surrounded by imperialistic encroachment in all the South Pacific region, and in view of its need for land and trade, and because of its rapidly rising power as a great nation in the world, Japan was forced to take some aggressive steps.

Though recognizing Japan's need for interests outside its own natural boundaries, Mr. Welles asserted that the people of Japan would benefit more from peaceful and productive expansion resulting from greater commercial enterprises with other nations along the lines of equality and non-discrimination. Inevitably, the sole result of Japan's present militaristic course, according to Mr. Welles, would be economic prostration, and possibly social and financial collapse.

To Mr. Wakasugi's direct question on how far Japan could now expand without running the risk of war with the United States, Mr. Welles replied that no line could be drawn in regard to this matter, since the implementation of Japan's policy of conquest already had created a critical situation, which prejudiced the security of the United States. Repeating the terms of President Roosevelt's proposal of July 24, 1941, Mr. Welles insisted that the Japanese Minister could not deny that it gave security to Japan and to the other countries interested in the Far East.

Changing the subject, Mr. Wakasugi spoke of the solution of postwar problems, and expressed his belief that a new league of nations founded on the principles of the old League would prove neither practical nor successful. As he envisaged it, the solution lay in the creation of regional federations for Europe and Africa, the Western Hemisphere, the Far East, and finally for Russia. Disagreeing with Mr. Wakasugi's opinion, Mr. Welles stated that no economic difficulties could be solved unless a universal approach was adopted. Furthermore, he was particularly confident that no "new orders", inspired by either Germany or Japan, would bring matters to a peaceful conclusion.  


(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report.309 

Ambassador Nomura reported the gist of Mr. Wakasugi's conversation of August 4, 1941 with Acting Secretary Welles. Asking for a clear analysis of the attitude of the United States government so that he could report it to his government, Mr. Wakasugi had expressed his desire to learn what the United States wanted of Japan in connection with Japanese-American relations, and to exchange opinions concerning the world situation which would follow the end of the European war.

Mr. Welles replied that both he and Secretary Hull were desirous of maintaining and promoting friendly Japanese-American relations. The United States wished to continue the long mutual friendship of both nations, and it had no desire to wage aggression against Japan. Expressing his personal regard for Japan which he had held ever since his official position as Secretary to the American Embassy some twenty-five years ago, Mr. Welles stated that the only remaining hope in the very critical current situation was a dependency upon brilliant statesmanship, rather than upon force of arms. Mr. Wakasugi, agreeing with the analysis of Mr. Welles, indicated that Europeans and Americans would not, or could not, comprehend Japanese actions in the Far East because the Japanese program of national security collided with European territorial penetration and economic pressure.

Replying that he fully understood Japanese aspirations and objected only to the use of force in the achievement of these ambitions, Mr. Welles explained that President Roosevelt's proposal for the neutralization of French Indo-China was designed to satisfy Japan's two aims in occupying that territory: first, to counter the joint action of other nations against Japan; second, to obtain access to raw materials. Thus, if Japanese troops evacuated French Indo-China, and as a result Japan, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and China agreed to preserve French Indo-China's territorial integrity by establishing its neutrality, Japan's first aim would be achieved.

As for raw materials, the second objective of the Japanese, French Indo-China alone could hardly satisfy the demands of Japan. However, President Roosevelt would insist that all the nations in the Pacific would agree to accept Japan as an equal in sharing their stocks of materials. In reply to a question from Mr. Wakasugi, Mr. Welles gave assurance that the United States was prepared to conduct negotiations with Japan concerning Japanese demands, as well as to use its good offices to discuss Japan's needs with the other nations concerned.

Mr. Wakasugi then declared that the United States, under the policy of "Western Hemisphere Solidarity", controlled the Western Hemisphere for its own benefit, and was now beginning to participate in Far Eastern affairs under the pretext of having special interests, though they dated back no farther than fifty or sixty years. To Mr. Wakasugi's query concerning the reasons for the United States' not limiting its influence to the Western Hemisphere and leaving the Orient to orientals, Mr. Welles replied that the policy of the United States was not based on its claims to special privileges in the Orient since it was prepared to give up these at any time. America was opposed, however, to the use of force since world peace and order could not be brought about if Japan were permitted to imitate Chancellor Hitler by converting various small countries into protectorates.

Although Mr. Wakasugi attempted to say that French Indo-China had been occupied peacefully with full agreement by the French government, Mr. Welles retorted that the Vichy government was not free and that its reception of the Japanese had been forced upon it. Mr. Wakasugi then stated that when two nations in dissimilar circumstances and with different


309 II, 217-218.


policies insisted on their own interpretations, war could not be avoided. However, to prevent disaster, the actions of each country must be limited by some means, geographic or otherwise.

Mr. Wakasugi then asked what the United States demanded of Japan, and what the United States wanted for itself. According to Ambassador Nomura, Acting Secretary Welles avoided a clear reply to these questions, and said that reports had been received concerning Japan's intentions to move further south into Thailand. This action would make conditions worse than ever, for the United States believed that Japan would become better off financially and economically only if it followed a strictly peaceful policy.310

As for the postwar situation, Mr. Welles said that the basic principle of the future should be the equal accessibility to raw materials by all the countries of the world, and he urged the establishment, in one form or another, of a world-wide league to enforce order. According to Mr. Welles, talk of disarmament would almost certainly arise, but nothing would come of these talks unless raw materials were first made accessible.

Citing Mr. Stimson's policy at the time of the Manchurian incident, which held that the United States would not recognize any gains made by the use of force, Mr. Wakasugi indicated that American acquisitions in the Caribbean Sea had been the fruits of warfare. Mr. Welles replied that certain points of United States history were quite objectionable, but in modern times the United States had striven to correct these wrongs. Furthermore, if history were to repeat itself forever, progress could not be made in mankind since one had to change one's policies in accordance with the times.

At this point Ambassador Nomura informed Tokyo that he would omit some of the points discussed by Acting Secretary Welles and Mr. Wakasugi.


This ends Part A which described the delicate diplomatic situation confronting Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura in the early days of August 1941 when the invasion of French Indo-China by Japanese military forces seemed destined to end the Hull-Nomura conversations. However, just when there seemed to be no further hope of successfully continuing these discussions, the Japanese government sent a new proposal which Ambassador Nomura was instructed to present to Secretary Hull on August 6, 1941. This new presentation and the events consequent upon this renewed activity of the Japanese will be discussed in Chapter III, (Volume III) of this series.


310 II, Ibid. 



Japanese Intelligence Reports in Diplomatic Messages.  

(a) Japanese Reports from the United States
(b) Japanese Reports from the Panama Canal
(c) Japanese Reports from Cuba
(d) Japanese Reports from the Philippine Islands
(e) Japanese Reports from the Hawaiian Islands 


During the period from May 12 to August 6, 1941 the Japanese evinced great interest in the movement of American warships. The growing tension in diplomatic relations between the two countries was reflected in the naval intelligence reports transmitted by Japanese diplomats. Since these naval reports became increasingly significant as the year 1941 progressed, they will be discussed in a separate section (Part B) of each of the remaining volumes of this series. Part C will discuss Japanese diplomatic activities throughout the world.  

93. Japanese Reports from the United States.  

While the question of convoying American ships to England was still pending in Congress, Japan was expanding its intelligence network, especially in America. Fearing that a crisis might be reached before this organization could become well organized, Japan hurried to secure intelligence from its agents in the United States, Germany and Spain. Mr. Taro Terasaki, recently assigned as Chief of Japanese Intelligence and propaganda work in the United States, warned Tokyo that the United States government was tending toward entrance into the war. For this reason he emphasized, in a report to Tokyo on May 19, 1941, the importance of securing funds, establishing contacts with influential persons, and acquiring personnel for intelligence work. The Dies Committee and restrictive regulations regarding foreigners and Americans in foreign employ made the task difficult for the Japanese.311

On May 16, 1941 Tokyo, alarmed by a report that the United States had already stationed a fleet in the Indian Ocean, asked Japanese officials in Singapore to pay particular attention to the movements of American warships.312 Japanese officials in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle were also directed, in the light of relations prevailing between Japan and the United States, to observe the movements of the American navy and to report on the number of ships pressed into service for the army and navy.313 In accordance with these requests, it was reported to Tokyo that the Saratoga, the Chester, the Louisville, and the Twelfth Destroyer Squadron, with five other destroyers, had left San Diego on May 31, 1941.314


a See TABLE OF CONTENTS for a detailed listing of topics discussed in Part B.
311 II, 219.
312 II, 220.
313 II, 221-223.
314 II, 224.  


94. Japanese Reports from the Panama Canal.  

Tokyo addressed an inquiry regarding the movements of the aircraft carrier, Lexington, to Japanese officials in the Canal Zone,315 and on June 6, 1941 a detailed intelligence report enumerating the number and types of vessels moving through the Canal was sent to Tokyo.316

Arrangements were made by the Japanese on June 17, 1941 to obtain copies of secret charts showing the locations of equipment, guns, and other military establishments in Panama. A Japanese agent, contacting Italian officials who were in possession of the charts, had obtained permission to have copies made, but was concerned, however, about the method by which the secret charts could be transported to Tokyo, since he believed that American surveillance would be vigilant.317 Furthermore, because Tokyo suspected that some of the Japanese codes were being read, any telegram between Panama and Mexico regarding the transportation of the charts had to be in innocuous plain language.318 Finally, because of the difficult situation created in Guatemala when Japanese diplomatic baggage had been opened by an aviation company affiliated with the United States,319 Japan decided on June 27, 1941 to postpone temporarily the removal of the charts from Panama.320

Urged by Mr. Matsuoka to initiate appropriate action in protestation against the opening of the baggage of Japanese Minister Yoshiaki Miura by officials of the Pan American Airways, Ambassador Nomura thought it inadvisable to present the question as one of diplomatic prerogative. Instead, on June 20, 1941 he sent Mr. Sadao Iguchi to the office of the Chief of the Far Eastern Section to protest such treatment, and to request that the company be instructed as to the proper method of handling the luggage of Japanese diplomatic officials and couriers.321 On July 2, 1941 Mr. Matsuoka instructed the Japanese minister in Mexico to file a written protest to the Guatemalan government in regard to this violation of diplomatic prerogative.322

On June 21, 1941 Mr. Minoru Izawa, declaring the present legation in Panama to be old and insecure, requested Tokyo's approval of a new mission.323 Five days later, he wired that, owing to the international situation, the mission in Panama would probably be given up.324 Meanwhile, Consul General Kiyoshi Yamagata, present at Panama on July 4, 1941 as a consultant to Mr. Izawa,325 was ordered to cancel his trip to Colombia and to proceed immediately to Chile.326 Secretary Usui was recalled to Buenos Aires from Panama as a result of Mr. Yamagata's assignment.327

Endeavoring to transmit to Tokyo any information which might shed light on Panama's future course of action, Mr. Izawa reported on August 4, 1941 that the President of Panama, according to a close relative, had stated in his last cabinet meeting that in the event of America's entering the war, he could see no course of action for his country other than its partici-


315 II, 225.
316 II, 226.
317 II, 227.
318 II, 228.
319 II, 229-230.
320 II, 231.
321 II, 232.
322 II, 233.
323 II, 234.
324 II, 235.
325 II, 236.
326 II, 237-239.
327 II, 240-241.


pating in the war, in keeping with the terms of its agreement. Until that time, however, Panama would remain neutral.328 

95. Japanese Reports from Cuba.  

On August 2, 1941 two American battleships, four light cruisers, four destroyers, two Coast Guard cutters, and two heavy bombing planes were reported to have been in the naval harbor at Guantanamo between July 16-24, 1941.329 

96. Japanese Reports from the Philippine Islands.  

Japanese Consul Katsumi Nihro in the Philippines submitted many naval reports as to the movements of American men-of-war and cargo ships at Manila and Cavite. The transport Washington, previously at Manila on May 8, 1941, was reported on June 2, 1941 to have sailed to the port of Olongapo, where American troops were disembarked to guard Subic Bay. Eight destroyers and four submarines anchored at Manila had departed on June 2, 1941.330 A list of the American ships in port at Manila on June 7, 1941 included eight destroyers, fourteen submarines, and two target towing ships. The transport Henderson, had sailed for an unknown destination on June 5, 1941 as had the Rei from Cavite.331 Two supply ships listed in the Japanese reports were later found to be minelayers, and the arrival from the United States of two more vessels of the same class was noted.332 Tokyo inquired on June 21, 1941 concerning the arrival at Manila of Major Conrow, and ten other American aviators who had departed on June 17, 1941 for Chungking.333 Information that the United States Navy was interested in requisitioning until September, half of the American Consulate office space at Manila for espionage work, led Mr. Matsuoka, on July 1, 1941 to fear that this was the first step in establishing a special service for British-American-Chinese military liaison.334 Besides keeping a close watch on naval personnel to verify this report, the Japanese kept under surveillance a number of persons who had entered the country as temporary tourists.335 They also suspected that investigations regarding Japanese vessels, or Japanese persons in the Philippine Islands, were being carried out in mid-July, 1941 by British and American authorities, chiefly through the British Honorary Consul, Francisco Brown.336

Japanese curiosity was aroused by the fact that 1013 Chinese immigrants had entered the Philippines during June, a large increase over the monthly average of 250. The immigrants appeared to have been summoned by Chinese already residing in the Philippines, although they were not contract laborers, nor had they anything to do with military construction projects.337

Deeming it important to instigate a cultural propaganda program at Manila, Mr. Negishi, a Japanese agent was appointed in early July 1941, to engage in intelligence as well as cultural work.338 Since requests for Japanese financial assistance had been made by three candidates


328 II, 242.
329 II, 243
330 II, 244.
331 II, 245.
332 II, 246.
333 II, 247.
334 II, 248.
335 II, 249.
336 II, 250
337 II, 251.
338 II, 252-253.


for office in the Philippine assembly, Tokyo was asked on July 13, 1941 for 40,000 yen and permission to aid these candidates, if such support were found advisable after an investigation had been made of the men's chances of winning the election.339

The unloading of coast guns, ten gun platforms, and more than twenty light tanks from an American tender at Manila was reported on July 10, 1941, as was the arrival of the President Taft, transporting 800 to 1000 soldiers to the Philippines.341 Reported from Manila was the arrival of the President Harrison and President Coolidge on July 31 and August 1, 1941 respectively.342

That the United States was making an effort to strengthen Philippine defenses was concluded by the Japanese from the fact that on July 25, 1941, 460 planes and approximately 1300 pilots were stationed there, with an army force of about 10,000 men. The Philippine army, with reserves, was estimated to be about 130,000 in all, and it was believed that in an emergency, an army of 100,000 Filipinos could be turned over to a United States commander.343

It was noted on August 2, 1941 that the color of American military and naval planes had not been changed and were not camouflaged, and that the number of planes flying above Manila had decreased considerably.344 By August 4, 1941 all of the American warships at anchor, with the exception of several small destroyers near Corregidor, had sailed. From the crew of the President Coolidge, it was learned on August 4, 1941 that about 600 American soldiers had arrived in Manila.345

United States naval and military preparations at Cavite were under close surveillance by the Japanese. A report was made to Tokyo on July 15, 1941 that construction there would be delayed, since the master electric dynamo had been struck by lightning, and electricity had to be supplied by an auxiliary system.346

In regard to the financing of Japanese intelligence work in the Philippines, arrangements were being made to continue activities in case of the freezing of funds. It was decided, on July 25, 1941, to keep a large part of Japanese assets in cash, since it was possible to foresee the difficulty of securing secret funds if the situation should become serious. But with the freezing of Japanese assets on July 26, 1941, Consul Nihro wired that he could not hope to continue business as before.347 Moreover, the Japanese Consul on August 2, 1941 asked for permission to control the allotment of secret funds at his own discretion.348

Following the freezing order occasioned by the French Indo-China affair, the reactions of the Filipinos were reported to Tokyo on July 27, 1941 by the Japanese Consul. Particular attention, he declared, had been paid to that part of President Roosevelt's speech of July 25, 1941, which said that retaliatory action against Japan would be taken within twenty-four hours. When the order freezing Japanese assets was announced, it had been predicted at Manila that this was only the first retaliatory step, and that an export embargo would be placed on shipments of oil and other war materials to Japan from the United States.


339 II, 254
340 II, 255 (not marked in text. LWJ) [Not marked in original text.]
341 II, 256-257. 
342 258.
343 II, 259-260. 
344 II, 261.
345 II, 262.
346 II, 263.
347 II, 264-265. 
348 II, 266.


Tokyo was informed that the Filipinos had strongly censured the lack of resistance on the part of France, and claimed that the invasion of French Indo-China had resulted from pressure upon France by Japan. They were confused and disturbed by rumors that the Japanese had obtained military bases as a result of the Japanese-French agreement; that Japanese vessels regularly coming to the Philippines had been requisitioned or would cancel this service; that Japan was mobilizing at home on a gigantic scale, and that foreigners might no longer travel in Japan.349 

97. Reports from the Hawaiian Islands.  

The Japanese Consul in Honolulu reported that the President Pierce had sailed for the Philippines on June 12, 1941 with about 900 soldiers and 100 pilots aboard,350 and that on June 14, 1941, a 5,000-ton light cruiser had entered Pearl Harbor for repairs.351 On July 18, 1941 Tokyo learned that an English light cruiser was getting ready to undergo repairs at Cavite while four destroyers had departed from, and six submarines had entered Manila.352 It is evident that not much information was sent in the dispatches from Honolulu to Tokyo during this period, but some very significant inquiries were made by Tokyo in September 1941. (See Volume III of this series)


349 II, 267.
350 II, 268.
351 II, 269-270.
352 II, 271



Japanese Diplomatic Activities Throughout the World.  

(a) Japanese-American Relations
(b) Japanese-Mexican Relations
(c) Japanese-South American Relations
(d) Japanese-British Relations
(e) Japanese-Axis Relations
(f) Japanese-Russian Relations
(g) Japanese-French Relations
(h) Japanese-Chungking Relations
(i) Japanese-Nanking Relations
(j) Japanese-Dutch Relations
(k) Japanese-Thaiese Relations 


(a) Japanese-American Relations 

98. Ambassador Nomura Reports Anti-Convoy Feeling in America.  

In a report to Tokyo on May 15, 1941 Ambassador Nomura declared that despite President Roosevelt's silence concerning convoys to England, opinion in American government circles was generally unfavorable to immediate convoying. He surmised that Mr. Roosevelt, who wished to avoid war with Germany in the Atlantic, hesitated to use convoys, and preferred to lend destroyers to Great Britain to do its own convoying.

Mr. Nomura also believed that Secretary Knox and the Navy Department were opposed to lending United States ships to Britain, since this would weaken the American navy. Furthermore, an article in the New York Times, May 15, 1941 had stated that if England were provided with 200 long range bombers, this "patrol" would serve to hold the activity of German submarines in check.353 

99. Japanese Reports on World Reaction to President Roosevelt's Speech of May 27, 1941.  

Reports concerning the trend of public opinion in the United States, China, and Portugal in regard to the future actions of the United States were sent to Tokyo. The Japanese were especially concerned with the impressions created by President Roosevelt's fireside chat of May 27, 1941.  

(a) United States.  

See Part A, Section 14 for the Japanese estimate of American public opinion in regard to this speech by President Roosevelt.


a See TABLE OF CONTENTS for a detailed listing of topics discussed in Part C.  
353 II, 272.  


(b) Italy 

The Japanese Minister at Rome reported that President Roosevelt's use of the term "unlimited national emergency", according to American correspondents, was not synonymous with full mobilization. In view of President Roosevelt's statement that the safety of the United States would be directly threatened should the Azores and Cape Verde Islands fall into the hands of Germany, many Italians said that this was a manifestation of American aspirations for the occupation of these islands.354 

(c) China.  

Since the President had omitted any reference to Japanese-American relations in his "fireside chat" of May 27, 1941 inferences drawn by the Chinese from this omission were generally unfavorable to the United States, according to a Japanese report from Shanghai to Tokyo. The speech had especially disappointed Chungking because it gave the impression that China's political set up was an anti-Nazi defense line, whereas, in fact, Chungking wished to preserve the German-Chinese cultural association as an instrument through which to negotiate with Germany in case Germany were victorious. Describing the speech as a blow to the Chinese who had been expecting aid from the United States, the Japanese informant surmised that the Chinese Communists regarded the speech as conducive to the adjustment of relations between the Nationalist and Communist Parties. The Chinese newspaper, Sinka Nippo regarded the omission of reference to Japanese-American relations as indicative that the United States would stress the war in the Atlantic, paying little attention to developments in the Pacific.355 

(d) Portugal.  

Portugal was greatly shocked by President Roosevelt's reference to the Azores, according to the Japanese. A very important Portuguese official confidentially told the Japanese representative that many within his government were urging Premier Salazar to proclaim to the Portuguese and to the outside world Portugal's sovereignty over these islands. That pro-British and pro-American elements would be weakened, and that a strong anti-American sentiment would sweep through Portugal was predicted by the Brazilian Ambassador to Portugal. However, a condemnation of the speech, which was to have been published in a newspaper controlled by the government, was withheld because of the arrival of a special message from Secretary Hull which stated that the United States did not intend to occupy the Azores.356

A visit to Portugal by Captain James Roosevelt on June 14, 1941 was not given front page prominence, since, in the opinion of the Japanese, the Portuguese censorship authorities were anti-American. Captain Roosevelt was treated indifferently by the local government, and, according to the Japanese, there was no evidence that he had been dined by any of the Portuguese authorities.357

A proposal that a group of anti-Salazar Portuguese in Mozambique assist the Portuguese government to occupy Mozambique in the event that the United States and England should take over the Azores, led the government newspaper to beg that the people remain faithful, and to warn them against subversive activities. However, the Japanese Ambassador in Lisbon reported that Portugal did not appear to be in any great danger in regard to the safety of the Azores.358


354 II, 273.
355 II, 274.
356 II, 275.
357 II, 276.
358 II, 277.


100. Japan Scrutinizes Passenger Lists. 

A report from Honolulu informed Tokyo of a local broadcast on June 5, 1941, announcing that one or two Germans of dubious character had been taken aboard the Tatsuta Maru, which had sailed from San Francisco on June 2 and would reach Honolulu on June 10.359 Since the Tatsuta Maru was to provide passage to Japan for Mr. Mehner Toklaus, a German citizen, who had recently resigned his teaching position at the University of Hawaii, an inquiry was made as to his status. According to Consul Nagao Kita, the German Ambassador in Tokyo, was cognizant of the man's resignation from the University and his trip to Japan.360

Another passenger, who had sailed from San Francisco to the Orient on a previous trip of the Tatsuta Maru, was Bishop Walsh, well known to both Mr. Matsuoka and Ambassador Nomura as continually working for Japanese-American diplomatic friendship.361 

101. Japanese Speculations as to Entry of the United States into War.  

The Japanese Ambassador to Berlin reported to Tokyo on June 7, 1941 that it was the opinion of Chancellor Hitler and Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop that the United States would hesitate to enter the war so long as the members of the Tripartite Pact maintained their firm attitude.362

On June 16, 1941 Ambassador Kato in Vichy also expressed the belief that the United States probably would not enter the war, since it appeared that it was already exerting its maximum efforts. Though America was preserving England, and the continuation of the war was probably due to the United States alone, according to Ambassador Kato, even if the United States did fight, all it could possibly do would be to prolong the war.363

Speculations of Cuban authorities as to the effect on the Western Hemisphere of the entry of both the United States and Spain into the war were reported to Tokyo from Havana. It was predicted that if Spain went to war, the United States would recognize the Communists rather than the Franco regime in Spain.364

Japanese intelligence sources in Rome divulged that on July 16, 1941 Mr. Harold Tittman, on the basis of information received from the United States Embassy in Japan, had reported to Papal authorities that the United States government believed in the increased likelihood of an agreement being reached soon between Japan and the United States. The report stated that the United States was also confident that when it entered the European war, Japan could be prevented from interfering by this agreement, which would include a settlement of the Japanese-Chinese incident with the understanding that American aid to China would be withdrawn, if the Chiang regime did not accept the conditions submitted. If all other efforts failed, as a last resort, the Vatican would be asked to mediate for peace with China.365 

102. Incidents Disturbing Japanese-American Relations.  

(a) The Okada Incident. 

In view of the critical Japanese-American relations, the arising of incidents which were likely to affect public opinion now assumed increasing significance. On June 10, 1941, Ambas-


359 II, 278.
360 II, 279.
361 II, 280.
362 II, 281, 282.
363 II, 283.
364 II, 284.
365 II, 285.


sador Nomura notified Tokyo that there were grounds for suspecting that the Okada incident had been used by the F. B. I. and the Dies Committee as a means of interfering with Japanese propaganda in the United States.366

Lt. Comdr. Okada, a Japanese naval officer stationed on the west coast of the United States, had been arrested and charged with speeding. The Japanese government felt that special consideration should be given their naval officers, and threatened, unless better treatment were forthcoming, to reciprocate in dealing with American naval officers in Japan. Mr. Sadao Iguchi, the Japanese Embassy Counselor in Washington, informed Mr. Hamilton, Chief of the Far Eastern Section of the American State Department, that he would like to receive an explanation of the Okada incident from the State Department, and requested that similar occurrences be prevented in the future.367 

(b) The Tachibana Incident.  

Secret reports to Tokyo revealed that in the case of Commander Tachibana, a Japanese naval officer who had been held by American authorities on charges of espionage, plans were being made to use dubious methods in his defense. Commander Tachibana's chauffeur was to be paid a subsidy of $25,000 and all court costs so that he would not give damaging testimony.368

Another west coast incident arose when a Japanese violated United States immigration laws by crossing the border into Mexico without a visa.369 

(c) Restrictions on Gasoline Exports to Japan.  

The Azuma Maru at Philadelphia was not allowed to load lubricating oil, and this caused Mr. Matsuoka to ask on June 21, 1941 that all facts and background of the case be transmitted to him. He warned that the Japanese government was watching the Tachibana affair, and also the restrictions placed on gasoline exports to Japan, so as to evaluate the sincerity of the United States toward Japan. [370] It was more than a mere coincidence, therefore, that on June 24, 1941 Commander Tachibana was released by American authorities to sail for Tokyo on the Nitta Maru.371 A Japanese Foreign Office courier, Mr. Yamazaki, was aboard this same ship.372 

(d) Compromise of Japanese Codes.  

Another incident which had greatly disturbed Japan was the searching of the Nichi Shin Maru off the west coast by what were believed to be American customs officials on May 28, 1941. Since naval codes and secret documents had been confiscated during the search, the Japanese immediately filed with the local customs officials a protest demanding their return. The customs officials consented to return them at a later date after an investigation had been made.373 Ironically enough the United States Communication Intelligence organization had completely broken this cryptographic system and was reading all messages enciphered therein. Thus, the public seizure of these codes was very ill-advised for it meant the almost immediate cancellation of this system by the Japanese.


366 II, 286.
367 II, 287-288.
368 II, 289.
369 II, 289
370 II, 291.
371 II, 292.
372 II, 293
373 II, 294-296.
[Note: footnotes 374-377 not used in original text] 


(e) American Missionaries in Korea. 

When a discussion arose as to the fate of some American missionaries, accused of distributing dangerous literature in Korea, Tokyo informed Ambassador Nomura on July 2, 1941 that the Governor General of Korea would cancel the prosecution of the missionaries, if the State Department would evacuate them.378 Because he believed that the incident involving the missionaries in Korea was similar to the case in the United States of Lt. Comdr. Okada on whom sentence would be passed on July 21, 1941, Mr. Matsuoka again instructed Ambassador Nomura on July 8, 1941 to inform the State Department that Japan desired to have the accused missionaries evacuated.379

On July 9, 1941 Counselor Iguchi discussed the incident with Dr. Hooper of the Presbyterian Church, who argued that when the missionaries had translated the English text of their pamphlets into Korean, they had done so in such a manner as to prevent any misunderstanding on the part of Japan. For this reason, Ambassador Nomura suggested that in view of the settling of the Tachibana incident by the United States, and as a friendly gesture, it might be well to drop the matter since three of the missionary group were already returning to the United States. Furthermore, the missionaries had endeavored to cooperate with Japanese authorities by first submitting the pamphlets to the police.380

A reply of July 14, 1941 to this suggestion of Ambassador Nomura stated that as far as the authorities in Tokyo were concerned the matter would be settled as leniently as possible by returning to the United States thirteen of the thirty persons involved. Because of illness, a fourteenth member, Mr. Clark, was already scheduled to return to the United States. However, according to Mr. Matsuoka, there was no record of the missionaries having sent the translated material to the police station in spite of an agreement to do so. This violated the Japanese Army-Navy Criminal Law and the Law for the Provisional Control of Disturbing Literature,381 but on July 17, 1941 Japan was willing to overlook this violation of its publication regulations, and to treat the question as being merely a matter of seditious literature.382

Since the interview with Dr. Hooper had revealed that the Presbyterian Church, as a matter of policy, would neither evacuate the missionaries nor issue orders for their evacuation, Ambassador Nomura suggested to Tokyo on July 19, 1941 that a conference be held with local church authorities and the matter settled there. Inasmuch as the pamphlets concerned were translated directly from English into Japanese in Tokyo, and then distributed, he did not see how there could be a problem in this connection. He suggested also that if no solution were reached at the local conference, the matter be dropped.383 

103. Japan Fears American Seizure of Its Vessels.  

In view of the critical diplomatic situation engendered by Japanese aggression in Asia, and since the United States was keeping a strict check on Japanese vessels,384 Japanese shipping schedules were carefully supervised by Japanese diplomatic officials. Japanese officials in Washington were advised of the schedule of eight cargo Marus, which were to pass through the Panama Canal at the rate of one a day between July 16 and July 22, 1941.385


378 II, 305-307.
379 II, 308.
380 II, 309-310.
381 II, 311.
382 II, 312-313.
383 II, 314-315.
384 II, 316. 385 II, 317-319.


Ambassador Nomura believed that the State Department's plan for according to Japanese merchants, entering the Philippines as international traders, the same treatment which was accorded Filipinos arriving in Japan, was an attempt to get written promises from Japan because the Japanese-American Trade Agreement was no longer extant.386 Calling on the American Chief of the Far Eastern Section in Washington on June 13, 1941, Consul Iguchi asked if it were necessary that Japan inform the United States government exactly what it intended to do in this matter. The section chief replied that it would be well for the Japanese to submit their plans to the State Department.387

More discord occurred on June 16, 1941, when the Japanese learned that the granting of permits for export of scrap iron from the United States would be discontinued.388 In retaliation, and to lessen losses which might later be incurred by the stoppage of Japanese vessels to America, as well as to impress upon American authorities the need for reconsideration, they discussed rerouting Japanese vessels which were transporting essential products to America. Mr. Matsuoka informed his minister at Manila on June 18, 1941 that the shipment of materials to the United States was under discussion.389

In calling on the President of the Philippine Islands on July 2, 1941 to present a Japanese official, Mr. Koyama, the Japanese Minister expressed regret concerning the absconding of Japanese fishermen with fishing boats of Philippine registry, but seized the opportunity to point out that Philippine control over Japanese fishermen had been excessively severe. The Philippine President replied that he would like to have a special conference on the subject at a later date.390

On July 3, 1941, the Captain of the Awajisan Maru, informing Japanese authorities that he could not procure a permit for passage through the Panama Canal, asked for authorization to proceed to Japan by way of Cape Horn.391 Tokyo was then informed that the exits to and from the Canal had been closed on July 5, 1941 while an investigation was being conducted.392

Other protests concerning the treatment of Japanese vessels in American ports were also being lodged with United States authorities. On July 11, 1941, the Asuka Maru at Boston had been boarded and searched by a party of approximately twenty Coast Guardsmen, and the ship's bottom had been inspected on the following day, the Norfolk Maru had been delayed a day at Baltimore because of an inspection of its bottom; and the Yamatsuki Maru had been delayed while waiting to pass through the Panama Canal.393

America was not the only nation imposing restrictions on foreign shipping, for the British Embassy in Washington announced that beginning with July 15, 1941, all materials going by way of England would require import permits. Ambassador Nomura reported that freight would be seized in case no permits were obtained.394

Following the closing of the Panama Canal to Japanese ships, the statement of General van Voorhis to the United States' Press was sent to Tokyo. General van Voorhis, in charge of the


386 II, 320
387 II, 321.
388 II, 322
389 II, 323.
390 II, 324.
391 II, 325-326.
392 II, 327.
393 II, 328
394 II, 329.


Canal Zone's defenses, had stated on July 21, 1941 that the delay in allowing ships to go through the canal was a temporary measure owing to the emptying of the locks for repairs, and that ships of many countries, as well as the Japanese, were going around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope.395

The Japanese were much concerned during July, 1941 lest the seizure of their ships interfere with the speedy evacuation of their nationals from Panama and the Philippines.396 Although assured by Acting Secretary Welles that permission to leave port would be granted, on July 30, 1941, the Japanese instructed the captain of the Tatsuta Maru to delay entry into San Francisco since American authorities had avoided making a definite commitment when Ambassador Nomura had called at the State Department. No guarantees had been made by American authorities with regard to the freight carried by the vessel, although a definite reply in this connection had been requested.397

In spite of the difficulties experienced by Japanese ships with schedules and cargo routing in American ports,398 a request from New York for additional vessels was directed in early July 1941 to Japan. Mr. Matsuoka replied, however, that it would be impossible, because of the shortage of bottoms, to dispatch ships to the Atlantic Coast of North America, although there would be changes in ship movements to the Pacific Coast.399

The reason behind such a decision, as explained by Tokyo, was the fear that the United States would seize Japanese vessels, just as it had taken German and Italian ships. Although the Philippine Islands had granted permits for the exportation of military goods to Japan, it was hardly fitting that Japanese vessels should be used for the transportation of military goods between the Philippines and the United States. Thus, the decision was reached to take some of the Japanese vessels off the Philippine-United States route.400

Rumors that Japan was withdrawing her ships from the Pacific spread to Rome, where Ambassador Horikiri inquired of Tokyo on July 10, 1941 as to whether or not this order included all ships plying regularly between North and South America.401 Foreign Minister Matsuoka reassured him that trips between Japan and the Philippines would continue, but that the operation of ships between the Philippine Islands and the east coast of North America would be discontinued. After August 1, 1941, all Japanese shipping on the east coast of North America was to be stopped, and Japanese ships on the east coast of South America were to operate around Cape Horn.402 Only one sailing was to be maintained after September 1941 to the west coast of North America.403

To minimize the disturbance of public opinion created by the order affecting the disposition of its merchant ships, Japan declared that the reasons for the order were the shortage of ships in the seas near Japan and various circumstances which precluded loading on the eastern coast of the United States. Japanese diplomats were ordered to give widespread dissemination to this explanation of the new shipping order.

Ambassador Nomura was concerned with the pacifying of Japanese nationals in the United States who were cooperating with him fully, but who were cognizant also of the fact that Tokyo's


395 II, 330.
396 II, 331-332.
397 II, 333.
398 II, 334.
399 II, 335.
400 II, 336.
401 II, 337.
402 II, 338.
403 II, 339.


official reasons were designed to serve as explanations only for Americans. In spite of orders issued by the Japanese navy, control by Japanese diplomats over Japanese nationals in the United States was becoming more difficult since confidence in the government of Japan was weakening.404

In view of the circumstances, Japanese representatives at Manila warned Tokyo on July 7, 1941 that unless a "show-down economic war" were resolved upon and prepared for, Japan might find herself in a predicament. It was feared that Philippine shippers would abandon the use of Japanese ships, thus making it impossible for Japan to take advantage of the privileges enjoyed by the Filipinos under the American export license system. It was also believed that the United States might prevent the exporting of goods which were then permitted to be shipped, or would resort to the freezing of assets.405 Meanwhile, Japanese representatives were explaining that the stoppage of shipments from the Philippines to America had resulted from a shortage of ships and the reduction of exports to Japan, rather than from a sudden change in the diplomatic situation.406

Tokyo replied on July 7, 1941 that it was conscious of the difficulties created by its orders, but that measures for protecting its shipping against the United States had been decided long ago and must now be enforced. Shipping contracts for 22,000 tons of Filipino goods would have to be canceled by government order owing to necessary changes in ship dispositions. However, since precedence for such cancellations existed in international law, the Japanese Foreign Minister pointed out that there was likely to be no great trouble over it.407

Ambassador Nomura was notified by the State Department on July 31, 1941 that Japanese ships carrying cargoes which were to be sent back without unloading would have until 2:00 p.m. Saturday, August 2, to enter an American port, and would then be given a reasonable time to depart. Japanese ships with cargoes destined for American ports were to change the manifests to indicate that the cargo was being shipped elsewhere. This would obviate compliance with a customs regulation requiring the unloading of goods manifested for American ports before a vessel could be given clearance.408

On August 2, 1941, Foreign Minister Toyoda issued instructions that the Tatsuta Maru stop at Honolulu,409 while at the same time he inquired of his representative in San Francisco concerning a Domei dispatch which stated that a part of the cargo of the Tatsuta Maru had been seized for the owners.410 Fearing that the cargo of the Heian Maru at Seattle would be attached by the owners, as in the case of the Tatsuta Maru, it was decided on August 2, 1941 after a conference to have the entire cargo unloaded at Vancouver.411 It was learned however, that the Heian Maru had left Seattle hurriedly on August 4, 1941, for Japan, although nothing had been taken aboard but food and fuel for the ship.412 A special inquiry was made by the Japanese concerning the arrival in American waters of the special duty ship, Shiriyo, scheduled to enter port on August 9, 1941.413


404 II, 340-341.
405 II, 342.
406 II, 343.
407 II, 344-345.
408 II, 346.
409 II, 347.
410 II, 348.
411 II, 349.
412 II, 350.
413 II, 351.  


104. Japan Analyzes the Silver Shirts Movement.  

Japanese plans to carry on sabotage in the United States included the use of Negroes and members of the Silver Shirts movement. In acquiring control of the Silver Shirts, Mr. Iwasaki, a Japanese agent in America, was to be sent to Japan for instructions, since indoctrination in Japanese plans "to establish justice in the United States" was thought to be a more suitable objective for their agents than mere pecuniary considerations.414

On June 28, 1941 Mr. Yoshio Muto submitted to Tokyo a report concerning the origin and principles of the Silver Shirts movement, but advised against Japan's having anything to do with it. He feared the Silver Shirts could hardly succeed in America since they were being investigated by the Dies Committee as a subversive activity and, thus, could not act openly. The organization had been dissolved in 1940, after six years of existence, but then an underground movement with similar objectives had sprung up. Its publications, heavily subsidized, were shipped from Indianapolis to points all over the country.

According to Mr. Muto, Chief Pelley of the Silver Shirts had asked Mr. Iwasaki on April 20, 1941, if the Japanese government would not help out with his plans, and he had also requested Jiro Koga, of the Japanese Society of Brethren Overseas, to contact the German Ambassador in Tokyo in case Japan would not grant this help. On several occasions Mr. Pelley had asked for a reply to this request for Japanese aid.

The Japanese reported that the Silver Shirts stressed the following principles in their published propaganda, some samples of which were later shipped to Tokyo: The Roosevelt administration was shot through with international Judaism and Communism, and was coming under the influence of British royalty, which was under the thumb of these elements; America should be defended from them, and America's foreign policy should save the human race from the enslaving grasp of the international Jews; as for the Orient and Europe, the United States should not interfere, but should look after its own interests.415  

105. Japan Attempts to Employ American Negroes as Spies.  

Since official reports were not too favorable towards their use of the Silver Shirts as subversive agents, Japanese intelligence agents turned their attention to American Negroes.416 In a long Japanese report on the economic and social status of the Negro in the United States, it was pointed out that Negroes were not organized into a strong racial group, and instead of looking toward a social revolution, they were following the single principle of elevating themselves. The report stated that certain progressive organizations, such as the Negro Congress, the Negro Alliance and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were working toward the equalization of the Negro, with the largest Negro organizations financed by Jews. The Japanese expected great results from cooperating with these organizations since two Negro men, were being used to disseminate propaganda and to interview Negro leaders of great ability. Since some Negroes were being employed in navy arsenals and military establishments, considerable use could be made of them in gathering military intelligence.417


414 II, 352.
415 II, 353.
416 II, 354.
417 II, 355-357.  


106. Rumors of a British-German Peace.  

The possibility that Russia might be quickly shattered by the German army, and the consequent threat of a German invasion of England stimulated discussion of a British-German peace parley in July, 1941. Ambassador Nomura reported on July 8, 1941, that the United States was serving as a check or a brake on Germany, and that there were men in the State Department who favored peace in order to prevent the annihilation of the British Empire. The Secretary of Commerce, Jesse Jones, was of this opinion, Ambassador Nomura said; and Colonel Lindbergh and predicted that peace talks would bud in July and blossom in the autumn of 1941.418

Though assured by Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop that the peace rumors were but machinations of England and the United States, which were designed to drive a wedge between Germany and Japan, on July 10, 1941 the Japanese Foreign Minister hurriedly directed his Ambassador in Berlin to check German official opinion as to the interpretation of such activity.419 

107. Japanese Reports on American Industrial Expansion.  

To keep Tokyo informed as to the extent of the American expansion and acceleration of defense work, details concerning current contract amounts and items of production assigned to the automobile industry in the Chicago area were reported to Japan. Contracts of the United States armed forces with General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and Packard corporations were enumerated as well as the type of machinery for which they had contracted.420 

108. Japanese Interest in Russian-American Friendship.  

On August 2, 1941, Mr. Morito Morishima, in New York, reported to Tokyo that Mr. Denny, an editorial writer for the Scripps-Howard Newspapers on diplomatic questions had said that since Germany and Russia were so deeply involved in the war, Russia was demanding not only complete material assistance, but also that joint British and American military activities be concentrated in Germany's rear and in Norway as well. This comment had been occasioned by Mr. Hopkins' mission to Russia, although officials in Washington explained that he had gone there to confer only on aid to the Soviets.

Mr. Morishima declared that it could not be predicted whether or not Mr. Hopkins and Commissar Stalin would be able to decide upon an agreement, but that it would seem clear that such was the object of his mission.421 Furthermore, the State Department on August 4, 1941 announced that the validity of the American-Soviet Trade Agreement of August 6, 1937 had been extended to August 6, 1942.422 

109. Japanese Security Precautions.  

The problems of maintaining the security of their codes and of determining the reliability of the information relayed to Tokyo continued to be a matter of concern to the Japanese. On May 20, 1941 Ambassador Nomura began to identify the more reliable intelligence with "Joko", whereas "Jō otsu" was used to identify messages containing less reliable information.423


418 II, 358
419 II, 359.
420 II, 360.
421 II, 361
422 II, 362.
423 II, 363-364.  


Because of the critical international situation, Japan had instructed Ambassador Nomura as early as May 1941, to separate all secret documents into a special class, and to burn all other documents, with the exception of a few that might be currently needed. Ambassador Nomura suggested, in addition, that all account books be burned, except those for the last three or four years, that all outstanding funds be collected, and that Japanese land on N Street in Washington be sold.424 To effect these objectives, Ambassador Nomura asked on May 17, 1941 that an assistant be selected and sent to him immediately by the San Francisco Consul General.425 On July 2, 1941 he requested permission to burn certain codes, some of which would be of no future use and others which were rarely used.426

In accordance with Tokyo's orders, Ambassador Nomura dispatched twenty-two boxes containing records and other materials on the Norfolk Maru, which sailed from Baltimore for Japan on July 12, 1941. In view of Japanese-American relations, it was suggested that entry into ports of call in South America be canceled, if speed were necessary in returning these records to Yokohama.427

Tokyo also instructed Washington that in case of difficulty, use would be made of the intelligence dispatches sent out from Japan each night. However, to reach Tokyo from Washington, it would be necessary to have a wireless set in the Washington office, with an operator of exceptional ability, relaying dispatches via South America and the Jaluit Atoll. For this purpose Tokyo inquired on July 7, 1941 as to the feasibility of assembling a 100 or 200 watt transmitter under the guise of amateur apparatus, and of making trial communications of short transmissions. Such equipment would be advantageous in case extreme limitations or prohibitions were placed by the United States upon the use of radio in general.428 However, on July 23, 1941 Ambassador Nomura, after concurring with Japanese naval experts, pointed to the inadvisability of installing the transmitter since it would be impossible to keep it concealed from American detectors. Furthermore, interference would make for inefficient transmissions.429

To assure the security of code machines and code books still in use, Tokyo planned to ship a special size safe to the United States. Since the matter of space in a Japanese telegraphic office and the place of landing the safe had to be considered, Ambassador Nomura suggested that the facilities in Washington be expanded, and that the safe be landed in Baltimore for delivery to Washington.430

Mr. Matsuoka stressed the extreme need of security in a dispatch of June 2, 1941 to all his diplomatic representatives throughout the world. Emphasizing the progress of the science of cryptography and cryptanalysts in various countries, he concluded that no absolute confidence could be placed in the secrecy of a code. He asked that the strictest attention be paid during the transfer and tenure of codes, and directed that code messages in a certain special system be sent only to Tokyo.431 The sending of all other code messages was to be discontinued, thus alleviating the excessive load imposed on communication clerks because of the vigilance necessary for communication security. The duties of Japanese communication clerks were increasing.433


424 II, 365.
425 II, 366.
426 II, 367. 
427 II, 368.
428 II, 369
429 II, 370.
430 II, 364, 371-372.
431 II, 373.
432 [Not used in original.]
433 II, 375.


Following the receipt of this dispatch, Ambassador Nomura requested on July 3, 1941 that the clerical staff of his office be expanded because of the ever-increasing load of telegraphic communications, and since Mr. Watanabe, the telegraphic clerk, had been able to accomplish all the work only by his extreme diligence.434

In order to prepare for more critical developments, and because he had given up the probability of finding a separate building, on July 24, 1941 Ambassador Nomura again suggested an expansion of the Washington business office, since it had been necessary to change the reception rooms into document and night duty rooms. Additional office space would have to be made available to equip the telegraph room for an increase in personnel, and to make room for special safes. To effect these changes, Ambassador Nomura requested that $2,700 be appropriated.435

With the increase in the telegraphic load, not only was the Washington office short of clerks, but Mr. Morishima, in New York, was forced to request two members from other offices. On July 30, 1941 he asked Washington to send an aide from the Japanese Embassy.436 In Washington, the Military and Naval attaches asked that they be permitted to move their offices to the Embassy, in view of the dangerous situation prevailing at that time. This request was submitted to Japan for approval.437

Since there was a possibility that their offices might be closed without warning, precautions for the safety of the Emperor's portraits in New York and Chicago were being taken by the Japanese. A student clerk, Mr. Hashizume, planned to take them on July 30, 1941 by train to San Francisco, where Minister Kaname Wakasugi would transport the pictures to Japan on the Asama Maru.438 


(b) Japanese-Mexican Relations 

110. Japan Establishes an Espionage Net in Mexico to Acquire Intelligence from the United States.  

Minister Yoshiaki Miura was informed on June 2, 1941, that Japan had appropriated 100,000 yen to be used in Mexico City to collect intelligence concerning the United States. According to Mr. Matsuoka, Mexico City was the natural geographical center for an intelligence base, although Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Santiago would also be useful. The Japanese Minister in Mexico was reminded that in cooperation with Japanese officials in Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, and New York, these funds were to be used principally for intelligence relating to the United States. If the United States entered the war, Japan would endeavor to use Japanese nationals to the best advantage in dividing the Rightist and Leftist labor organizations, and in promoting their anti-American revolutionary influence.439


434 II, 376.
435 II, 377-379.
436 II, 380.
437 II, 381.
438 II, 382-383.
439 II, 384.


In line with Japan's policy of bringing "fifth columnists" to Japan for instructions, Consul Katsuya Sato, in Mexico, was preparing to send to Tokyo, Jose Llergo, an outstanding Mexican news reporter, whom he thought capable of greatly influencing the Mexican press.440 Trips to Japan for two other men, underlings of Maximino Camacho, to facilitate their future use in propaganda, were also suggested by Minister Yoshiaki Miura. One of these, a Mr. Isaac Diaz, had been investigated by the Japanese Minister, but approval for the financing of his trip had not been granted by Tokyo.441 

111. Japan Seeks Essential Military Supplies in Mexico.  

On June 24, 1941 Minister Kiyoshi Yamagata in Mexico was attempting to negotiate for needed military materials, proposing payment by either the barter system or compensatory trade. However, he believed that there existed little likelihood of his succeeding by approaching Mexican authorities through the usual channels, inasmuch as additional pressure was being exerted by the United States, and because Mexican businessmen expected that sooner or later an embargo or export license system, affecting the export to Japan of mercury and other materials, would be initiated. Mr. Yamagata thought it advisable, therefore, to make purchases as quickly and as secretly as possible. Since he felt that political trends in the Caribbean and Central American countries should also be taken into consideration, Mr. Yamagata planned to visit Panama, Colombia and Peru.442

Experiencing difficulty in achieving satisfactory trade relations and in organizing intelligence activities, the Japanese Minister to Mexico, Yoshiaki Miura, had discussed with Mr. Yamagata the expansion of the Mexican office to meet wartime needs. Since Secretary Keizo Fuiji, appointed as First Secretary of the Japanese Legation in Mexico, was finding it difficult to leave Spain because of lack of steamer accommodations, Minister Miura suggested the sending of a capable person in his place, who, in addition to taking general charge of the Mexican office, would have responsibility for either the trade or intelligence work. This would leave Secretary Sato free to look after other duties. Replacements were suggested for Mr. Kataoka and Mr. Samijima, who, although capable men, had been there too long to help in creating a new atmosphere in the office.443 The suggestion that Mr. Sotomatsu Kato of Mexicali be sent to the Mexico City office was later thought to be inadvisable in view of current conditions,444 and probably because of Mr. Kato's intelligence activities.445 

112. Japanese Apprehension Concerning the Prospective Effects of the American-Mexican Negotiations.  

Fearing that Japanese-Mexican trade would be seriously affected by negotiations under way between America and Mexico to exchange necessary war materials, Minister Miura, referring to an Associated Press release of a statement issued by the Mexican Foreign Office, thought that it would be best to discuss the matter openly with the Mexican Foreign Minister. He advised on June 27, 1941 that a detailed report would be forthcoming shortly.446


440 II, 385.
441 II, 386.
442 II, 387-390.
443 II, 391.
444 II, 392.
445 II, 393.
446 II, 394


Meanwhile, the safety of Japanese fishing ships in Mexican waters was a problem, although Minister Miura assured Tokyo on June 24, 1941 that it should merely watch coolly the course of events since for the time being there was nothing to worry about.447

On July 2, 1941, Minister Miura, disturbed by Associated Press reports from Washington to the effect that the pending American-Mexican treaty was designed to prevent the shipment of American materials anywhere outside the American countries, paid a visit to Foreign Minister Ezequiel Padilla. When asked if these reports were true, Mr. Padilla answered that Mexico was considering an agreement of this kind, but that the matter concerned only American powers, and had nothing to do with other countries.448

Minister Miura further inquired as to the possibility of Mexico's being prevented from selling her surplus materials to the Japanese. Admitting that the gist of the American proposal was that American goods were not to be shipped out of American states, Mr. Padilla said that Mexico was still considering the matter, but had as yet not decided. Minister Miura then pointed out that should such an agreement be concluded, the friendly relations which had existed between Mexico and Japan for a long time would be marred. Foreign Minister Padilla replied that the Mexican government was hesitating because disruption of the Japanese-Mexican relationship would be most regrettable, but that, since Mexico had to obtain machinery and other goods, it was necessary to sell Mexican goods to the United States. To say that Japan, instead of the United States, could sell the machinery to Mexico was quite beside the point.

Arguing that Japan was now in position to sell surpluses of heavy industrial goods, Minister Miura referred to a list offered by the Japanese Chief of the Commercial Section which Minister Yamagata had brought to Mexico. The Foreign Minister, however, avoided discussion of this by saying that these points were being studied by experts in various departments. Minister Miura assured the Foreign Minister that goods purchased by Japan would not be reshipped to Germany, and stated that it was the feeling of the Japanese government that the European war would end sooner than expected. Mr. Padilla, in closing the interview, said that he would consider the Japanese Minister's remarks in examining the treaty.449 

113. Japan Establishes Espionage Routes from the United States to Mexico.  

On June 28, 1941 Mr. Matsuoka, requesting Minister Miura to establish communication between Mexico and the United States at once in connection with the intelligence network to be organized, asked that regular reports concerning its progress be made.450

Mr. Kato, in Mexicali, reported on July 2, 1941 that if intelligence work were to be carried on, it was absolutely necessary that both new funds and personnel be supplied. Although there were many Japanese inhabitants in his vicinity, not one of them belonged to the intelligentsia. Minister Miura believed that in spite of the difficulty of conducting intelligence work in a border city having a population of only 15,000, the work there would be useful, provided that the intelligence nets in Los Angeles and vicinity were well organized, and especially if the withdrawal of Japanese officials from the United States should become necessary. For this reason, Minister Miura proposed to establish connections with Los Angeles and make necessary preparations.451


447 II, 395.
448 II, 396.
449 II, 394, 396-398
450 II, 399.
451 II, 393  


By July 4, 1941, impressed with the necessity of haste in view of the delicate Japanese-American situation, Minister Miura was attempting to establish an international route by which intelligence could be relayed from the United States to Tokyo. He planned to use Mexico City as headquarters for the collection of observations and opinions gathered from the espionage net in the United States. To effect quick passage into Mexico, he suggested that Japanese intelligence agents in the United States be reduced at once from their official status to that of civilians, thereby allowing them to make representations as individuals to the Mexican government.

Urging that before it became too late, Japanese agents in the border areas should secure passport visas and should begin to perform their intelligence duties, Minister Miura advocated the opening of offices in Laredo, El Paso, Nogales, and Mexicali to establish a route for the transmission of intelligence. On a trip to New Orleans and Houston, the Japanese Minister had discovered that the organizing of an intelligence net had been given not the slightest consideration. Mr. Yamagata's party, passing through Los Angeles, had discovered a similar situation. However, by July 4, 1941, these offices, under orders from Tokyo, had gradually brought their plans to a head.

Disclaiming responsibility for the organization of an espionage net in the United States, Minister Miura declared that this activity was definitely a function of Japanese diplomats in the United States. Believing that the establishment of the intelligence transmission route was separate from the creation of an espionage net, he argued that it was quite impossible for officials in Mexico City to bring the latter into being. To avert working at cross purposes, however, Minister Miura asked Tokyo for additional information.452

On July 22, after a conference with Messrs. Terasaki, Ito, and Kato, it was decided to abandon the idea of using Mexicali as an intelligence center. Mr. Miura argued that its location and its transportation and communication facilities were disadvantageous, and that its Japanese citizens were under the closest surveillance. Mexicali, he concluded, would not be suitable for any intelligence activity.453

To complete plans for the establishment of an espionage net, Consul Ito and Secretary Terasaki went to Mexico on an itinerary which included Mexico City, Panama, Port of Spain, and Rio de Janeiro.454 After conferring with Secretary Terasaki and Consul Ito, Minister Miura, having had a change of mind, warned Tokyo that Mexico, as compared with Brazil, Argentina and Chile, should not be considered as a main base of intelligence, although a study of plans for intelligence routes and connections in Mexico should be continued. Aside from the fact that the general feeling in Mexico towards Japan was not pleasant, and that Mexico might be viewed as a dependency of the United States, difficulties in attempting to get information about internal conditions in the United States would occur. If Mexico went to war, it would be impossible, because of communications, to transfer or expand the Japanese intelligence organization.455

To support the establishment of the Japanese intelligence net, which was to have its headquarters in Mexico City, three routes to Mexico from the United States, via Laredo, Ciudad-Juarez and Mexicali, were being considered. A Chilean route from Manzanillo to Mexico, and


452 II, 400-403.
453 II, 404.
454 II, 405-409.
455 II, 410. 


a Brazilian route by way of Vera Cruz were also to be formed. Japanese officials in the United States and Mexico were to work out the details of their own espionage nets so as to coordinate them, and they were to develop a plan for making contacts and exchanges on the border. The means for keeping in contact through telegraph, telephone, memoranda and word of mouth were to be decided upon at a later date. Mr. Matsuoka stressed the importance of preparing such routes against the coming of war, and warned that nothing should be done which would jeopardize their security.456 

114. Japanese Plans to Operate a Secret Radio in Mexico.  

Continuing their preparations for intelligence work in case the United States and Mexican offices were withdrawn, the Japanese planned to install a secret transmitter in Mexico City. If the apparatus were discovered by Mexico, Japanese officials were determined to plead diplomatic immunity. In view of the difficulty of procuring parts for the transmitter, the possibility of assembling the equipment in the United States was suggested.457 

115. Japanese Concern with Mexico's Pro-American Attitude.  

Summarizing the Mexican situation in a report to Tokyo on July 4, 1941, Minister Miura reiterated that in spite of his best efforts to foster anti-American and anti-war atmosphere in Mexico, he felt that it was impossible to achieve much along these lines. The success of Japanese plans would be determined by the political and foreign policy of Mexico, as directed by President Camacho and his Cabinet, and since these gentlemen were strongly pro-American, it was impossible to procure any information of value to Japan.

Pointing out that the first aim of the Japanese was to undermine the leadership which the United States held in regard to other nations of the hemisphere, Minister Miura felt that it was necessary to break up the so-called "Good Neighbor Policy", thereby destroying any possibility of future coordination among the American nations. For this reason, and following the suggestions of Military Attaché Yoshiaki Nishi, he advised the supporting of a rebellion in Guatemala which would have to be quieted by United States' armed forces. This would violate the "Good Neighbor Policy" and would cause a cleavage between the countries on the American continent by upsetting the political balance as far south as Panama. Minister Miura advised that funds be appropriated to begin preparation, if his plan appeared feasible in the light of Japanese national policy.458

Commenting on the uselessness of attempting to sway official opinion in Mexico, Minister Miura stated that no other nation on the American continent was so influenced by the United States as was Mexico.459 He found it difficult to judge whether or not Mexico would follow the United States into war, but, in any case, it was now impossible to carry on trans-Pacific commerce. Considering this fact, Minister Miura, as well as Japanese officials in San Francisco, were arranging for the secret return of the Emperor's portraits to Japan. One portrait was being returned in the custody of the captain of the Ginyo Maru, and another on the Kamakura Maru.460 Mr. Matsuoka approved this plan, but warned that care should be taken in dealing with the captain of the vessel.461


456 II, 411.
457 II, 412.
458 II, 413-414.
459 II, 415.
460 II, 416-418.
461 II, 419-420. 


116. Japan Considers the Evacuation of Its Nationals in the United States.  

In the event that the Japanese-American relationship was severed, the Japanese Minister in Mexico was considering the evacuation of Japanese nationals from the United States. However, because of the manner in which the United States and Mexico had been treating Germans and Italians, Minister Miura felt that there was no possibility of Mexico's allowing Japanese residents from other countries to enter its borders.

The question of accommodating Japanese nationals from the United States was not an immediate one, since many Japanese in the United States would choose to remain there. If Mexico took an attitude completely in harmony with that of the United States, the repatriation of the Japanese in Mexico to Japan would be extremely difficult. In the light of this situation, preparations were made in Mexico City to call a meeting of fourteen or fifteen Japanese representatives from various parts of the country to discuss questions of mutual help, the maintenance of liaison between Mexico City and the districts, and the protection of enterprises and property of Japanese residents.462

Reporting on this meeting of July 19, 1941, Japanese officials listed several points which had been decided in relation to the best method of solving their problems in Mexico. They planned to establish an efficient system of liaison between the Mexico City office and other districts. The country would be divided into nine areas with a liaison officer in charge of each, and in this way, it would be possible to promote better feeling among the Mexicans toward the Japanese people, and to devise methods to be taken to protect Japanese firms, if indications began to point to the freezing of Japanese assets in Mexico.463 

117. Japan Attempts to Exert Economic Pressure Against Mexico.  

Minister Miura suggested to Foreign Minister Matsuoka, on July 10, 1941, that a Japanese Consulate be established at the port of Manzanillo. Although the port was relatively unimportant, both the United States and Great Britain had established consulates there. Not only was the American Consul bringing considerable pressure to bear on Mexican officials, but since Japan lacked a diplomatic office at this port, Americans were spying upon Japanese vessels to determine what goods were being shipped to Japan.464 Apparently as a retaliatory measure against the strict control of Mexican exports to Japan, Mr. Matsuoka reported on July 10, 1941 that there was no Japanese export plan for the shipments of artificial silk to Mexico in July, because of the shortage of ships. Explaining that, owing to a government defense order, permits had to be obtained for the exportation of silk thread, he asked that Minister Miura send his opinion concerning the limiting of Japanese exports to Mexico.465

Three days later, Minister Miura wired that, although he had been unable to secure an interview with the Minister of Economics, he had cornered him at a social function and, as a result, had obtained an interview on July 12, 1941. In view of the prospective signing of the Mexican-American agreement, Minister Miura declared that should the major part of the present Japanese-Mexican trade come under the terms of the Mexican-American agreement, Japan and Mexico would be unable to continue their present close relations. He pointed out that Mexican mercury and other items were as essential to Japan as Japanese rayon was to Mexico. The Minister of Economics, however, avoided this discussion by saying that until


462 II, 421.
463 II, 422.
464 II, 423.
465 II, 424.