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Magic Background of Pearl Harbor

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Magic Background of Pearl Harbor cover



(February 14, 1941-May 12, 1941)

Department of Defense
United States of America

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


The Department of Defense is releasing for public use and research this multi-volume study giving the "MAGIC" or communications intelligence background of the 1941 Pearl Harbor disaster. In its review of classified records pursuant to E.O. 11652, the Department of Defense decided that it was in the public interest to declassify the intelligence which the U.S. obtained from the communications of its World War II enemies. This study contains a major part of the communications intelligence which the U.S. derived from intercepted Japanese communications during 1941.

The documentation presented here is both voluminous and significant. The large volume of intelligence concerning Japanese secret plans, policies, and activities which U.S. cryptologic specialists produced will augment the information already available on Pearl Harbor from Congressional and other public hearings. Of particular importance in this study is the correlation of the intelligence with the discussions of Secretary of State Hull and Japanese Ambassador Nomura in the critical months before Pearl Harbor. Scholars no doubt will find new challenges in this voluminous intelligence information as they examine not only the decisions made by the U.S. but also the intelligence which influenced and occasionally prompted those decisions.

Department of Defense             1977          United States of America


By the fall of 1940 United States government cryptanalysts had solved some of the Japanese Foreign Office's highest grade cryptographic systems. The interception, decryption and translation, on a current basis, of secret Japanese world-wide diplomatic messages then began. The information the United States derived from this source, designated MAGIC, was highly classified and closely guarded. It went to only a few of the highest-level United States officials.

Included in MAGIC were dispatches between the Foreign Office in Tokyo and the Japanese Ambassador in Washington. Intelligence gained by the United States from these particular dispatches became especially important during the "talks" between the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Cordell Hull, and the Japanese Ambassador, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura. Begun in February 1941 and lasting until the military forces of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, these talks proceeded in secret by agreement between the two sides. Their objective was to improve the rapidly deteriorating United States-Japanese relations. Held in Washington, these talks usually took place in Mr. Hull's apartment or, by means of secret access, in the White House with the President himself. Secretary Hull's memoirs of these talks appear in the United States Department of State official history of that period, published in 1943: Papers Relating to The Foreign Relations of the United States, Japan 1931-1941, two volumes (GPO).

During 1944, several members of the United States cryptanalytic organization began preparing a highly classified history of these critical United States-Japanese negotiations. They placed in juxtaposition an account of the talks from Mr. Hull's memoirs and the Japanese diplomatic messages available to the United States which were pertinent to those negotiations. The information so arranged became Part A of each of the five volumes in the series. Parts B and C contained dispatches dealing with Japanese espionage activities in the Western hemisphere and Japanese diplomatic relations world-wide, respectively. Included in the appendix to each volume were the actual translated Japanese messages which had been used as the basis for that particular narrative section. The compilers of this historical account completed the five volumes in 1946. In 1945, the Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack used some of these translations, especially those of late 1941, as unclassified exhibits.

A few explanations for the reader are in order. Occasionally in the text of a given translation a series of dashes will occur. These blank spaces indicate that a portion of the original encrypted text was not intercepted, was garbled, or could not be decrypted.

The date when each decrypted message was translated, e.g., "TRANS 8-28-41", shows the earliest date when this information could have been made available to that limited number of senior officials of the United States government authorized to receive this material. In this connection, the reader may wish to review the system of dissemination of MAGIC during this period, as published in the records of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack (PHA) (see, for example, Volume 36, p. 22-23; Volume II, p. 5475). The Japanese diplomats of 1941 exchanged a large number of messages, and senior United States officials probably could not have read all these messages in their entirety. Which messages were actually seen by them and which were not are questions beyond the scope of this study.

The date shown at the top right of the translation, it is important to note, is always the date assigned by the originator of the message. The time in hours and minutes is not available. An understanding of the world's time zones is essential, particularly for the period just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Technical problems account for the differences which occur between the "day of origin" and "the day translated."

From time to time references are made to "Kana". Kana refers to the system of notation for representing the Japanese language in terms of sounds rather than in written ideographs. This system consists of approximately fifty syllables: a, i, u, e, o, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko, etc. There is a symbol for each that may be used in written form. For example, ROOSEVELT in Kana becomes "RO-O-SU-BE-RU-TO." These symbols are in contrast to the ideographic system, in which each character represents a unique meaning, rather than a sound. When the United States translator could not be certain of the name (place or person) he indicates this fact in a footnote as "Kana spelling."

The Department of Defense reviewed the original series of volumes for declassification and reissue in unclassified form. In this process the reviewers located many additional pertinent Japanese messages. They either integrated them at the appropriate places in the appendices or included them in the last volume of the series. Necessarily, there has been editing, cross-checking, clarification and supplementation. These five volumes, The "MAGIC" Background of Pearl Harbor, should best be viewed as a compilation of historical source materials—many of which have not been disclosed to the public before—and not necessarily as a definitive history of that tumultuous period.

In the process of declassifying and re-publishing the original 1944 version of The "MAGIC" Background of Pearl Harbor, efforts were made to preserve as much of the original publication as possible. The original style and format remain the same. Spellings of personal and place names are those of that period, except where some misunderstanding might arise. The text and decrypted messages still reflect the strong emotions of a nation at war. References to the enemy, now considered perhaps dated and quaint, were not always the most flattering. These references remain intact. Identifications of individuals are those given in the original.

The re-published version respects the rights of privacy of individuals, business firms and so on. From time-to-time the footnote, "DoD Comment: Name withheld" will be seen.

The original translations, decrypted by U.S. cryptanalysts in 1941, were heavily footnoted with cross references, identifying data, and clarifying information. In accordance with editorial practices of that time, these footnotes were placed at the end of the translation, regardless of the number of pages. Both the original 1944 versions and the declassified re-publication continue that editorial practice.

Most of the technical processing details and symbols have been deleted. Such information, it is believed, would not only be superfluous and confusing to the reader, but would be of no historical value. Each of the first four volumes covers a particular period. Volume V contains supplementary and explanatory material, including an Index to all the volumes.

Department of Defense                            United States of America



  Introduction iii
  1. Political Background 1
  2. Formal Introduction to the President 4
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 4
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 4
  3. Views of Foreign Minister Matsuoka 5
  4. War Warnings 5
  5. Reaction of American Press to Ambassador Nomura 5
  6. Ambassador Nomura's Estimate of the Situation 6
  7. Ambassador Nomura's Press Conference, (February 19, 1941) 6
  8. Hull-Nomura Conversation (March 8, 1941) 6
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 6
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 8
  9. Views of American Newspapermen 9
  10. Views of Foreign Diplomats 9
  11. Roosevelt-Hull-Nomura Conversation (March 14, 1941) 10
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 10
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 10
  12. American Moves to Aid Britain and to Restrain Japan 11
  13. American Indifference to Axis Threats 12
  14. President Roosevelt's Defense Program 12
  15. Anti-Japanese Petroleum Embargo 12
  16. Proposals of Private Individuals (April 9, 1941) 13
  17. Hull-Nomura Conversation (April 14, 1941) 13
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 13
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 14
  18. Ambassador Nomura Summarizes the Japanese-American Situation (April 15, 1941) 15
  19. Hull-Nomura Conversation (April 16, 1941) 15
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 15
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 17
  20. Reactions of Tokyo to Ambassador Nomura's Proposal 18
  21. Ambassador Nomura Awaits Tokyo's Action 19
  22. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 2, 1941) 20
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 20
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 20
  23. Mr. Matsuoka Suggests a Neutrality Pact 21
  24. Japan Discovers Code Decipherment by the United States 21
  25. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 7, 1941) 22
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 22
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 23
  26. Ambassador Nomura's Estimate of American Public Opinion 24
  27. Ambassador Nomura Urges Mr. Matsuoka to a Prompt Agreement 26
  28. Mr. Matsuoka Submits Proposals (May 9, 1941) 26
  29. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 11, 1941) 27
    (a) Secretary Hull's Report 27
    (b) Ambassador Nomura's Report 28
  30. Expansion of Japanese Espionage in North and South America 29
  31. Japanese Interest in American Plans 32
  32. Coordination of Japanese Intelligence in the United States 32
  33. Japanese Interest in American Labor Unions 33
  34. Japanese Census in the United States 33
  35. Reports of Japanese Intelligence Agents in America 33
  36. Japanese Security Precautions 34
  37. Decline of Japanese Commerce in the United States 34
  38. Japanese-American Relations Abroad 35
  39. Japanese Intelligence Reports on China 36
  40. Tokyo's Suppression of Japanese Pro-Ally Sentiments 38
  41. Anti-Comintern Pact and the Tripartite Pact 38
  42. Japanese-German Discussions 39
  43. Japanese-German Economic Cooperation 39
  44. Mr. Matsuoka Visits Germany, Italy and Russia — Rumors of the Visit 40
  45. Japanese Suspicion of Code Decipherment 40
  46. Pessimism of Ambassador Nomura 41
  47. Purpose of Mr. Matsuoka's Visit 41
  48. Mr. Matsuoka Declines to Visit the United States 42
  49. Mr. Matsuoka Arrives in Rome and Berlin 42
  50. Mr. Matsuoka Meets U.S. Ambassador Steinhardt 43
  51. Mr. Matsuoka Reassures the Axis Nations 44
  52. Attempts of Japanese Moderate Elements to Keep Japan Out of the War 45
  53. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Congratulates Hitler 45
  54. Secret Japanese-Russian Trade Agreements 45
  55. The Japanese-Russian Neutrality Pact (April 13, 1941) 46
  56. Japan Reassures the Axis 46
  57. World Reaction to Neutrality Pact 47
  58. German Reaction to Neutrality Pact 47
  59. Russian Espionage in Manchukuo 48
  60. Stalin Assumes New Powers in May, 1941 48
  61. Germany Plans to Attack Russia 48
  62. England's Concern Over Japanese Policies 50
  63. Mr. Churchill's Exchange with Mr. Matsuoka 51
  64. British Views of the Far East Situation 51
  65. British Counter Intelligence Against The Japanese 52
  66. Japanese Threats Against the Netherlands East Indies 52
  67. Dutch Counter Intelligence Against the Japanese 53
  68. Japanese-Dutch East Indies Negotiations 53


The recent publication of State Department documents relating to the informal conversations in 1941 between Secretary of State Hull and the Japanese Ambassador, Admiral Nomura, has made it possible to review the story of their fateful meetings, which took place just before the outbreak of the American-Japanese War.1 The Hull-Nomura conversations were of tremendous importance, because on the shoulders of these two representatives, carefully chosen to guard their nations' best interests, rested for a time the responsibility for staving off a war which had long seemed inevitable to most students of the Far East. The eventual failure of these discussions to achieve their purpose has changed in no way the significance of their contents.

The Hull-Nomura conversations will acquire a still greater significance in the future when historians of the American-Japanese war begin to investigate the period immediately preceding the catastrophe of Pearl Harbor. It should be pointed out here that United States naval and military authorities had a full appreciation of the value of these informal discussions while they were still in progress. For this reason, cryptanalysts of the United States devoted their attention to diplomatic dispatches emanating from the Japanese Embassy in Washington, and since they successfully deciphered many of these messages, it was possible to obtain a well-detailed picture of the Japanese viewpoint. This intelligence was made available to the proper authorities of the State Department all during the year of 1941, and was undoubtedly of great value to those charged with estimating the trend of future events.

For the sake of those high authorities of the United States who need to know, it has been decided to combine in the same volumes both the evidence made available to the public in the State Department documents and the intelligence resulting from the decryption of secret dispatches in which Ambassador Nomura reported the results of each conversation with Secretary Hull.

The present volumes are unusual in that they have been written within a few years of the events described, though derived from sources which are usually concealed for generations. Rarely is the opportunity given to scan the confidential records of rival diplomats as is possible in this instance.


1 Papers relating to the Foreign Relation of the United States, Japan: 1931-1941, 2 vols., U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1943, II, 325-795. Hereafter this volume will be referred to as S.D., II.



Preliminary Phase
(February 14, 1941 - May 12, 1941)1

1. Political Background

The year 1941 was important for many reasons. World War II had been in progress for more than a year, and the Axis nations, Germany, Italy and Japan, had bound themselves to a strict military alliance which had its formal beginnings in the Tripartite Pact of 1940. Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka's New Year message for 1941 had stressed the Japanese-Axis "New Order" aims, and though Premier Fumimaro Konoye's message had been more conciliatory in that it urged cooperation with the United States, his warning to the Japanese people to prepare for international pressure was also ominous.2

The United States was anxiously watching both the European scene and the activities of Japan in Asia, for there were grave fears that in the near future it would be necessary to enter the struggle against the Axis. Twelve hundred United States citizens were reported ready to leave Japan if a crisis occurred,3 and emergency conferences were being held by Japanese national leaders prior to a session of Parliament in which Cabinet policies were to be explained by Premier Konoye, War Minister Hideki Tojo, and Navy Minister Admiral Koshiro Oikawa.4 However, most Americans were interested in the spectacular events of the European war, and only a few observers in the United States were conscious that an even more immediate danger was rising in the Far East.

There were many signs of the approaching storm. As early as January 24, 1941, Secretary of the United States Navy, Frank Knox, had sent a letter to the Secretary of War, warning of the possibility of attack by the Japanese.5 Furthermore, Premier Konoye had been having Cabinet trouble with the extremists, though the House of Peers had followed the House of Representatives in agreeing to surrender debate rights and to grant full support to the Cabinet.6 Thus, at the end of January, Premier Konoye, who had been thinking of resigning, now promised to remain at his post.7 But in succeeding months, there were many who were dissatisfied with the Premier,8 despite the fact that the Diet rushed through measures giving wide powers to the government.9 It was evident that there was no unanimity in Japan on important policies,10 and after the House of Representatives adjourned on May 18, 1941, there were many predictions of Cabinet changes.11


1 For the convenience of the reader, chapter headings have been taken from the divisional arrangement of the Hull-Nomura documents published by the State Department.
2 N. Y. Times, Jan. 1, 1941, 15:6.
3 Ibid., Jan. 10, 1941, 4:2.
4 N. Y. Times, Jan. 9, 1941, 10:6.
5 Report of Pearl Harbor Inquiry Board, Justice Owen J. Roberts, Chairman, Section VII.
6 N. Y. Times, Jan. 24, 1941, 5:4.
7 Ibid., Jan. 28, 1941, 9:1.
8 Ibid., Feb. 26, 1941, 6:5.
9 Ibid., Feb. 17, 1941, 3:1.
10 Ibid., Feb. 25, 1941, 6:3.
11 Ibid., Feb. 28, 1941, 5:1. 


Navy Vice Minister Toyoda attempted at this time to calm public opinion by stating that the Japanese Navy was not menaced by the Pacific power of the United States, but the Nichi Nichi of Tokyo strengthened the positions of Japanese extremists by assuring its readers that Japan could destroy Singapore and Guam with a single blow.12 Tokyo's Asahi warned Britain and the United States that a crisis was near,13 and in Italy, Mussolini's mouthpiece, Gayda, predicted a Japanese-United States war in the Spring.14 Meanwhile, the United States House of Representatives approved a huge fund bill providing for Pacific bases for the Fleet.

Thousands of miles away across the Pacific, China had been at war for several years. The lack of supplies, and the threat of inflation were robbing the Chinese of some of the tremendous vitality which had permitted them to oppose Japan for so long despite the loss of most of their industrial centers and communication facilities. Though many Japanese were anxious to avoid entrance into the European war and were desirous only of profiting from wartime trade, a strong group of nationalistic militarists were determined to win a dominant place in Asia for Japanese interests, even if it meant conflict with the United States. Yet the official Japanese government was publicizing its desire to end the war in China and to isolate the war in Europe.

Despite these allegations of friendship, many sources of friction existed between Japan and the United States. While the troops of Chiang Kai-Shek were making the Japanese invasion of their homeland very costly, American aid to China was growing in volume. At the end of 1940, fifty million dollars was loaned to China by the Export-Import Bank in Washington, and a second loan of equal magnitude was contemplated for 1941. Another irritant affecting the Japanese was the gradual tightening of export control by the United States on such war materiel as iron and steel.

On the other hand, the United States was alarmed at the efforts of Japan to create a "New Order" in the Far East by economic pressure on Indo-China, Thailand and the Netherlands East Indies. The tremendous problem of supplying materials of war to Great Britain, to the Near East and to Mediterranean battle fields, as well as to Russia and to South American countries cooperating with the "Good Neighbor" plan, emphasized the difficulties of sending adequate equipment to the Pacific nations which had determined to resist both the economic and military aggressions of the Japanese. Australia and New Zealand were very conscious of the potential danger to their national existence, and British and Dutch authorities were concerned over the future fate of the Netherlands, British Malaya, Burma and India.

It was apparent that most of the burden would fall upon the United States, if trouble broke out in the Pacific, since the British were faced with the major responsibility of waging war in the Atlantic Ocean and in Europe. There seemed to be little hope of expecting aid from any other source. Although China, Australia and New Zealand could supply splendid fighting men, who were the equal of any infantry in the world, most of their equipment would have to be furnished by American industry.

Russia, at this time, was still neutral, having entered into a non-aggression pact as well as into close economic relations with Germany. Despite this seeming friendship, it was suspected that the age-old enmity of Germans and Russians still continued beneath the surface. Accordingly, the government of the United States was not surprised to learn early in 1941 that Germany planned to attack Russia.15


12 Ibid., Feb. 26, 1941, 1:2, 5, 6.
13 Ibid., Feb. 28, 1941, 15:1.
14 Ibid., Feb. 28, 1941, 3:5.
15 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", S. D., II, 328. Russia was informed confidentially.


It will be remembered that there were many internal problems confronting the United States at the beginning of 1941. Domestic problems such as labor disputes, the controversy between the isolationists and interventionists, and the necessity of stimulating production to meet the wartime needs of many friendly nations throughout the world—all these had to be solved. But now the feeling that national security was more important than any domestic problem began to emerge. The dangerous predicament of England in Europe and the overweening ambitions of Japan in Asia made a two-fold problem which could not be solved by wishful thinking.

There appeared to be little hope of preserving England as a fortress of democracy without giving her tremendous support, even if this meant eventually coming into the war at her side. It seemed the better part of wisdom, therefore, to eliminate the danger of war in the Pacific, if it were at all possible, so that the full strength of the nation could be concentrated against one foe. It was probably in the light of this that the American government decided to honor an informal suggestion from private individuals that the Japanese government be given an opportunity to discuss a change in its policy concerning the Far East.

It was thought that if an equitable agreement could be reached with the United States, the moderate elements in Japan might be able to control the extreme militarists. This agreement would naturally be based on an understanding which would provide security for Japan, but which, it was hoped, would disassociate it from its two Axis partners. Yet, despite the wishes of sincere individuals in both countries to bring about a peaceful settlement of American-Japanese problems, it was evident that the heart of the controversy was the China question. Secretary Hull represented the complete accord of the American government in insisting that the rights of China should not be violated by any aggressor. If Japan would not agree to terms which would permit the maintenance of the "Open Door" in China, with Japan receiving the same privileges in the rest of the Far East, the discussions would fail.

Furthermore, despite the prevailing opinion that the Japanese people were weary of war with China, and that most of them were anxious to have moderate elements controlling their nation's destiny, it was obvious that any program emerging from Japan would have to be scrutinized carefully. Japan's record for the past ten years had been such that no realistic observer could put much faith in the promise of her diplomats to maintain treaties, to preserve the rights of other countries, or to submit their decisions to any other tribunal but that of armed force. Open declarations by Japanese diplomats and militarists of their determination to create a "New Order" in the Pacific would eventually mean complete physical, economic, social and military domination by Japan in all of the Far East.

Addicted to frequently inflammatory utterances was Mr. Matsuoka, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, who did not hesitate to express his views openly concerning Japanese supremacy in the Western Pacific. Japan's adherence to the Tripartite Pact as the keystone of its foreign policy indicated that its demands upon Indo-China for military and naval bases, and the political intrigues of Japanese agents in Thailand, Burma, and India, were portents of even more violent actions.

Despite the many discouraging circumstances, American and Japanese private individuals constantly emphasized the good intentions of many high Japanese authorities, and stressed their belief that a working agreement could be reached and made effective in Japan. It was decided, however, to delay any decision concerning these suggestions until the new Japanese Ambassador, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, arrived in Washington. He presented his credentials to President Roosevelt on February 14, and it is from this point on that we shall examine in minute fashion the extended conversations held between the Japanese Ambassador and Secretary of State Hull.


2. Formal Introduction to President

(a) Secretary Hull's Report16

The formal introduction of the new Japanese Ambassador to President Roosevelt took place on February 14, 1941. The meeting was marked by much cordiality and personal friendliness since the President considered Admiral Nomura as an old Navy friend of long acquaintance. The President, not disguising the fact that recent relations between Japan and the United States had been quite unsatisfactory, remarked that the press of both nations had not helped the situation. Pointing out that the American people were very seriously concerned about the movements of Japan into French Indo-China and other areas in that region, he indicated that the alignment of Japan with the Axis nations had led to serious doubts of Japan's desire for peace. In view of current conditions, it would be very easy for some incident, such as the sinking of the Maine or the Panay, to cause domestic explosions which would shatter the peace. Yet, there was plenty of room in the Pacific area for everyone, and the President suggested that the Japanese Ambassador review with American officials the significant phases of relations between Japan and America for the past few years. Thus, important differences might be eliminated and all relations improved.

Both the President and Japanese Ambassador agreed that it would do neither country any good to enter the war. Ambassador Nomura spoke earnestly of his desire to preserve peaceful relations between the two countries, and referred to chauvinistic militarists in Japan as the chief obstacle to the peace which he, and those of his countrymen who agreed with him, would like to make permanent between the two nations. The Japanese Ambassador also assured Secretary Hull that his home government was in complete accord with his views. The meeting ended with Ambassador Nomura expressing his recognition of the current unsatisfactory relations and indicating his desire to do everything to improve them.17

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report18

Ambassador Nomura's secret report to his government concerning this formal meeting gave the details of President Roosevelt's conversation as outlined in Secretary Hull's memorandum described above. According to the Ambassador, Mr. Roosevelt was afraid that Germany and Italy would force Japan into the war, but the Japanese Ambassador assured the President that his one desire was to prevent the rupture of Japanese-American relations. In response to this, the President promised the Japanese Ambassador that he also would exert every effort to improve relations between their countries.19

Other important Japanese diplomatic appointments in the United States about this time were those of Morito Morishima as Counsel General in New York City, Sadao Iguchi as Counsel to the Washington Embassy, and Kanome Wakasugi as Minister to the United States.20 There had been some question concerning the diplomatic rank of Mr. Wakasugi, who had formerly been a consul general in New York and who was accompanying Ambassador Nomura as an adviser. As early as January 13, 1941, Japanese representatives in Washington had suggested that Mr. Wakasugi be given the rank of Minister and Counselor so as to receive the special considerations accorded to such diplomatic rank.21 But three days after Admiral Nomura had been formally introduced to President Roosevelt as the Japanese Ambassador, the diplomatic status of Mr. Wakasugi was still undetermined.22


16 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", February 14 1941. S.D. II 387-389.
17 Ibid.
18 Appendix I, 1. The complete text of all pertinent dispatches will be found in the appendices as deciphered and translated by American cryptanalysts. Appendix I will hereafter be cited as—I, 1, etc.
19 Ibid.
20 N.Y. Times, Feb. 18, 1941, 6:3
21 I, 2.
22 I, 3.


3. Views of Foreign Minister Matsuoka

On this same day, February 14, 1941, Ambassador Nomura received a message from Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka, who was quite frank in his discussion of Japanese aims in Asia. Though talking of peace and Japan's desire to cooperate with the United States, his truculent tone made it obvious that Ambassador Nomura would have a difficult time conciliating some of his own countrymen. It seemed certain that as long as Mr. Matsuoka was in power, Japan would reserve the right to act independently in those areas of the Pacific which were deemed part of her "co-prosperity sphere".23

This interpretation was further justified by Mr. Matsuoka's statement before the Japanese House of Representatives' Budget Committee on January 27, 1941, wherein he claimed that Japan's domination of the Western Pacific was absolutely necessary to accomplish her nation's ideals:

My use of the word "dominate" may seem extreme and while we have no such designs, still in a sense we do wish to dominate and there is no need to hide the fact. Has America any right to object if Japan does dominate the Western Pacific?

As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I hate to make such an assertion, but I wish to declare that if America does not Japan's rightful claims and actions, then there is not the slightest hope of improvement of Japanese-American relations.24

4. War Warnings

In view of the difficult situation between the two countries, it was not surprising that diplomats on both sides were concerned about the approach of war. Ambassador Grew had sent the following telegram to the Secretary of State on January 27, 1941, which in the light of later events had striking significance:

TOKYO, January 27, 1941— 6 p.m.
(Received January 27 — 6:38 a.m.)

(125.) A member of the Embassy was told by my . . . colleague that from many quarters, including a Japanese one, he had heard that a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor was planned by the Japanese military forces, in case of "trouble" between Japan and the United States; that the attack would involve the use of all the Japanese military facilities. My colleague said that he was prompted to pass this on because it had come to him from many sources, although the plan seemed fantastic.25

On the other hand, Tokyo was also receiving war warnings from its diplomats. A dispatch from Honolulu on February 15, 1941 stated:

1. Indications seem to be that the U.S. has decided to declare war on Japan within the next three weeks.
2. Definite advice will be available twenty-four hours in advance of such a declaration by the U.S.
3. The U.S. plans to cut Japanese trade lanes to South America.26

5. Reaction of American Press to Ambassador Nomura

Ambassador Nomura now reported to Tokyo some of the observations made by American newspapers on the occasion of his formal introduction to President Roosevelt on February 14, 1941. The editors remarked that though Ambassador Nomura had a great many friends in America, the relations of the United States with Japan would depend principally upon happenings in the Far East and South Pacific. The newspaper editors were not too optimistic about the Japanese situation, reminding their readers that according to the President there would be no change in the established policy of assisting Britain whether or not the United States became involved in war in the Far East.27


23 I, 4, 5.
24 "Telegram from the Ambassador m Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State", S.D., II, 134.
25 I, 6.
26 I, 7.
27 I, 8.


6. Ambassador Nomura's Estimate of the Situation

The Japanese Ambassador also submitted some personal views concerning the diplomatic situation as he had found it during the few days he had occupied his post. Recognizing the solidarity between the United States and England and the existence of a great deal of feeling in the United States against Germany, he believed that most Americans thought that Japan was their real enemy. All felt that Japan would move southwards in the spring, using the Thailand-French Indo-China situation as an excuse for an attack on Singapore.

It will be remembered that Japan had won vital political and economic control in several sections of Asia with the signing of the Thailand-Indo-China armistice.28 At the same time that Japan was acquiring these fruits of war, the Japanese Diet was considering her military and naval budgets which had been approved by the Cabinet. This extraordinary war budget for the period from April 1941 to January 1942 was approved one week before Ambassador Nomura was presented to President Roosevelt.29

Reporting that there was much support in the United States for America's backing of the British and the Dutch against the advance of Japan into the South Pacific, Ambassador Nomura mentioned that when the Americans and the British would begin to operate jointly, many British capital ships would be sent to the Pacific and American destroyers would be used in the Atlantic. Some Americans believed that their fleet in Hawaii would make a move to the West in a year or two to block Japan's southward advance. Should Britain collapse, the remaining units of her fleet would be added to America's warships to attack Japan in the Pacific.30

7. Ambassador Nomura's Press Conference (February 19, 1941)

Authorities in both Tokyo and Berlin were rather concerned about some views expressed by Ambassador Nomura at a newspaper conference in Washington on February 19, 1941.31 When asked whether or not Japan would declare war on the United States if the latter entered the war against Germany, the Japanese Ambassador replied that this was a question of treaty interpretation and he would not go into it. Berlin was disturbed presumably because the Japanese Ambassador had not answered unequivocally in the affirmative.32 When Ambassador Nomura had reported the details of the interview,33 Mr. Matsuoka left no doubt in the following reply as to the decision which he would make if America entered the war against Germany:

Though Your Excellency is sufficiently aware of the necessity of being extremely cautious in your replies to questions as to whether Japan will enter the conflict in the event the United States attacks Germany, I am gradually clarifying this in the affirmative at the Plenary Budget Sessions of the Lower House.34

8. Hull-Nomura Conversation (March 8, 1941)35

(a) Secretary Hull's Report

Ambassador Nomura called at Secretary of State Hull's apartment at the Carlton Hotel on March 8, 1941 for a meeting which had been arranged in secret because of the delicate nature of the discussions. Mr. Hull informed Ambassador Nomura that though there were private citizens in both Japan and the United States who were patriotically trying to bring about better understanding between both governments, it would be necessary for him to con-


28 N.Y. Times, Feb. 2, 1941, 1:2.
29 Ibid., Feb. 7, 1941, 5:6.
30 I, 9.
31 I, 10.
32 I, 11.
33 I, 12, 13.
34 I, 14.
35 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", March 8, 1941, S.D., II, 389-396.


fine his dealings on all official questions to the duly authorized Ambassador of Japan. The Japanese Ambassador made no reply to these remarks, but bowed as if to demonstrate his agreement.36

Mr. Hull then developed his program for the adoption of liberal commercial policies and trade agreements by all important nations. Briefly reviewing post-war economic conditions, he demonstrated how extreme nationalism since 1918 had cut off international trade so that world consumption had fallen drastically, and unemployment had affected every nation. Reminding Ambassador Nomura of his efforts to bring about an agreement to permit all nations to share equally in the economic resources of the world, and to accord each other equal trade opportunities, Secretary Hull stated that military movements had blocked peaceful commerce in most areas. For many years Mr. Hull had been striving to bring about a peaceful solution of world economic problems to avoid difficulties which very frequently ended in armed conflict, and so he welcomed the opportunity to discuss any change Japan might make from its present policy of the use of force.

Ambassador Nomura, expressing his interest in the plan of Mr. Hull, said that his people and even most of the military men, with very few exceptions, were opposed to entering war with the United States. Prime Minister Konoye was opposed to a policy of military expansion, but Yosuke Matsuoka, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and known as a politician, used vehement language at times for home consumption. However, since Japan was anxious to bring about peace with China, it was hoped that a treaty could be arranged with Chiang Kai-Shek.

Secretary Hull then asked for more details concerning the proposed peace, but the Japanese Ambassador requested that further discussion be postponed until the arrival in Washington of his adviser, Colonel Hideo Iwukuro.37 Both Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura agreed that the destructive effects of war would make any struggle between Japan and the United States unthinkable, but Secretary Hull indicated that a nation such as his could not be expected to stand idly by and watch military groups in Japan impose their will on all weaker nations. The Japanese Ambassador, denying that military conquest was the intent of his government, remarked that the elimination of embargoes by the United States would do much to alleviate the current unpleasantness. Mr. Hull replied that such embargoes would cease if Japan would limit her military expansion.

Answering Ambassador Nomura's attempt to minimize Japan's military aspirations, Mr. Hull pointed to the terms of the Tripartite Pact and to the public statements of Foreign Minister Matsuoka and other high Japanese officials, who were hoping to establish a new world order under their control. Associating the activities of the Japanese Army and Navy in Asia with the cruel tyranny of Hitler in Europe, Mr. Hull declared that the American people were becoming thoroughly aroused and that they could not be expected to retain their previous complacency. Japanese troops were over all of China and as far south as Thailand and Indo-China, and the open threats of some Japanese statesmen indicated Japanese aspirations for the future. Returning to the question of peace for China, Mr. Hull stated that it was very necessary for Japan to prove by acts, not utterances, that she did not intend to follow a course of military expansion.

Extending the personal greetings of President Roosevelt to Ambassador Nomura, Secretary Hull promised to arrange a secret meeting with the President at any time convenient to the Japanese Ambassador. Though assenting to this suggestion and agreeing also that conferences with other American officials would be advantageous, Ambassador Nomura made no definite commitments as to when the interviews would take place.


36 Ibid.
37 Appointed as aide to Ambassador Nomura on March 4. N.Y. Times, Mar. 5, 1941, 8:7.


Having been asked at this point whether or not his government would attack Singapore or the Netherlands East Indies, Ambassador Nomura replied in the negative, but asserted that if the embargo system continued in operation, Japanese military and naval groups might consider themselves forced to act. Secretary Hull commented that the embargo had been imposed simply because of the Japanese policy of military conquest. Furthermore, no discussion would be possible if the military group in Japan insisted that they were not expanding by military force, as they had often claimed while proceeding with their conquest in China.

Secretary Hull then spoke of the very friendly and profitable relations between Japan and the United States which had existed up until the time of the Coolidge and Hoover administrations. When Secretary Hull had entered the State Department he had hoped to work out a satisfactory agreement concerning the Quota Limitation Act of 1924, which would have placed all negotiations between the two countries on an equal, though limited basis. Thus, he had hoped to allay the injured feelings of the Japanese.

According to Ambassador Nomura, the exclusion of Japan from trade with other countries, including Indo-China, had made it necessary to ensure the prosperity of Japan. Agreeing that all nations had been extremely nationalistic in their economic policy after the war, Mr. Hull said that in solving these difficulties it would be unwise to abandon the principles of equality and peaceful procedure in favor of military force. Stating that the Pan American Good-Neighbor policy had brought about a great many mutually beneficial effects for North and South American countries, Mr. Hull noted that these trade agreements were so contrived that every country in the world received the same opportunities for trade and commerce as did the American nations themselves. Asia under Japanese domination was radically different, and, therefore, disturbing to the whole world.

Secretary Hull then inquired whether Mr. Matsuoka was going to Berlin, and the Japanese Ambassador replied that he did not believe so, although the Foreign Minister had been invited to visit Europe at the time of the signing of the Tripartite Pact. Ambassador Nomura gave no intimation of his thoughts in regard to a question concerning the future attitude of the Japanese government towards the Tripartite Pact, nor would he make any definite promise concerning Japan's suspension of aggression .while the conversations continued. Mr. Hull mentioned during the conversation that American authorities were fully convinced of the ability of the British to resist Hitler.38

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report39

The Japanese Ambassador's version of this conversation was sent to Tokyo on the day of the meeting. There were no striking differences between the two reports, but Ambassador Nomura's minutes showed that he was trying to maintain a statesmanlike composure to avoid giving provocation. Ambassador Nomura informed his superiors that he had criticized American embargoes as arousing Japanese antagonism, and that Secretary Hull had made no satisfactory reply to this.40 It will be recalled that, according to Secretary Hull, American embargoes had been imposed because of the military aggressions of Japan in the Far East.41

Japan's policy in China, according to Ambassador Nomura, had three objectives; first, a good-neighbor policy with China; second, economic cooperation, especially in regard to iron and coal; and third, an anti-communistic agreement. Furthermore, French Indo-China and Thailand ought to become good neighbors of Japan, although the Japanese Ambassador seemed to concede that force had been used in bringing about a recent Japanese treaty of friendship with Thailand.


38 Ibid.
39 I, 15.
40 Ibid.
41 S.D., II, 392.


Secretary Hull believed that the most important point of this discussion was his inquiry regarding the Japanese advance toward Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, to which the Japanese Ambassador replied that Japan's desires in those areas were of an economic nature rather than military. However, Ambassador Nomura qualified his statement that Japan would not move into these regions by the phrase "unless circumstances makes it unavoidable", by which he meant the maintenance of American embargoes. According to the Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Hull believed that Japan would be forced into this action by its agreement with the Axis under the Tripartite Pact rather than by the embargo. President Roosevelt had expressed a similar view at his first meeting. Ambassador Nomura also commented that the prospective visit of Mr. Matsuoka to Europe was of great concern to Mr. Hull.

These conversations were being held unofficially and "off the record" with the understanding that neither party was to be considered as taking the initiative. Although Mr. Hull and the President were in complete agreement as to the Japanese situation, Ambassador Nomura would be permitted to see Mr. Roosevelt whenever he desired. Secretary Hull even went so far as to show the Japanese Ambassador the back entrance to the White House so that newspapermen could be avoided.42

9. Views of American Newspapermen

Ambassador Nomura sent to his superiors in Tokyo the gist of a conversation between a member of his Embassy and a prominent American newspaper publisher, Roy Howard, who believed that the President might possibly act as a mediator in the Chinese-Japanese war, if Japan would guarantee no further aggression. Predicting that the United States would not tolerate the setting up of a new order in Asia for the convenience of Japan alone, especially if Japan used force, the publisher urged Japan to stress its peaceful intentions and to publicize the fact that its policy involved merely economic factors, rather than political or militaristic ambitions.43

Before the conversation with Secretary Hull on March 8, Ambassador Nomura had gone to New York to meet many well-known persons and newspapermen at an official reception. Summarizing their views, he reported that the United States was concerned with the twofold problem of aiding England and restraining Japan. Germany was considered to be the first enemy of the United States and Japan the second, with Italy unimportant because of German domination. In view of these impressions Ambassador Nomura believed that there was little hope of improving Japanese-American relations without a bold diplomatic move which would avert temporary makeshifts.44

10. Views of Foreign Diplomats

Ambassador Nomura had met various foreign diplomats in Washington, and he now forwarded to Tokyo the impressions he had gathered from these representatives. Ambassador Nomura explained Japan's "southward expansion" to the apparent satisfaction of the British Ambassador, who, indicating that England had no real difference with Japan despite the latter's cooperation with the Axis, hoped that Japan would not misjudge the general international outlook since England's war spirit was high, and victory was certain with the aid of the United States. The Russian Ambassador said that his country would probably remain neutral for an indefinite period, and the Italian Ambassador declared that neither Germany nor Italy would welcome a long-term war since the United States was able to withstand a war lasting several years, and it was gradually moving into the hostilities.45


42 I, 15, 16.
43 I, 17.
44 I, 18.
45 I, 19.


11. Roosevelt-Hull-Nomura Conversation (March 14, 1941)

(a) Secretary Hull's Report46

The Japanese Ambassador held another discussion with President Roosevelt and Mr. Hull on March 14, 1941 at the White House. Ambassador Nomura began by saying that despite Mr. Matsuoka's loud talk for home consumption, few of his people desired to enter a war to achieve the ambitious designs of the Foreign Minister. Japan desired only the good will of the Chinese, their economic cooperation and a mutual pact concerning anti-Communist measures. Raw materials from neighboring countries were needed by Japan, and this economic fact explained Japan's insistence on a "New Order" to permit free access to these supplies. Ambassador Nomura urged that Japan and the United States cooperate in working for peace to avoid the disastrous effects of war which were so noticeable in Europe.

President Roosevelt replied that American public opinion had been disturbed because of the Japanese alliance with Germany and Italy. Japan was damaging her every interest by continuing on this course. The Japanese Ambassador commented that America had forced Japan into the alliance by reason of various embargoes and trade restrictions, but President Roosevelt, denying this, asserted in turn that Hitler would rule over every country which aligned itself with him, as had been proved so often in present day Europe. The actions of Foreign Minister Matsuoka were then discussed, and the Japanese Ambassador explained that the trip to Berlin was merely a compliment to the German government.

President Roosevelt at this point developed his thesis of international trade based on equality of treatment for all nations, illustrating his remarks with references to the "Good Neighbor" policy existing between North America and South America, which ensured the preservation of sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality of opportunity for every nation, small or large. Remarking that Great Britain, if she won the present war, must be willing for Germany to have equal trade opportunities, President Roosevelt also stated that both the United States and Japan would have access to such raw materials as rubber and tin, which were produced only in the British Empire.

Returning to the Tripartite Pact, the President mentioned the belief of most Americans that Germany and Italy had combined with Japan to reach the Suez Canal from one side of the world, as Japan approached Singapore, the Netherlands East Indies, and the Indian Ocean from the other. At this point Ambassador Nomura, expressing his strong belief that Japan would not move south, declared that his country did not want to control China. Secretary Hull informed him that since Japan had departed from a peaceful course, it would be the task of her representatives to suggest some action which would prove her serious intentions of peace. The discussion ended with both the President and the Japanese Ambassador in agreement that difficulties between the two countries could be worked out in peace.47

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report48

Ambassador Nomura, reporting the same meeting described above, declared that the conversation had ranged over a number of topics in the course of which he had notified the President that if further aid were given to China and the American embargo against Japan were tightened, the Japanese people would be very much disturbed. On the other hand, the President had maintained that the most serious obstacle to good relations between the two countries was the Tripartite Pact. As a result of this alliance the American people suspected that the Japanese, coordinating their military activities with the Germans, would move into the South Pacific in the spring. Ambassador Nomura replied that Japanese foreign policy was


46 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", March 14, 1941, S.D., II, 396-398.
47 Ibid.
48 I, 20, 21.


not determined by the Prime Minister alone, but by conference with all Cabinet members. Noting that both the President and the Secretary were concerned about Japan's southward drive, the Japanese Ambassador gave assurances that there was little likelihood of its taking place.

In discussing the possibility of war, Ambassador Nomura pointed out that a war in the Pacific would not be an easy matter for the United States. Even in the event of victory, America would be faced with the loss of peace and order in the Far East together with a tremendous development of Soviet influence in that area. Complaining of the anti-Japanese feeling of the Chinese National Government, Ambassador Nomura stated that it was Japan's intention to terminate the war in China. He defined the "New Order" in East Asia as being one in which Japan would be able to secure commodities essential to her existence while preserving friendly relations with adjacent nations. Both President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull laughed when Ambassador Nomura claimed that the "New Order" in Asia was the same as the "Good Neighbor" policy of the United States in South America, but that the Japanese were not as clever as the Americans in carrying it out and, thus, frequent misunderstandings arose.

Even though the situation was serious and other aggravations might arise, such as further aid to China or stricter American embargoes, Ambassador Nomura believed that some way could be found to solve all difficulties without recourse to war. He explained to President Roosevelt that the Tripartite Pact, which he said was really a peace treaty in that it was preventive and not offensive, had been forced upon the Japanese by the oppressive acts of the United States. Ambassador Nomura summed up his impressions of the discussion by saying that though it was pleasant throughout, the American conferees were much concerned over the situation in the Far East. The Japanese Ambassador then asked Tokyo to allow no publicity concerning these conversations.49

12. America Moves to Aid Britain and to Restrain Japan

Ambassador Nomura was also reporting recent activities in the United States to Tokyo. Noticing that tremendous sums were being allocated for "Aid to Britain" without much Congressional opposition, Ambassador Nomura was convinced that even though Congress had not yet declared war and might never do so, the United States was actually already in the war. Though great obstacles would have to be overcome in the United States' building program, a tremendous number of ships would be available in succeeding years. Most American officials were firmly convinced that even though Great Britain was invaded, the loss of these islands would only be temporary and that they would be recaptured in the future, no matter how long a struggle it took to accomplish it.50

It seemed perfectly evident to Ambassador Nomura that the American navy was planning to convoy ships to England whether or not war was declared, and that the American people would favor such a move. Recognizing the fact that some Americans were anxious to avoid entering the war, he anticipated proposals from Congress which would eliminate the dangers of convoying. One proposal would transfer American war-ships to England so that English personnel could protect the convoys, another would extend the cruising limits of the neutrality act. However, Ambassador Nomura's reason for believing that the latter proposal would eliminate convoy dangers is not easy to understand. The Japanese Ambassador also announced that President Roosevelt was planning to cancel the provision in the neutrality act which prevented American merchantmen from stopping in belligerent zones.51


49 I, 22.
50 I, 23.
51 I, 24.


Ambassador Nomura warned Tokyo that not only members of President Roosevelt's party, but also many Republicans were going to approve the Administration's policy when the vote was taken on the so-called "Aid to Britain" bill. According to the Japanese Ambassador, public opinion in the United States was very much in favor of the President's plan to support Britain as much as possible despite the necessity of convoying ships in the Atlantic to overcome the submarine menace.52 For this reason, Ambassador Nomura believed that the main strength of the American Navy, acting in coordination with the British in the Pacific, would be concentrated in the Atlantic. Furthermore, the United States was determined to protect the Netherlands East Indies and to assist China as much as possible in her efforts to restrain Japan's advance to the south. Ambassador Nomura was convinced, however, that the United States was very anxious for at least a temporary peace in the Pacific because he was certain that American officials were inwardly very pessimistic, despite their public optimism.

Estimating that a period of two years would pass, about June 1943, until "Aid to Britain" would reach its peak, he declared that production would continue at a high rate for at least the following three years.53 Although five million tons of shipping were to be built by the funds allotted in the "Aid to Britain" bill, in addition to the three and one-half million tons already under construction, Ambassador Nomura thought that only about one million tons could be completed during 1941.54

Two bills before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House, calling for strong economic restrictions against Japan, also attracted the attention of Ambassador Nomura. The first bill requested an embargo against the export of military goods to Japan and against transportation of such equipment on American ships. Restrictions were to be set up against American products being shipped on Japanese ships, and American companies were to be prevented from doing anything that would aid Japan. The second bill in a similar vein requested President Roosevelt to institute economic restrictions against Japan because of the occupation of Chinese territory by Japanese forces.55

13. American Indifference to Axis Threats

Ambassador Nomura reported that the American government would pay no attention to the protests or threats of Berlin and Rome over the confiscation of their ships by the United States. Predicting that the United States would become much firmer in dealing with the Axis, the Japanese Ambassador noted that even at that time it was not hesitating to use economic warfare, despite some public assertions about employing all means "short of war".56

14. President Roosevelt's Defense Program

The German invasion of the Balkans, the English losses in Africa, and the sinking of so much British shipping alarmed the United States, and, according to the Japanese Ambassador, every American, though perhaps disagreeing with the President's foreign policy, approved of President Roosevelt's measure to develop a defense program.57

15. Anti-Japanese Petroleum Embargo

Questions concerning the export of petroleum products to Japan arose at this time since the United States was determined to restrain Japan as much as possible. Ambassador Nomura


52 I, 25.
53 I, 26.
54 I, 27.
55 I, 28.
56 I, 29-32.
57 I, 33, 34.


informed his government that it was impossible to negotiate any further with the State Department concerning certain exports because all American officials felt that Japan was technically an enemy of their country. Japanese negotiations with the Universal Oil Products Company of Chicago had met numerous obstacles because approval for exporting oil had to be obtained through the State Department.58

Meanwhile, Tokyo was notifying its diplomatic representatives that the American government would soon be informed of Japan's determination to act against any embargo of petroleum. The situation was also complicated by the fact that Japanese authorities in Shanghai were planning to confiscate American gasoline destined for Chungking.59

16. Proposal of Private Individuals (April 9, 1941)

One sign of a conservative trend in American-Japanese affairs was the appointment of Musatsume Ogura as Minister Without Portfolio in the Japanese Cabinet.60 Two other Cabinet shifts seemed to strengthen this impression of future conservatism in Japan, as Admiral Teijiro Toyoda succeeded Ichizo Kobayashi, and Lieutenant General Teiichi Suzuki replaced Naoki Hoshino.61 Another important change in Japanese officialdom occurred as Admiral Osami Nagano assumed the duties of Prince Hiroyasu Fushimi as Japanese Naval General Staff Chief.62

On April 9, 1941, the Department of State was presented by private American and Japanese individuals with a proposal which was designed to bring about peaceful relations between the nations. Stating that protracted negotiations would damage the situation, the proposal asked that an understanding be reached quickly concerning several vital points, after which subordinate agreements could be arrived at by conferences.63 Certain fundamental ideas concerning the attitude of the United States and Japan toward the European war and the China affair, and their political, commercial, and military relations in the Pacific were discussed. The independence of China and the withdrawal of all Japanese troops from Chinese territory, resumption of the "open door" policy for all nations, and recognition of Manchukuo were guaranteed, but further aid to Chiang Kai-Shek was to be stopped by the United States, if the Chinese would not come to peace with Japan. Furthermore, Hongkong and Singapore were no longer to be used as a means of further political encroachment by the British. Finally, a conference, attended by President Roosevelt and Prince Konoye with only a very few delegates present and with no foreign observers, was to be held at Honolulu.64

17. Hull-Nomura Conversation (April 14, 1941)

(a) Secretary Hull's Report65

Another conference between Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura took place on April 14 at the Wardman Park Hotel. The private proposal mentioned above (See Section 16)


58 I, 35, 36.
59 I, 37-40.
60 N.Y. Times, Apr. 1, 1941, 11:1.
61 Ibid., Apr. 5, 1941, 4:8.
62Ibid., Apr. 10, 1941, 11:1, 3.
63 "Proposal Presented to the Department of State Through the Medium of Private American and Japanese Individuals on April 9, 1941", S.D., II, 398-402. See I, 41 for English text which was not sent by Admiral Nomura to Tokyo for approval until April 30, 1941. The Japanese text was sent to Tokyo on April 17, 1941. See I, 46.
64 Ibid.
65 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", April 14, 1941, S.D., II, 403-406.


was discussed so as to have Secretary Hull's position in all similar affairs fully understood. Both he and President Roosevelt had suggested at their first meeting with Ambassador Nomura that the Japanese Ambassador review relations between the United States and Japan for the past several years with various American officials. They hoped to eliminate all differences between the two countries by frank discussion in private conferences.

Since none of these preliminary conferences had taken place, Mr. Hull inquired whether it was Ambassador Nomura's desire to present the proposal of private American and Japanese individuals as a first step in the negotiations between the two countries. Declaring that he had collaborated in the drawing up of this document, Ambassador Nomura announced his willingness to use it as a basis for negotiations in bringing about peace.

They then discussed the international situation, with Secretary Hull outlining his ideas concerning the solution of international difficulties by peaceful means rather than by the employment of armed forces, as used by Japan. It would make very little difference who won the war unless there was a restoration of the principles of justice which should underlie orderly and peaceful national relations. Despite Hitler's use of hundreds of thousands of troops to keep the people of Europe in subjugation, ninety-nine per cent of those whose liberty had been taken away would come to the aid of the British cause whenever an opportunity was given to them to throw off the shackles of semi-slavery. Mr. Hull further maintained that his government could not sit still and see the vile methods of Hitler imposed upon the world.

Returning to the main point at issue, Secretary Hull remarked that since certain preliminary phases had already been discussed, other conferences might now establish the basis for negotiations. There would be no need for the presentation of any completed documents. Ambassador Nomura asked why such documents might not be presented at the next meeting, to which Mr. Hull replied that certain points would have to be cleared up before any negotiations could begin. These questions would concern the integrity and sovereignty of China and the equality of opportunity therein, and after they had been raised the Japanese Ambassador could communicate with his government to find out whether or not there was a basis for further discussion.

Ambassador Nomura agreed with this plan and stated that he had not yet presented the proposal mentioned above to his own government, although he knew there would be no objections. Realizing the critical nature of the international situation, and aware that both countries were moving rapidly to a position where clashes might easily occur, both gentlemen agreed that it would be wise to expedite future conferences.66

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report67

Ambassador Nomura's secret report of this meeting confirmed the fact that both men were in agreement as to the urgency of the situation and the necessity of doing something very quickly to restrain the warlike spirit which was inflaming the people of both nations. The Japanese Ambassador, explaining the new neutrality pact between Tokyo and Moscow, stated that the pacification of the Pacific would be the first step in the eventual cessation of hostilities in Europe.68

The Japanese Ambassador also reported that because of his interviews with Mr. Hull, the Secretary of State had attempted to calm American opinion in reference to the Japanese


66 Ibid.
67 I, 42.
68 Ibid.


Soviet neutrality pact. Ambassador Nomura asked that similar precautions be taken in Japan so that American public opinion would not be so disturbed as to make further negotiations impracticable.69

18. Ambassador Nomura Summarizes the Japanese-American Situation (April 15, 1941)70

On April 15, 1941, Ambassador Nomura summarized his impressions of Japanese-American relations as he had found them in his several conversations with President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull. Pointing out that the Tripartite Pact was exerting great influence on American public opinion, he said that the United States was facing the grave possibility of war with Japan, since it recognized that the Japanese southward movement would advance in accordance with the progress of Italy and Germany. As a result of the Japanese-Russian neutrality pact, Japan was free to use force in carrying out its economic penetration although the British and the Dutch would offer opposition. With Japan in this favorable position the United States Navy would have to be used in the Pacific, leaving the Allied cause in the Atlantic at a serious disadvantage.

Furthermore, America was impeding Japan's southern progress by its aid to China, which situation would also handicap Japan in case of a war with America. The United States had been disappointed when Russia signed the neutrality pact with Japan for it had hoped to have Russia associated with the democracies in breaking with Germany and restraining Japan. The British Empire, the American Republics, and the Netherlands East Indies were asserting economic pressure against Japan, and America's national strength, already beginning to manifest itself, would be a very serious consideration for Japan in the next year. The rate of shipping losses in the Atlantic was worrying the United States for the fate of the war depended on it, and so convoys were being prepared. In view of these facts, Ambassador Nomura urged Japan to cooperate with America for peace because:

If Japan enters the war the Japanese fleet will have to contend single-handed with the combined fleets of Britain and America, and so regardless of whether Germany and Italy obtain supremacy on the continent and regardless of the outcome of the Atlantic war, there will be no change in the fact that as a result of the neutrality pact signed with the Soviet, Japan will have to shoulder a great responsibility.

When America actually begins to convoy and thus declare herself in the war, we will be faced with a graver problem and thus it behooves us at this present time to try and seek some solution whereby we may maintain peace with America. In view of the war existing today we should endeavor through cooperating with America to maintain peace in the Pacific, to take the first step towards establishing world peace.71

19. Hull-Nomura Conversation (April 16, 1941)

(a) Secretary Hull's Report72

Two days later another conference with the Japanese Ambassador was held at Secretary Hull's apartment. Ambassador Nomura remarked that the Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact was not undertaken for Germany's benefit, but Mr. Hull replied that he had not been disturbed since the document had merely expressed policies which had already been existing between Japan and Russia. Discussing the world picture, Mr. Hull informed the Japanese Ambassador that the British were now certain that they could hold Egypt against Germany; also, the people of Denmark were very much in favor of America's defense moves in Greenland.

Returning to the matter at hand, Secretary Hull declared that the document on which the Ambassador had collaborated with certain private individuals had many points which the United States could readily accept, but that certain provisions would have to be modified, expanded, or eliminated. A preliminary question which had to be considered was whether Japan


69 I, 43.
70 I, 44.
71 Ibid.
72 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", April 16, 1941, S.D., II, 407.


was willing to abandon its use of military force as an instrument of policy, and ready to adopt principles of law and order in solving its difficulties. Four points were to be discussed by Ambassador Nomura for his government:

1. Respect for the territory, integrity, and sovereignty of each and all nations.
2. Support of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
3. Support of the principle of equality, including equality of commercial opportunity.
4. Non-disturbance of the status quo in the Pacific except as the status quo may be altered by peaceful means.73

Secretary Hull insisted that the conference had not yet reached the stage of negotiations since they were only exploring, in an unofficial way, actions which later might pave the way for negotiations. Even if Ambassador Nomura presented the private proposal to his government as he had said he would, the American government was not to be bound in any way by the provisions in that document. However, if the Japanese government approved the proposal and ordered that it be handed to the Secretary of State by Ambassador Nomura, it would then be considered as a basis for the beginning of negotiations.

Ambassador Nomura studied the four points submitted by Mr. Hull for a few minutes, and then suggested that the principle of equality might be discussed in connection with the negotiations. Secretary Hull replied that the United States would not even enter into negotiations, if this principle were not fully accepted. It was to be the basis for all future discussions, especially since Japan would obtain more advantages from the doctrine of equality than any other country of the world.

Ambassador Nomura commented that the United States had special relations with South America which did not apply to Japanese dealings with the Orient. Mr. Hull then cleared up a few misapprehensions of the Japanese Ambassador concerning the amount of trade enjoyed by the United States in South America, and warned that Japan would achieve nothing if she undertook to segregate certain countries into spheres of influence.

A question as to the status quo in the Pacific was raised by the Japanese Ambassador, since this point might interfere with Manchuria. Mr. Hull replied that this item could be considered when negotiations were begun, since any agreement reached would have to deal with future relations. Mr. Hull also remarked that since the immigration provision was a domestic issue in the United States, Japan would have to accept assurances of good faith in this respect rather than have it made a part of the negotiations.

Secretary Hull reminded Ambassador Nomura that the four points submitted to the Japanese Ambassador were an essential part of the eight-point program contained in the Lima resolutions. The Ambassador then asked whether or not Secretary Hull would approve the proposal previously made by private individuals. Mr. Hull again answered that several items could be approved immediately, but others would have to be modified or eliminated; a satisfactory settlement could readily be achieved, if the Japanese government were willing to adopt peaceful measures.

Despite several attempts of Mr. Hull to explain, Ambassador Nomura did not appear to understand why Secretary Hull could not agree at once to some of the proposals of the private document. Mr. Hull continued to emphasize that they had not yet reached a stage in the discussions which would permit him to negotiate, since Ambassador Nomura had no authority from his country to do so. Secondly, if Secretary Hull agreed to some of the points and then the military leaders of Japan ignored them, both Mr. Hull and the American government would be very much embarrassed. Ambassador Nomura finally said that he understood Mr. Hull, and promised to consult with his own government concerning the four points. Secretary Hull assured him of his readiness for another conference when Ambassador Nomura heard from his government.74


73 Ibid.
74 Ibid., 406-410. 


(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report75

Ambassador Nomura's secret report of this conversation asked for authorization to proceed with negotiations on the basis of the proposal of private American and Japanese individuals which had been submitted to Secretary Hull on April 9, 1941.76 The Japanese Ambassador explained that since Secretary Hull was in favor of this proposal for an "understanding" between the two countries, he had helped in the writing and translation of this document. The Japanese diplomatic officials in Washington, together with the military and naval attaches for Colonel Iwukuro, had given much study to the document, and although there were points which would undoubtedly require revision, their opinion of the proposal was that:

1. It will not in any way conflict with the Imperial edict relative to the Tripartite Pact. (On the contrary there is every assurance that this proposal will meet with His Majesty's approval).
2. It will not conflict with our loyalty to the Tripartite Pact.
3. It will be a step towards realizing our government's sincere aim to maintain peace in the Pacific.
4. It will serve as a basis for Japanese-American agreement when peace resides in Europe again.77

Ambassador Nomura sent the text of this proposal to Tokyo and appended with it his explanation for the inclusion of various points.78 The Japanese Ambassador pointed out that since Americans were afraid that Japan was becoming totalitarian it would be wise to make it plain that Japan's ideologies were neither totalitarian, communistic, nor even democratic; they were based upon distinctive traditions three thousand years old which had not been influenced by any foreign ideologies. The Japanese were determined that the "understanding" would not change their obligations under the Tripartite Pact and they planned to continue their efforts to restrain the United States from entering the European war. On the other hand, they would try to avoid breaking with the United States.

Several other passages gave insight into Ambassador Nomura's reasons for accepting certain proposals, a knowledge of which was probably of great value to Secretary Hull in estimating the sincerity of the Japanese proposals and the validity of their promises to engage in peaceful economic pursuits rather than to attempt penetration by force.

The delicate nature of these Japanese-American discussions was demonstrated by the unusual precautions the Japanese Foreign Office took to ensure the secrecy of the Hull-Nomura conversations. As soon as Ambassador Nomura's message announcing the proposal for an "understanding pact" had been received in Japan, instructions were sent to Washington to take special precautions in enciphering all future messages referring to this controversial subject.79

Another secret report of Ambassador Nomura stressed Secretary Hull's reticence in disclosing his own opinions. Mr. Hull had remarked that Russia was following a policy of not becoming involved in war itself, and of getting other nations to fight. According to Ambassador Nomura, both Mr. Hull and Mr. Matsuoka were agreed that a war between Japan and the United States would lead to the ultimate destruction of civilization. However, some United States naval officers felt that Japan must be destroyed immediately.80

A few days Later Ambassador Nomura's superiors in Tokyo were quite disturbed because a news story from Washington indicated that the Hull-Nomura conferences were in progress.


75 I, 45, 46.
76 See Section 16, pp. 43-44.
77 Ibid.; I, 45-47
78 I, 48, 49. Since Ambassador Nomura's explanations are rather important, the reader is requested to read them in full in Appendix I.
79 I, 50.
80 I, 51.


Strict orders were issued from Tokyo, thereupon, to take every precaution in preventing leaks concerning the discussions, especially to Japanese correspondents who might excite the military extremists at home.81

20. Reactions of Tokyo to Ambassador Nomura's Proposal

Foreign Minister Matsuoka was still absent from Tokyo and so until his return, which was expected in a few days, no decision could be made by the Japanese Foreign Office.82 However, several points were raised by Tokyo as follows: Since the Japanese southward movement would be halted and England's back door would be protected by the proposal, thus permitting the United States to withdraw from the Pacific and concentrate her efforts on aiding Britain, would there not be considerable opposition to this in Japan because of its violation of the spirit of the Tripartite Pact? Ambassador Nomura replied that many people in Japan would probably have this impression for it was true that America hoped to concentrate on aiding Great Britain, but even though the plan was accepted, Japan's allegiance to the Tripartite Pact would not be lessened.83

It is evident in some of these replies that Ambassador Nomura was striving hard to bring about peace in the face of his Foreign Office's determination to support fully the Tripartite Pact. He continued by saying that the pact would lessen the danger of war between Japan and the United States; and yet even with this hope for peace, the United States could not quickly withdraw her strength from the Pacific. In a similar case, Japan had been forced to retain troops in Manchukuo, despite the Japanese-Russian neutrality pact. On the other hand, the lessening of the danger of war between Japan and the United States would reduce the chances of a conflict between the United States and Germany. Though the United States would be able to give more assistance to Great Britain as a result of the "understanding", Japan would have more influence in restraining the United States from participating in the war. Thus Japan would support Germany in its desire to have no trouble with the United States and the spirit of the Tripartite Pact would be strengthened. Japan's international position would be enhanced as a result of the "understanding", and, undoubtedly, advantages would accrue from this fact.

To Tokyo's query as to what would happen to American-Japanese relations if, because of friendship for Germany, the Japanese made quite a number of revisions in the text of the proposal or if the proposal were canceled, Ambassador Nomura indicated that he saw no other alternative than an ever worsening of American-Japanese relations.

Tokyo inquired whether or not it would be possible, because of friendship for Germany, to attempt a joint mediation between the United States and Japan in the European war before deciding upon the "understanding". Ambassador Nomura stated that he had sought the opinion of several high American officials in this regard, but the relations between Berlin and Washington were so strained that there was little chance of such mediation. However, after the "understanding" had been signed there would be a much better possibility for this action.

Tokyo agreed that a temporary peace in the Pacific would follow the agreement reached by the "understanding", but it pointed out that Japan would be in a very unfavorable position if Germany and Italy won the war. The Foreign Office was also afraid that if victory went to Britain and the United States, these two nations would cooperate in disregarding the pact and exerting pressure on Japan as, according to the Japanese, they had done after the last


81 I, 52, 53.
82 I, 54.
83 I, 55-59.


war. Despite the claims of the United States that its attitude towards the European war would be determined solely by the necessity of self-defense, there were many indications that it would enter the war to prevent the downfall of the British Empire.

In reply to these statements Ambassador Nomura reiterated his belief that the proposal for the "understanding" indicated the United States' strong desire to stay out of the European war, even though it planned to aid England by all measures short of war. If, on the other hand, the United States disregarded the "understanding" and went to war, Japan was free to act individually under the Tripartite Pact.

To Tokyo's inquiry concerning the specific measures which the United States planned to adopt in giving Japan strong economic support in the Southwest Pacific, especially in those countries where Japan had been refused materials, Ambassador Nomura pointed to the promise of the United States to give cooperation and support, stating that future negotiations would provide complete details. Furthermore, the influence of the United States in various British possessions and the Netherlands Indies was increasing, and this would be most profitable for Japan. Ambassador Nomura also calmed Tokyo's fears as to immigration into areas not under the jurisdiction of the United States by stressing the beneficent influence of America.

Tokyo asked whether or not Australia was included in the Southwest Pacific areas as defined in the "understanding", and Ambassador Nomura replied in the negative. When asked if the United States was prepared to act with Japan in refusing to recognize any changes in the Southwest Pacific area made by any European power, Ambassador Nomura responded that the United States had no desire to take any territory in this area, nor would it interfere with Japan's peaceful penetration of this area, although it might cooperate in exploiting it.

In summarizing his replies to the questions from Tokyo, Ambassador Nomura, stating that the present proposal was a logical complement to the Tripartite Pact, declared that the effectiveness of Clause III of this Pact would not be measurably impaired. According to him, the United States would enter the European war eventually, if allowed to go along as usual, and then war between Japan and the United States would ensue. Since the proposal for the "understanding" was designed to prevent the war rather than to stop it after it had begun, Ambassador Nomura believed adoption of the "understanding" would help all the Axis nations. He concluded his remarks with a request for a speedy reply to his message.84

21. Ambassador Nomura Awaits Tokyo Action

To a warning from Tokyo, Ambassador Nomura now responded that every effort was being made by the Japanese Embassy in Washington to prevent leakage of news concerning the conversations with Secretary Hull. Only three persons, the Secretary of State, the Postmaster General and the Secretary of the Navy knew about the proposal for an understanding pact.85

Since Ambassador Nomura had already submitted the Japanese text of this proposal to Tokyo and had exchanged opinions with his Foreign Office in regard to the interpretation of some provisions, nothing could be done until an official reply was received from his superiors. But continuing his visits to various members of the American government, he was told by a Cabinet member, presumably Postmaster-General Frank C. Walker, that Secretary Hull would not easily change his mind once he had come to a decision. According to the American official, unless there were some fundamental changes in Japanese principles, the conversations would not be successful.86


85 I, 53.
86 I, 60.


Though Tokyo informed its representatives in Washington that the Foreign Minister, because of his need for a rest after the arduous trip to Europe, would not issue instructions concerning the "understanding" for at least two weeks,87 Ambassador Nomura urged an immediate reply since, if action were postponed any further, it would be difficult to maintain secrecy. Suspecting that many Americans were becoming aware of the conversations, the Japanese Ambassador was conscious that opposition might also be developing in Japan. He warned that the United States was becoming very much aroused by the European war, and if there were delays in the establishment of the "understanding", it would lose its restraining effect.

Pointing out that it would be most advantageous to settle the affair immediately lest the American government decide not to sign the pact, Ambassador Nomura complained that he had waited fourteen days without any instructions. Since he had assured American officials of his desire to improve relations between Japan and the United States, he believed that by now American officials suspected that he was not representing the real opinions of his government. Ambassador Nomura stressed his personal embarrassment at being placed in such a difficult position.88

Despite the Japanese Ambassador's many pleas for speed in coming to a decision, Mr. Matsuoka's only reply was to send a request four days later for the English text of the proposal.89 Ambassador Nomura sent the English text immediately, and asked that it be handled very carefully since he had not super-enciphered it.90

22. Hull-Nomura Conversation (May 2, 1941)

(a) Secretary Hull's Report91

The next conversation between Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura took place on May 2 in the hotel apartment of Mr. Hull. Ambassador Nomura reported that he had not yet received instructions from his government to negotiate, but that he expected to receive permission within a few days. The Japanese Ambassador implied that politics in Japan had caused the delay. Secretary Hull did not comment on this, but entering into a general discussion of world conditions, emphasized that the United States would not permit Hitler to gain control of the high seas no matter how long such a policy would take. As for relations with Japan in the Pacific, the fundamental point at issue was whether or not Japan was willing to act in accordance with the basic principles of justice and law, which Secretary Hull assumed to be part of Ambassador Nomura's own way of thinking.

The Japanese Ambassador then remarked that American embargoes were a delicate question with his government, but Secretary Hull replied that they were not really as delicate as the question of the harsh treatment Japan had been giving American citizens and interests. The conversation ended with Secretary Hull declaring that he had nothing new to say about the embargoes or the reasons for them.92

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report93 

Ambassador Nomura's report of this conversation stated that he had introduced not only the question of American embargoes as a matter of concern to Japan but also American expansion toward the Philippines, since these islands were very near to the Empire. Am-


87 I, 61.
88 I, 62, 63.
89 I, 64.
90 I, 65; S.D., II, 398-402.
91 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", May 2, 1941, S.D., II, 411.
92 Ibid.
93 I, 66.


bassador Nomura felt that Secretary Hull would do nothing about the American embargoes because of Japan's discriminatory methods in China. Replying to Secretary Hull's statement that Japan would have problems in China similar to those experienced by Germany in occupied Poland, Ambassador Nomura explained that both the Chungking government and its Army were deteriorating, and that Japan's problems in China were growing less rather than greater.94

23. Mr. Matsuoka Suggests a Neutrality Pact

On May 3, 1941 Foreign Minister Matsuoka finally sent a reply to the many messages of Ambassador Nomura. Remarking that he understood the difficult position of the Japanese Ambassador and appreciated his anxiety, Mr. Matsuoka stressed the necessity of his considering all angles of the problem because of the disturbing effect any solution might have upon the various alliances and pacts signed by Japan. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister explained that he had been sick for a few days and, thus, had been unable to attend to official business. The Japanese Ambassador was asked to deliver to Secretary Hull an oral statement, which Mr. Matsuoka was transmitting to serve as a non-committal reply.95 The Foreign Minister requested Ambassador Nomura to mention in the course of his conversations the possibility of a Japanese-United States neutrality pact similar to the one recently contracted by Japan with Russia. This idea was to be introduced to Mr. Hull as though it were a spontaneous contribution of Ambassador Nomura. Then, if the neutrality pact were agreed upon, some secret clauses, which would apply in time of war, should be inserted into the "understanding". In any event, according to Mr. Matsuoka, it would be most valuable to discover whether or not a neutrality pact would be acceptable to the United states.96

The oral statement, which Ambassador Nomura was to hand to Secretary Hull, contained Mr. Matsuoka's observations that Germany and Italy were determined never to have peace by negotiation, since only the capitulation of England would satisfy them. Claiming that Axis leaders considered the war as good as won, and that the entrance of America into the war would not affect the outcome but would only protract it, Mr. Matsuoka explained that American intervention would add untold misery and suffering to all humanity and bring about the eventual downfall of modern civilization. The responsibility for this was now largely in the hands of the President of the United States. Though warning that Japan would not do anything which might harm Germany or Italy, the Foreign Minister was very anxious to begin a discussion of a neutrality pact, if the United States was agreeable. Therefore, on May 7, he asked that Secretary Hull's reply to his suggestion be sent immediately.97

24. Japan Discovers Code Decipherment by the United States

On May 5 Ambassador Nomura was informed by his superiors that it appeared almost certain that the United States government was reading his code messages.98 This information had first come to Tokyo's attention through Ambassador Osima at Berlin, who had been informed in strict confidence by a German colleague that the German espionage system in


94 Ibid.
95 I, 67.
96 I, 68.
97 I, 69.
98 I, 70.


America had learned in some undisclosed manner of the success of American cryptanalysts in reading the code messages of the Japanese Ambassador in Washington.99

Ambassador Nomura hastened to assure Tokyo that very strict precautions were taken by all custodians of codes and ciphers in his office, and that he would set in motion an immediate investigation into the truth of this statement.100 Though Ambassador Nomura requested further details, Foreign Minister Matsuoka could only give him as much data as the German Intelligence organization would divulge, and it refused to give the exact source of its information.101

As a result of his investigation, Ambassador Nomura was able to report two weeks later on May 20, 1941, his discovery that the United States was reading some of the Japanese codes. He did not disclose his source of information in a dispatch, but promised to send it by courier.102

Meanwhile, Japan had issued new regulations for the use of its code machines,103 and the Japanese Foreign Office instructed Washington to have only one man use the special government code for the enciphering of important dispatches. No telegraph clerks were to be called in to assist this individual no matter how overwhelming was the volume of traffic nor how urgent the necessity for speed.104 Since this contravened the practice normally employed at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, Minister Wagasuki sent an urgent request to Tokyo for permission to employ telegraph clerks in coding work since the increased volume of traffic in connection with the Japanese-American negotiations made it impracticable to restrict the handling of the code to one individual.105

25. Hull- Nomura Conversation (May 7, 1941)

(a) Secretary Hull's Report106

On May 7, 1941, Ambassador Nomura again called at Secretary Hull's apartment to congratulate Mr. Hull on his excellent handling of the Japanese situation, and to commend his prudence in not making any controversial statements to the press such as Ambassador Nomura's own superiors were issuing in Japan. Expressing his appreciation for Mr. Hull's patience during the preliminary talks, in which many delays had occurred because of the influence of certain Japanese politicians, Ambassador Nomura tactfully suggested a non-aggression pact. Secretary Hull refused to consider this on the grounds that the United States would not discuss anything except broad principles as a basis for negotiations.

Ambassador Nomura then announced that he had a document from Foreign Minister Matsuoka. Though there were many things "that were wrong" in it, the Ambassador would like to present it to Secretary Hull. Secretary Hull replied that in view of Ambassador Nomura's own opinion of it, and if the Ambassador had the authority to withhold it, he might just as well not deliver the message, since it might contradict most of the points in the proposal already offered by the Ambassador as a tentative basis for discussion. It will be remembered that Secretary Hull had already seen the secret text of this oral statement as supplied by American cryptanalysts.107 Ambassador Nomura read only a part of the first page to


99 I, 71, 72.
100 I, 73.
101 I, 74.
102 I, 75.
103 I, 76.
104 I, 77.
105 I, 78-80.
106 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", May 7, 1941, S.D., II, 411-415.
107 I, 67.


Mr. Hull, and then assured him that with just a little more time the whole matter would develop favorably along the lines of the Japanese Ambassador's own viewpoint.

Secretary Hull congratulated Ambassador Nomura on his sincerity and his conscientious efforts to bring about friendly relations between the two countries. Mentioning his own patience in overcoming preliminary difficulties and his own efforts to cooperate with the Japanese Ambassador in attempting to reach a stage where negotiations could begin, Mr. Hull candidly informed Ambassador Nomura that he could not be patient much longer in view of the necessity of defending the seven seas against the encroachment of Hitler. Events were moving very rapidly and Hitler was continuing his aggression; therefore, defense measures would have to proceed just as quickly.

Mr. Hull expressed his concern over the aggressive speeches of Mr. Matsuoka in Japan, especially since such actions were totally opposed to the principles expressed in the Japanese Ambassador's proposal which was then awaiting the Japanese government's approval as a basis for negotiations. It was difficult to believe that the Japanese government could sanction at the same time both the inflammatory speeches of Mr. Matsuoka and the peaceful ideas of Ambassador Nomura. In any event, the American government would have to act in self defense as quickly as possible to stop the aggressions of Hitler.

Emphasizing that the United States knew Hitlerism better than Mr. Matsuoka or any of those he represented, since fifteen nations of Europe, including Italy, Hitler's own ally, had been subjugated by Germany, Mr. Hull declared that the United States wanted nothing from any nation except the maintenance of peaceful relations based on law and order. The wisdom of such a policy was evident in the excellent relations between the United States and South American countries where Japan and all other countries had equal access to markets. However, resistance to world aggression by Hitler or by any other illegal force on the high seas would be begun by the United States solely as a policy of necessary self defense. Secretary Hull noted in his report of this conversation that the Japanese Ambassador constantly bowed and smiled as though trying to assure the Secretary of State of his approval of these ideas.

To an inquiry of Ambassador Nomura's concerning the possibility of an acceptance of his previously submitted document, Secretary Hull replied that a working agreement could be achieved readily by accepting some provisions, eliminating others, and in some cases making new suggestions. According to Mr. Hull, it had been Ambassador Nomura's responsibility to decide whether or not to send the document to Japan for approval, because the United States had not made any commitments concerning it. Ambassador Nomura seemed to understand this point after some difficulty, but Secretary Hull was doubtful at times as to how accurately they understood each other on certain points.

Mr. Hull concluded the conversation by stating he did not know what defense measures his government might have to take from day to day in its resistance to Hitler. Ambassador Nomura replied that he had urged his superiors in Tokyo to proceed quickly in discussing the submitted proposal.108

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report109

Ambassador Nomura's report of this conversation demonstrated that the Secretary had succeeded in impressing him with the necessity for prompt action in view of the United States' determination to act quickly in stopping Hitlerism. Stating that Mr. Hull had never before shown so much enthusiasm about the immediate commencement of the United States-Japanese negotiations, the Japanese Ambassador quoted Secretary Hull as saying that it would be useless to discuss a neutrality pact without definite instructions from the Japanese


108 "Memorandum by the Secretary of State", May 7, 1941, S.D., II, 411-415.
109 I, 81.


government. Ambassador Nomura was convinced that the American statesman had no intention of dealing with this question, although, according to Secretary Hull, his advisers had unofficially commented that something might be done about the neutrality pact after an "understanding" had been reached. American domestic politics would make a neutrality pact impossible at the moment, but since all of the problems arising between the United States and Japan were mentioned in the "understanding", Secretary Hull felt that agreement on this should be the main consideration.

Ambassador Nomura was frank in expressing his opinion to Foreign Minister Matsuoka that there was no time for "propaganda, bluffing and feeling out each other". Great statesmanship was needed in this crisis, and every effort should be made to regain good relations. Asking that negotiations along the lines of the "understanding" be begun immediately, Ambassador Nomura advised Mr. Matsuoka that the Foreign Minister's oral statement had not been handed to Secretary Hull because the conferences were being held in secret and "off the record"."110 No mention was made in Ambassador Nomura's report that there were points in Mr. Matsuoka's oral statement which were "wrong" from the Japanese Ambassador's viewpoint, as had been noted in Secretary Hull's memorandum.111

26. Ambassador Nomura's Estimate of American Public Opinion

On May 7, 1941 Ambassador Nomura sent a lengthy report to his government, estimating American public opinion as to involvement of the United States in the European war and the Japanese situation.112 As an expression of the views of a patriotic Japanese who was anxious to avoid conflict with America, it was important. There could be no doubt of the Japanese Ambassador's sincerity in striving for peace in the face of many obstacles placed in his way by his own Foreign Office.

According to Ambassador Nomura, the National Defense Act had placed all the political and economic powers of the United States in the hands of President Roosevelt. There was a decided bent towards dictatorship because all influential newspapers and communications were being manipulated and guided by President Roosevelt who manufactured the so-called "American public opinion". Ambassador Nomura thought that freedom of expression was rapidly becoming nonexistent since all opposing the policies of the administration were branded traitors or spies. All decisions in important matters were left to the President, who had removed almost all of his former associates. Only Mr. Hopkins, Postmaster-General Walker, Secretary Hull and Secretary Knox had discussed the Japanese proposal with President Roosevelt, and all others, including Secretary Stimson, had been left out of the unofficial negotiations. The publisher Roy Howard, who had been a friend of the Japanese Foreign Minister, was not associated with President Roosevelt for he had opposed the third term campaign and the National Defense Act.

Ambassador Nomura warned Mr. Matsuoka that a great majority of the American people looked upon the European war as a battle between totalitarianism and democracy. The people of the United States stood for the following points which no one could change at any time:

That totalitarianism is an enemy of humanitarianism since it refuses to recognize the liberty of an individual;
That they cannot permit the altering of national boundaries by aggression;
That though aggressions may, temporarily, seem successful, in the long run they are all doomed to failure and they give Caesar and Napoleon as examples;
That they must aid England which is a self-claimed democracy, to the bitter end;
That there is a possibility that the German-British war will develop into a German-U.S. war.113


110 I, 81.
111 S.D., II, 412.
112 I, 83-91.
113 Ibid.


A small minority, such as Lindbergh, thought that Germany could not be crushed easily, but most Americans believed that though the war would continue for a long time, the United States would eventually aid Britain to crush Germany and Italy. He doubted, therefore, that the United States would initiate mediation between England and Germany.

The United States would have to enter the war before it could put a convoy system into operation, and thus, when a convoy system was established as was expected in the near future, the United States would have taken a big step in the direction of war. As discouraging reports concerning British losses in the Balkans and the Near East were received, the demands for the United States to enter the war were increasing. For this reason the United States was anxious to establish better relations with Japan so as to obviate fighting simultaneously in both the Atlantic and Pacific. However, the Japanese Ambassador warned his superior that the United States would not give in to Japan, because America had already planned, if called upon to fight two wars, to concentrate on defense in the Pacific until a vast Navy and Air Force could be completed for a death struggle with Japan.

Despite Japan's unpopularity in America, President Roosevelt and a few of his supporters were friendly, since they realized that Japan differed from Germany and Italy. Ambassador Nomura stressed, however, that President Roosevelt did not consider close relations between the two countries to be an absolute necessity. Thus, unless action were taken immediately, Japan's friends in the United States might grow cool towards an "understanding" and might exert economic pressure on the Japanese to prevent their moving to the south. This would probably lead to war between the two countries.

Discussing the problem of selecting an opportune time for the bettering of Japanese-American relations, and stating that it was important for both countries to stand on equal terms, Ambassador Nomura indicated the advantages for Japan in having the China incident settled before the end of the European war. Though it might be best, from the Japanese viewpoint, to have the China incident settled when it was clearly apparent that Germany would be victorious in Europe, no one could tell when that would take place, and even then Japan would be in danger of being restrained by a foreign power. If the Japanese waited until the war had developed into a stalemate, the opportunity for improving Japanese-American relations would probably be gone, chiefly because the United States probably would have entered the war or would have lost its desire for peace with Japan. Thus, the best time for eliminating all difficulties was at the present, when the trend of the European war was not clearly defined.

As for the "understanding", Ambassador Nomura informed his superiors that there was little hope of achieving a trade agreement touching upon merely one phase of the whole Japanese-American problem. Nor would the United States recognize the "New Order in East Asia", or accept the proposal to mediate in the European war. Though the United States wanted to appeal to doctrines such as "non-recognition of aggression", it had been mutually agreed to limit the expression of views on the war situation as much as possible. Ambassador Nomura was optimistic that the "understanding" would eliminate some of the current complications and would gradually lead to a true friendship by restraining the United States from entering the present war, or perhaps changing her attitude entirely.114

Foreign Minister Matsuoka's reply to Ambassador Nomura's message was very prompt. Contrary to the Japanese Ambassador's views, it directed that his oral statement be submitted immediately to the Secretary of State, who was asked to turn it over to the President.115


114 Ibid.
115 Ibid. I, 82.


27. Ambassador Nomura Urges Mr. Matsuoka to A Prompt Agreement

On the next day, May 8, 1941, Ambassador Nomura sent several messages to Tokyo which indicated the growing resistance of the United States to aggressor nations throughout the world. He was much concerned lest Japanese delays in discussing the "understanding" were responsible for some of this feeling.116

A private conversation with an influential American Cabinet member strengthened Ambassador Nomura's impressions that Secretary Hull was appreciative of his efforts to restore peaceful relations, but that the American government realized the matter rested solely in the hands of Foreign Minister Matsuoka. Secretary of War Stimson, and Secretary of Navy Knox had stiffened in their anti-Japanese attitude because of the speeches of Mr. Matsuoka, and all felt that Japan was under the influence of German authorities. When asked by the Cabinet member whether or not a little more time would be given to Japan for study of the situation, Secretary Hull had replied that this might be possible, but that the present attitude of the American Cabinet made it hard to give definite assurance."117

This same Cabinet member assured the Japanese Ambassador that the President was resisting a demand for convoying goods to England because of his concern for Japanese-American relations. Though President Roosevelt was scheduled to mention convoys in a foreign policy speech on May 14, 1941, he intended to modify the details of the speech, if Japanese-American negotiations were started by that time. The Cabinet member pointed out that if official negotiations were not undertaken soon, the Japanese-American conversations would end in absolute failure.118

28. Mr. Matsuoka Submits Proposals (May 9, 1941)

In reply to many telegrams from Ambassador Nomura emphasizing the necessity for speed on the part of Tokyo in discussing and analyzing the proposals he had sent to Japan for approval, Mr. Matsuoka finally answered that it was impossible for Tokyo to act as hastily as the Ambassador desired because of various circumstances. This but confirmed the reply Mr. Matsuoka had telephoned to Ambassador Nomura on the previous day."119 Finally, Mr. Matsuoka sent his long expected reply on May 9, 1941.120

Expressing his desire to better American-Japanese relations by having the United States discontinue its policy of aiding Chiang Kai-Shek and by having President Roosevelt urge peace between China and Japan, the Foreign Minister said that the United States in its efforts to aid England was forcing Germany to war. Pledging with the United States to stop this movement, since Japan would be constrained as a consequence to live up to its Tripartite agreement, Mr. Matsuoka pointed out that his only reason for sending the oral statement to President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull was to keep them more fully informed of his views, and to bring about peace.

The Foreign Minister complained that his newspaper statement concerning the advisability of President Roosevelt's visiting Japan had been twisted out of its context so as to sound much different from its intended meaning.121 The resentment of the United States over this minor incident was an indication to Mr. Matsuoka of America's antagonism toward Japan. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister stated that he was experiencing no domestic difficulties because of his support of Germany.122


116 I, 92-94.
117 I, 95.
118 I, 96, 97.
119 I, 98.
120 I, 99.
121 N.Y. Times, May 5, 8:2, 5, 7.
122 I, 99.


The Japanese Ambassador, promising his Foreign Minister that he would eliminate all the misunderstandings complained of by Mr. Matsuoka, then asked that further instructions be sent immediately so that his conversations with Secretary Hull could proceed.123 Reassuring Mr. Matsuoka that peace with the United States would not be disadvantageous to Germany and Italy, but would be the first step in bringing about peace in Europe, Ambassador Nomura pointed out that a bettering of Japanese-American relations would be profitable to every nation.

At long last, Mr. Matsuoka sent an official reply to the preliminary proposal which had been drawn up by private American and Japanese individuals in collaboration with Ambassador Nomura.124 First, Japan recognized that both countries were independent nations, and agreed that both would adopt the policy of equality for all nations. All necessary cooperation was to be shown in preventing the spread of war in Europe and bringing peace to the world as soon as possible. The United States was to recognize the principles which were the basis of an agreement with the Nanking government, and it was also to advise Chiang Kai-Shek to trust in the "Good Neighbor" policy of the Japanese. Since it was accepted that future Japanese expansion into the Southwest Pacific would be peaceful, good trade relations were to be restored as soon as an agreement was reached, and the United States would cooperate in helping Japan acquire strategic materials. Both Japan and the United States were to guard the permanent neutrality of the Philippines, and no discrimination was to be shown against immigration into the United States.125

The reply of Mr. Matsuoka arrived just in time, for Ambassador Nomura had been greatly worried lest the opportunity for settling Japanese-American difficulties be lost. His last request for an immediate reply must have been on its way to Tokyo when the message of the Foreign Minister arrived.126

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

(a) Secretary Hull's Report127

The Japanese Ambassador called at Mr. Hull's hotel on May 11, 1941 to say that he had been instructed to give certain documents to the Secretary. He had another document which was also to be delivered, but since it had not been correctly translated he would withhold it until the next day. Secretary Hull emphasized that he was accepting the documents in a purely unofficial way to ascertain what might possibly serve as a basis for the beginning of negotiations. Thus, both countries could truthfully refute rumors of negotiations by saying that no negotiations had been begun. The Japanese Ambassador was in entire agreement with this suggestion.

Having learned from Ambassador Nomura that Foreign Minister Matsuoka would be in charge of the negotiations in Tokyo, though the Japanese Army and Navy officials and Prince Konoye would participate, Mr. Hull remarked that Mr. Matsuoka was a politician who recently had made many unfriendly remarks about the United States, and whose ideas seemed to be diametrically opposed to the fundamental principles expressed in Ambassador Nomura's preliminary proposal. In view of this, Secretary Hull expected to have much diffi-


123 I, 101.
124 I, 100, 102-107
125 Ibid.; See I, 41 for a comparison of the original text of the document presented by Admiral Nomura to Mr. Hull on April 9, 1941 with the Japanese text transmitted to Tokyo by dispatch on April 17, 1941 (See I, 46), and the English text sent on April 30, 1941 (See I, 41).
126 I, 108.
127 Memorandum by the Secretary of State", May 11, 1941, S.D., II, 415-418.


culty in persuading his own associates to trust Mr. Matsuoka. Ambassador Nomura said nothing concerning this, but Mr. Hull felt that he was in perfect agreement with his views on Mr. Matsuoka.

To Ambassador Nomura's claim that Japan was desirous of keeping war out of the Pacific, Mr. Hull replied that since many Americans believed that Japan desired aid in getting out of a disastrous situation in China, such an impression, if not guarded against, would be an obstacle to further negotiations. Ambassador Nomura stated that he did not know much about the plans of the Japanese government to remove its troops from China, but he felt that the problem could be worked out to the satisfaction of both sides. Commenting that the China affair would be a very important point in their discussions, Secretary Hull asked the Japanese Ambassador what method his government would employ in giving assurances that neither force nor threat of force would be used in the Southwest Pacific. Ambassador Nomura merely replied that his government did not intend to employ force in that area.

In a general discussion of the "New Order in Greater East Asia", Secretary Hull asked Ambassador Nomura why Japan used this trouble-making slogan to cover a policy of conquest by force, when Japan could get all the benefits she wanted from a "Good Neighbor" policy in Asia. Predicting that Hitlerism would prove to be a scourge to all the world as well as to Europe, and that in the future Japan would suffer just as much as other countries which had trusted Hitler's promises, Secretary Hull repeated some of his previous remarks concerning the damaging effects to world civilization of a war between Japan and the United States. It would require the efforts of all civilized nations to restore the world after the destruction of Hitlerism, and since the United States was determined that Hitler would not get control of the seas, whatever the cost, it would not delay its resistance until it was too late. Many countries of Europe had suffered by reason of their unfounded trust in Hitler. American resistance would in no way be an offensive act since it was necessary as self defense against an aggressor.128

(b) Ambassador Nomura's Report129

Ambassador Nomura's secret report of this meeting tactfully said nothing of Mr. Hull's remarks concerning Foreign Minister Matsuoka, but stressed both Secretary Hull's and his own desire for secrecy in regard to the conversations in progress.

Tokyo, warning Ambassador Nomura against discussing the "understanding" even with members of his own staff, informed him that rumors of the affair had reached Japan's financial circles from New York. News concerning the conversations had also reached Germany.130 Ambassador Nomura quoted Mr. Hull as saying that the Japanese Army and Navy and Premier Konoye would participate in the negotiations, whereas Mr. Hull in his memorandum stated that Ambassador Nomura had mentioned this.131

Ambassador Nomura told Secretary Hull that the Japanese would evacuate all troops from China with the exception of those stationed in North China and Inner Mongolia, who were there only to suppress Communism. They would not be used by Japan in a southward movement since his country intended to penetrate the South Pacific commercially rather than by force. Mr. Hull's statement, warning that the United States would be forced to forestall Hitler's approach, had disturbed Ambassador Nomura, and he announced to Tokyo his intention of trying to check this American argument. Believing that the United States


128 Ibid.
129 I, 109.
130 I, 110.
131 I, 109.


was not anxious to go to war with Japan or Germany, and in view of Mr. Matsuoka's reply, he felt much encouraged as to the eventual success of the conversations.131-A

This meeting ended the preliminary phase of the informal conversations between Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura. On the next day, May 12, the Japanese Ambassador was to present a formal document from his government, outlining a proposal for a general settlement of the problems disturbing the peaceful relations of the United States and Japan. The conversations ensuing as a result of this proposal will be treated in Chapter II.

Meanwhile, the United States State Department had received much intelligence from the cryptanalytical agencies of the United States concerning Japanese diplomatic activity throughout the rest of the world. Since this material was of great assistance in estimating the future trend of Japanese military expansion, particularly in relation to the Axis and Russia, it will be dealt with in Part B in each of the succeeding chapters.


Some of the more important of the hundreds of Japanese diplomatic messages which were intercepted and deciphered during 1941 have been selected for Part B of each Chapter to enable the reader to visualize the scope and significance of the information made available to the State Department by cryptanalytic organizations of the United States. An attempt has been made in Part B to demonstrate the general attitudes of the nations which, friendly or unfriendly, were associated with Japan.

Though a policy of selection was necessary in view of the tremendous amount of material available, and many interesting minutiae were omitted for the sake of brevity and clarity, e.g., the financial details of the Japanese-Dutch negotiations, etc., nothing was consciously omitted from Part A which in any way pertained to the Hull-Nomura conversations, especially anything referring to the last few days before the catastrophe of Pearl Harbor.


30. Expansion of Japanese Espionage in North and South America

Though Ambassador Nomura was ostensibly on a mission of peace, Tokyo, concomitantly with the Ambassador's appointment, made plans for intensified propaganda and intelligence activities in the United States. As early as December 10, 1940, the cooperation of Japanese bank officials in America was sought by Tokyo,132 and American authorities knew that a widespread Japanese espionage organization was operating in the United States for at least a year before the war.133

The Japanese decided at the end of 1940 that in the past they had paid too much attention to cultural enlightenment in the United States at the expense of political propaganda. Plans were now made to shift their attention from cultural to political interests, with the hope that the new approach would receive as favorable a reception as had their cultural activities of former days. Special attention was to be paid to the operations of the American Communist party, to the Chinese in America, and to the economic and social activities of Soviet Russia in the United States, Central and South America.134


131-A I, 111.
132 I, 112.
133 I, 113, 114.
134 I, 115.


Japanese espionage agents were also directed to ascertain the relations between the United States and South and Central American countries. Heretofore, Japan had ignored Latin American countries, but Tokyo was informed that, in view of current world conditions, it would be most advantageous to change its policy.135 Japanese merchants were to be asked for assistance in the new movement.136

Some of the responsibilities of the new intelligence organization were as follows:

1. Establish an intelligence organ in the Embassy which will maintain liaison with private and semi-official organs....
2. The focal point of our investigations shall be the determination of the total strength of the United States.
Our investigations shall be divided into three general classifications: political, economic, and military, and definite course of action shall be mapped out.
3. Make a survey of all persons or organizations which either openly or secretly oppose participation in the war.
4. Make investigations of all anti-Semitism, communism, movements of Negroes, and labor movements.
5. Utilization of U.S. citizens of foreign extraction (other than Japanese), aliens (other than Japanese), communists, Negroes, labor union members, and anti-Semites, in carrying out the investigations described in the preceding paragraph would undoubtedly bear the best results...
6. Utilization of our "Second Generations" and our resident nationals (in view of the fact that if there is any slip in this phase, our people in the U.S. will be subjected to considerable persecution, and the utmost caution must be exercised).
7. In the event of U.S. participation in the war, our intelligence set-up will be moved to Mexico, making that country the nerve center of our intelligence net. Therefore, will you bear this in mind and in anticipation of such an eventuality, set up facilities for a U.S.-Mexico international intelligence route. The net which will cover Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru will also be centered in Mexico.
8. We shall cooperate with the German and Italian intelligence organs in the U.S. This phase has been discussed with the Germans and Italians in Tokyo, and it has been approved....137

Mexico was a fruitful field of intelligence for Japanese agents, though communication difficulties between Mexico and Tokyo aroused Japanese suspicions that the American companies handling these messages were garbling the texts to discover the decipherment key.138 The details of a military agreement between the United States and Mexico on November 14, 1940 were transmitted to Japan.139

The increased interest of the Japanese in South and Central America evidently arose from their suspicion that war was approaching. New sources for information concerning the United States would have to be ready when wartime restrictions cut off their contacts in the United States.

Tokyo requested its representatives in various South American countries to estimate the future action of the country to which they were accredited, in case the United States entered the war. Inquiry was also made as to the nationality of the owners of communication facilities in each of these countries.140

According to the Japanese, Chile, dependent on the United States, would be a non-belligerent in case the United States went to war. Its communication facilities were owned by Transradio, a German company.141 Bogota had two telegraph companies, the All-America, an American company, and Marconi, and English company, and the Japanese Ambassador thought that Colombia would remain neutral in case of war.142


135 I, 116.
136 I, 117.
137 I, 118-120.
138 I, 121.
139 I, 123.
140 I, 122.
141 I, 124.
142 I, 125.


Argentina's Transradio Company was seventy-five per cent controlled by Argentina, with the remaining twenty-five per cent divided among the Marconi Wireless of England, the R.C.A. of the United States, Radio France, Telefunken of Germany and Italo Radio. Japanese representatives reported that the Transradio Company had been extremely reliable in handling all of their messages.143

Tokyo was informed that it was doubtful whether Peru would remain neutral in the event of war, and since the All America Cable Company of the United States and the West Coast of America Telegraph Company, dominated by British capital, had a telegraphic monopoly it would be difficult to maintain direct telegraphic communication from Peru to Japan. Mail was handled by the Marconi Company and when the Germans had protested against interference with their correspondence, the government of Peru had given them little satisfaction. In future emergencies, Japanese agents in Peru decided to make use of the radio in Argentina which was expected to remain neutral.144

In Mexico there were two companies; the first was Mexican Radio owned by the government, which would carry on communications with Japan as long as Mexico maintained neutrality. However, the Japanese believed that American pressure was influencing this company for Japanese diplomatic messages were being delayed. The second organization was the Mexican Telegraphic Company, which had sixty percent of its capital invested in Western Union, with some of the remaining capital invested in All American Cables. In case of war, this company would no longer send messages to Japan.145

The Japanese desired closer contacts with German and Italian agents, as well as with Japanese residents, who were to be cautioned not to create any suspicion in the minds of United States authorities regarding their espionage activities.146 The day after Ambassador Nomura made his official entrance into the diplomatic scene at Washington, Tokyo issued new instructions concerning the gathering of intelligence in Canada and the United States. Details of this plan, as indicated below, demonstrate that the Japanese were preparing for the worst.

The information we particularly desire with regard to intelligence involving U.S. and Canada, are the following:

1. Strengthening or supplementing of military preparation on the Pacific Coast and the Hawaii area; amount and type of stores and supplies; alterations to airports (also carefully note the clipper traffic).
2. Ship and plane movements (particularly of the large bombers and sea planes).
3. Whether or not merchant vessels are being requisitioned by the government (also note any deviations from regular schedules), and whether any remodeling is being done to them.
4. Calling up of army and navy personnel, their training, (outlook on maneuvers) and movements.
5. Words and acts of minor army and navy personnel.
6. Outlook of drafting men from the viewpoint of race. Particularly, whether Negroes are being drafted, and if so, under what conditions.
7. Personnel being graduated and enrolled in the army and navy and aviation service schools.
8. Whether or not any troops are being dispatched to the South Pacific by transports; if there are such instances, give description.
9. Outlook of the developments in the expansion of arms and the production setup; the capacity of airplane production, increase in the ranks of labor.
10. General outlooks on Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, with particular stress on items involving plane movements and shipment of military supplies to those localities.
11. Outlook on U.S. defense set-up.
12. Contacts (including plane connections) with Central and South America and the South Pacific area. Also outlook on shipment of military supplies to those areas.147


143 I, 126.
144 I, 127.
145 I, 128
146 I, 129, 130.
147 I, 131.


Further instructions concerning certain aspects of the plan mentioned above were sent to Japanese agents in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver and Honolulu. San Francisco was to pay special attention to paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 12 of the plan outlined above; Los Angeles was to devote attention to paragraphs 1, 2, 8, 9 and 11; New York to paragraphs 4, 6, 7, and 9; Vancouver to paragraph 10; and Honolulu to paragraphs 1 and 2.148

Not only were the Japanese expanding the activities of their espionage agents in North and South America, but they were also extremely concerned over the success of Allied military counter espionage.149 Simultaneously with the increase of Japanese military and naval observers in the United States, American military observers in the Pacific were undergoing closer supervision.150 Furthermore, severe measures were taken to restrict foreign visitors from entering Japan. No visitor, except those traveling under diplomatic passports, could reach Japan without first informing the Japanese authorities of his complete personal history and political leanings.151

31. Japanese Interest in American Plans

Japan was still not certain in February 1941 whether or not the United States had decided to enter the war to help England. According to one dispatch, Japan was convinced that the United States would go to the aid of England and Europe;152 another dispatch from Berlin stated that the United States had definitely decided not to enter into joint negotiations with either Great Britain or the Netherlands against Japan as long as Japan made no move against the Philippine Islands. Tokyo urged all its diplomatic representatives to cooperate closely with Japanese intelligence agents in discovering what the ultimate decision might be.153

32. Coordination of Japanese Intelligence in the United States

Ambassador Nomura was instructed on March 17, 1941 to put Secretary Terazaki in charge of coordinating Japanese intelligence and propaganda activities in both North and South America. Every facility was to be granted for the efficient completion of his work.154

Mr. Terazaki made a special request to have Mr. Fukumoto, director of the New York branch of the Nichi Nichi newspaper, come to Washington for propaganda purposes instead of returning to Japan.155 Another agent was sent to Germany, England, and Italy since Tokyo was interested in ascertaining the internal conditions of these countries.156

In addition to these activities, Tokyo took great pains to arrange special news broadcasts to Japanese in Washington and other important cities throughout the world; it was very anxious to assist its propaganda agents in the dissemination of news with a pro-Japanese slant.157 Japanese diplomats in Washington obtained most of their news, which they later transmitted to Latin America, through contacts with individual American newsmen rather than through the official news agencies.158 The chief responsibility of the Japanese propaganda office in New York was to assure widespread dissemination of Japanese governmental news and the speeches of Japanese officials.159


148 I, 132-136.
149 I, 137.
150 I, 138, 139.
151 I, 140.
152 I, 141.
153 I, 142.
154 I, 143.
155 I, 144.
156 I, 145.
157 I, 146-155.
158 I, 1 6.
159 I, 157.


To assure greater coordination and more complete security for the transmission of intelligence, Japan ordered the inauguration of a courier system between North and South America.160 

33. Japanese Interest in American Labor Unions 

Ambassador Nomura received a request from Tokyo on April 1 to investigate the labor union in the United States as a possible obstacle to American unity in the event of war. Inquiry was to be made concerning the attitude of the C.I.O., the A.F. of L., the Communist Party, the Socialistic parties, and last but not least, into German and Italian fifth column activities. All this was in conformity with the recent expansion of the Japanese intelligence gathering organization in North and South America.161 

34. Japanese Census in the United States 

Ambassador Nomura's request on April 17 for a secret fund of $50,000 to use in adjusting the difficult diplomatic situation presumably caused his superiors to inquire concerning the intelligence organization recently established in North America.162

Tokyo also desired to know the number of first and second generation Japanese in the United States, and asked for detailed information concerning those who had dual citizenship and were dependent.163 is information was supplied by several Japanese centers in the United States.164 

35. Reports of Japanese Intelligence Agents in America 

Information concerning the loss of British shipping was transmitted to Japan at the beginning of May. According to this estimate, Britain would have less than sixteen million tons of naval vessels at the end of the year, which would be the absolute minimum enabling her to continue fighting. Thus, the Japanese believed that unless the United States entered the war, England would be in great straits.

They thought also that as a result of British losses in the Balkans and North Africa, financial powers in England were more favorable to a negotiated peace, in which Germany, recognized by Britain as a leader of eastern and central Europe, would withdraw from all conquered Europe except Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg. Germany would regain all her lost colonies, Egypt would be established as an independent nation, Syria would become a German protectorate, Malta and Tunis would be given to Italy, Gibraltar to Spain, and the eastern half of Morocco and Dakar would go to Germany. Both Britain and Germany would jointly supervise the Suez Canal, the naval strength of both nations would be reduced, and trade and economic relations between both nations would be begun.165

Another report stated that there was strong opposition in the Senate to convoys. Some Senators believed that in view of the serious situation in Europe, the United States should change the situation in the Pacific by adjusting Japanese-American relations.166 Despite this friendly gesture, Japanese agents were attempting to establish contacts in many fields of American industry and commerce. Great attention was paid to labor disputes and racial conflicts since they thought that all forces disrupting American unity would be productive sources of intelligence.167


160 I, 158-161.
161 I, 162, 163.
162 I, 164-166.
163 I, 167.
164 I, 168-171.
165 I, 172.
166 I, 173.
167 I, 174, 175.


36. Japanese Security Precautions 

Late in December 1940, Foreign Minister Matsuoka sent a warning concerning the safekeeping of high security codes to Japanese offices throughout Canada and the United States. No longer were codes to be retained in offices unless a night watch was kept. All codes were to be brought either to official Japanese residences in various cities, or to the Japanese Embassy in Washington, if no official residence was available. Though Tokyo recognized that this would impede speedy communications, its desire for security was so great that it ordered all secret messages to be handled through the Embassy because sufficient precautions for guarding the codes could not be guaranteed in certain cities.168

In conformity with these directions, Japanese diplomatic representatives in Chicago sent their codes to Washington,169 and those at Vancouver and Ottawa moved their telegraphic equipment from offices to their official residences.170ecautions were being taken also in Central and South America.171 Tokyo, planning to send a code machine to Mexico City, took elaborate pains to guarantee the safe custody of this machine from Japan to its destination.172 A special safe was shipped to Washington for the security of Japanese code machines and code books, and Ambassador Nomura submitted a list to Tokyo of the very few persons in his Embassy who were allowed to handle the governmental code.173 These strict precautions were partially due to leakage of secret information in the Japanese office at Panama.174

A report that American diplomatic pouches had been opened by Japanese investigators was vigorously denied by Tokyo authorities, who pointed out that Japanese mail companies had no authorization to examine the hand baggage of passengers. Since Japan was very much concerned about the safety of its own pouches, it pointed out that the opening of diplomatic pouches would be contrary to international practice. Tokyo instructed its diplomats to ascertain whether or not the United States was according Japanese couriers the same diplomatic privileges which other foreign couriers received.175 

37. Decline of Japanese Commerce in the United States 

At the same time that the Japanese were strengthening their intelligence organization, their commercial activities in the United States were deteriorating. Fears concerning the eventual freezing of Japanese assets had affected all Japanese commercial interests in the United States.176 A newspaper story, pointing to the evacuation of many Japanese employees from America and to the imminence of a renewed German drive in Europe as implications of a war with Japan, did nothing to ease the difficult situation which Ambassador Nomura and Secretary Hull were discussing.177


168 I, 176.
169 I, 177, 178.
170 I, 179, 180.
171 I, 181, 182.
172 I, 183, 182.
173 I, 184, 185.
174 I, 188.
175 I, 189.
176 Chinese and Japanese assets were eventually frozen by Executive Order 8832, signed by President Roosevelt, July 26, 1941; I, 186, 187.
177 I, 190-192.


Mexico's seizure of Axis ships,178 the Mexican-American air agreement,179 and the refusal of Bolivia to supply Japan with tungsten indicated to the Japanese that the United States was exerting its economic influence against Japan in Latin America.180

Tokyo was concerned about the indictment of many Japanese residents in Honolulu on the charge of conspiring to violate the Federal law which required the captains of all shipping boats over five tons to be United States citizens. The presidents of three Japanese fishing companies had been among those indicted. It was charged that a conspiracy had been involved when first generation Japanese forged bills of sale to make second generation Japanese the nominal owners of American fishing craft. Twenty-six defendants eventually pleaded guilty, but in the case of some others, the indictment was dropped because of insufficient grounds. By this time the Japanese were convinced that the indictment had not been drawn to eliminate the Japanese fishing industry.181

Japanese negotiations with an American oil company were also carefully scrutinized by United States officials.182

38. Japanese-American Relations Abroad

An interesting discussion held at Moscow between the Japanese and American Ambassadors to Russia was reported to Ambassador Nomura in Washington.183 Mr. Steinhardt told his Japanese colleague, Ambassador Tatekawa, that it would be disadvantageous for Japan to conclude a political treaty with the hostile Soviet Union. According to the Japanese Ambassador, Washington-Moscow negotiations had come to a halt, and Mr. Steinhardt had not been able to see Commissar Molotov for three weeks. To a warning from the American Ambassador that a southward push by Japan would bring the United States into war, Ambassador Tatekawa replied that America must not impose petroleum embargoes on Japan and must refrain from sending troops into the South Seas. The American Ambassador stated that the United States would not embargo Japan's oil supplies, nor did he think that the United States would fight if Great Britain were attacked by Germany. As a result of this conversation, the Japanese Ambassador was convinced that America was beginning an attempt to wean Japan away from Russia.184

Tokyo evidently heeded this last warning for it sent instructions to its diplomatic representatives throughout the world to investigate the views of American diplomats as to the trend of Japanese-American relations. Statements by several American officials, which indicated that the United States was about to take a milder attitude towards Japan, were believed by Tokyo to be efforts to separate the Axis nations and to encourage the pro-English and pro-American elements in Japan.185 Several replies were made as a result of discreet inquiries; Ambassador Osima in Berlin reported that there seemed to be no trace of any uniform American State Department instructions ordering American diplomats to alienate Japan from Germany, or to influence pro-English and pro-American elements in Japan.186

On the other hand, despite his efforts to ensure solidarity with the Axis, Foreign Minister Matsuoka was deeply disturbed, or at least pretended to be so, because Japan's relations with


178 I, 193.
179 I, 194.
180 I, 195.
181 I, 196-198.
182 I, 199.
183 I, 220.
184 Ibid.
185 I, 223.
186 I, 224, 225.


England and America had been jeopardized by the publication of sensational newspaper stories announcing that Japan was determined to move southward in the Pacific at the same time that Germany began her spring drive in Europe. Matsuoka hastened to assure his ambassadors in London and in Washington that Japan had no intention of going to war against Great Britain or the United States. In an effort to mollify public opinion in Japan he had instructed all Japanese journalists to exercise restraint on stories concerning the international situation. Claiming that both the United States and England had been receiving erroneous reports regarding Japanese intentions, he informed Ambassador Nomura that the British press had tried to win American opinion to the support of British interests in the Far East.187

Another significant discussion between Japanese and American representatives in the Far East took place in the Netherlands East Indies. The Japanese representative stated that his countrymen were beginning to suspect the United States of applying pressure on the Dutch to ruin economic relations between Japan and the Netherlands East Indies. The American Consul denied this emphatically, pointing out that the United States had made no further efforts to purchase quinine after it was told by the Dutch that previous orders of Japan and other nations would first have to be filled.188

Japanese Ambassador Suma reported a conversation at Vichy with American Ambassador Leahy, who indicated his pleasure at the appointment of Ambassador Nomura to Washington. Though believing that Japanese-United States relations would not deteriorate further, Ambassador Leahy considered the entrance of the United States into war with Germany as being merely a matter of time. According to him, there was little possibility of Germany's invading England because of the war in the Balkans and Africa, plus the fact that Germany was placing one hundred and fifty divisions on its Eastern Frontier.189

Many reports from Japanese throughout Europe confirmed Ambassador Leahy's statement that the United States was determined to send naval aid to England. From these same European sources Japan learned that although, from Germany's viewpoint, Turkey was leaning more and more towards the Axis,190 Russia was exerting equally strong pressure to exclude German influence from that area.191

Despite the seemingly friendly feelings manifested by the American and Japanese diplomats mentioned above, Japanese representatives in South America suspected that British and American spies were active in Latin-American shipping companies which were handling Japanese affairs. Orders were issued from Tokyo, therefore, for Japanese concerns to use other than English and American shipping companies where possible.192 


39. Japanese Intelligence Reports on China 

According to Japanese sources, Chinese authorities at Chungking were attempting to attract the attention of the American people to the Chinese Nationalist party in an effort to offset the propaganda of the Chinese Communists, and to forestall any Japanese progress in the United States that Ambassador Nomura's pro-American diplomacy might achieve.193


187 I, 226.
188 I, 227.
189 I, 228.
190 I, 229.
191 I, 230.
192 I, 231, 232.
193 I, 200.


However, in April 1941, the Japanese learned that Chiang Kai-Shek was determined to compromise with the Communists until his difficulties with Japan could be eliminated.194

Japan was very anxious to learn the amount of materiel which was to be sent by the United States to the Far East. It was aware that American authorities differed as to the feasibility of supplying both war theaters at the same time, and for that reason, according to the Japanese, President Roosevelt had sent Lauchlin Currie to investigate conditions in China to permit the formation of a definite American policy for future supplies.195

Tokyo obtained a secret Chinese report which indicated that the future attitude of the United States toward Japan would not be governed by political activity in Chungking, but would be determined solely by the future moves of the Japanese.196 It was evident from this leak that the Japanese were either acquiring important Chinese documents through espionage, or that they were deciphering Chinese dispatches. Though the former was more probable since the Japanese were quite adept in acquiring secret documents, as was evidenced by their success in the Netherlands East Indies,197 Japanese success in cryptanalysts was very possible. Furthermore, Japanese counter-intelligence agents reported the name and activities of a Chungking agent who was operating for British and American authorities.198 Information concerning the erection of a 100-kilowatt radio station at Singapore as well as details concerning its frequency, was requested by Japan.199

Ambassador Nomura was now informed that Chungking was about to propose an American-Chinese Anti-Axis Treaty, though at the same time Chiang Kai-Shek was reported as being very dissatisfied with the lack of concrete assistance from the United States.200 The journey of Captain James Roosevelt to Chungking aroused considerable Japanese interest, though his trip at this time was considered to be only a goodwill visit, without military significance.201

War rumors were rife and every bit of evidence that indicated a sudden approach of a crisis was transmitted to Tokyo. The American Methodist Church was undecided as to the advisability of evacuating its missionaries from Japan although some of its most influential members were in favor of this movement.202 Two missionaries in Chosen had received jail sentences of ten months, and American missionary authorities requested that they be permitted to leave the country if they desired, rather than undergo the prison sentence.203

The Japanese use of Chinese residents to ascertain the defense plans of the Philippines was another indication of the critical state of diplomatic affairs between Japan and the United States.204 The evacuation of United States troops from lower China to Manila was investigated, and the prospective closing of the Panama Canal to all nations save Pan-American countries was suspected.205 A well-informed ambassador of a neutral country was reported on May 6 as saying that the United States would enter the war within two months.206


194 I, 201.
195 I, 202.
196 I, 203.
197 I, 204.
198 I, 205.
199 I, 206.
200 I, 207, 208.
201 I, 209, 210.
202 I, 211.
203 I, 212.
204 I, 213, 214.
205 I, 215-217.
206 I, 218.


Despite the talk of war, Japanese diplomats in China learned from outside sources that their Foreign Office had instructed Ambassador Nomura to confer with the President concerning the speedy settlement of the China incident.207

40. Tokyo's Suppression of Japanese Pro-Ally Sentiments

Ambassador Nomura in his discussion with President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull had insisted on the strength of the moderate elements in Japan, who were opposed to the domination of militarists, and who were pro-Allied as opposed to those desirous of closer ties with the Axis nations. There was no doubt in the minds of American observers that such a statement was true in part, but the question of how great was the strength of the moderate elements remained unanswered. In view of the uncertain domestic situation in Japan, the recalling of Count Soejima to Tokyo after he had expressed some pro-American and pro-British sentiments in the Netherlands East Indies indicated that Japanese authorities were determined on a unified pro-Axis policy and would not permit any publicity on divergent views. Since Count Soejima had been publicized as pro-Ally, the squelching of his ideas and influence was not an encouraging sign.208


41. Anti-Comintern Pact and the Tripartite Pact

It will be remembered that as far back as 1936, the Japanese began official collaboration with the Axis powers with the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact. Fortunately, U.S. Communication Intelligence was able at that time to furnish United States authorities with the text of a secret clause which promised strict cooperation in case of an attack "regardless of circumstances".209

Five years later, in 1941, this Anti-Comintern Pact was strengthened by another agreement. Its importance was great in view of the very strained relations existing between Japan and the United States.210 Furthermore, a Tripartite Pact had been signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan in September 1940, which cemented more firmly the ties already existing in that it recognized the right of each power to establish a "New Order" in designated areas. The three powers also agreed to help each other, if and when attacked by a power not involved at that time in the European War, or in the Sino-Japanese conflict.211

In view of the contents of the preceding treaties, and the cooperation of all three nations,212 it was obvious that Japanese-United States relations could scarcely avoid being disturbed. Even if both countries had been most anxious to bring about a rapprochement, neither was unaware of the difficulties created by Japan's allegiance to the Axis.213 Incidentally, though Japan was very closely allied to Germany, it was interested in its partner's relations with the French and the trends of French politics.214


207 I, 219.
208 I, 233, 234.
209 I, 235.
210 I, 236.
211 I, 237.
212 I, 238, 239.
213 I, 240.
214 I, 241.


42. Japanese-German Discussions 

A discussion between the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop on February 25, 1941 concerning Japanese-German relations was occasioned by rumors circulating throughout the diplomatic world concerning Japan's breaking away from the Axis. Ambassador Osima assured the German Foreign Minister that Japan was determined to maintain the Tripartite Pact as the basis for all of its foreign relations. The German Foreign Minister was quite pleased and expressed the hope that Japan would never doubt Germany's sincerity.215

As for the European war, Herr Ribbentrop stated that all invasion bases necessary for the campaign against England were under German occupation. Ample manpower and vast stores of supplies were available, and after submarine and aerial warfare had been accelerated, Germany would crush England. The Italian campaign in Greece had not been approved by Germany, and because of insufficient preparations, the results had been unsatisfactory. Italian troops were brave but their officers were not of the best quality. Although Germany would aid the Italians with her air force, the principal target would be England as a main base of enemy action.216

England was being assisted by the United States, but the supplies amounted to only one-third of England's needs. According to the German Minister, the only persons in the United States who wished to enter the war were Roosevelt, some Jews, and a group of financiers. Germany, trying to prevent the United States from becoming an armed belligerent, believed that the most effective way of doing this was to show that it was prepared to fight whenever the United States threatened to do so. Current German-Soviet relations were neither good nor bad, although Russia was not too pleased that the situation in the Balkans had already been settled in favor of Germany. However, Germany was prepared to fight Russia any time, even though the economic relations between the two countries were very satisfactory.

England had worked to align Bulgaria and Turkey against Germany, but Germany had this by having Bulgaria and Turkey sign a non-aggression pact with assured Turkish neutrality, even if Germany occupied Bulgaria. Bulgaria was going to sign the Tripartite Pact at some opportune moment, and if Turkey attempted to interfere in any way, it would be brushed aside. It was hoped that an agreement with Yugoslavia would force Greece to support Germany without the necessity of waging a war to do so, but if Greece permitted British forces to land on its shore, Germany would use her army to drive them out.

Although Foreign Minister Ribbentrop was cognizant of Spain's weakened internal condition, he believed that Germany should force Spain to join the Axis and attack Gibraltar. German planes had bombed the Suez Canal, and in the future, no Allied traffic would be able to pass through.217 

43. Japanese-German Economic Cooperation 

Meanwhile, Japan and Germany were cooperating in the economic field.218 Japan had decided to stop the purchase of German planes and to obtain the manufacturing rights for them so as to expand its own airplane manufacturing facilities. It was also interested in buying all German ships in Japanese waters, even though they were deemed by Germany to be militarily essential.219 In imitation of the Axis, Japan instituted repressive economic measures against the Jews in Asia.220


215 I, 242.
216 Ibid.
217 I, 243.
218 I, 244.
219 I, 245 246.
220 I, 247.


The shortage of rubber in Germany, and Japan's newly won predominance in this field made for closer economic ties between the two Axis nations, though the pressing need of both countries for great amounts of rubber was also a potential source of friction. To offset German competition in Japanese controlled areas, a central rubber bureau was established by Tokyo to control the import of rubber into Japan and export to Germany. The latter was exerting economic and political pressure on Japan to obtain a more abundant supply. When Tokyo reported that the raw rubber stock in Japan on April 5, 1941 was not more than one month's supply, and since rubber shipments from French Indo-China and Malay had been greatly reduced, it was decided that only Japanese firms belonging to the newly established Japanese rubber dealers' association could export from Thailand, French Indo-China and the Netherlands East Indies. Henceforth, Germany would have to make all requests for rubber through the Foreign Office.221

44. Mr. Matsuoka Visits Germany, Italy and Russia — Rumors of the Visit

Rumors concerning a prospective European visit of Foreign Minister Matsuoka for conferences with Axis representatives were disturbing Japanese-American relations, and so, on February 26, Ambassador Grew called upon Mr. Matsuoka to inquire as to his intentions in this regard. The Foreign Minister replied that he had not yet come to a definite decision.222

45. Japanese Suspicion of Code Decipherment

Though Ambassador Nomura was perhaps truly convinced at first that Mr. Matsuoka would not visit Europe to strengthen the Tripartite Pact, information in the hands of United States authorities proved conclusively that the visit would take place. As a matter of fact, the knowledge that news of Mr. Matsuoka's trip had leaked out was a matter of grave concern to the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin. Tokyo now assured Ambassador Osima that there was no need to worry about the security of their diplomatic messages.223

The Japanese were buying American radio equipment for interception of foreign broadcasts, and the intercept station at Shanghai was discontinued after Tokyo had acquired powerful new receiving sets.224

Ambassador Osima also suspecting his German and Italian colleagues of deciphering Japanese codes, asked that all Japanese messages be paraphrased before their contents were revealed to German and Italian diplomats.225 Despite this demonstration of caution, Ambassador Osima had to be restrained by Foreign Minister Matsuoka from using a machine code for routine affairs.226

The Japanese evidently suspected that Allied espionage was prevalent in Belgium for it forbade its diplomatic representatives from using code messages in that country.227 Readers, familiar with the activities of Captain Landau of the British Secret Service during the last world war, will understand the reluctance of the Japanese to use code in Belgium. From 1914 to 1918 Belgium was a great message collection center for espionage agents of both Germany and England.


221 I, 248-250.
222 I, 251.
223 I, 252, 253.
224 I, 254-256.
225 I, 257, 258.
226 I, 259, 260.
227 , 261, 262.


46. Pessimism of Ambassador Nomura

On March 10, Ambassador Nomura sent very pessimistic reports to Tokyo concerning relations between the Axis and the United States. Mentioning that Anglo-American relations were becoming stronger than ever, and warning that the United States would fight on England's side if she were invaded, he stated that Foreign Minister Matsuoka's prospective trip to Europe was a very disturbing factor which might contribute to the spread of war to the Far East. Ambassador Nomura suggested, therefore, that Mr. Matsuoka return from Europe to Japan via the United States so as to allay any bad impressions occasioned in America by his trip to Berlin and Rome.228

In view of the foregoing, it is interesting to know that a dispatch from Tokyo on March 3, 1941 disclosed not only that Foreign Minister Matsuoka was going to visit Europe, but also gave instructions in the use of special codes by means of which communications could be delivered to him even while traveling on a train.229 It should be said in favor of Japanese diplomats whose blind trust in the security of their codes seems to reflect on their astuteness, that diplomats of every nation, including our own, have always been impressed by the mysteries of codes and ciphers which in many instances are of comparatively little difficulty for expert cryptanalysts.

Ambassador Nomura's pessimism could not have been relieved when Secretary of the Navy Knox was reported by Japanese diplomatic representatives in New Orleans as having expressed the opinion that the United States would become involved in the war within two or three months.230 Tokyo's recognition of the critical international situation was demonstrated by Mr. Matsuoka's orders to his diplomatic representatives all over the world to dispose of secret documents in case of a future emergency. Since the burning of diplomatic documents and the transfer of funds from one country to another are always last steps before the entrance of a nation into war, such actions on the part of the Japanese demonstrated the critical state of affairs.231

Tokyo's request for the details of air defense measures adopted by the important cities in all the nations of Europe indicated the concern of Japanese authorities regarding their own nation. Desiring to learn the air defense methods used by each country, they asked for the daily routines of official and civilian defense organizations, the methods substituted when important communication facilities were damaged, information concerning warning systems and intelligence communications, and what was done for electric power and light supply in case of an emergency.232

47. Purpose of Mr. Matsuoka's Visit

American public opinion was very much aroused by the news that Foreign Minister Matsuoka was to visit Rome and Berlin. In the course of one of their conversations, Secretary Hull had expressed his concern about this matter to Ambassador Nomura, who had replied that he did not think the trip would be made. However, it was certain by this time that Mr. Matsuoka was determined to go to Berlin, thence to Rome, afterwards returning to Berlin for two or three days before proceeding to Moscow.

Mr. Matsuoka's secret program in Berlin disclosed that he would confer with practically every important German authority during his short stay.233 It appeared that Mr. Matsuoka's


228 I, 263.
229 I, 264.
230 I, 265.
231 I, 266, 267.
232 I, 268.
233 I, 269, 270.


trip to Berlin and Rome was designed primarily to strengthen the Tripartite Pact, for the Japanese were very much disturbed over the rumor that he was to act as a mediator in the European war. Their concern presumably arose from the fact that their alleged interest in mediation would not be consistent with their announced policy of military aid in case either one of the other Axis partners desired assistance.234

Meanwhile, to celebrate the coming occasion of Mr. Matsuoka's arrival in Berlin, and to demonstrate the appeal of the Tripartite Pact to other European nations, Berlin reported that Yugoslavia would align itself with the signatories of the Tripartite Pact.235 Ambassador Osima met Chancellor Hitler in Vienna on March 25 to witness Yugoslavia's signing of this agreement,236 and he was informed then that the Chancellor was prepared for an intimate exchange of opinions with the Japanese Foreign Minister in regards to future Japanese-German cooperation.237

Mr. Matsuoka's stay in Moscow was expected to last for only two days unless there seemed to be a possibility of having the Russians accept certain proposals.238 Though the Japanese Foreign Minister felt that his personal conferences with Messrs. Molotov and Stalin would dispel the deep-seated suspicion and doubt entertained by the Kremlin concerning Japanese intentions,239 both Ambassador Tatekawa at Moscow and Ambassador Osima at Berlin attempted to discourage their superior from doing anything without previously consulting German statesmen. Furthermore, they were certain that a discussion with Stalin and Molotov would do no good and might cause considerable harm.240

48. Mr. Matsuoka Declines to Visit the United States

Private American and Japanese individuals were making every effort to improve the Far Eastern situation, and so tentative plans were made by them to have Foreign Minister Matsuoka return to Japan via the United States to alleviate the shock to American public opinion which had been occasioned by his trip to Berlin and Rome. Ambassador Nomura encouraged the Foreign Minister to accept the invitation, since he felt that President Roosevelt would welcome such a visit.241 However, several days later, Mr. Matsuoka expressing his regrets that the invitation had arrived after he had departed from Germany, replied that he could not now act upon the suggestion.242

49. Mr. Matsuoka Arrives in Rome and Berlin

Mr. Matsuoka's trip to the Axis capitals was a great source of concern to American officials for little could be expected from the Hull-Nomura conferences, if the Japanese were determined ultimately to go to war. At Rome, Mr. Matsuoka informed the King of Italy that Japan was in complete sympathy with Italy's war aims,243 and after an interview with Mussolini and Ciano, in which Mussolini claimed that the United States was carrying out a policy of deliberately provoking war, he came away with the impression that strong ties existed between Germany and Italy.244 Outlining the plans that Japan had made for achieving peace in China,


234 I, 271.
235 I, 272, 273.
236 I, 274, 275.
237 I, 276.
238 I, 277.
239 I, 278.
240 I, 279.
241 I, 280.
242 I, 281.
243 I, 282.
244 I, 283.


Mr. Matsuoka informed Mussolini that he might ask for a recognition of the Nanking government within the near future. Mussolini replied that he would grant this permission at any time the Japanese government desired.245

Mr. Matsuoka also interviewed the Pope and the Vatican Secretary of State, both of whom, according to the Japanese Foreign Minister, were utterly detached and free from any favoritism regarding the European war despite earlier reports from Japanese representatives that the Pope would express the Vatican's feeling of satisfaction toward the Japanese government, particularly in regard to its Anti-Comintern policy.246 At a later date, President Roosevelt's remarks to the Papal Delegate in Washington concerning Mr. Matsuoka's visit to the Pope were reported to the Japanese Ambassadors in Rome and Washington. According to this dispatch, President Roosevelt had expressed great doubts concerning Japan's desire to maintain peace in the Pacific, and he was also uncertain about the chances for a satisfactory settlement between Japan and the United States.247 According to the Japanese Ambassador at Rome, Mr. Tittman, the Commercial Attaché of the American Embassy in Rome, had been accredited to the Vatican because the Pope intended to mediate between Japan and the United States in settling East Asiatic and Chinese problems.248 Both President Roosevelt and the British government supported the request of Chiang Kai-Shek that his personal envoy be received at the Vatican.249

Mr. Matsuoka left Rome on April 3,250 and in Berlin on April 4 met Chancellor Hitler, who agreed to give Japan the benefit of any special knowledge gained through German experience in the war and all information regarding new inventions.251 A meeting on April 5 with Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop brought about an agreement to call a joint conference of Japanese and German economic and military experts.252

The Japanese Foreign Minister departed from Berlin with the feeling that the Yugoslavian-Greek situation would be solved in the near future, but not by peaceful means, since Japan had been requested to give diplomatic support to the German and Italian move against Yugoslavia.253 Details of the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece were soon forthcoming, and an analysis of the diplomatic situation created by this attack was sent to Tokyo.254

Axis journalistic relations were generally very cordial for in response to a request from Tokyo for information as to the handling of press reports and the treatment accorded foreign correspondents in Italy, the Japanese Ambassador reported that though censorship existed, foreign correspondents received the same privileges as diplomats in regards to special transportation, conveniences, and reductions in rates, as well as exemption from income tax payments.255

50. Mr. Matsuoka Meets U.S. Ambassador Steinhardt

The tour of Foreign Minister Matsuoka brought him ultimately, on April 7, to Moscow where he was about to achieve a diplomatic victory by signing a neutrality pact with Russia. While


245 I, 284.
246 I, 285-288.
247 I, 289.
248 I, 290.
249 I, 291.
250 I, 292.
251 I, 293.
252 I, 294.
253 I, 295.
254 I, 296.
255 I, 297, 298.


there, he was invited to attend an unofficial luncheon given by United States Ambassador Lawrence Steinhardt on April 8. On a previous occasion Mr. Matsuoka had been extremely frank with the Ambassador concerning relations between America and Japan, and had expressed his view that President Roosevelt should tell Chiang Kai-Shek to either make peace with Japan, or else suffer the loss of further American assistance.256 Mr. Matsuoka now reiterated his previous remarks, promising that if the President complied with his request to stop encouraging Chiang Kai-Shek, all war talk would disappear in Japan.

The American Ambassador promised to communicate this request to Washington, and then asked equally frank questions concerning Japan's commitments to Berlin. Mr. Matsuoka pointed out that the Axis pact was designed to limit the scope of the war by preventing the participation of the United States. However, if the United States went to war despite Germany's and Japan's desire for peace, there would be no backing down by either Axis nation. Yet Germany would not declare war on the United States, unless it were attacked.257 In view of the worried manner of the American Ambassador, who asked Mr. Matsuoka to get in touch with the President of the United States, the Foreign Minister was convinced that Mr. Roosevelt was going to take some measures against him.258

51. Mr. Matsuoka Reassures the Axis Nations

Rumors in Berlin and Rome that Foreign Minister Matsuoka would visit the United States were transmitted to Tokyo. Inquiries from the Japanese Ambassadors in the Axis capitals concerning the truth of this rumor indicated that the German and Italian authorities were rather concerned about the situation, although they had expressed no official opinion concerning it.259 An emphatic denial of any such intention was transmitted to German and Italian authorities by Mr. Matsuoka, who cited his newspaper conferences in which he had expressed his desire to have President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull visit Japan.260

An inquiry from the Japanese Ambassador at Berlin concerning the Hull-Nomura conversations elicited a response from Mr. Matsuoka which outlined his views concerning the desirability of Japan's strict allegiance to the Tripartite Pact. Mr. Matsuoka also stated that he had declined Roy Howard's invitation to visit the United States. Reporting his very frank talk with Ambassador Steinhardt concerning Japan's intentions in the Far East, the Foreign Minister disclosed that he had requested President Roosevelt to advise Chiang Kai-Shek to come to peace with Japan.

Ambassador Osima was informed that one draft of a possible treaty had already been worked out by the United States and Ambassador Nomura, and at the present time, Tokyo was cautiously considering it. Reminding Ambassador Osima of the urgent necessity for secrecy, the Foreign Minister warned him to say he knew nothing about the matter, if inquiries were made concerning it. Mr. Matsuoka assured Ambassador Osima that Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop was fully aware of the details of the situation and was also well acquainted with the personal views of Mr. Matsuoka, who was determined that any understanding between Japan and the United States would not affect the Tripartite Pact in the slightest.261


256 I, 299.
257 I, 300.
258 I, 301.
259 I, 302.
260 I, 303.
261 I, 304, 304-A.


52. Attempts of Japanese Moderate Elements to Keep Japan Out of the War

The Japanese Ambassador in London was attempting to exert a restraining influence on Tokyo's policy at this time. Raising several questions concerning the military situation which stressed that Germany might not be able to conquer Great Britain in 1941, and that American aid, tremendously expanded by the transformation of all industrial centers to war purposes, could not be stopped by German attacks, he also warned that the combined naval power of the United States and Great Britain would be able to defeat Japan. In addition, he expressed doubts as to whether Italy was a stony or weak link in the alliance with Germany.262

According to Ambassador Shigemitsu's views, Japan should not enter the war until both England and the United States had exhausted their naval strength, though full assistance should be given to its allies, Germany and Italy, until Japan had actually entered the war.263 Despite his attempts to persuade Mr. Matsuoka to refrain from entering the war prematurely, the Japanese Ambassador did not miss the opportunity to inform Mr. Churchill that both England and the United States were impeding the cause of peace in Asia by assisting the Chungking government and by exerting economic pressure on Japan.264

53. Foreign Minister Matsuoka Congratulates Hitler

It was evident that the efforts of moderate Japanese elements to restrain the military extremists would have little effect on the course of Japanese policies when Mr. Matsuoka sent a special message of congratulations to Chancellor Hitler, after the German leader had made a fierce attack on President Roosevelt in his speech of May 4. Mr. Matsuoka, taking pains to point out how different were the attitudes of Chancellor Hitler and President Roosevelt in their most recent speeches, told Berlin that he had informed the President of Japan's real intentions so as to avoid the possibility of war.265 This, and other dispatches passing from Tokyo to Berlin and Rome proved without a doubt that Mr. Matsuoka strongly supported Axis attempts to restrict America's aid to England. Thus, the American State Department was kept fully aware of the real feelings of Japanese authorities, which were much at odds with the seemingly sincere statements of Ambassador Nomura.266


54. Secret Japanese-Russian Trade Agreements

Japan's position in Asia could be either strengthened or weakened by its relations with Soviet Russia. It was important, therefore, for the United States to know the plans of these two countries. Consequently, the discovery of the secret terms of a trade agreement between Moscow and Tokyo in March 1941, was of great value in estimating the future actions of Russia towards Japan.267

After the signing of the Japanese-Russian neutrality pact (see Section No. 55 immediately following) there were more trade agreements between these two countries. Such secret details as the amount of freight allowed to pass between Japan and Russia, legal questions of jurisdiction in certain areas, and arrangements for the interchange of rubber and oil were made available to the American State Department at this time.268


262 I, 305.
263 I, 306, 307.
264 I, 303.
265 I, 309, 310.
266 I, 311.
267 I, 312-318.
268 I, 319-322.


55. The Japanese-Russian Neutrality Pact (April 13, 1941)

After Mr. Matsuoka had reached Moscow, he held several conferences with Commissar Molotov and one with Commissar Stalin concerning Japanese-Soviet relations.269 Both countries agreed to sign a neutrality pact which would relieve Japan of considerable pressure from the north, and which would permit it to concentrate on Pacific and southern problems for Japan expected England, America, and Australia to make a statement in the near future concerning their policy in the Pacific.270

Midway in January 1941 and again in March, the Russian Ambassador in Washington had been informed confidentially by Sumner Welles of Germany's plans to attack his country.271 The transmission of this intelligence to Moscow must have caused some discussion of future strategy which undoubtedly revealed the advantages to Russia of fighting on only one front. Thus, the Japanese were able to achieve an unexpected victory — the neutrality pact.

It will be recalled that Mr. Matsuoka had been advised to cut his stay short in Moscow because the Japanese Ambassadors at Berlin and Moscow felt that Russia would not deal with him. The sudden change of heart of the Soviet authorities can probably be ascribed to the warnings they had received of the coming German attack. Undoubtedly the Russians possessed their own intelligence sources, but it may be said that the information obtained from the United States was at least a contributory factor in influencing the Russian decision.272

The Japanese-Russian treaty comprised two parts:

(a) A neutrality pact in which both nations guaranteed the preservation of peaceful and free relations with each other, and promised not to violate each other's territory even though the other nation became involved in war.

(b) A declaration in which both the Outer Mongolian Republic and Manchukuo were to come within this pact.273 In addition to the treaty, established for five years, both the Japanese and Russians agreed to the formation of a commission which would draw up commercial agreements and settle border disturbances,274 since incidents involving Japanese and Russian soldiers were a frequent occurrence on the Japanese-Russian border, especially in Manchukuo.275 An exchange of intelligence was also planned by the two countries, and Japanese attaches were sent into Central Europe for this purpose.276

56. Japan Reassures the Axis

Mr. Matsuoka hastened to assure his Axis partners that no mention had been made of the Tripartite Alliance during the Japanese-Russian discussions, since both countries knew that the neutrality pact would not affect Japanese relations with Germany and Italy in the slightest.277 Despite these assurances many pointed questions were being asked of the Japanese by the military leaders of Germany and Italy, because recent relations between Russia and Germany had not been satisfactory. Japanese diplomats were instructed to inform their Axis colleagues that the neutrality pact had been established to win Russian cooperation with the Axis nations, but it was evident that many doubts remained in the minds of German and Italian militarists.278


269 I, 323.
270 I, 324
271 Forrest Davis and Ernest K. Lindley — How War Came, N.Y., 1942, p. 175, p. 241.
272 I, 325-330.
273 I, 331-333.
274 I, 334.
275 I, 335.
276 I, 336, 337.
277 I, 338.
278 I, 339.


47. World Reaction to Neutrality Pact

Foreign Minister Matsuoka had instructed his Ambassadors to ascertain public opinion throughout the world concerning his trip to Berlin and Rome.279 The people of England,280 the United States,281 and the Netherlands East Indies282 had been greatly shocked, and reports from China indicated that Chiang Kai-Shek also had been considerably disturbed.283 The signing of the Japanese-Russian neutrality pact intensified the doubts of many concerning Japan's peaceful intentions in the South Pacific.284

Despite the attempt of the Japanese Ambassador in London to assure the British that all of Mr. Matsuoka's efforts in past weeks had been to bring about peace, official British opinion at the moment seemed to view the neutrality pact as an effort by the Russians to encourage the southward expansion of the Japanese. There was great fear in England that a secret understanding existed between Japan, Russia, and Germany which would affect both Europe and Asia at the expense of the British.285

According to a Japanese dispatch, the Pope considered the neutrality pact as evidence of Japan's desire to bring about peace with Chiang Kai-Shek. Consequently, it was reported that the Papal Delegate to the United States had been instructed to ask President Roosevelt's assistance in restricting the war as much as possible for the sake of peace.286 It is interesting to note that Foreign Minister Matsuoka said at a gathering of the Japanese Privy Council that one of the chief objectives of the neutrality pact had been the settlement of the China incident, looking toward a general peace.287

Ambassador Nomura conversed with the Soviet Ambassador in Washington, who seemed to be very pleased with the recent diplomatic achievement of Mr. Matsuoka. The Japanese Foreign Minister was delighted himself and wired his thanks to Commissars Stalin and Molotov.288 The Soviet Ambassador remarked, however, that American public opinion had received a great shock.289 Japanese diplomats were convinced that Russia was scheming to involve Japan in war with the United States; some also stated that Stalin had used the Germans to wage war against Great Britain;290 and others believed that Russia was about to join the ranks of the Axis nations or at least to give them tacit support.291 They felt that Chungking, forced by the logic of events to come to peace with Japan, would modify its attitude towards Chinese communists considerably.292 On the other hand, some Japanese and Chinese believed that Britain and America were plotting to continue the Chinese-Japanese war as long as possible so that they could obtain some advantage for themselves.293

58. German Reaction to Neutrality Pact

According to the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin, the German reaction to this Japanese-Russian neutrality pact had been one of cold hostility at first, because of the difficulties exist


279 I, 292.
280 I, 340, 341.
281 I, 340, 342, 343.
282 I, 344.
283 I, 345.
284 I, 346.
285 I, 341.
286 I, 347.
287 I, 348, 349.
288 I, 350.
289 I, 351.
290 I, 352.
291 I, 353.
292 I, 354.
293 I, 355.


ing between Germany and Russia. However, when Britain and America reacted unfavorably toward this pact, the Germans began to realize that the strengthening of Japan would help Germany in the Far East.294

59. Russian Espionage in Manchukuo

It will be recalled that Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura had touched upon the question of recognition of Manchukuo in one of their conversations. The ratification of the Japanese-Russian neutrality treaty on April 25 occasioned a discussion among Japanese diplomats as to the future activity of Russian agents in Manchukuo.295 Some of the complexities of the political situation in this area were well illustrated by the information contained in the Japanese reports.296

60. Stalin Assumes New Powers in May 1941

The Japanese were determined to solve all current problems involving Russia so as to be completely prepared for war with the United States.297 Commissar Stalin's assumption of the Presidency of the Council of People's Commissars and Molotov's appointment as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, early in May 1941, aroused a great deal of curiosity in Tokyo as to the future plans of Russia. Japanese representatives in Berlin and Moscow were ordered to ascertain the circumstances surrounding these new happenings, and to report on the anticipated effects thereof as quickly as possible.298

The Japanese Ambassador at Moscow interpreted this new move as a decision by Stalin to assume full leadership in Russia's internal affairs, giving Molotov full direction of foreign policy so as to have a scapegoat ready for sacrifice in case German-Soviet relations deteriorated.299 Tokyo was also interested in the opinions of prominent German leaders concerning this new move,300 since the Japanese were convinced that Germany was about to attack Russia, although they did not know the exact time.301 Although Ambassador Osima in Berlin thought that Stalin had taken over the three branches of the government—political, military and internal — so that he could make some great concession to Germany, he reported that in any event, Russia was at an important turning point in its foreign policy.302

61. Germany Plans to Attack Russia

Several reports in April 1941 from the Japanese Ambassador to Berlin, summarizing the views of Japanese diplomats in Europe concerning the inter-national situation, indicated that Germany had made all preparations for attacking Russia. Listing the reasons for his belief that Germany would advance against Russia, and estimating the influence of this new move on Japanese policies, Ambassador Osima reported that Germany would not expect Japan to attack Russia simultaneously. However, Germany probably would desire Japan to keep its forces intact in Northern Manchukuo to prevent the transfer of Russian soldiers from the East to the West front.303


294 I, 356.
295 I, 357.
296 I, 358, 359.
297 I, 360.
298 I, 361.
299 I, 362.
300 I, 363.
301 I, 364.
302 I, 365.
303 I, 366-368.


Though there was no need to parallel every act of Germany, Ambassador Osima urged that Japan, seizing Singapore first, attack in the Far East.304 Requesting Mr. Matsuoka to adopt his plan as Japan's national policy and to carry it out as quickly as possible, Ambassador Osima declared that the Germans were confident of being able to fight on both the eastern and western fronts simultaneously without weakening their air power for the attack on Great Britain.305 Germany's decision to attack Russia rested in the hands of one man, Chancellor Hitler, but from all indications it was certain that Hitler would move towards the East.306

According to Ambassador Osima, Germany did not intend to lose her foothold in Finland, which was displeasing to the Russians.307 Russia had asked Germany to recognize Russia's special rights in Bulgaria in return for guaranteeing Germany's rights in Finland. Furthermore, when both Bulgaria and Yugoslavia joined the Tripartite Pact, Russia had been very disturbed since she desired to control the Balkans.308

In view of this trend of Japanese thought as expressed by Ambassador Osima, it was evident that Mr. Hull and Ambassador Nomura would be faced with a very difficult task in trying to effect a peaceful settlement of Far Eastern affairs.

The Japanese Ambassadors in Rome and Berlin, in noting recent developments of the European war, thought that German-Italian relations were growing more cooperative as Italy gained confidence in Germany. This was confirmed a little later when Premier Mussolini, in an interview with both Japanese Ambassadors, stated that perfect harmony existed between Germany and Italy, and that the war was going in their favor.309

Though Ambassadors Horikiri and Osima felt that the United States would not enter into war officially, they believed that President Roosevelt's plans to aid Britain would not change and that, therefore, America would act as though she were in the war. Both Germany and Italy expected a long struggle as a result of America's aid to Britain. Germany was about to speed up operations in the Mediterranean and to demand passage through Turkey, and having taken over various islands in the Mediterranean, it would deny Northwest Africa to the Allies as a base, and would persuade Spain to permit passage of troops to Morocco. Germany did not intend to carry out landing operations against the British at this time because of its delicate relations with Russia.310

Though it is perhaps true that Germany did not invade England in 1941 because of the growing crisis with Russia on the eastern front, a conversation between Admiral Raeder and the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin disclosed another reason which may have been predominant. Germany realized that by comparison with the German fleet of 1914-1918 its Navy of 1941 was of inferior quality. Admiral Raeder, possibly the greatest naval authority in Germany, conceded also that his country lacked the means with which to carry out landing operations against England. Thus once again had England been saved by the presence of its superior fleet. This explanation of Admiral Raeder may be the answer to the question many military analysts have long been asking — Why did not Hitler first invade England before attacking Russia?311

Returning to Germany's plans for the Balkans and the Mediterranean, as announced by the Japanese Ambassadors in Rome and Berlin, Turkey was to be allowed to assist in partitioning Greece in return for granting permission to German troops to pass through its territory. A part


304 I, 369
305 I, 370.
306 I, 367, 368.
307 I, 371, 372.
308 I, 373.
309 I, 374.
310 I, 375.
311 I, 376.


of Eastern Macedonia and two islands in the Aegean Sea were also to be acquired by Turkey. Though Russia was attempting to mollify Germany, the latter nation would complete preparations for war on the Eastern Front during May, at which time the decision to attack would be made by Chancellor Hitler. Ambassador Osima, differing from his colleague in Italy, was convinced that America would enter the war, especially because Germany would launch severe submarine attacks when the United States began its convoy system.312

Tokyo was informed by an agent in Vienna that Germany would take over the Ukraine and Caucasus as soon as the harvest was ready, which meant that Germany's war with Russia would begin in June 1941.313 Further indications of a critical situation were that Russia had made no plans for further trade collaboration with Germany,314 and German authorities were rather sensitive about articles in Japanese newspapers which touched upon German-Russian relations.315 All of this pointed to a very grave crisis in Europe.


62. England's Concern Over Japanese Policies

England was as much concerned as the United States over the militaristic policies of Japan in Asia. The Japanese Foreign Minister, apprised of this feeling, made an effort to dispel some of the suspicions aroused in England by sending a special message to the Japanese Ambassador in London.316

The intensified efforts of the Japanese to acquire intelligence in regard to the plans of the United States to aid England took on greater significance in the light of happenings in Japan itself. Japan had won virtual political and economic control in several parts of Asia with the signing of the Thai-Indo China armistice.317 An extraordinarily large war budget covering the period from April 1941 to January 1942 had been approved by the Japanese Diet,318 and many measures giving the Japanese government wide emergency powers were passed.319

According to Mr. Matsuoka the primary purpose of the Tripartite Pact was to limit the sphere of the European war by keeping those powers not engaged in current hostilities from entering the war, and by effecting peace as quickly as possible. Insisting that his principal concern was with world peace, and stressing his hope that the China affair would be brought to a sudden end, he denied all aspirations to control the destinies of other people, and affirmed that it was Japan's policy to inaugurate an era of peace in Greater East Asia. If the American government could be persuaded to restrict its activities in the western hemisphere, all difficulties could be easily eliminated. Mr. Matsuoka appealed to the British to aid him in persuading the United States to ignore untoward happenings in Asia.320

Complaining that the unwarranted suspicions of Japan's activities in London and Washington were probably due to misinformation and mistranslations emanating from the British Embassy in Tokyo and other sources, Mr. Matsuoka pointed out that the Japanese people


312 I, 377.
313 I, 378.
314 I, 379.
315 I, 380.
316 I, 381.
317 N.Y. Times, Feb. 2, 1941, 1:2.
318 ;Ibid., Feb. 7, 1941, 5:6.
319 Ibid., Feb. 17, 1941, 3:1.
320 I, 381.


were becoming increasingly concerned with the warlike movements of the British and American governments in the South Pacific.321 However, the Foreign Minister spoke of the great need of eliminating current difficulties so that world peace could avert the downfall of modern civilization.

The following passage is of interest because Prime Minister Churchill was to answer it in the negative, whereupon Mr. Matsuoka disclaimed any intention of having Japan act as a mediator between the belligerent nations of Europe:

Lastly, the Minister for Foreign Affairs would like to make it clear that Japan, deeply concerned as she is prepared to act as a mediator or to take whatever action calculated to revive normal conditions, not only in greater East Asia but anywhere the world over. The Minister for Foreign Affairs trusts that his Britannic Majesty's Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs will not hesitate to share the conviction that upon the shoulders of the leading powers rest the great and grave responsibility of restoring peace and saving modern civilization from an impending collapse. Such responsibility can only be fulfilled by a wise and courageous statesmanship willing to display an accommodating and generous position listening to other's claims and contentions. It is hardly necessary to add that whatever Japan may do she will always be actuated by the consciousness of responsibility which she owes to humanity.322

63. Mr. Churchill's Exchange with Mr. Matsuoka

A reply by Prime Minister Churchill was now sent to Mr. Matsuoka. Full assurance was given by the British Prime Minister that neither the United States nor Great Britain was preparing to attack Japan, and that all preparations made in the Far East were based solely on reasons of self-defense. British impressions concerning Japan had not been gathered from ambassadorial reports alone, but the course of events in the Far East and the speeches of Mr. Matsuoka himself had influenced London.323

With the help of the United States, Great Britain would become so strong within the next year that it would surpass the countries which had devoted most of their resources to war needs.324 The British were determined to extirpate the Nazi regime from Europe, seeking no advantage for themselves except the satisfaction of having rid the earth of tyranny and of having restored freedom to many enslaved nations of Europe. Mr. Churchill also rejected the hints of Mr. Matsuoka concerning his readiness to act as mediator between Germany and England, stating that there would be no compromise or parley in coming to a decision which would affect the whole future of humanity.325

Foreign Minister Matsuoka promptly answered that he had no desire to act as mediator between Germany and England, but that the Tripartite Pact had been entered into by Japan as a peace pact in the sense that it was designed to prevent a third power from entering either the European or Chinese-Japanese wars. Though expressing the hope that America and Japan would not become involved in a struggle on opposite sides, he remarked that Japan was determined to remain absolutely loyal to the Axis under the Tripartite Pact.326

64. British Views of the Far East Situation

Some of the dark shadows of approaching war were lifted by a report of the Japanese Ambassador to London that a recent conciliatory speech of Australian Premier Menzies had been given as a gesture of friendship from Great Britain to Japan.327 Furthermore, Admiral Nomura in Washington conversed with the British Ambassador, who told him that neither


321 I, 382, 383.
322 I, 381.
323 I, 384, 385.
324 I, 386.
325 I, 387.
326 I, 388.
327 I, 389.


the United States or England desired war in the Pacific, but that in case of difficulty the United States would back up England. According to the British Ambassador's interpretation of recent newspaper stories, the situation in the Far East was somewhat better than it had been, although it was still dangerous.328

65. British Counter Intelligence Against the Japanese329

The British were exercising censorship of foreign messages at various points in their worldwide communication net. Code messages passing from Havana to Bombay were seized by the British censor in India;330 a Japanese steamship was stopped by an armed British vessel in the Gulf of Persia, and all mail was removed for inspection;331 all mail carried on vessels touching at Hongkong was examined by the British authorities, which caused the Japanese to route vessels carrying important mail away from this port.332


66. Japanese Threats Against the Netherlands East Indies

Rumors of approaching war between America and Japan were affecting all Japanese relations in the South Pacific, especially in the Netherlands East Indies where strenuous efforts were being made to keep out Japanese fishermen.333 A conversation between a Japanese diplomat and an official of the Netherlands East Indies demonstrated some interesting views on both sides regarding the relative strength of the Japanese and the United States navies.

HOFSTRAATEN: "No, you are badly mistaken there. I am satisfied from what I have heard from American naval officers that they could sink the Japanese navy within six weeks."

ISIZAWA: "On the contrary, I have been told by Japanese navy men that in the event of an attack our ships could sink the entire American fleet within two weeks."334

Japan seemed to be ready to take severe measures against the Netherlands East Indies, if the occasion arose.335 Unfortunately, the Japanese had succeeded in getting access to secret documents and messages sent from the Netherlands Ministry in Bangkok to Dutch authorities. A request was sent to Tokyo for a Dutch language translator who could take advantage of this situation,336 but very shortly thereafter, a secret investigation by the Netherlands government disclosed that a native employee, who possessed keys for all the safes, had been in contact with the Japanese Military Attaché. Since the Japanese had learned of this investigation from a telegram of the British Attaché in Bangkok, it may be presumed that Japan was able to decipher some of the British codes.337

Though documentary evidence is not available at the present writing, it is possible that the contents of the original message disclosing this leak in the Netherlands Indies government was revealed to proper authorities at Bangkok by United States officials so that proper measures could be taken to prevent damaging revelations.


328 I, 390.
329 I, 391.
330 I, 392.
331 I, 393.
332 I, 394.
333 I, 398.
334 I, 395.
335 Ibid.
336 I, 396.
337 I, 397.


67. Dutch Counter Intelligence Against the Japanese

As early as January 10, 1941, the Japanese in the Netherlands East Indies were complaining to Tokyo that the Dutch authorities were intensifying their surveillance of Japanese nationals. For this reason, secret documents concerning Japanese plans for arousing the natives and Chinese residents against Dutch authorities were burned to avert their discovery.338

The Dutch authorities were exercising very close censorship over the mail of all foreign residents, and Tokyo was warned to send all secret correspondence by official couriers.339 Since Japanese diplomats in the Netherlands East Indies were engaged in intelligence work,340 they urged that only civilian couriers be used instead of military men, so as to avoid all misunderstandings with Dutch Authorities. This plea was occasioned by the fact that many Japanese entering Netherlands East Indies as diplomatic couriers were military men in disguise, who were easily spotted by Dutch counter espionage authorities.341

68. Japanese-Dutch East Indies Negotiations

Repercussions from Mr. Matsuoka's visit to Berlin and Rome were felt even in the Netherlands East Indies, where Japanese representatives claimed that the refusal of the Dutch to grant them trade advantages was influenced by the British and American governments. The Netherlands government insisted, however, that its decision was based on its own policy of not sending anything to Japan which could then be forwarded to Germany. All Japanese efforts to persuade the Dutch that their goods would not be reshipped to Europe seemed to be unavailing. This was especially true after the visit of Mr. Matsuoka to the Axis capitol.342

Japanese diplomatic dispatches from Batavia were quite frank in their appraisal of this situation. Not disguising the fact that all verbal arguments had been of little avail and that, therefore, a new approach would have to be made if their proposal was to be realized, Japanese agents reported that Mr. Matsuoka's trip to Berlin had blocked their negotiations to buy more essential products from the Netherlands East Indies.343

Agreeing that the Dutch had no intention of blockading Japan, but were determined to see to it that no supplies of military value would reach Germany from the Netherlands East Indies, Japanese negotiators informed Tokyo that the situation was approaching a crisis. There seemed to be little doubt that the Japanese were planning to seize the Indies eventually, but negotiations were being carried on to ensure a constant stream of supplies until a favorable opportunity arose for military conquest of this area.344


The Japanese were exerting constant pressure on Thailand to assure themselves of closer economic relations with this country. According to the Japanese, the British were ready to invade Thailand at any time that Japanese-Thaiese cooperation became too great.345 Japan was somewhat disturbed when Thailand resumed diplomatic relations with Russia, and


338 I, 399.
339 I, 400-402.
340 I, 403, 404.
341 I, 405, 406.
342 I, 407-410.
343] Ibid.
344 I, 411, 412.
345 I, 413.


Tokyo did not hesitate to inform its diplomats that Japanese-Thailand relations should tend toward promoting Thailand's reliance on Japan.346 Propaganda broadcasts were transmitted to this area from Tokyo,347 and though Japan desired a radio beacon for military purposes, Japanese diplomats explained to the Thaiese that it was needed for the safety of the Thailand-Japan Air Service.348

In mid-April Japan's pressure on Thailand became intensified. The Thaiese were informed that Japan expected them to accept her offers of assistance; there could be no mistaking Japanese intentions for this area.349

The remaining chapters of this study, with their appendices, will appear in subsequent volumes which will be published in the near future for the information of higher authorities who need to know.


346 I, 414.
347 I, 415.
348 I, 416.
349 I, 417.



Preliminary Phase
(February 14, 1941- May 12, 1941)


No. 1

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

February 15, 1941

# 85.

On the 14th at noon I presented President Roosevelt with my credentials and at the same time with Former Ambassador HORINOUCHI's release from office. In my separate numbers 86a and 87b I describe my own formal statements at the presentation ceremony together with the President's formal responses.

Secretary HULL sat with us during the ceremony and the President assumed a very attentive attitude. We talked of a number of things, in the course of which he referred to the situation in the United States, speaking as follows:

"At present Japanese-American relations are following a gradually worsening path. Incidents in China have mounted to over a hundred and troubles between Japan and the United States are inciting American public opinion. Furthermore, the newspapers of both countries are printing at random inciting articles. This is a matter to be worried about. Secretary HULL and I are endeavoring to quiet public opinion but you will remember the case of the sinking of the Maine long ago and only four years ago happened the Panay incident. I am awfully worried because I fear that through some untoward incident the worst may happen. Japan is gradually penetrating further and further south toward the Hainan Island, the Spratley Islands, French Indo-China and Thai. Now you know that in consideration of the 3-power pact Japan is not free to act independently. I fear that Germany and Italy are going to bring force to bear on you."

In response I said: "Well, it is my intention to do my utmost to prevent a rupture in Japanese-American relations. My personal opinion is that Japan and the United States ought not quarrel with each other but rather when the time comes let both countries have the grave mission of bringing about world peace."

The President replied: "I strongly agree with you and will do my best to improve relations between Japan and the United States, and whenever necessary at any time I will be glad to have interviews with you."


a Plain text.
b Not available.

Trans. 2-19-41


No. 2

FROM: Washington (Morishima)
TO: Tokyo

January 13, 1941 

# 21. (Your special message # 2.)a

I see by the papers that WAKASUGI, formerly Consul General in New York, is to accompany Ambassador NOMURA as an adviser and is coming to Washington. No doubt you have been considering what official status he is to be given in his capacity as an adviser. I might say, however, that if he is to be called merely a special official, it would be impossible for him to ask for diplomatic privileges in the United States and, furthermore, he would experience inconvenience in his more important activity and in contacting members of the Congress and the press, to say nothing of the State Department officials. Consequently, he would not be able to accomplish the mission for which he is to be especially sent. I wonder how it would be if the precedent set by Minister NISHI, when he was made a Special Ambassador to Soviet Russia, is followed and WAKASUGI, by special consideration, could be given the combined status of Minister and Counselor. I might also mention, for your reference in this connection, that among the diplomats here, especially in the case of those from Italy, -----, Mexico, Brazil, and Great Britain, there are in each office two Commercial Attaches, in addition to the Ambassador, and one of these two Attaches is given the status of Minister.


a Not available.

Trans. 1-15-41

No. 3

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

17 February 1941

# 93. 

(We are unable to decipher your message # 67a from the 18th letter on. Please retransmit.)

Regarding Wakasugi's rating, besides the situation explained in my message # 21b, Great Britain has given one of her Counselors a Minister's ranking, and also shortly she will add one more Minister. (Minister to Canada is to be transferred to Canberra as High Commissioner.)

It has also been reported that U.S. will promote her Counselor at London to a Minister, and the Legal Adviser to the newly appointed Ambassador, KOHEN (Cohen?) will also be given the Minister's ranking.

In view of the above and in consideration of the performance of his duties in relation to the State Department and the diplomatic corps in general, please decide on Wakasugi's diplomatic rank and reply as soon as possible.


a Re appointment of Col. Iwakuro as Aide to Military Attaché at Washington.
b Re status of Wakasugi.

Trans. 3-5-41


No. 4

FROM: Washington (Japanese Ambassador)
TO: London

February 14, 1941

# 6. Message from Tokyo # 68. (Part 1 of 3)

In my recent discussions in the Diet this Foreign Minister in order to persuade the United States to reflect have frankly expressed our attitude and determination and endeavor to make it clear that our national strength is not exhausted. Now when you take office, will you please begin with the President and inform both the officials and people of the United States of the following points. Please endeavor to impress them upon your listeners:

1. It is my mission to rescue our civilization from chaos and to bring peace and prosperity to the Pacific in which both Japan and America are interested. In the accomplishment of this task our two countries ought to cooperate and pull together. Since the new year, compromises between our two countries have been less in evidence. Unfortunately the American officials and people refuse to understand our real intention; or else they mistakenly deem that our aims are at odds with their own welfare. This is a very grave and dangerous hallucination. We have an uncheckable determination to oppose any country whose design it is to thwart us. Now, I hear that the Americans think that among our people there are those who secretly despise the Tri-Partite Treaty. (Of course, all countries have their dissenters.) The Americans hope that, through the prolongation of the China trouble, we will be shorn of our national strength and that if they take a strong attitude toward us they can break the solidarity of our people and bring us to our knees. At least, I hear there are such Americans, and if it is true, this sort of mistake may bring about most regrettable results.

2. It is true that our national strength is to be a certain extent exhausted; however, it is not as much so as American propaganda would indicate. Further, it is the character of our people to resent pressure from the outside and to combat it savagely. By adding to our troubles, losses and our setbacks in war, the Americans should know that they are only consolidating the morale of our folk. Now, I have seen many Americans who have traveled among us Japanese and, judging from them, if the United States was in the same predicament, the same thing would result. The Americans ought to know what result will come from following this sort of policy. On the other hand, our people must not forget that by departing from reason and acting emotionally, making compromises with people who meet them half way with sympathy and kindness, they often get further than in any other way. Now, perhaps those who are the leaders in the United States may be this sort of people. 

Trans. 2-17-41 

No. 4A

FROM: Washington (Japanese Ambassador)
TO: London

February 14, 1941

# 6. Message from Tokyo # 68. (Part 2 of 3)a

3. Do you know that in all Japan there is not one man who actually wants to fight the United States? Unfortunately, however, if trouble of any sort arises between Japan and the United States, the Soviet is sure to work directly upon the American people and try to instigate them to war. America has never started a war willfully on her own.


a DoD comment: Part 2, above, of Mr. Matsuoka's message was not available to the original historian. Through recent research, the message has been located. Such instances will occur throughout this history from time to time; suffix "A" will so indicate.


4. What does the United States have to gain by fighting Japan? In all the United States, I will wager there is not one who desires to defeat Japan and see the race of Yamato shattered but, on the other hand, if there be a man who thinks of that even in his wildest dreams, let him know once and for all that this cannot be done. Now let's suppose for a moment that they did defeat us and forced upon us another Versailles Treaty. It would not take us any thirty years to throw off that yoke. No, our deliverance would come swiftly. Behold the resurgence of the German Reich! Japan has a government such as no country on this earth possesses. By the eternal glory of our emperor, the King of Heaven, we have overcome every vicissitude through which we have passed in years gone by. If we were to go down now, swifter than that of Germany would be our restoration and like lightening would come our vengeance and in this there is no element of doubt. The imperial family is the fountainhead from whence issues the uniform stream of our national existence. We have a peerless nation, totally and completely incomprehensible to all outsiders. In sum, if Japan and the United States, who have always been friends, now break, it will be a tragedy for both and the civilization of the world will be cast into chaos. Under these circumstances I can tell you one thing; the United States ought to ------ absolutely must ----- think this matter through.

Trans. 2-17-41 

No. 5

FROM: Washington (Japanese Ambassador)
TO: London 

February 14, 1941

# 6. Message from Tokyo # 68. (Part 3 of 3).

5. If Japan and the United States fight, Soviet Russia is sure to move; and suppose that Japan is completely defeated as the United States hopes that she will be, then Soviet Russia will grab the whole of China and Bolshevize her, and on the wave of her success, she will Bolshevize the greater part of Asia. I wonder if the United States presages such an eventuality? If, in one chance out of a million, Japan should go under, a fearful situation would prevail in the Far East.

6. The foreign policy of Imperial Japan is based on a logic unique in the world. Its utmost concern is the security of world peace and prosperity. She had not, in the least, any intention of attacking the United States. Therefore, that the United States is intensely working towards the building up of her defenses is a phenomenon beyond our comprehension. Japan and the United States should never oppose each other, but cooperate. Recent words and actions of political leaders in the United States have been extremely provocative, and it would seem that their object is to build a defense sufficiently powerful to enable the United States to act as a police official for the whole world. Such a thing is indeed not only regrettable for the sake of peace in the Pacific, but also unbecoming of the United States. Instead of interfering often with the right to livelihood enjoyed by the other powers, the United States, I believe, should awaken to the responsibilities that are hers by right and that she has towards world peace, and in the spirit of mutual concession, should devote all her energy to the solution of the impending crisis and to the promotion of the well-being of humanity.

Relay to London.

Trans. 2-17-41


No. 6

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State.


3           TOKYO, Jan 27, 1941—6 p.m.
(Received January 27—6:38 a.m.)


A member of the Embassy was told by my ----- colleague that from many quarters, including a Japanese one, he had heard that a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor was planned by the Japanese military forces, in case of "trouble" between Japan and the United States; that the attack would involve the use of all the Japanese military facilities. My colleague said that he was prompted to pass this on because it had come to him from many sources, although the plan seemed fantastic.


711.94/1935: Telegram
(S.D. II, P. 133)

No. 7

FROM: Honolulu (Okuda)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)a

February 15, 1941

# 027.

Chief of Office Routing.

To Chief of Fifth Branch, Section 3 of the General Staff and Captain Ogawa:

WOTUTO requested on the 14th that the information noted below be forwarded to you. I find it difficult to relay the information contained in paragraph 1, but I do so anyway.

1. Indications seem to be that the U.S. has decided to declare war on Japan within the next three weeks.
2. Definite advice will be available twenty-four hours in advance of such a declaration by the U.S.
3. The U.S. plans to cut Japanese trade lanes to South America.


aTo foreign ministry.

Trans. 2-18-41


No. 8

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

February 19, 1941 

# 095

At the time of my assuming my post the newspapers of this country manifested a spirit of welcoming me personally as one who has a large number of friends in this country and as being well acquainted with conditions here, but they are all agreed in saying that as far as the future of Japanese-American relations is concerned there is nothing to do but wait for future developments. The newspapers have also reported the President's press conference of the 11th (see my special intelligence report) and activities of the Japanese Navy in the French Indo China area; taking the attitude that Japanese-American relations still permit of no optimism.

To cite some of the more noteworthy newspapers articles, the New York Herald Tribune of the 12th pointed out the great significance of the statement by President Roosevelt on the day of Ambassador Nomura's assumption of his post, to the effect that there will be no change in the established policy of assistance to Britain, even though the U.S. should become involved in war in the Far East; and asserted that even though Ambassador Nomura will likely begin conversations with the U.S. government officials looking to Japanese-American negotiations, unless the Japanese are prepared to make greater concessions than they are generally anticipated now, there is very little hope of any success. It also set forth that the Ambassador personally is friendly to the U.S., that during his office as Foreign Minister he had worked for the renewal of the trade treaty, and that he will likely renew his efforts for the conclusion of a treaty.

The Evening Star on the 12th related how the German and Italian diplomatic representatives in Washington turned out to welcome the Ambassador at the station on his arrival, suggesting that Germany and Italy expect the new Ambassador to bring about some joint diplomatic moves with the German-Italian Axis in Washington. It was asserted that local diplomatic circles will be watching with interest to see what conciliatory moves will be made by Ambassador Nomura in trying to enlist American good-will for the improvement of Japanese-American relations. It was further stated that when it comes to the actual problems, expressions of intentions and personal relationships, mean nothing, but that friendship of the U.S. for Japan will depend upon Japan's actions in the Far East and South Pacific, and that the new Ambassador knows well what the conditions are for bringing about closer relations between Japan and America.

Trans. 2-26-41

No. 9

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

February 19, 1941 

# 96.

Although it has been but a few days since I assumed my post, I wish to report my general observations.

(1) There are definite indications of American-British solidarity and identity of feelings Germany in the present war. Although no tangible proof can be given, the general sentiment in America against Germany appears to be as strong as, if not stronger, than it was during the world war.


(2) Since the Tripartite Treaty, there is a definite feeling among the people here that Japan is their real enemy, and also that, coinciding with the German spring offensive, Japan will embark on her southward advance and that Japan is using the Thailand-French Indo-China situation as an excuse to prepare herself for an attack on Singapore.

(3) There is much talk of America's backing England, Australia, New Zealand, and Dutch Indies against Japan's southward advance.

(4) In the event of American-British joint naval action, many capital ships will be needed in the Pacific and many smaller ships in the Atlantic. Therefore, if the situation demands it, British capital ships will take over the Pacific area and American destroyers will take over the Atlantic area. On the basis of this argument, there are some who believe that in exchange for the aid of latest type British capital ships, America will furnish destroyers to assist England. This is a very important question, deserving our utmost consideration.

(5) Some are bold enough to say that, in a year or two, the American fleet at Hawaii will make a westward advance, claiming that Japan's southward advance is part of her national plan and for that reason America cannot maintain a neutral attitude. Should Britain fall, the Americans will add whatever remains of the British fleet to her own fleet to attack Japan.

Please communicate the contents of this message to the War Minister and the Navy Minister.

Trans. 2-21-41 

No. 10

February 20, 1941

Japan Must Expand Nomura Says

Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, new Japanese Ambassador, said yesterday that his country must expand southward, that he hopes the expansion can be by peaceful economic means but that he cannot promise Japan will not use force to carry out the program.

Describing Japan as a nation bent only on preserving the peace, the Ambassador declared that war can be avoided between the United States and Japan unless the initiative comes from the American side.

"Japan will expand to the south peacefully and economically," he said in Japanese to an interpreter at his first press conference since arriving in Washington February 11.

Doesn't Expect War With U.S.

Under the present economic bloc system Japan can no longer get goods from far places. Naturally she has to get them nearby.

"I cannot say with absolute definiteness whether Japan will have to resort to force to secure these necessities," he added.

He did not expect war with the United States, he said, unless this country makes the first move.

Six feet in height and a veteran of more than three decades in his country's navy, the Ambassador took great delight in his rejoinders to questions fired by a group of forty reporters.

Though he has a good command of the English language, Nomura spoke through an interpreter, yesterday, apparently to give himself more time to prepare careful answers to all questions.


The picture he painted of Japan's activities and of her "new order" for Asia was one of a peaceful nation intent on removing trade barriers.

Atmosphere Not so Good

Persistently reporters attempted to get him to express some of Japan's objections to recent American and British military movements in the Far East, to admit a danger of war with the United States, to voice Japan's objections to fortification of the far Pacific Island of Guam and to disclose the degree of cooperation existing between Japan and Germany.

None of these attempts was successful.

Whenever a barbed question was asked the Ambassador and his interpreter would laugh uproariously, slap thighs and prepare an answer.

The closest that Nomura came to saying that Japanese-American relations were something less than rosy was a statement at the start, that he found the "atmosphere in Washington not quite so good as I expected when I was in Japan. I thought it would not be so bad".

"Do you believe there is danger of war between the United States and Japan," Nomura was asked.

"Personally I believe that there should not be war, and there will not be war," he replied. "But of course that is my personal opinion."

"Can there be any commercial equality in Asia in view of Japan's program?" was the next question.

"I believe that eventually, when peace and normal conditions are restored in China, it will be quite possible to restore normal policies and guarantees to United States commerce," Nomura said.

"Of course at present there are military controls. Without these controls it would be impossible to carry out our operations. It is inevitable that there will be certain cases of impairing third-power interests. But this is merely temporary."

Queried on Guam

Asked if Japan objected to strengthening by the United States of Guam and Samoa, voted yesterday by the house, Nomura replied:

"Of course from the Japanese side we don't like to see an air or naval base so near our territory, especially a base of a great power like the United States."

"But we cannot interfere."

Asking if he had any objection to British reinforcements arriving at Singapore, the Japanese envoy replied similarly: "Singapore doesn't concern us. It is a British base."

Asked whether he had brought with him any concrete suggestions for improving relations, Nomura replied that "I can not answer that."

"Do you think Japan will have to expand her territory some more in order to establish this new order?" the Ambassador was asked.

"No," he replied—in English.

Regarding current activities in Indo-China and Thailand he said,

"Indo-China and Thailand have special reference to the China war. The main object of Japan there is the economic, or exchange of goods." He explained that his country is interested chiefly in making sure that no war supplies get into China from Indo-China or Thailand."

Nomura was asked, "Will Japan extend her relations with the Axis?"

"There is a treaty and Japan will stick to it," he said.

If the United States goes to war against Germany would Japan declare war on the United States?" was the next stickler.


"I don't think the United States will declare war against Germany, so the situation you refer to will not arise." Nomura answered.

"Does the treaty obligate Japan to go to war against the United States if the United States goes to war against Germany?" the envoy was asked.

"That is a question of treaty interpretation; I will refrain from going into it," he said cautiously.

Then he volunteered the following:

"When Japan entered upon the Axis treaty it was her intention to preserve the peace. Her motives were entirely peaceful. We wanted to avoid war with the United States."

Asked for a comment on a statement by Undersecretary of State Welles, Tuesday, that Japan should express her intention in deeds not words the Japanese Ambassador said:

"That remark by Mr. Welles may mean some criticism against Japanese or some other country. Japan sincerely tries to carry out her words."

The press conference broke up when a reporter asked whether he believed "the Roosevelt Administration is trying to get the United States into a war."

"I'll ask you," said Admiral Nomura, laughing heartily.

Nomura was characterized recently by President Roosevelt as an old friend.

(Washington Post) — (20 February 1941: Columns 1 & 2)

No. 11

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

February 27, 1941 

# 100.

On the 27th the German Ambassador called on me and said that according to a telegram from the German Ambassador in Washington, you said, in response to a question put to you at the press conference regarding Japan's stand in the event of German-American war, that "it involved the question of the application of the Tripartite Agreement."

As the German Ambassador wishes to verify the above phrase let me know the facts relative to it.

Trans. 3-3-41 

No. 12

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

February 28, 1941

# 122. Re your # 100.a

At a press interview on February 19th, they cornered me with queries as to whether Japan would join the war in case the United States does. I explained, "That is a matter of the Tripartite Pact, and I do not wish to discuss it. Originally this Pact was concluded with peaceful intentions toward the United States."


a The German Amb. in Tokyo desires verification of your statement in Washington re the question of application of the Tripartite Agreement being involved in the event of a U.S.-German war.)


For your information I am sending you the clipping (Washington Post) by separate wire (# 123).b


b See No. 13.

Trans. 3-4-41

No. 13

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

March 2, 1941

# 123.

"If the United States goes to war against Germany, would Japan declare war on the United States," was the next stickler. "I don't think the United States will declare war against Germany, so the situation you refer to will not arise," NOMURA answered. "Does the treaty obligate Japan to go to war against the United States if the United States goes to war against Germany," the Envoy was asked. "That is a question—I will refrain from going into it," he said cautiously. Then he volunteered the following: "When Japan entered upon the Axis Treaty it was her intention to preserve the peace. Her motives were entirely peaceful. We wanted to avoid war with the United States."

Note: This is request message. It was referred to in No. 14 (Tokyo to Washington # 107) in which Matsuoka warns Nomura to be extremely careful in his replies to such questions and to keep pace with the Foreign Office.

Trans. 3-11-41

No. 14

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington

March 4, 1941

# 107.

Re your # 123a.

Though Your Excellency is sufficiently aware of the necessity of being extremely cautious in your replies to questions as to whether Japan will enter the conflict in the event the United States attacks Germany, I am gradually clarifying this in the affirmative at the Plenary Budget Sessions of the Lower House. As far as your manner of answering questions is concerned, henceforth, when questions are put to you on successive occasions, please keep pace with me. Please transmit your wire and this one to Germany.


a No. 13.

Trans. 3-8-41


No. 15

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

March 8, 1941
# 136.

(Part 1 of 2) Strictly Secret.

To be handled in Government Code.

Today, the 8th, at HULL's residence, we had a secret conversation all by ourselves lasting for more than two hours.

The Secretary explained to me his economic policy and said that the economics of extreme nationalism was bound to invite war and that he had at one time concluded a treaty especially with Canada even against preferentialism practiced within the British Empire. From this point on we entered into the main stream of our discussion. I said:

"The President had once pointed out that Japanese-American relations were in a state of deterioration. Suppose that the worse came to worst; this worst state of affairs would recur every ten or twenty years and nothing would be so unfortunate as that to both countries."

The Secretary agreed with me in this view, and so I proceeded, saying:

"We need, at this time, to maintain in a cool-headed manner our promises to each other and reduce to the minimum anything that is provocative." He again concurred in this.

I then warned him by emphatically pointing out how the embargo arouses antagonism. However, he did not make any satisfactory reply.

Then the Secretary stated:

"The great aspiration on the part of HITLER for military conquest is as insatiable as were those of NAPOLEON and ALEXANDER. It appears that Japan approves of such conquest and that what she professes as the New Order in the Far East is in fact merely the conquest of the Great Far East by force of arms."

Then our conversation shifted to the subject of China, French Indo-China and Thailand. I said, "What Japan is seeking in China are three things, namely; as may be clearly seen from Japan's treaty with that government, a good neighbor (of course if a third power attempts to establish military bases in China, Japan would object to it as a threat to her); economic cooperation (Japan places great importance on such products as iron and coal. She has no intention of interfering with any third power in the matter of ordinary commerce); and an anti-Communist agreement (the Communist Party is succeeding in the northwestern part of China), and Japan is trying to get these on the basis of equality. So long as the army is in China, it has for its object victory. War, as it is fought today, is an economic war as well; and so it is inevitable that the economic state in the occupied territories assumes the form of economic planning and control."

The Secretary did not very strongly object to this view, and merely stated "The question of the 250 protests could well be settled without touching upon this question." 

Trans. 3-13-41


No. 16

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

March 8, 1941
# 136.

(Part 2 of 2)

Strictly secret. To be handled in Government code.

I said to him: "Heretofore French Indo-China has followed the policy of seclusion too closely. It is necessary for Japan to get her to open her doors in order that Japan may cope with the present tendency of dividing the world into economic spheres. As to Thailand, we would like to have her also become a good neighbor of ours. I suppose you already know that we have a treaty of friendship with her. I don't know personally whether naval forces were used or not in the recent mediation. They may have been used in demonstrating our power so as to hasten a successful conclusion of the mediation."

To this, he did not say a word in reply.

Then the Secretary said: "How about the advance towards Singapore and into the Dutch East Indies?", which he thought was the most important point of our conversation and, quoting the arguments presented by politicians, he seemed to express fear over the possibility of Japan's planning a more aggressive military conquest in the Greater Far East.

I explained, "There was no danger of Japan advancing towards Singapore and the Dutch East Indies by means of force unless circumstances make it unavoidable. What Japan wants from the Dutch East Indies is of an economic nature."

As regards 'unless circumstances make it unavoidable,' since it was previously stated that if the United States stiffens the embargo, those who advocate that we should acquire oil wells would get the upper hand regardless of the question of whether we must acquire oil from some other place, I asked him what he thought of this. The Secretary seemed to think that Japan would be forced rather by the Tripartite Alliance than by the embargo. (Regarding this point, the President also expressed a similar view at the time of our first meeting).

Furthermore, the Secretary appeared to be greatly concerned over the alleged visit which you are to make to the European countries.

At any rate, today's conversation was only a beginning. He said that he would discuss such questions only with an Ambassador and "off the record" whether the discussion is official or private; and added that although the President is in complete agreement with his views, he would be glad to arrange for my interview with the President. He went so far as to show me the back-door entrance to the White House so that I could avoid the newspaper men.

We agreed to consider today's conversation as having taken place with neither party taking the initiative. Since I expect to have similar conversations in the future, will you please be especially careful not to let this matter leak out to the officials on the outside.

Trans. 3-13-41

No. 17

FROM: Washington
TO: Tokyo

March 9, 1941
# 134.

On the 5th, Wakasugi met and talked with Roy Howard. The outline of what Howard had to say is given below, for whatever interest it may have:

1. Howard said that his travel schedule had made it impossible for him to have accepted the kind invitation of the Foreign Minister. He also said that he felt the necessity of rushing


home to the U.S. to aid his friend Wilkie in his campaign for the Presidency which at that time seemed to be going against him.

However, Howard said, he is considering making another visit to the Far East as soon as the British Aid Bill, which is at present being discussed in Congress, is decided upon.

2. Howard, on his last trip, flew from Rangoon to Chungking and thence to Hongkong. While in Chungking he called on Chiang Kai-Shek and other key men. Chiang's spirits were so high that he appeared even younger than he did when Howard saw him on the previous trip. His, as well as the others', spirit to fight on against Japan is as ever on the increase.

Howard said that he asked Chiang Kai-Shek if he had any intention of accepting Japanese demands of setting up a patrol area between North China and the Soviet Union to guard against Communism; to suppress anti-Japanese sentiment in China; to cooperate in the economic development of China, and through these acts to settle Sino-Japanese differences.

Chiang's reply, Howard said, could not be quoted here but the gist of it was that now that Japan had set up the Nanking government and installed Wang Ching-wei therein, there was no hope of any amicable settlement.

3. With regard to the query as to the possibility of settling the Sino-Japanese incident through the mediation of the President of the United States, Howard said that if Japan guaranteed non-aggression against China, there was, in his opinion, a possibility. (The same opinion was expressed by President Stewart of Yenching University in Peking when Wakasugi saw him there recently.)

4. Howard said that he knew the Foreign Minister well. "Matsuoka", he said, "has a realistic view of politics. He knows that win or lose the battle, an American-Japanese war would end in nothing but losses for both countries and absolutely no gains. This conviction on the part of Matsuoka is one guarantee of peace between the two countries."

He added confidentially that he has described the man Matsuoka as a realist to the President.

5. Howard said that the most difficult problem in the relations between the U.S. and Japan is America's ignorance of the truth behind Japan's avowed goal of establishing a New Order in East Asia.

Americans, as a rule, are under the impression that-----(garbled). Through this, Japan, disregarding all foreign interests and intentions in the Far East, will attempt to do what she pleases to suit herself through force of arms.

Since the signing of the Tripartite Pact, this impression is growing stronger all the time, for Germany has used this very same system in Europe.

It is true that the U.S. has used force against her neighbors in the past, Howard said, giving as instances Nicaragua, Mexico, and Cuba. However, since then, the U.S. has been trying to right these wrongs and to offer cooperative assistance.

At present, the U.S. policy is to settle all differences with foreign countries by treaty terms and through international law. In this way, she is hoping to bring about order throughout the world.

In view of this, the U.S. cannot tolerate the setting up of a new order program fashioned to suit Japan and Japan only, for, if allowed, it would break down the U.S.'s policy from its very foundation.

The country is unified in the belief that two policies cannot exist in this world.

To ease this fundamental difference between the two countries, Howard suggests that the fact that Japan's real intentions are peaceful and involve only economic factors, be explained by someone like the Foreign Minister. He adds that in his opinion, it would be well to repeat at every opportunity that Japan does not have any political or militaristic ambitions; that Japan is not embarked upon any domination program.


6. Japan is not grasping the most important points to publicize in her propaganda work. It is useless for Japan to spend so much time trying to explain the China Incident.

Americans are very ignorant of foreign affairs, he said. This can be seen by the fact that they are under the impression that a totalitarian state like China is a Democracy. Americans with Communistic leanings even claimed the Soviet Union to be a democracy until the German-Soviet Union anti-aggression pact was signed.

Japan should publicize the fact that in actuality, Japan is similar to a democracy and that there is no reason for the U.S. to look upon her as an enemy.

Mailed to all consuls general in U.S. and Canada, (plus Honolulu).

Trans. 3-11-41

No. 18

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

March 8, 1941
# 135.

To be handled in Government Code.

(Secret outside the Department).

I had an opportunity to talk with many well-known persons and newspaper men in New York. Viewing the developments taking place in the two countries, giving aid to Britain has virtually become a national policy with nationwide support. The influence of the Isolationists is steadily declining and although no one advocates the sending of troops to Europe, pending the passage of the bill to aid Great Britain, preparations are progressing for shipment of arms and materials to Britain in increasing numbers. Eventually, many say, that American warships will be used to convoy these shipments. Although at present there is no likelihood of Congress declaring war, it is certain that the President as a Commander-in-Chief has the power to dispatch warships to any part of the world.

The United States believes that if Great Britain succeeds in withstanding the German spring offensive, the war would become a drawn out affair in view of the fact that submarine warfare is not intended to be decisive but one of gradual exhaustion, and, therefore, the prospect of a victory would increase. Although the United States realizes that in comparison with the position Germany held during the first World War, it is at present much stronger, the people do not discuss this subject. As to Japanese-American relations, they believe they have reached a stalemate and since the United States does not wish inwardly to face crises on two fronts simultaneously, the China question has somewhat receded from the focus of interest. Due to the fact that peaceful settlement has been reached recently in French Indo-China, the people of the United States did not make a great ado over this question; however, as regards the question of French Indo-China versus Thai, they regard this question as a policy on the part of Japan to acquire bases for further southward advance, and so, if troops are moved further in the direction of Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, they will begin to consider the situation as very serious for both the United States and Great Britain. Consequently, in such an event the United States would launch a thorough-going embargo against Japan and then, although the United States would not move her principal naval forces westward, she might cut off our sea routes and thus institute what may be called a long distance blockade. They see that there is a chance of such a strategy developing into a long-drawn-out and extensive guerrilla war on the sea.

As to the Axis Powers, they regard Italy as having already fallen under German pressure and for this reason they do not consider her an important factor. In other words, Germany comes


first; Japan, second. For this reason, Japan should face the situation in a cool-headed manner and avoid, as far as possible, expressing views that may be provocative. Inasmuch as there is the possibility of the present war becoming a long-drawn-out affair, Japan should make ready for any unforeseen eventuality ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- I believe that there is little prospect of improvements being achieved by means of temporary makeshifts and that there is no other way but for Japan to adopt a bold counter-policy.

Please transmit this message to the Premier and to the Navy and War Ministers.

Trans. 3-11-41

No. 19

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

February 25, 1941
# 112.

The following are the impressions I got as the result of meeting with various foreign representatives. I forward it to you for whatever value it may be.

1. With Japanese-U. S. relations in a critical condition, it is natural that the newspapers are full of speculations as to the possibility of war between the two countries. Inquiries of me on this point are frequent, as may be imagined. I have replied to all questions concerning the "southward expansion" program along the lines contained in your instructions.

2. I met the British Ambassador on this the 25th. He spoke very softly and his general attitude was very calm and collected.

He said that even though Japan had decided to sit at the same table as Germany and Italy, England had no actual differences with Japan. He brought up the subject of our so-called "southward expansion", but when I explained the matter to him, indicated satisfaction and comprehension. He continued by saying that England's war spirit was high and that with the aid of the United States, victory was a certainty. Today, Italy as a threat to Egypt is a thing of the past.

He added that he hoped that Japan would not misjudge the general outlook.

I said that it seemed inevitable that a war which involved both naval and continental warfare would be a long drawn out affair. "Was England making preparations for a long drawn out War?" I asked.

He replied that it may be said today that the air force holds the key to victory or defeat. England is gradually strengthening her air power. Great Britain once said that the war would last for three years. It is just at the half way mark at present, he said.

3. The representative of the Soviet Union told me that the U.S.S.R. would probably remain neutral for an indefinite period.

4. The Italian representative said that Germany and Italy would not welcome a long term war. The United States, on the other hand, has the ability to withstand a war lasting several years, if they are determined to do so. Moreover, the U.S. is gradually moving in the direction of entering the war, he said.

Trans. 2-26-41


No. 20

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

14 March 1941
# 145.

As it had been reported that the President would soon be taking a vacation trip, I had arrangements made by the Secretary of State and had a secret interview with him for an hour and a half this afternoon. (The Secretary of State was present taking notes.) The conversation ranged over a number of topics, and I told him that if further positive assistance is given China, and the "embargo" against Japan is made more rigid, this would cause uneasiness among our people, and that there ought to be some way of doing something to improve relations between the two countries. To this the President replied that the most serious obstacle is the Tripartite Alliance, that this had been a surprise to the American people; who feel that likely there will be greater developments than are to be seen in the wording of the published text of the same, and that in view of Foreign Minister Matsuoka's visit to Europe it is feared that there might be a further drive southward in concerted action with Germany's offensive. I replied that this would not necessarily follow, that our foreign policy is determined not by the Foreign Minister alone, but by all the Cabinet members. Being a person who is reluctant to give assent ----- I did not expect that he would say anything ----- .

The Secretary was pleased over the day's interview and urged that Japan take the "initiative" in bringing about a better situation. (Just before this the President did say that there would likely be some way out.). Inasmuch as they had again inquired regarding the matter of a southward push, I replied that I thought there was no danger of this. The President also added that one great problem after the war will be the regulation armaments. He said that personally he is very fond of the Navy, (his private room is decorated with nothing but pictures of battleships), but that as we well know there are many difficulties involved in carrying on a war with the Pacific Ocean intervening, and that it would not be a wise thing to burden the people with the heavy costs of an armament race between Japan and the U.S.; also that the appearance of motion pictures of Matsuoka and Hitler would have a disquieting effect upon the people. I agreed that this is quite possible ----- (last 3 lines garbled).

(On request of Tokyo's # 122, the last three lines were retransmitted in # 149 (See I, 21) from Washington.)

Trans. 3-19-41

No. 21

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

17 March 1941
# 149.

Regarding your # 122a, the portion of the message requested retransmission is as follows: "I agreed that the was quite possible and we finished our talk in good spirits. Details will be sent later. Please keep this matter secret for future occasion."


a "Send last part of your # 145," (Nomura's talk with Roosevelt, 14 March.)

Trans. 8-11-41


No. 22

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

15 March 1941
# 146.

(In 4 parts, complete).

The particulars of my interview with the President on the 14th were as follows:

I began by saying that I would address him with the frankness of a seaman, and that he would please pardon if I appeared impolite. He remarked laughingly that my English would do. Further prefacing my remarks with the statement that while Japan does not wish to fight America, if the present attitudes of the two countries are persisted in, a crisis in the Pacific must be reached, I came to the question of the difficulties involved in carrying on a frontal war with America, and told him that in the event of a Japan-American war, a war in the Pacific would not be an easy thing for the United States either, that even if the U.S. should win, the result of such a war would be the loss of peace and order in the Far East, that Soviet influence would become prevalent in the Far East, bringing about a recurrence of the difficulties of the monarchial days. Manchukuo would likely come under this influence, with the danger of China and even the entire Far East becoming Sovietized. The U.S. would have nothing to gain thereby. On the other hand in meeting Great Britain's continental blockade in the Atlantic, Germany's use of submarines and airplanes to attack Great Britain's shipping in a counter-blockade would become increasingly violent, with bombings even of non-military establishments, and also greater activity in the way of British counter-attacks. This war cannot be terminated by (such means) but will become a long drawn out war of exhaustion. The former great war affords proof that a long drawn out war brings serious reactions socially to both the victors and the vanquished alike, if not indeed social revolution. (The President gave assent to this point.) At such a time as this both the governments of Japan and the U.S. bear a grave responsibility for cooperating in maintaining the peace of the Pacific, and for preventing the spread of hostilities.

Coming next to the question of Japan's policy on the continent, I stated that it was Japan's policy to reach a local settlement of the dispute between Japan and China and to prevent its spread, but that one reason for its having become as extensive and long drawn out as it has, is the absolute anti-Japanese attitude of the Nationalist Government. Inasmuch as I had explained to the Secretary of State, the other day, what it is that Japan asks of China, I would omit a repetition of this, only to say that the treaty made with the Wang government gives evidence of the spirit of good neighborliness, friendship, and equality with which we are cooperating in economic matters and in an effort to resist Communism.

(Part 2)

There seem to be various misunderstandings in regard to the new order in East Asia, and I myself do not know of any clear definition as to what it is, however, it does mean that Japan is to be able to secure the commodities essential to her existence while preserving friendly relations with the adjacent neighbor nations, and the "bloc" economics and the economic pressure of the powers have given impetus to this program. To go more into detail, we desire to have the economic and trade doors open to our nearby neighboring nations, and we are planning for cooperative prosperity, but we are making no demands for territory. It is the same thing as the Pan Americanism or good neighbor policy of your country, but due to the fact that we are not as clever as your country in carrying it out we frequently invite misunderstandings.

The President and the Secretary looked at each other and laughed; I told them that I believed that even these matters were not such as could not be settled without recourse to


war, but that if at this time further positive assistance is given China and if the "embargo" is made more rigid, the relations between the two nations would be still further aggravated, however I still believed that some way can be found for an amicable solution.

To this the President replied as follows:

(1) My grandfather traveled and traded in all parts of China ----- entered a certain harbor of Haiti (?) on a Japanese merchant ship ----- sold a lot of goods at 10¢ and 15¢ apiece to the Negroes, also entered Santiago, Cuba, and sold all the stock that had accumulated. ----- saw that Japan was well able to compete with other countries on a basis of equality.

(Part 3)

----- in regard to Mexico, for example, we would be able to overcome her by force, but this would result in more harm than good. Some senators have advocated the acquisition of the islands in the Caribbean, (this, he said, is no national secret), but he said that Great Britain paid out $20,000,000 for two million Negroes, and that there is no need of taking these over. He said that he could not believe that Japan could continue long to govern China with her civilization of several millenniums, even though she might do so for a time.

Hitler's success -—--- (the Secretary ----- agreed ----- repeating "world conquest -----. Iraq ----- make Africa a colonial territory -----. After Germany's victory in the war, and the new order in East Asia, the U.S. will stand ----- and there she can never consent to this. Furthermore when Mussolini with Hitler's ----- Germany victory, a friend of which Japan must beware.

(2) China has an old civilization and by means of the radio her language is becoming unified, and she is about to emerge from the period of ruling military cliques into national unity. Until rather recently Russia was made up of nomadic peoples, a large part of them illiterate. Her civilization is behind the times and she is ruled by one man, Stalin, and is not in a position to profit -----. According to the report of an attaché who was with the 8th Route Army, the program of the 8th Route Army is not Communistic but "educational", but he may be somewhat mistaken.

I then told him something of the way the Communist influence has permeated the northwestern areas of China, and that the Japan-China emergency must not be allowed to continue on indefinitely. -----.

(Part 4)

(3) The Tripartite Alliance stirred up the American people tremendously. As long as such a treaty exists there is danger that ----- developments ----- result in southern advance in concert with Germany.

I therefore explained to him that this treaty has been forced upon us by the oppressive acts of the U.S. and that its object was "preventative" and not "offensive" and that it is therefore to be called a peaceful treaty, but he said it remains to be seen what the results of the Foreign Minister's visit to Europe will be. However, there may still be some way of bringing about a change for better in the situation.

(4) The policy of the government is to break Germany and to help Britain to win, and therefore exports even to the Soviet, of cotton, and machine tools, for instance, if they enter Germany from Russia will increase Germany's power to continue the war. This has given rise to embarrassing problems between us and Russia. Further explanation was then made regarding the "embargo" against Japan.

(5) Now and then persons calling themselves representatives of the Japanese government come over, but the U.S. government cannot deal with them. However, if it is necessary, it is always ready to talk freely with the Ambassador, as we have today, through the President, or the Secretary of State.


At any rate the conversation was pleasant throughout and they were concerned over the situation in the Far East. The Secretary finally thanked me, and made the statement reported in the latter part of my previous message.

Please be careful that this, as well as the former (previous) messagea by no means be allowed to leak out.


a (See I, 20 & 21).

Trans. 3-18-41

No. 23

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

20 March 1941
# 157.

My observations concerning the present activities of the United States are as follows:

On the 19th the Lower House approved the $7,000,000,000 "Aid for Britain" Budget by a vote of 337 to 55 and without amendments. In addition to this they had previously approved a $3,500,000,000 Defense Budget. The President recently made a stirring address. Now the belligerent spirit of the people is being stirred up so that they are beginning more and more to support the dictatorial powers of the President. Well, when it comes to actually assisting Great Britain, ships are what is most needed and at present Great Britain's month losses, through sinking, amount to 500,000 tons. The argument has been put forward that in the United States' ship building program, it is better to construct more small craft than warships. In any case it is very difficult to speedily increase ship building capacity. Nevertheless, it is being said that by next year twice as many craft will be produced as this year. When it comes to delivering ships to Great Britain, there is a growing feeling here that, if necessary, they should be convoyed by American warships. By and large, it appears that the officials are making a great many military preparations. I do not think that the Congress will ever declare war, but for that matter the United States is actually already in the war. Influential American officials say that Germany may have a temporary success, and even though she succeeds in landing troops in Great Britain, long term occupation of those islands will be impossible. They hold that even though Great Britain is invaded, the war will not end but rather that, in that case, it will be a long, long struggle, ending no one knows when.

Relayed to London and Berlin.

Trans. 3-22-41

No. 24

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

20 March 1941
# 160.

The activities of the United States in connection with the convoy system exercised by the American Navy are as follows:

1. Now that the "Aid to Britain" Law has passed, America finds that she cannot immediately transfer the craft which constitute the most urgent need. The United States knows that she cannot exercise her aid to Britain unless the threat on the high seas is eliminated. Therefore, some sort of convoy system carried on by the Navy is deemed essential. It has been reported recently that German submarines are in the waters near this country and consequently popular opinion is gradually coming to recognize this necessity. The Committee to Defend


America by Aiding the Allies, which seems to reflect the opinions of the Government and which was formed last year before destroyers were transferred to Britain, recently passed a resolution to the effect that if convoys are needed, they shall be afforded. The Navy, too, recognized this necessity, and the President, himself, is said to have ordered the Navy to draw up a definite plan.

2. Since it is feared that through convoying ships the United States may precipitate its entry into the war, substitute proposals have been advanced; namely—

a. That American warships to transferred to England and that they do the convoying.

b. That the cruising limits under the Neutrality law be extended and that the convoy limits of British craft be curtailed.

3. Concerning convoys, there is a prohibition stipulation in the "Aid to Britain" Law. However, constitutionally speaking, this has no effect in limiting the President's powers as Commander-in-Chief. From a constitutional point of view, therefore, it is very doubtful if this clause has any meaning. Furthermore, the President is said to be considering abolishing from the Neutrality Law the provision (the cash and carry principle) prohibiting American merchantmen from stopping in belligerent zones.

Relayed to London, Berlin, and New York. 

Trans. 3-22-41

No. 25

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

21 March 1941
# 162.

Relayed to London and Berlin.

It is estimated that not only the Democratic Representatives but also two thirds of the Republicans will vote approval of the policy of the administration, when the vote is taken in the House on the 7 billion dollar budget for carrying out the so-called Aid-to-Britain bill.

Some of the leaders of the Republican party who formerly were opposed to aiding Britain are now among those who will vote for the appropriation. Public opinion in the U.S. is rallying to the support of the President's aid for Britain. 

Trans. 3-25-41

No. 26

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Berlin

24 March 1941
# 5.

Strictly Secret.

To be handled in Government code.

Please transmit the following message concerning the present state of affairs in the United States to Foreign Minister MATSUOKA:

By virtue of the expansion of her own national defense and her assistance to Great Britain, the United States had de facto already entered the war. It will take a considerable length of time before the United States' full power is behind her program of assistance to Britain and the big question of the moment is sea shipping. The number of ships recently sunk has mounted to a high figure and it is impossible to fully make up for them. Consequently, the officials of the United States are most anxious about this situation. The Congress is not likely,


at least at this stage, to declare war, but I would say that there is a possibility that American warships may presently begin to convoy. I am, however, following every detail of this situation because I know that convoying materials to England is going to have a tremendous effect upon the American people. The trend now is to concentrate the main strength of the American Navy in the Atlantic and, in coordination with Great Britain, to protect British territory in the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, the minds of the officials of the United States appear also to be made up to protect the Netherlands Indies. The United States is in addition following the policy of assisting China as much as possible so long as she restrains Japan and of preventing Japan's advance to the south. Notwithstanding all this, at least while the Atlantic is the primary focus of interest, the United States certainly desires at least a temporary peace in the Pacific. There can be no mistake on this point. For all the cheering and crying that American assistance will bring victory to England, those responsible are beyond any question trembling within themselves. Apparently there are also officials, who might be said to have the power of life and death, who on the surface loudly proclaim that a land invasion of Great Britain is next to impossible, and that the chances of its success are remote, and that Great Britain is sure to win, but who underneath the surface are pessimistic. Now, things have come to the point where people who speak of peace are anathematized by the title of defeatist and they are dwindling in numbers. It will take two years for assistance to England to reach its peak; that is to say, in June, year after next, and thereafter the plans are to have it continue at that rate for three years.

Trans. 3-27-41

No. 27

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Berlin and London

25 March 1941
# 047.


Action Tokyo as # 171.

Re my # 170a and # 168a.

Even though this appropriation is passed, it is recognized that it will take time for it to get into operation so that the U.S. will be able to do anything toward replenishing the shipping lost by Great Britain. Of the merchant ships (5,000,000 tons) to be built with the shipbuilding funds provided in this appropriation ($629,000,000) together with those to be completed that are now under construction (3,500,000 tons), at the most only about 1,000,000 tons could be completed during the current year, and this would not be easy for the U.S. -----. It is thought that this is the reason why it is not advisable for the U.S. Navy to engage in convoy duty.


a See I, 27A.

Trans. 3-27-41


No. 27A

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

March 22, 1941
# 168.

1. Because of the shortage of bottoms, the President, the Secretary of the Navy and Naval Affairs Committee of Congress have on successive occasions stated that American commercial ships will be transferred to England. I have news which seems to indicate that the Naval Affairs Committee of Congress on the 21st made a statement supporting the transfer of some ships (five is said to be the number). This matter is being held over until the arrival of the British Envoy SALTE and until the people see how critical the situation is. This is to forewarn you.

2. On the occasion of a discussion for an additional naval budget in Congress on the 21st, a proposal prohibiting the use of already existing funds in the conveying of goods sent in the Aid to British Program was overwhelmingly voted down. The above is for your information.

Relayed to London and Berlin. Have relayed information to New York.

Trans. 3-26-41

No. 28

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

22 March 1941
# 167.

At the present time there are two bills before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House which call for strong economic restrictions against Japan. These two plans are as I give them below. This is but another example of the sort of bills they have been passing against us all along. Though I do not believe that they are of immediate concern, I give them for your information.

1. One bill (already presented in the House in Washington) calls for an embargo against the export of military goods to Japan, against transportation of such equipment on American ships, restrictions against American products being shipped on Japanese ships, and the prevention of activities by American people of companies that would aid Japan.

2. I am sending the details, by mail, of a resolution requesting the President to institute strong economic restrictions against Japan because of the occupation of Chinese territory by Japanese forces.

Have relayed information to New York.

Trans. 3-26-41

No. 29

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: London, Berlin and Rome

2 April 1941
# 66.

(Circular). Message to Tokyo # 207. 

I. To the protests of Berlin and Rome over the confiscation of their ships, the American government will take a bristlingly hostile attitude, and returning them is the last thing that the United States would consider. I cannot consider otherwise than that. Washington's relations with those two governments will follow an ever-narrowing route.

II. The German and Italian ships will be handled in a manner more or less different from those of Denmark. (The charge of sabotage is a mere fabrication.) To the extent that general


principles and United States law will permit, these vessels will in all probability be somehow used to assist Great Britain, nor is there likely to be any objection.

III. It appears that the authorities of this country are conferring with the several American states on the question of the confiscation of vessels.

Relayed to London, Berlin and Rome. Have relayed information to New York.

Trans. 4-4-41

No. 30

FROM: Washington (Jap. Amb.)
TO: London, Berlin and Rome

2 April 1941
# 65.

(Circular). Message to Tokyo as # 206. Secret.

Aroused more and more by the course of the military situation, the Government of the United States is taking advantage of the National Defense legislation (and of course the Aid-to-Britain law) in order to strengthen her attitude of suppressing the Axis powers. An example of this can be found in the confiscation of ships, and in all probability Washington is going to take successive vigorous measures along the line of convoying, etc. But when it comes to the question of economics, although I regard it as inevitable that they will take the same course and extend the export quota system, nevertheless that is a matter they are considering very deeply. Gradually by degrees they are whipping up the spirit of the people upon whose approval they wish to base their actions. I do not think they can easily be deterred, and their talk of "short of war" is gradually turning to "economic warfare". We must be ever on the alert because of this trend.

Relayed to England, Germany, and Italy.

Trans. 4-4-41

No. 31

FROM: Rome
TO: Washington

10 April 1941
No number.

Message to Tokyo # 205.

In connection with the question of American seizures of Italian ships, Director PRUNASa told ANDOb confidentially: "At the present time the Italian Government is protesting this act as being contrary to International Law but it seems that the American Government is again disregarding International Law and scheming to confiscate them. We are making a very profound study of retaliatory steps to be taken in such an event. Rest assured that should we put these into operation they will be blanket retaliatory measures. Furthermore, in the case that they do confiscate them, it will take at least six months of repair to put them in usable shape because the interiors of these Italian ships were severely damaged by their crews.

"Though Mexico, Venezuela and Costa Rica in Central and South America have already taken steps similar to the United States; Brazil, Argentina and Chile will not take such measures.


On this last point he is understood to have been very optimistic.

Relayed to Washington, London and Berlin. Relay to London.


a Director General of the Transoceania Bureau of the Italian Foreign Office.
b Secretary in the Japanese Embassy in Rome.

Trans. 4-12-41

No. 32

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Rome

4 April 1941
# 2.

(Message to Tokyo as # 218, April 4th).

Re my # 207a.

On the 4th the Italian Commercial Attaché told IGUCHIb confidentially that in all probability the Italian Government would demand the recall of the American Naval Attaché in Rome because of the American demand for the recall of the Italian Naval Attaché in Washington. Furthermore, if the American authorities decide to confiscate Italian ships in the United States, (at the present time the American flag has been taken down and again they are flying the Italian flag), in revenge the Italian Government is considering the confiscation of a part of American owned property in Italy (this is said to be something more than $150,000,000).

Relayed to Rome. Have relayed information to New York.


a See I, 29 in which Washington reports on the confiscation of German and Italian ships.
b Japanese Embassy Counselor in Washington.

Trans. Not dated

No. 33

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

11 April 1941
# 225.


The passage of the lend-lease bill has made America optimistic about the war in Europe and Africa. However, the situation in the Balkans and the English failure in Africa, threatening as it does Alexandria and the Suez and Dakaar, have stirred up feeling in America. The sinking in one day of 400,000 tons of shipping as was done on March 23rd, has alarmed public opinion, for England and America together cannot turn out more than 2,000,000 tons a year.

Trans. 4-18-41

No. 34

FROM: New York (Morishima)
TO: Tokyo

12 April 1941
# 147.

President ROOSEVELT has been issuing orders one after another with special bearing on the sanctioning of the navigation of American ships on the high seas arranging preparations for the defense of Greenland; and generally everyone throughout the country has welcomed this


as an approved measure of assistance toward England, even such persons as Colonel Lindbergh himself. They are endorsing the leasing of Greenland as an appropriate step in America's National Defense program. On the other hand, in view of Germany's preeminent success in the Balkans, and the ever present threat to British maritime communications, further effective measures are being demanded, particularly in both the Christian Science Monitor and the Tribune editorials of the 12th.

1. Greenland will become a base for naval convoys.

2. It is a fact that munitions will be transported to the Suez in American ships.

3. The United States is considering going so far as to transfer to England the recently stolen German and Italian ships.

4. Colonel Donovan at a Foreign Policy discussion meeting held in Chicago on the 11th, in supporting the convoy question, proposed the occupation of Dakara, or the acquisition of usable harbors in Ireland as a result of British-American pressure and he went on to say that if necessary the United States should unhesitatingly enter the war. These comments are creating quite a stir.

This is for your information. Please transmit this to all competent ambassadors in Europe.


a French West Africa.

Trans. 4-18-41

No. 35

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

4 April 1941
# 214.

Re my # 212a and # 213a.

In connection with the export quota system, as you know, in response to our numerous strong protests, for a year now the United States has taken the unwarranted attitude that it is unreasonable for foreign countries to keep prating about things which are necessary to the United States' defense program. (See my # 1679b of last year.) Well, the United States does not attempt to conceal the fact that her objective is to bring pressure to bear and to restrain Japan. This is specifically why they are carrying out the measures which trouble us. So long as they take this attitude, it is futile for me to negotiate with the State Department on the question of obtaining the present licenses. No matter how much I negotiate on both of these matters, I will get nowhere. An official in charge at the Export Control Office very cynically remarked to Lawyer SIEBOLD; "Why, for us to use our good offices to get licenses for Japan would, after all, be giving a big boost to a technical enemy, wouldn't it?" From that, I think you can see how just about every one of the American officials feels.


a Available in code under study.
b MORISHIMA reports on the reasons for the limitations placed on exports.

Trans. 4-8-41


No. 36

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

15 April 1941
# 228.

(In 2 parts, complete).

Received from New York as # 048 to me.

Relayed to Tokyo as New York # 148 of 15 April.

New York—Tokyo # 065a

Re my Washington—Tokyo # 164b

I. The president of the YU Companyc is confined to his home by sickness. According to my telegram # 65a Yamaoka and the lawyer for "YU" have been holding conversations. Inasmuch as he has not yet applied for a permit, in order to expedite matters, I went with Yamaoka, on the 12th to call on the vice president. (The chief engineer and the lawyer were also present at this interview.)

The "YU" Company's opinions relative to the four points presented to them by Yamaoka are as follows:

(a) Concerning the "non-selective polymerization process, including catalytic hydrogen and tri-potassium phosphate process," the "tri-potassium phosphate process" cannot yet be manufactured by them, since it does not belong to them. It is a patent of the Shell Development Corporation and therefore the "YU" Company cannot apply for a permit.

(b) As to the "catalytic cracking process, including hydrogen transfer as a part thereof", there is no objection to applying for a permit for it, however, the "hydrogen transfer" ----- there is danger that the State Department may consider that it comes within the export embargo on aviation gasoline.

(c) As to the "catalytic desulpharization process":

(1) The "YU" Company is still studying it in the laboratory and it is not yet a "commercial process" and hence the problem of an export permit belongs to the future and need not be considered at this time.
(2) Inasmuch as the scope is rather broad and there is danger that it might be dealt with as aviation gasoline and thus come under the embargo, it would be better to deal with "crude, or other charging stock". (The original draft was presented as it was. After the attitude of the State Department has been ascertained it is to be considered again).
(3) The transfer of the "Phillips Desulpharization Process" to a third party is also forbidden.

(d) Materials such as a catalyst, etc., as requested in the 1938 and 1928 contracts, including the foregoing process". Even if a request for a comprehensive permit for the "materials" mentioned in the above were made by the "YU" Company it would be impossible to have it granted. Therefore there is no objection to requesting a permit for the "catalysts" only mentioned above ----- in case of ----- it will become an actual problem.

II. The "YU" Company's opinion is as (1) and is a reasonable one I think. Now, then there is a possibility of obtaining an export permit, we should immediately put in a request for a permit for only those things for which there is a reasonable expectation of having a request granted. And therefore in harmony with their opinion we have made application for a permit -----. Please convey the "YU" Company's views to Saneyoshid and if he has any opinions, the talk may continue ----- having informed Saneyoshi please have another conference.

III. Further in regard to "materials" the Ambassador's telegram # 214 (?)e to Your Excellency ----- is necessary to get in touch with the State Department ----- other than "catalysts" ----- to delay needlessly the negotiations regarding materials ----- there is no other way than to request negotiations through the Embassy.


IV. For any further negotiations with the "YU" Company it will be necessary to have Saneyoshi (of the Japan Gasoline Company) come to America.


a See I.
b See I, 199.
c Universal Oil Products Co. of Chicago (?).
d Masao Saneyoshi, an official of the Japanese Gasoline Co.
e See I, 35. Ambassador Nomura reports that it is useless for him to continue negotiations with the U.S. in matters pertaining to licenses and protests over the export quota system, as the U.S. is not attempting to conceal the fact that her objective is to bring pressure to bear and restrain Japan.

Trans. 4-22-41

No. 37

FROM: Shanghai
TO: Nanking

16 April 1941
# 111.

(Part 1 of 2).

Message to Tokyo as # 617.

Re my # 616a.

On the 15th I sent a member of my staff to the American Consulate General and he said to Chief Consul STANTON: "Our Army, through its espionage agencies, has procured an unimpeachable report that the gasoline in question was purchased by the Chungking Commercial Section. After loading, the responsibility for the shipment rests on Chungking. Furthermore, we know that Chungking has not even got any war insurance. For over a year now we have suspected such shipments as being destined for the enemy and have been on the lookout. Naturally we feel strongly impelled to seize them." STANTON retorted: "Well, I will not even pretend to deny that this gasoline was about to be shipped to Chungking. I will not quibble. The customs have produced the necessary documents and this is a bona fide export. Any interference on the part of you Japanese is illegal." My staff member pointed out: "The Military does not raise the point as to whether or not this is to be included in the embargo which has recently been brought into force. The whole thing is this: the gasoline is for the use of our enemy, the Chungking Government, and we are going to confiscate it." STANTON retorted: "As to whether or not this is enemy produce, the burden of proof is on the Japanese. Furthermore, suppose it is destined for Chungking. Until it is turned over to them, it belongs to Texas. You say it is 'tekisan' (enemy produce): I say it is 'Texan' (evidently having heard the Japanese use the word 'tekisan', STANTON makes a pun using the word 'tekisan' for 'Texan'.) Now, say that you Japanese set aside the regulations of the customs and seize this gasoline on the mere charge that it is bound for the Central Army, the American concerns have not heard of any regulations permitting such deeds being publicly announced. If you start to seize American goods on the basis of unannounced regulations, it will be just too bad for you. By what logic could you possibly call such an act proper and reasonable?" My staff member answered: "Well, we got it straight from our espionage agencies and they will furnish definite proof. Pretty soon you'll understand why this proof cannot be denied."


a See I, 39.

Trans. 4-18-41


No. 38

FROM: Shanghai
TO: Nanking

16 April 1941
# 111.

Message to Tokyo as # 617.

Part 2 of 2.

"Don't think that just by calling our plans to seize this gasoline improper and unreasonable you can move us in our determination to confiscate it." STANTON replied "Well, Texas, through this incident, is going to incur a great loss. I will immediately protest to Japan by note and will demand reparations. What is more, I will wire the facts to both Washington and Tokyo." My man countered by saying "The diplomatic officials know that there is a good basis for our argument. They also know that Texas will incur no loss. A mere protest from the United States won't do any good. If you simply report the details of this to Tokyo, all that will ensue is a big argument and you will wind up where you are right now. I mean the United States will have no recourse in settling this matter but to withdraw its complaint immediately." My man started to walk out, but STANTON sat down and said "You may say if you will that Texas will incur no damage, but until this gasoline is bought up, Texas will suffer a sizeable loss." He was rather nasty, and in conclusion my man stated "Well I wasn't thinking about it being bought up. You know I am not authorized to go deeply into these things. However, I may safely say that Japanese officials are of the unanimous opinion that the American concerns shall not undergo any losses. Since this gasoline is for the enemy, we can't compromise. But, if it is true that Texas actually will suffer, it might be possible to get in touch with Hongkong and have them consider this point. In any case, I will communicate this to the Consul General in Shanghai."

Trans. 4-18-41

No. 39

FROM: Shanghai
TO: Nanking

16 April 1941
# 110.

Message to Tokyo as # 616.

Re your # 294a.

1. In connection with our schemes to procure petroleum mentioned in 2 of your telegram, I sought the advice of the purchasing agents and the Chief of the Constabulary. They replied that this gasoline must, at any cost, be prevented from reaching the hands of the Chungking officials, and that the thing to do is to seize it immediately.

2. As to whether or not this gasoline seems under the export embargo regulation of the customs, upon investigation I find that the export permit was obtained before this regulation went into effect on April 7th, and that the transaction is foolproof.

3. After finding out these things, on the 14th I called the military and naval officials to my residence and announced the contents of your telegram. As a result of our conversation, we agreed as follows:

If we follow the plan suggested in 3 of your message in handling this matter, from the very beginning it will smell of corruption, and if we merely say that we suspect that it is for the aid of CHIANG KAI-SHEK, we would make ourselves vulnerable to a come-back on the part of the United States. No.! We must have an air-tight case. Therefore, as we all agreed, the best


thing to do is to negotiate by insinuations, claiming that we have a witness (some imaginary person) whom we will not name.

Relayed to Nanking.


a Tokyo wires Nanking and Shanghai concerning a report that the U.S. is about to exercise a comprehensive Petroleum embargo against Japan.

Trans. (Not dated)

No. 40

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Nanking

12 April 1941
# 118.

Message to Shanghai as # 294.

Re your # 575a.

1. We have received a report that the United States is about to exercise a comprehensive petroleum embargo against Japan in the near future. Soon we are going to have Ambassador NOMURA inform the American Government that if they carry out this measure, our Empire cannot but act with determination. We are going to have Ambassador NOMURA advise them not to embargo petroleum. Therefore, although we do not like to hold up the gasoline in question, if you get any definite proof that the Chungking Commerce Section has purchased it, go ahead and seize it.

2. So far I have received no report from you on the schemes mentioned in my # 153b for purchasing petroleum. (Please report on this immediately.) These negotiations are going on and if it is seen that success is imminent and that this seizure will damage the negotiations, you may release the gasoline. I will leave this up to your judgment, which should be guided by developments in your city.

3. If you cannot find the actual proof mentioned in the preceding paragraph 1, take suitable steps to prevent the exports mentioned in your # 539a. If we cannot get the results we desire, we will come forth with an out and out charge that the goods are suspected of being sent to assist CHIANG KAI-SHEK and summarily seize them.


a Not available.
b Available; Not translated.

Tans. 4-14-41

No. 41

Proposal Presented to the Department of State Through the Medium of Private American and Japanese Individuals on April 9, 1941.a

The Governments of the United States and of Japan accept joint responsibility for the initiation and conclusion of a general agreement disposing the resumption of our traditional friendly relations.

Without reference to specific causes of recent estrangement, it is the sincere desire of both Governments that the incidents which led to the deterioration of amicable sentiment among our peoples should be prevented from recurrence and corrected in their unforeseen and unfortunate consequences.


It is our present hope that, by a joint effort, our nations may establish a just peace in the Pacific; and by the rapid consummation of an entente cordiale, arrest, if not dispel, the tragic confusion that now threatens to engulf civilization.

For such decisive action, protracted negotiations would seem ill-suited and weakening. We, therefore, suggest that adequate instrumentalities should be developed for the realization of a general agreement which would bind, meanwhile, both governments in honor and in act.

It is our belief that such an understanding should comprise only the pivotal issues of urgency and not the accessory concerns which could be deliberated at a Conference and appropriately confirmed by our respective Governments.

We presume to anticipate that our Governments could achieve harmonious relations if certain situations and attitudes were clarified or improved; to wit:

1. The concepts of the United States and of Japan respecting international relations and the character of nations.
2. The attitudes of both Governments toward the European War.
3. The relations of both nations toward the China affair.
4. Naval, aerial and mercantile marine relations in the Pacific.
5. Commerce between both nations and their financial cooperation.
6. Economic activity of both nations in the Southwestern Pacific area.
7. The policies of both nations affecting political stabilization in the Pacific.

Accordingly, we have come to the following mutual understanding subject, of course, to modifications by the United States Government and subject to the official and final decision of the Government of Japan. 

I. The concepts of the United States and of Japan respecting international relations and the character of nations.

The Governments of the United States and of Japan might jointly acknowledge each other as equally sovereign states and contiguous Pacific powers.

Both Governments assert the unanimity of their national policies as directed toward the foundation of a lasting peace and the inauguration of a new era of respectful confidence and cooperation among our peoples.

Both Governments might declare that it is their traditional, and present, concept and conviction that nations and races compose, as members of a family, one household; each equally enjoying rights and admitting responsibilities with a mutuality of interests regulated by peaceful processes and directed to the pursuit of their moral and physical welfare, which they are bound to defend for themselves as they are bound not to destroy for others.

Both Governments are firmly determined that their respective traditional concepts on the character of nations and the underlying moral principles of social order and national life will continue to be preserved and never transformed by foreign ideas or ideologies contrary to those moral principles and concepts.

II. The attitudes of both Governments toward the European War.

The Government of Japan maintains that the purpose of its Axis Alliance was, and is, defensive and designed to prevent the extension of military grouping among nations not directly affected by the European War.

The Government of the United States maintains that its attitude toward the European War is, and will continue to be, determined by no aggressive alliance aimed to assist any one nation against another. The United States maintains that it is pledged to the hate of war, and accordingly, its attitude toward the European War is, and will continue to be, determined solely and exclusively by considerations of the protective defense of its own national welfare and security.


III. China affairs.

The President of the United States, if the following terms are approved by His Excellency and guaranteed by the Government of Japan, might request the Chiang-Kai-Shek regime to negotiate peace with Japan.

a. Independence of China
b. Withdrawal of Japanese troops from Chinese territory, in accordance with an agreement to be reached between Japan and China
c. No acquisition of Chinese territory
d. No imposition of indemnities
e. Resumption of the "Open Door"; the interpretation and application of which shall be agreed upon at some future, convenient time between the United States and Japan
f. Coalescence of the Governments of Chiang-Kai-Chek [sic] and of Wang-Ching-Wei
g. No large-scale or concentrated immigration of Japanese into Chinese territory
h. Recognition of Manchukuo

With the acceptance by the Chiang-Kai-Chek regime of the aforementioned Presidential request, the Japanese Government shall commence direct peace negotiations with the newly coalesced Chinese Government, or constituent elements thereof.

The Government of Japan shall submit to the Chinese concrete terms of peace, within the limits of aforesaid general terms and along the line of neighborly friendship, joint defense against communistic activities and economic cooperation.

[Should the Chiang-Kai-Chek regime reject the request of President Roosevelt, the United States Government shall discontinue assistance to the Chinese]b

IV. Naval, aerial and mercantile marine relations in the Pacific.

a. As both the Americans and the Japanese are desirous of maintaining the peace in the Pacific, they shall not resort to such disposition of their naval forces and aerial forces as to menace each other. Detailed, concrete agreement thereof shall be left for determination at the Proposed joint Conference.
b. At the conclusion of the projected Conference, each nation might dispatch a courtesy naval squadron to visit the country of the other and signalize the new era of Peace in the Pacific.
c. With the first ray of hope for the settlement of China affairs, the Japanese Government will agree, if desired, to use their good offices to release for contract by Americans certain percentage of their total tonnage of merchant vessels, chiefly for the Pacific service, so soon as they can be released from their present commitments. The amount of such tonnage shall be determined at the Conference.

V. Commerce between both nations and their financial cooperation.

When official approbation to the present understanding has been given by both Governments, the United States and Japan shall assure each other to mutually supply such commodities are as respectively available or required by either of them. Both governments further consent to take necessary steps to the resumption of normal trade relations as formerly established under the Treaty of Navigation and Commerce between the United States and Japan. If a new commercial treaty is desired by both Governments, it could be elaborated at the proposed conference and concluded in accordance with usual procedure.

For the advancement of economic cooperation between both nations, it is suggested that the United States extend to Japan a gold credit in amounts sufficient to [foster trade and industrial]c development directed to the betterment of Far Eastern economic conditions and to the sustained economic cooperation of the Governments of the United States and of Japan.


VI. Economic activity of both nations in the Southwestern Pacific area.

On the pledged basis of guarantee that Japanese activities in the Southwestern Pacific area shall be carried on by peaceful means, without resorting to arms, American cooperation and support shall be given in the production and procurement of natural resources (such as oil, rubber, tin, nickel) which Japan needs.

VII. The policies of both nations affecting political stabilization in the Pacific.

a. The Governments of the United States and of Japan will not acquiesce in the future transfer of territories or the relegation of existing States within the Far East and in the Southwestern Pacific area to any European Power.
b. The governments of the United States and of Japan jointly guarantee the independence of the Philippine Islands and will consider means to come to their assistance in the event of unprovoked aggression by any third Power.
c. [The Government of Japan requests the friendly and diplomatic assistance of the Government of the United States for the removal of Hongkong and Singapore as doorways to further political encroachment by the British in the Far East.]d
d. Japanese Immigration to the United States and to the Southwestern Pacific area shall receive amicable consideration—on a basis of equality with other nationals and freedom from discrimination.


a. It is suggested that a Conference between Delegates of the United States and of Japan be held at Honolulu and that this Conference be opened for the United States by President Roosevelt and for Japan by Prince Konoye. The delegates could number less than five each, exclusive of experts, clerks, etc.
b. There shall be no foreign observers at the Conference.
c. This Conference could be held soon as possible (May 1941) after the present understanding has been reached.
d. The agenda of the Conference would not include a reconsideration of the present understanding but would direct its efforts to the specification of the prearranged agenda and drafting of instruments to effectuate the understanding. The precise agenda could be determined upon by mutual agreement between both governments.


The present understanding shall be kept as a confidential memorandum between the Governments of the United States and of Japan.

The scope, character and timing of the announcement of this understanding will be agreed upon by both Governments.


a The English text with a few omissions was sent to Tokyo by Admiral Nomura on April 30, 1941, though the Japanese text of this same proposal had already been sent on April 17, 1941 (See I, 47). Clauses of the original text which were omitted in the dispatch of April 30th to Tokyo. (I, 41) have been marked by brackets.
b Omitted in dispatch to Tokyo.
c Omitted in dispatch to Tokyo.
d Omitted in dispatch to Tokyo.

Trans. 5-1-41


No. 42

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

14 April 1941
# 227.


Strictly secret. To be handled in Government code.

This morning of the 14th I had an interview with Secretary of State Hull at his private residence. I said that not only should the Governments of our two nations agree to maintain peace in the Pacific Ocean, but the time has now come when both should take a larger view and without delay. The Secretary expressed accord, and I continued, "We being presumably viewed as an enemy, the American fleet is cruising in the Southern Pacific and naval instructors are being sent here and there, and in Manila a conference is being held between England, the United States and the Netherlands. Viewed from the standpoint of military experts, this is a most unfortunate trend and is certainly a step in the direction of war. The responsible military officials of Japan cannot overlook such things as this. The war fever of both countries is rising. In the United States the thirst for blood is gradually increasing. In the Atlantic convoying is about to be exercised. This, I tell you, is an inflammatory situation. It looks to me as though a declaration of war is imminent. Japan cannot but feel the gravest concern. Now, Sir, don't you think there might be a little change?" To my first statement he offered no particular comment. However, with the second he expressed accord. Next, Secretary HULL questioned me about the military policy of Japan and I explained that, "For example, a year or so ago Prince KONOYE made a statement to the effect that Japan is ready to make peace with China on the basis of equality with no indemnity and no annexation. There were some opponents at the time but the people agreed and they are still of this mind. The Japanese are united in one firm mind under the Emperor." Then I went on to explain to him something of our form of Government and international ideals. He seemed pleased and to understand, and said, "We are much alike." We went on to converse more or less about mutual economic problems, the stabilization of the Pacific, etc., and he promised me that at his very first opportunity he and I were going to have a conference. I think that before long he is going to inform me as to the date.

By the way, I explained the new treaty between Tokyo and Moscow and concluded by stating that the pacification of the Pacific would be the first step in the eventual winding up of hostilities in Europe, with which Secretary HULL expressed agreement. 

Trans. 4-15-41

No. 43

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

14 April 1941
# 229.

(Very urgent)

Secret. To be handled in Government Code.

The effect upon our country of the conclusion of the Japanese-Soviet neutrality agreement is something for which sufficient gratitude cannot be expressed to you and I know full well the extent to which our Government and people appreciate your efforts. Japanese-American relations being extremely delicate at this time, it would be well to carefully heed the handling this pact is accorded in newspaper articles and editorials. As I told you in my # 227a, I made my explanations to Secretary HULL early in the morning of the 14th. As a direct result of these


conversations, Secretary HULL's opinions and phraseology on the occasion of the newspaper correspondents' interview of that day were not only extremely moderate, (please refer to my special report) but it seemed to me that he was probably doing his utmost to calm public opinion all over the country. And in this connection we, too, must see to it that our own papers do not play up this agreement as though it were directed against the United States. I believe that it would be wise not to arouse American public opinion. Therefore, on this point please send me your comments. That is all for the present.


a See I. 42.

Trans. 4-15-41

No. 44.

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

15 April 1941
# 230.

In 2 parts, complete.

Secret within the Department.

Concerning my Nos. 136a, 146b, and 227c.

In view of the present Japanese-American relations it is natural that we form a policy keeping these various points in mind.

1. The Tripartite Pact is exhibiting great power and this is giving America a great shock. America is having to consider at last the grave possibility of war with Japan and naturally America does not wish to be fighting on two fronts.

2. The Japanese southward movement will of course progress in accordance with the progress of Italy and Germany, and that it will not stop with a peaceful economic penetration is being recognized. That as a result of the Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact, Japan will at last be free to use force in this area is being realized by America. The British Empire will unite with the Dutch to form counter measures.

3. While these conditions obtain it is absolutely imperative that America exercise her naval strength in the Pacific and as a result the Atlantic will be left at a serious disadvantage.

4. It is necessary also to consider the point that the Foreign Minister (Matsuoka) explained to Ambassador Steinhardt, namely that America by extending aid to China is impeding Japan's southern progress because Japan is forced to restrain China and thus would be handicapped in case of a war with America.

5. America desired the friendship of Russia more than that of Japan and had hoped to line her up with the democracies and thus have her sever relations with Germany and at the same time act as a restraint to Japan. However, this pact has given a set-back to those hopes.

6. The British Empire and various American republics and the Netherlands Indies are bringing economic pressure against Japan, thus, little by little, various American republics are assuming with the United States a strong attitude.

7. American national strength began to manifest itself and by next year would have been a thing to be reckoned with for America is preparing for a long war.

8. The rate of shipping loss in the Atlantic is the thing that will decide the fate of the war. America is worried over these losses and is preparing convoys and is on the verge of actually convoying vessels.

9. Having considered the situation brought to view in paragraphs one to eight, it becomes apparent that at this time Japan should endeavor to cooperate with America for peace. However, the two following paragraphs are also important.


10. If Japan enters the war the Japanese fleet will have to contend single-handed with the combined fleets of Britain and America, and so regardless of whether Germany and Italy obtain supremacy on the continent and regardless of the outcome of the Atlantic war, there will be no change in the fact that as a result of the neutrality pact signed with the Soviet, Japan will have to shoulder a grant responsibility.

11. When America actually begins to convoy and thus declare herself in the war, we will be faced with a graver problem and thus it behooves us at this present time to try and seek some solution whereby we may maintain peace with America. In view of the war existing today we should endeavor through cooperation with America to maintain peace in the Pacific, to take the first step towards establishing world peace.


a Nomura's report of an interview with Secy. Hull on March 8th.
b Nomura's report of an interview with Pres. Roosevelt on March 14th.
c Nomura's report of an interview with Secy. Hull on April 14th. 

Trans. 4-18-41 

No. 45

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

17 April 1941
# 233.

Secret outside of Department.

Today (the 16th) I had an interview with the Secretary of State (Hull) at his residence. He asked that I obtain authorization from my government to proceed with negotiations on the basis of the separate telegram # 234a. (I have been sounding out, by devious means, the U.S. government's motive behind this proposal which is referred to as something like "a proposal for an understanding between the two countries". As it was definitely ascertained that Secretary Hull is in favor of this proposal on the whole, I helped in the writing of the gist of this proposal and had it translated.) He then stated, "If the Japanese government should turn down this proposal after you and I have embarked on conversations regarding it, it would put the United States in a difficult situation. Therefore please do as I have suggested".

Regarding this matter, we officials together with military and navy attaches and Colonel Iwakuro have given much study, with a full cooperation from the entire staff, and with thorough examination of domestic and foreign conditions, we have been working towards the realization of this proposal. However, although this proposal does not touch upon every phase of Japanese-American relations, and there are no doubt points in the details of the proposal which require revision, our opinion is that this proposal, when realized,—

1. Will not in any way conflict with the Imperial edict relative to the Tripartite Pact. (On the contrary there is every assurance that this proposal will meet with His Majesty's approval. ?)
2. It will not conflict with our loyalty to the Tripartite Pact.
3. It will be a step towards realizing our government's sincere aim to maintain peace in the Pacific.
4. It will serve as a basis for Japanese-American agreement when peace resides in Europe again.

Finally, with the understanding that whatever adjustments necessary may be later amended by conference, I earnestly request that we be authorized to proceed with the negotiations.


a See I, 46. 

Trans. 4-10-41


No. 46

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

17 April 1941
# 234.

In 5 parts, complete.

"The Proposal for an Understanding between the Two Countries."

It is proposed that representatives of the Japanese government and that of the United States conduct negotiations aimed at recovering the traditional friendly relations between the two countries. For the purpose of making this pact binding, both of the governments involved shall be held mutually responsible to uphold the terms contained therein.

The governments of the two countries shall carefully analyze the existing conditions in order to determine the causes for the unfavorable relations of recent months. Furthermore, the recurrence of the various incidents which led from friendliness between the two peoples to bad relations, shall be prevented.

It is fervently desired that through such means all further development of the ever increasing bad blood will cease.

Through mutual cooperation it is hoped that a lasting peace can be established in the Pacific. It is further hoped that through such clear understanding the chaos towards which we are headed, and which threatens to destroy all civilization, will be avoided. Even if that is too much to hope for, it is hoped that at least the further development of the chaotic conditions will be checked. This is what is sincerely desired by the governments of both nations.

In order to obtain concrete results along the above-mentioned lines, it is not believed that a long conference is appropriate at this time as time is of prime importance.

For the purpose of establishing a very wide understanding, this plan, which relies upon each restricting itself on moral principles, has been evolved.

The conference will consider only the matters of extreme importance. All questions which may be agreed upon by the two governments subsequently will be deferred until a subsequent opportunity arrives.

If the two governments are able to clarify or correct the points enumerated below, it is believed that the entire matter of relations between the two countries can be put back on a favorable basis.

1. The international and domestic aspirations of both Japan and the United States.
2. The attitude of each with regard to the war in Europe.
3. The relationship that each government has with the China Incident.
4. Naval and air strength of each in the Pacific as well as its merchant marine.
5. Cooperation between the two with regard to trade and credit.
6. Economic activities of each in the southwest Pacific area.
7. Policy of each country with regard to politically stabilizing the Pacific. 

(Part 2)

With the above points in mind, we have drawn up the proposal which is given below. will be presented to the U.S. government for their approval or revision, which it will be presented to the Japanese government for a final and official decision.

1. The international and domestic aspirations of both Japan and the United States.

Japan and the United States are independent nations of equal standing. Each recognizes the other to be a power on the Pacific. Both countries desire the establishment of a permanent peace. It is further recognized that both want to bring about a new era in which relations will be based on mutual reliance and cooperation. It is herewith made clear that the policies of the two countries in this regard are identical.


Both countries recognize the fact that all countries and all races are to live under the principle of the HAKKO ITIU under which all have equal rights. Profits of each will be evenly distributed among all through peaceful means.

Both recognize the need of mutual cooperation in both spiritual and materialistic matters, that each is obliged to protect the other, not destroy it. These are definite and traditional policies of both governments.

Both governments shall mutually respect the traditions of the other on which the nation is built. They shall firmly hold the right to maintain an orderly society as well as the basic moral principles on which life depends. Each is absolutely determined to prevent the entrance of any foreign doctrines which conflict with these domestic principles.

2. Attitude of each country with regard to the war in Europe.

The motive behind Japan's alliance with the Axis was simply a defense measure. It is aimed at preventing those countries which are not at present involved in the war from becoming involved. This fact is herewith made clear.

However, Japan has no intentions of trying to get out of her obligations under the terms of her treaties. On the other hand, Japan's armed forces will move only if and when some country which is not at war at present launches a vigorous military campaign against the Axis powers.

(Part 3)

The United States attitude with regard to the European War:

It is herewith made clear that the United States has not at present and has no intention of entering into an alliance with some foreign country which would force her to take an aggressor's attitude by aiding one of the combatants while attacking the other.

The United States government states that it stands firmly against wars. Its only interest with regard to the present European war is to protect the well being and safety of her own country. All her moves will be determined by only those considerations.

3. The relationship that each has to the China Incident.

President of the United States shall make certain requests, as noted below. If these requests are granted by the government of Japan, then the President of the United States will recommend peace to the Chiang regime.

(a) Chinese independence.
(b) Evacuation of Japanese troops from China, in accordance with the terms of a peace treaty which will be entered into between Japan and China.
(c) (Non-?) unification of Chinese territories.
(d) (Non-?) payment of reparations.
(e) Resumption of the Open Door Policy. As to the exact definition of that policy, United States and Japan will confer at some opportune time in the future.
(f) The joining together of the Chiang government and the Wang government.
(g) Voluntary restriction of large number and organized emigration of Japanese to China.
(h) Recognition of Manchukuo.

If the Chiang government accepts the U.S. President's recommendation, the Japanese government will commence peace negotiations with the then unified Chinese government, or with the elements which have been responsible for the establishment of a new government. These peace negotiations will be conducted directly between the two nations.

The Japanese government will, within the scope outlined above, enter into agreements with China with regard to re-establishment of friendly relations, cooperation in defending each other, and economic coalition.


The peace proposals including the above-mentioned points shall be submitted directly to the Chinese.

(Part 4)

4. Re air and naval strength and navigation on the Pacific.

(a) The United States and Japan, both desiring to maintain peace in the Pacific, shall refrain from maintaining in the Pacific naval and air forces of such strength as to constitute a menace to either one of the countries concerned. Specific steps toward this end shall be taken up at the Japanese-American conference.

(b) Upon the successful conclusion of the Japanese-American conference, the fleets of their respective countries shall exchange courtesy calls to signify the advent of peace in the Pacific.

(c) Upon the settlement of the Japanese-Chinese incident, the Japanese government shall promote in accordance with the wish of and agreement with the U.S. government the recommissioning in the Pacific waters of as many as possible of those vessels which are now in commission. However, the tonnage and other details shall be decided on at the Japanese-American conference.

5. Commercial and financial cooperation between the two countries.

(a) After the acceptance of the present proposal by both governments, if goods being exported by either one of the countries is required by the other, the first shall guarantee to supply the second with such goods.

(b) Suitable steps shall be taken to revive the same commercial relations existing between the two countries before the abrogation of the Japanese-American Treaty of Commerce. Furthermore, if both countries desire to conclude a new commercial agreement this shall be taken up at the American-Japanese conference and the agreement concluded in the usual manner.

In order to promote economic cooperation between the two countries, the United States will agree to extend gold credit to Japan so that she may develop commercial and industrial enterprises which will rebound to economic stability in East Asia and also help to realize Japanese-American economic cooperation.

6. Economic activities of the two countries in the southwest Pacific.

(a) Japan guarantees to carry out her expansion in the southwest Pacific, not by force of arms, but by peaceful means. However, the United States shall cooperate and assist Japan in obtaining materials she needs in this area, such as rubber, oil, tin, nickel, etc.

7. The policies of the two countries regarding political stability in the Pacific.

(a) Japan and America will not sanction the division or annexation of territory in East Asia and the Pacific by European powers in the future.

(b) America and Japan will mutually guarantee the independence of the Philippines, and will discuss means to aid the Philippines whenever she is attacked by a third power.

(c) No discriminations shall be shown against Japanese immigrants in the United States and in the southwest Pacific area and they shall enjoy the same privileges as those enjoyed by immigrants of any other friendly nation.

(Part 5)

Japanese-American conference:

(a) Conference between the Japanese delegates and the American delegates shall take place in Honolulu. The conference shall be opened by President Roosevelt representing the United States and by Premier Konoe [sic] representing Japan. Delegates shall be limited to five members each, not including experts and secretaries.


(b) No observers of a third power or powers shall be permitted to attend this conference.

(c) The conference shall begin, as soon as possible, after the acceptance of the present proposal but shall be limited to discussing specific subjects agreed to by the governments of both countries dealing with prearranged agenda and the text of the present proposal. 

Supplementary provision.

The application of the present proposal shall remain for the time being the secret of the governments of the two countries concerned and its publication shall be settled between the two governments.


Trans. 4-19-41

No. 47

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

17 April 1941
# 239.

Part 1 of 3. See I, No. 48, 49.
Part 1 of 3. Secret outside of the department.

Re the latter part of my # 235a.

Explanations of the proposed agreement article by article, as follows.

(1) International and national ideologies that are held in common by both Japan and America.

The object of this article is, that inasmuch as the Americans are afraid that Japan is becoming "totalitarian" and take the position that if Japan becomes "totalitarianized" there can be no further negotiations between Japan and America, we would make it plain to them that the ideologies held by Japan are neither "totalitarianism", nor "communism" not yet "democracy", but that they are based upon distinctive traditions that have come down to us from 3000 years back, and that we are not being influenced by any foreign ideologies that are contrary to these. The reason for inserting this article is that they strongly held out for this as being the idea of their highest leaders. Secretary Hull also strongly emphasized this point to me; and looking upon this as a good opportunity for elucidating the Imperial policy, we decided to leave it in after some changes. 

(2) The attitudes of the two countries toward the European war.

This clause has to do with the matter in which we have incurred the most suspicion in these parts, because of the Tripartite agreement, and its objectives are:

(a) To make it clear on the one hand that this understanding now under consideration will make no change in the treaty obligations of the Empire incident to the Tripartite agreement, and
(b) To do our utmost to restrain the United States from entering the European war, thus living up to the spirit of Article 3 of the Tripartite agreement, while at the same time,
(c) Avoiding a break between Japan and the United States, and thus accomplishing the purpose of the conclusion of the Tripartite agreement. 

(3) The relations of the two countries to the China Incident.

At first the American thought that the China Incident might be brought to a conclusion by having the U.S. President undertake "arbitration" proceedings, or "mediation," but on the other hand as it seemed that the Wang regime would absolutely repudiate this, we explained the various reasons why the Imperial government would find it utterly impossible to accept this. Then with the idea of preventing even the semblance of interference from America in the


China Incident, the article was put in in this way, with the idea that the President would merely offer his "bons offices" for mediation, and that the negotiations would be carried on directly between Japan and China, and that the Chungking regime would be the ones with whom negotiations would be taken up. Also, as the main essentials in the peace terms, the so-called Konoe three basic principles would be recognized, namely, good neighbor friendly relations, cooperative defense against communism, and economic cooperation. In regard to the withdrawal of troops, it was made clear that the troops would be withdrawn on the basis of a treaty to be concluded between Japan and China, that would avoid any stipulations that would be inconsistent with the treaty dealing with basic relations between Japan and China, and its accompanying documents.

As regards the Open Door Policy, the insertion of stipulations concerning special positions in North China and Mongolia, was intended, but, in view of the delicate problem concerning the island of Hainan, this was left out, and the solution of questions pertaining to the interpretation of-the basic principles of the open door and their application was left for future consideration. In regard to immigration they also had their positions to state, but practically speaking there was no objection so this was included. Then again, it was evident that not to include Manchuria in China's territory, would make the recognition of Manchukuo a condition -----.

(continued in part two) No. 48.


a Not available.

Trans. 4-24-41

No. 48

The following is the best version the translator can produce, considering the extremely garbled condition of the Japanese text, of what appears to be either an outline of or a comment on a proposal for settlement of all pending problems between Japan and the United States, including the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese incident.

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

April 17, 1941
# 239.

Part 2 of 3.

Secret outside the department.

I do not believe that the aforementioned terms concerning guarantees to the United States which they have proposed contravene the Konoe three basic principles of ----- nor do I believe that they conflict with the treaty concluded last year between Japan and Canada on this matter. Furthermore, I do not consider that they hinder cooperation and assistance between Japan, Manchukuo and China.

But, in case the CHIANG regime does not accept the advice of the President of the United States, I feel that although the United States will bring pressure to bear on Chungking, they will be very loath to put a threat in writing.

(4) Matters relating to naval strength and aerial strength, as well as shipping in the Pacific Ocean.

a. So far the United States has taken the attitude that in order to secure the peace of the Pacific area it was necessary to have a fleet there. Therefore, in case we settle the matter on the basis of this proposal, we may have trouble with the Military of our two respective countries.


b. When it comes to shipping, the United States is suffering for want of ships. Therefore, this proposal is a logical solution. We, ourselves, are suffering for want of ships. This had produced the impetus for the United States to advise peace between Japan and China.

(5) Commercial and Financial Cooperation between the two countries.

This clause is to be drawn up visualizing the United States using her reserve stocks in reconstruction work in our own country and East Asia, and the establishment of purchasing funds, along with credit.

Trans. 4-19-41

No. 49

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

17 April 1941
# 239.

Part 3 of 3.

Secret outside the department.

VI. The activities of our two countries in the Southwestern Pacific.

Since there is the danger that an advance southward militarily by our Empire would lead to war between the United States and Japan, it is held that our progress in that direction must be conducted by peaceful means without resorting to the sword. It has been made clear to me that if we do thus, the United States will support our economic penetration thither. I must emphasize that this promise is the one and only basis of the present proposal for an understanding.

VII. The policy of the two nations concerning the political stabilization of the Pacific.

Through this clause the countries of Europe will suffer some reverses but our Empire will have all to gain and nothing to lose.

(Message incomplete)

Trans. 4-19-41

No. 50

FROM: Tokyo (Konoe)
TO: Washington

April 18, 1941
# 170.

To be handled in government code.

With reference to the matter discussed in your # 233a, hereafter we must keep it most secret. First encipher it in government code and then run it through the machine.


a Nomura reports conference with Secretary of State Hull on April 16th. 

Trans. 4-22-41


No. 51

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

17 April 1941
# 237.

The Secretary of State is exceedingly careful and on his guard against letting anything leak out as to his own opinions, but in the course of our conversation on the 16th, such thoughts as the following were brought out:

(1) The U.S.S.R. are recognized as following a policy of not becoming involved in war themselves, but getting other nations to fighting, and it would seem that the Japan-Soviet agreement too is being taken in the same way.

(2) It seems that he is of the same opinion as Foreign Minister Matsuoka, that a war between Japan and the U.S. would mean the extension of the scope of the European war, and ultimately the destruction of civilization. (However, it is a fact that there is a good deal of contention in the world that Japan must now be disposed of, and there is quite a bit of this feeling among the naval officers as well.)

(3) Even though Hitler's conquests by force may for the time being be successful, the time will come when the people of the nations will revolt, and even though the continent should be brought into subjection, he would be unable to bring the seas under his power.

(4) While the United States at present is making its great objective the repletion of its national defenses, and effective assistance to Britain, the U.S. government is at work formulating policies for the reconstruction of the world after war, (including also its domestic policies).

Trans. 4-20-41

No. 52

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

23 April 1941
# 176.

Secret outside the Department.

On the 23rd the Tokyo Nichi Nichi carried a special Washington dispatch dated the 21st, which seems to indicate that they are aware of the matter referred to in your message # 237a.

Domei also sent news, dispatched on the same day, which points suspiciously that they too have gotten wind of this matter.

Under these circumstances it will be very difficult to keep this confidential matter from leaking out, therefore please take strict care not to allow this information to leak out to any Japanese, particularly to Japanese correspondents. (We are taking the same precaution in Tokyo.)


a Amb. Nomura reports to Tokyo the implied opinions of Secretary Hull, as brought out in their conversation of 16 April. 

Trans. 4-23-41


No. 53

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

23 April 1941
# 247.

Secret outside.

Regarding your # 176a.

Those concerned at this office are exercising extreme care to prevent leakage and on the American side only three persons, namely the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Communications (TEISINGHOKA) and the Secretary of the Navy, know about this matter and they are taking particular care in keeping this information from the press and I feel that they will continue to do so.

However, may I be so bold as to suggest that you, at your end, will prevent by your discretion the publication of this matter.

Please wire me the special Domei dispatch in question for our information.


a (See 1, 52) Tokyo wires Amb. Nomura that Nichi-Nichi and Domei have published reports indicating that they are aware of the contents of his message reporting the implied opinions of Secy. Hull in their conversation of 16 April.

Trans. 4-24-41

No. 54

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

19 April 1941
# 171.

Re your # 234a.

Upon the return of Foreign Minister Matsuoka which is expected in two or three days, we shall be able to definitely establish our stand in this matter. In the meantime we would like to be advised on the following points.

1. Under the terms of this proposal, our southward move would be halted. This would mean that England's back door would be made safe, and the United States would be able to withdraw from the Pacific. The United States could then concentrate all of her efforts on aiding Britain.

Will there not be considerable opposition to this on the grounds that it does not conform with the spirit of the Tripartite Pact.

2. What would happen to United States-Japanese relations if, because of our friendship for Germany, we make quite a number of revisions in the text of the proposal, or if because some action was taken, the instrument became void?

3. From the standpoint of friendship for Germany, would it not be possible to attempt a United States-Japanese joint mediation in the war before deciding upon this pact. What are the possibilities of that?

No doubt the waves of the Pacific will be calmed temporarily if this agreement is entered into. It is clear, however, that should Germany and Italy win the war, Japan would be placed in a very unfavorable position.

Even if, on the other hand, Britain and the United States win, is there not a danger that the two will get together and, disregarding this pact, put the pressure on us in the same manner as they did subsequent to the last war?

5. Although the United States claims that her attitude towards the European war will be determined solely by measures to best defend her own safety, are there not indications that


the United States will enter the war, disregarding the pact, to prevent the downfall of the British Empire.

6. What concrete measures does the United States have in mind when they claim that they will give us strong support in exchange for their getting the necessary materials from the southwestern Pacific area? What will the United States actually do in the event that any of our demands in the above area are turned down by those countries?

The United States will supposedly support us in the matter of emigrants to the above-mentioned area. How does the United States intend to help us in areas which are not under her jurisdiction?

is the exact area of the southwestern Pacific as it is used here? Is Australia included in it?

(Translator's note: Paragraph 7 badly garbled, contains much guess work).

Revised version of Paragraph 7

7. The United States and Japan could divide up the holdings of various European countries in the Far East and in the southwest Pacific area without the consent of those nations involved. Will the United States be prepared to do so? Does the United States have any intention of supporting Japan's peaceful penetration of this area?

7. Japan and the United States are to refuse to recognize any dividing or annexing in the Far East or in the southwest Pacific region by any European power. Recognition of any such changes can be made only by Japan and the United States.

Is the United States prepared to accept those conditions?

Also does the United States intend to approve of Japan's intention to promote peaceful penetrations?


a See No. I, 46.

Trans. 4-19-41

No. 55

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

April 20, 1941
# 244.

Re your # 171a of the 19th.

My opinions:

No. 1. You ask if there not be considerable criticism on the grounds that this proposal contravenes the spirit of the Tripartite Pact. Many people in Japan may so conceive it and we might be justified in assuming that the American Government officials also hope through this means to concentrate on assistance to Great Britain. However, my views on your question are specifically as follows:

a. Even though this proposal is accepted, our Empire's duty, based upon Clause 3 of the Tripartite Pact, will not be lessened. In fact, the danger of a war between Japan and the United States as a result of the Axis Alliance will be diminished. Therefore, England could not be considered as thereby securing complete backing by the United States. With the exception of a certain relatively small amount of armaments necessary for warfare in the Atlantic, the United States cannot quickly withdraw her hand from the Pacific. Similarly, although we have concluded a neutrality agreement with the Soviet, we cannot withdraw our forces from Manchukuo.


a See I, 64, in which Tokyo asks to be advised on certain points re the Hull proposal.

Trans. 4-23-41


No. 56

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

April 20, 1941
# 244.

Part 2 of 5.

b. By this proposal, the danger of a war between Japan and the United States resulting from the activities of either country will be reduced and by the same token the danger of a conflict between the United States and Germany will be lessened. On the other hand, granted that after the establishment of this understanding the United States will give more assistance to Great Britain, our Empire will be able thereby all the better to restrain the United States from participating in the European War. This coincides with our duty to support Germany in her desire to have no trouble with the United States and strengthen the spirit of the Tripartite Treaty.

c. If this proposal is accepted, our Empire's right to speak in the international situation will be greater than ever and, through the exercise of that right, who knows what advantages may ultimately accrue to us.

No. 2. In case this proposal comes to naught, I can see no alternative to relations between Japan and the United States following an ever worsening path.

Trans. 4-23-41

No. 57

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

April 26, 1941
# 244.

Part 3 of 5.

No. 3. Concerning the possibility you mention in your third question, I have directly sounded out the opinion of certain high American officials and now when relations are so strained between Berlin and Washington, I can see little chance of each mediation; but if we go ahead and conclude this agreement, later on such a possibility is all the more likely to come.

No. 4. The anxiety you express in this question indicates that you are thinking only of the present, when relations between Japan and the United States are so strained. Through an agreement like this, we can settle the Chinese trouble very quickly, open the gates for the passage of raw materials and, having so improved our position through the exercise of this agreement, we would certainly be in a very much better position to cope with the situation after the war. In fact, I consider the acceptance of this proposal as the best means of meeting the postwar situation.

Trans. 4-23-41

No. 58

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

20 April 1941
# 244.

Part 4 of 5.

No. 5. There is a strong feeling in the United States now to shun the European War and to provide for the stability and security of the United States itself. This is to be made plain in the proposal. According to the draft, the United States will assist England by measures short


of war and will not make a declaration of war directly against Germany. However, if the United States disregards this understanding and should fight, it is clear that we are free to act independently on the basis of the Tripartite Alliance.

No. 6. In exchange for their getting the necessary materials from the southwestern Pacific, the United States promises us cooperation and support. However, I should prefer to leave the details to future negotiations. In connection with the aforementioned question, the United States' right to speak in various British possessions and in the Netherlands Indies is increasing. Therefore, their good offices will be most effective beyond any question. By the southwestern Pacific, I do not believe that Australia is meant. 

Trans. 4-23-41

No. 59

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

April 20, 1941
# 244.

Part 5 of 5.

No. 7. I do not believe that the United States has any desire to take over any of the islands of the southwestern Pacific; but there is a possibility of her using them under some such guise as cooperative exploitation. Furthermore, I do not believe that in the years to follow the United States will interfere with our peaceful penetration into this area.

Summing all this up, just as in the case of the Tokyo-Moscow Neutrality Treaty, the present proposal is the logical complement to the Axis Alliance which is the keynote of our national policy and I wish to point out that I do not believe that the effectiveness of Clause 3 of the Tripartite Treaty, which is the basis of the Axis Alliance, will be measurably impaired thereby. In my own opinion, if the United States is left to drift along as she now is, ultimate American participation in the European War and an additional struggle between Japan and the United States is certain to ensue. Prevention now will be better than cure later on. I feel that the acceptance of this proposal will coincide to the best general interests of the Axis.

After you have conferred upon this message with the War and Navy, please reply. 

Trans. 4-23-41

No. 60

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

23 April 1941
# 249.

(Revised translation.)

This evening I was invited to the private residence of an influential member of the Cabinet who has had some connections with the item mentioned in my # 244 [a], and I was asked by him as to the approximate date when ----- would arrive from Japan. To which I replied that I was expecting ---—- to arrive in two or (three?) -----.

The Cabinet member then, prefacing his remark with the explanation that it was entirely unofficial, stated that he would like to say with the kindest of intentions that "though Hull is slow in making up his mind, when once he has made it up it is not easy for him to change his attitude. ----- and that unless there are some fundamental changes in the general principles


set forth and ----- Hull's attitude toward the (higher officials ?), these conversations will end in a rupture.

(Secret outside the Department.)


a (See I, 59-59.) In reply to a request from Tokyo, Ambassador Nomura expresses his opinion in regard to several points of the Hull proposal.

Trans. 4-28-41

No. 61

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington (Koshi)

25 April 1941
# 183.

Regarding your # 249a.

From Vice Minister to Wakasugi:

As the Foreign Minister has just returned and needs a rest, it will take at least two weeks before instructions will be issued.


a See I, 60.

Trans. 4-28-41

No. 62

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

26 April 1941
# 253.

Part 1 of 2.

From the standpoint of the Imperial Government's diplomatic policy, it is truly a marvelous thing that through your efforts our relations with Moscow have been adjusted because this has been an unsettled problem for many years. I also think that what you have done will have an excellent effect upon our diplomatic relations with the United States. After such a long trip and such arduous labors, I know how tired you must be. However, I would like to receive a reply immediately concerning the matter mentioned in my # 233a. I am very anxious about this because I know how intimately you and I discussed this matter before I came to Washington. Subsequently, on two occasions, Your Honor discussed this matter with Ambassador STEINHARDT in Moscow. I am sure that you must have discussed your attitude with the Government and compared it with the intentions of our officials.

Now, if we keep postponing any action on this matter, it is going to be very difficult for both sides to maintain secrecy. I already suspect that there may be people in the American Cabinet, besides the three men who have so far been involved, who entertain considerable suspicions about what is going on. I also fancy that various policies opposing what I am trying to do may be developing in our country. The course of the European war is arousing the United States very much now and if we are too late in the establishment of this understanding, naturally it will lose its coercive effect. I dare say that already they are becoming a little dubious about the advisability of taking such a step. I fear that if we wait any longer disastrous results will ensue. So let us finish the deal forthwith.


a See I, 45.

Trans. 4-29-41


No. 63

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

April 26, 1941
# 253.

Part 2 of 2.

I do not doubt but what you are greatly worried about the effect of such an agreement upon nations friendly to us, but I do not feel that any anxiety will be justified. Since I got my instructions at all, fourteen days have passed. Now when a man is all heated up to wait two weeks without hearing anything is almost more than he can stand. So please consider my position in this matter.

When I presented my credentials to the President, I told him that it was my intention to endeavor to improve relations between Japan and the United States. I fear that by now the Government of this country is beginning to doubt whether there was anything in what I said. If so, they must suspect that I am not voicing the intentions of the Imperial Government. Time and again when I have had opportunities for conferences with the Secretary of State, I believed that what I have to say coincides in general with the opinions of my Government. Will you not please consider my prestige with the Government of the United States?

Trans. 4-29-41

No. 64

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington

April 30, 1941
# 187.

Re your # 234a.

Please send the English text by wire.


a See I, 46.

Trans. 5-1-41

No. 65

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

April 30, 1941
# 255.

Re your 187a.

I am sending you the English text in my # 256b (urgent in eight parts). I have not super-enciphered this, so please handle very carefully.


a See I, 64.
b See I, 41.

Trans. 5-2-41


No. 66

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

3 May 1941
# 262.

When I met the Secretary of State on the 2nd, I told him that, in view of the tense relations existing between the two nations, we would like to have very careful consideration given to the question of embargoes, and as for the matter of expansion toward the Philippines, this would excite our people, inasmuch as these islands geographically are close neighbors to us.

He seemed to take an understanding attitude toward the latter item, but he said that with every energy being exerted in national defense, trade controls are inevitable, and, going as far as to point out our discriminatory measures in China, he gave no indications of readily complying. He also evinced firm determination in saying that if Hitler's mailed fist should come to extend over the seven seas, the world would be turned back into the dark ages of 300 years ago, and that such a drift must be resisted, though it takes any number of years. Citing Germany's difficulties in handling Poland, where she has all she can do to preserve peace and order with a large force of 700,000 troops, he intimated that we would have a similar problem with the occupied areas of China. Suspecting that this is the general impression of late, I explained that the Chungking government is becoming very much weakened, that the morale of their army is deteriorating, that with a shortage of ammunition they are losing their fighting spirit, and that whereas in the past the Imperial forces could meet them in the ratio of one to ten, at present they can meet them with one to twenty.

Trans. 5-6-41

No. 67

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington (Koshi)

3 May 1941
# 191.

In three parts, complete.

Separate telegram to my # 190a.

Strictly confidential.

Oral statement of the Foreign Minister of Japan:

"Upon my arrival in Tokyo in the afternoon of April 22, 1941, I was apprised at once of the contents of the project of an agreement between Japan and America which was cabled by our Ambassador Admiral Nomura a few days prior to my return. I should have taken the matter up immediately, but I could not divide my attention to any question other than reporting on my recent journey to Europe and taking steps to complete the procedures necessary to putting into effect the pact of neutrality concluded at Moscow between Japan and the U.S.S.R. After disposing of them, I have been obliged to remain inactive for a few days due to an indisposition. As a matter of fact, I have only been able to resume work today. The project necessarily claims very careful and thorough consideration and it will take some days yet before I can express my opinion more or less definitely on the various and multitudinous points contained in the project, some of which are of a far-reaching character. I need hardly assure Your Excellency that I shall do my best to reach a speedy decision, as the nature of the project obviously calls for as early a disposition as possible.

"Having enjoyed the privilege of an acquaintanceship with the President since he was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and having also had the pleasure of meeting Your Excellency


at Washington some eight years ago, I feel that I would not be considered as making entirely useless and obtrusive remarks if I took the advantage of this opportunity frankly to bring to the knowledge of Your Excellency and, through Your Excellency, of the President, some of the things I observed during my recent trip to Europe. The German and Italian leaders are determined never to have peace by negotiation, they demand capitulation. They seem to regard that the war is as good as won even at the present stage, with the expulsion of British soldiers from the Balkans, there is not one British soldier left on the European continent from Norway to the Balkans and the Soviet Russia maintains her neutrality supplying them even with what they need. To support this view, they further point out the vast difference between the conditions which prevailed in the European continent and elsewhere at the end of the first twenty months in the last Great War and those now prevailing in Europe and elsewhere after the lapse of the same twenty months since the commencement of the present war. I may add also, for what it may be worth, that these leaders feel that the American entry into the war will not materially affect the final issue, although they are ready to admit that in that event, the war is likely to become protracted. Whatever views Your Excellency or the President may hold, it is, I trust, always worthwhile and interesting to know what other parties are thinking.

"Of course, I reserve my own opinion on this point, but I must confess that my sole and primary concern is, as Your Excellency must know by my utterances on several occasions, that the American intervention is fraught with a grave danger of prolonging the war to the untold misery and suffering of Humanity, entailing, who knows, in its wake, and eventual downfall of modern civilization. In that eventuality, there would be no more question of Democracy or Totalitarianism on earth. Even at this moment, I shudder at the mere thought of such a dire possibility. The key to prevent or to hasten such a possibility to be translated into probability is largely held in the hands of the President of the United States. This has been my view ever since the outbreak of the European War. I need hardly add that Japan cannot and will not do anything that might in the least degree adversely affect the position of Germany and Italy to whom Japan is in honour bound as an ally under the Tri-Partite Pact. Such a caution on Japan's part, I trust, will be readily appreciated by Your Excellency."


a See I, 68.

Trans. 5-4-41

No. 68

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington (Koshi)

3 May 1941
# 190.

In two parts, complete.

(To be handled in Chief of Mission Code.)

I have read your successive messages, and I understand fully your difficult position and your anxiety in view of Japanese-American relations, as seen from our side, and especially in view of America's present relations to the European war. However, from our standpoint, in considering Japanese-American relations and the European war situation it is necessary for us to give careful study to the effect that such an agreement would have upon the Japan-Germany-Italy alliance, upon Japanese-Soviet relations that have become very delicate since the conclusion of the Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact, and upon China, and especially to the effect it would have upon the Greater East Asia program, as well as upon the South Seas area. Therefore, it is only natural that some days should elapse before a definite opinion could be formulated. I am sure you will have no difficulty understanding this point.


(Since my return to Tokyo I have been laid up several days with my chronic ailment, bronchial catarrh, and today is the first day I have been able to come to the office.)

However, as it may have been improper to let so much time elapse without making some acknowledgment, I would like to have you hand Secretary Hull the separate message in English, as a non-committal reply. At the same time you might suggest to the Secretary as your own idea that, following the precedent of the neutrality pact, which I concluded with the U.S.S.R., the non-aggression item be eliminated and also it would be well to include articles that would ensure the permanent neutrality of the Philippine Islands, and assure nondescriminatory treatment of Japanese subjects in those Islands.

Could you not lightly say to the said Secretary:

"How would it be to enter into a simple and clear-cut Japan-U. S. neutrality agreement? Of course, it goes without saying that an exception will have to be made if it becomes necessary for us to act in order to fulfill our obligations under the Tri-partite Pact."

You could make the above statement as if it was something that just happened to occur to you and in that way size up the situation with regard to whether or not there is a possibility of actually entering into such an agreement.

Judging from U.S. traditions, it can be foreseen that the United States will not readily favor an instrument like a neutrality pact. (Such a pact involves the necessity of a troublesome ratification by the Senate.) On the other hand, I cannot believe that there is absolutely no hope for success.

Moreover, to definitely ascertain that there is absolutely no hope for establishing a neutrality pact, would be of much value to us in our negotiations for the "Understanding" pact.

In the event that a neutrality pact is entered into, what seems to be the possibility of having an "understanding" agreement also, which would include secret clauses to be applied in time of war?

In other words, what I propose is to first of all enter into an agreement which can be published and which would be considered as a sort of a diplomatic blitzkrieg.

Please propose this to the other party as your own thought, and advise me of the result.

Trans. 5-4-41

No. 69

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington (Nomura)

7 May 1941
# 197.

Regarding my # 190a.

We must map out a program of the second phase. This depends on the attitude of the United States.

Since time is of paramount importance, please advise us immediately of Secretary Hull's reply.b


a See I, 68 of 3 May 1941, in which Matsuoka finally replies to Nomura's series of messages, and gives instructions for handing Secretary Hull an "Oral Statement", while attempting to sound out the possibility of a "Neutrality Pact".
b See I, 81 (Wash-Tok # 273 of 7 May) for Nomura's report on the reply.

Trans. 9-5-41


No. 70

FROM: Tokyo (Japanese Foreign Minister)
TO: Washington (Koshi)

5 May 1941
# 192.

According to a fairly reliable source of information it appears almost certain that the United government is reading your code messages.

Please let me know whether you have any suspicion of the above. 

Trans. 5-5-41

No. 71

FROM: Berlin (Oshima)
TO: Tokyo (Matsuoka)

3 May 1941
# 482.

STAAMAA called on me this day (evening?) and stating that this request was to be kept strictly secret, he said that Germany maintains a fairly reliable intelligence organization abroad (or-"in the U.S."?), and according to information obtained from the above-mentioned organization it is quite (or-"fairly"?) reliably established that the U.S. government is reading Ambassador Nomura's code messages, and then asked that drastic steps should be taken regarding this matter.

There are at least two circumstances substantiating the above (suspicion). One circumstance is that Germany is reading our code messages -----. Regarding this, during my previous residency here, they were known to have a large scale cryptanalytic organization-

(unfinished-last two-thirds not available)

Trans. 6-5-41

No. 72

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Berlin (Oshima)

5 May 1941
# 370.

Please express our appreciation to STAAMAA for the information in question and ask him if it is not possible to give us the authority for the statement that it has been fairly reliably established that the U.S. government is reading our code messages, so that we might take appropriate action. Reply requested.

Trans. 6-5-41


No. 73

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

5 May 1941
# 267.

Most Guarded Secrecy.

Foreign Office Secret.

Re your # 192a.

For our part, the most stringent precautions are taken by all custodians of codes and ciphers, as well as of other documents.

On this particular matter I have nothing in mind, but pending investigation please wire back any concrete instances or details which may turn up.


a See I, 70.

Trans. 5-6-41

No. 74

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington (Nomura)

7 May 1941
# 198.

Regarding your # 267a.

This matter was told very confidentially to Ambassador OshimaB by the Germans as having been reported to them by a fairly ("rather" or "pretty") reliable intelligence medium; but to our inquiry they are said to have refused to divulge the basis on which they deemed it to be practically certain.


a See I, 73 Nomura requests further details of the basis for the report that his code msgs are being read by the U.S. government.
b General Oshima, the Japanese Ambassador to Berlin.

Trans. 7-5-41

No. 75

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

May 20, 1941
# 327.


Though I do not know which ones, I have discovered that the United States is reading some of our codes.

As for how I got the intelligence, I will inform you by courier or another safe way.

Trans. 5-21-41


No. 76

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington, Bangkok, Rome

7 May 1941
# 1015.


Immediately upon receipt of this message, use 1941 regulations for A and B code machines until further notice.

Trans. 5-7-41

No. 77

FROM: Tokyo (Japanese Foreign Minister)
TO: Washington

May 8, 1941
No Number.

From Vice Chief OHASI to Minister Wakasugi.

I want you to leave the custody of the government code in the hands of IGUCHI. No matter how long the communications are or how hurriedly the code must be used, there should be no occasion to call upon the services of telegraphic clerks. Please impress upon all of your secretaries that this is a special regulation.

In view of the importance of the details of our recent exchange of wires, please (burn?) them immediately.

Trans. 5-9-41

No. 78

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

May 6, 1941
No Number.

I have Counselor IGUCHI take care of the custody of the government code. Though a secretary usually handles it, when the communication is a long one or when we are in a hurry, I have on occasion asked telegraphic clerk HORIUCHI and assistant telegraphic clerks HORI and KAJIWARA to handle it.

Trans. 5-7-41

No. 79

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Matsuoka)

9 May 1941
No Number.

To the Vice Ministera, from Wakasugi.b

I respectfully acknowledge receipt of your telegramc.

Because of various duties at this office it requires a long time for a secretary alone to handle long messages and the increased volume of traffic in connection with this matterd.

(My message # 272e required 6 men working for 6 hours.)

With the opening of negotiations, the volume of telegraphic traffic is bound to increase tremendously. As time is at a premium in handling these communications, you can well ap-


preciate the inadvisability of having only the secretary handle this work. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the increased traffic will interfere greatly with other duties of this office.

However, fortunately, our communication clerks have been constantly reminded of the necessity of maintaining security, and they have faithfully adhered to this policy in their work.

Although I appreciate the intent of your telegramc from the standpoint of security, I nevertheless request your authorization to enlist the aid of Horiuchi, Hori, and Kazuwara to handle communication duties under strict supervision.

Also please authorize me to have Kawabata of Chicago come here temporarily to assist us in our communication work. (Bring all codes and do his work in this office.)


a Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ohashi.
b Japanese Minister to Washington, under Ambassador Nomura.
c See I, 77, unnumbered, dated 8 May in which Tokyo issues Washington special regulations for custody of the Chief of Mission private code.
d Japanese-American negotiations, being conducted in great secrecy.
e Not available.

Trans. 12-5-41

No. 80

FROM: Washington
TO: Tokyo

May 13, 1941
No Number.

To Acting Vice Minister Yamamoto from Wakasugi.

I have no doubt that you are giving consideration to the matter of having additional telegraphic secretaries and telegraphic clerks. If, however, matters are allowed to go on the way they are, there is danger that we will have some sick people on our hands.

Will you please, therefore, give consideration to the contents of the last paragraph of my messagea sent on the 9th, in which I asked for Kawasata to come to help us out. If this cannot be arranged could you have one or two persons having fair ability sent to us from one of our offices in this vicinity?


s See I, 103-107.

Trans. 5-16-41

No. 81

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Matsuoka)

7 May 1941
# 273.

2 parts-complete

Regarding your # 191a.

I called on the Secretary of State during the morning of the 7th with regard to the "oral statement" and the neutrality pact.

The Secretary told me that he was fully aware of the sincere efforts I was making to correct and improve the relations between the two countries, and the neutrality pact.

He went on to say that the time at which the United States must act, and act speedily, was practically at hand, and it was necessary to move before it was too late. Hitlerism cannot be


permitted to reach all of the seven seas. The United States, with defense as the main objective, shall protect her rights and interests (every country has an equal right to do this, he added) and will resist Hitlerism to the end, even if this takes ten or twenty years. He repeated that this was necessary from the viewpoint of defense.

"All of my colleagues," he said, "urge me to act quickly." They warned him not to hesitate, or procrastinate and that immediate action is needed if he does not want to be too late.

He strongly advocated the commencement of U.S.-Japanese negotiations. I have never before heard him use so enthusiastic a tone or language as on this occasion.

(Part 2)

Regarding the Neutrality Pact, (I also referred to the possibility of he and I exchanging notes containing the gist of the "understanding pact", in the event that the neutrality pact was an impossibility) the Secretary apparently is of the attitude that it would be entirely useless for him to discuss this matter with me, if I have not been given any instructions from my government. Apparently, he has no intention of touching on this phase. (He said that he had turned this matter over to his advisors for their consideration. They unofficially state that something may be done about a neutrality pact after an "understanding" agreement is entered into. At present, however, from the viewpoint of domestic politics, it would be impossible to enter into anything resembling a neutrality pact. Moreover, since practically all of the problems between the U.S. and Japan are contained in the "understanding" agreement, they feel that its consideration should be the immediate task, the Secretary said.)

The Secretary said also that he could see some points in the "understanding" agreement which should be revised to make it applicable to the signatory nations.

If I were to express my opinion, I would say that in view of the present critical world conditions, and more particularly, in view of the present attitude of the United States, this is no longer the time for propaganda, bluffing, and feeling out each other. Looking at the whole situation from our country, I firmly believe that now is the time to give way to great statesmanship. Now is the time, I feel, for us to make a determined effort to regain good relations between the two countries.

During the conversations, he said that he knows Hitler equally as well as Mr. Matsuoka does. Then he added, "I may be wrong".

In view of the fact that this matter has been kept a deep secret heretofore, and because we have been holding conferences at various times under promises of their being "off the record", I have not handed the Oral Statement over. Please be aware of this.

Because of the various circumstances outlined above, will you please arrange to commence negotiations along the lines of the "understanding" agreement immediately.


a See I, 67-Text of note to be handed to Secretary Hull.

Trans. 5-7-41


No. 82

FROM: Tokyo (Japanese Foreign Minister)
TO: Washington

May 8, 1941
# 200.


Your message # 273a was communicated to me by telephone twice today, once in the morning and in the afternoon. I made a reply by telephone. On that occasion I stated that it was my intention to make publication within four or five days at the very latest. Furthermore, on the basis of this Minister's oral statement, as I would like to submit it for the President's perusal, please make presentation of it immediately to Secretary of State HULL requesting him to, in turn, hand it over to the President.


a See I, 81. Nomura reports conversation with Secretary Hull during the morning of the 7th with regard to the "oral statement" and the neutrality pact.

Trans. 5-9-41

No. 84

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 1 of 8.

Foreign Office secret.

Supplementary to my message # 273a.

1. Recently, especially since the passage of the National Defense Act, the real political and economic powers in the United States have practically entirely been placed in the hands of President Roosevelt. The trend towards a dictatorship is constantly becoming more and more evident and unmistakable.

Practically all of the more influential newspapers and other organs of communication are being manipulated and guided by Roosevelt. In other words, the so-called "public opinion" is an instrument which is being cleverly manufactured by the President. As evidence of this, it is apparent that neither the politicians nor the commentators and the critics of such organizations as the "America First" cannot soften or change the so-called "public opinion" manufactured by Roosevelt.

Supplementing this, all persons who protest or oppose the Rooseveltian policies, are being given a figurative death sentence by being branded traitors or spies. In other words, I am of the opinion that the freedom of expression of one's thoughts is rapidly becoming non-existent.


a See I, 81.

Trans. 5-12-41


No. 85

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 2 of 8.

The persons who were formerly considered the brains of the Roosevelt administration have gradually been removed until of late the only ones who remain close to the President are Hopkins, Walker (for 20 years this man has supported Roosevelt and was business manager of Roosevelt's third term campaign, and is now Postmaster General), and Hull. Even these men, although they are quite influential in having the power to make suggestions, apparently do not have the final say. The decisions in practically all of the more important matters are being made by none other than the President himself.

It is now a certainty that when I made my recent proposals to the United States that only the Secretary of the Navy, besides the above mentioned three persons, was present at the conference with the President to discuss it. It is fairly definite that Stimson as well as the other Cabinet officials and the State Department officers were all left out of the conference. Hull, it is reported, announced to the Undersecretary of State and to the other higher-ups in his department, that matters pertaining to United States-Japanese relations were things that would be decided by the extreme head of the government.

While on this subject, I might mention that Roy Howard, who has been utilized by this Embassy in the past, and with whom you are on friendly terms, is at present a member of the "outs" as far as the President is concerned, since the journalist not only opposed him in the third term campaign but also opposed the National Defense Act when it was being discussed.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 36

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 3 of 8.

The great majority of the American people, including the President, look upon this war as a battle between totalitarianism and democracy.

In general the people are convinced of the following points:

That totalitarianism is an enemy of humanitarianism since it refuses to recognize the liberty of an individual;

That though aggressions may, temporarily, seem successful, in the long run they are all doomed to failure and they give Caesar and Napoleon as examples;

That they must aid England which is a self-claimed democracy, to the bitter end;

That there is a possibility that the German-British war will develop into a German-U. S. war.

The American people are so convinced of the above points that it would be an impossibility for anyone, regardless of the amount of effort he may make, to change them. This condition is true today, and will be true in the future. It has come to such a point as to almost automatically brand one a traitor who, with the best intentions, offers even a word of warning.

Most Americans believe by wishful thinking, that this European war will develop into a long term affair and that if, during this time, the U.S. goes into aiding Britain on a large scale,


the German side (including Italy) will certainly be crushed. There are, among the American people, those such as Lindbergh who oppose the popular belief that Germany will certainly be crushed. However, I am of the opinion that only a small minority support these men.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 87

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 4 of 8.

The United States feels that she must prevent Germany's beating England decisively, (but how this is to be done is still a mystery.) (Translator's note: slightly garbled here). Under present conditions, however, it is highly doubtful that the United States will take the initiative to mediate and thus bring about peace between England and Germany.

The United States is exceedingly interested in completing her national defense program and hence is unable to increase her material aid to Europe. While on the one hand she is determined to complete her vast armament program, she is strengthening her recently effectuated patrol system and probably in the near future the United States will put a convoy system into operation.

However, the United States must make up its mind to enter the war before it can launch a convoy program. Hence, it naturally follows that the United States will take a big stride towards entrance into the war when she establishes a convoy system.

Those advocating the United States' entrance into the war in this country have suddenly gathered much backing as reports of the poor showing of the British in the Balkans and the Near East become known. This is a condition which demands our undivided attention, I believe.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 88

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 5 of 8.

In view of this very delicate situation that the United States finds herself in, it would be exceedingly disadvantageous to her if she must stand against both Japan and Germany at one and the same time.

In a situation like this, it can be seen why the United States would consider patching up her relations with Japan, which is, from the U.S. viewpoint, the lesser of the two dangers. The fact that the United States is desirous of beginning negotiations along the lines of the so-called "understanding agreement", at a time such as this, would seem to endorse the various reports and observations herein listed.

However, it would be erroneous to conclude that by so doing the United States was giving in to Japan. According to secret information I have been able to obtain, the United States' plans, should she have to engage both Japan and Germany are as follows: She intends to bide her time in the Pacific area, concentrating on defense, until her vast navy and air force is com-


pleted several years hence. With those at her command she will launch a death struggle with Japan, it is said.

With regard to the U.S. attitude toward Japan, it is as unpopular as ever. In this respect, Japan runs third only to Germany and Italy, with whom the United States people are constantly reminded, Japan is allied.

However, on the occasion of presentation of my credentials when I arrived here to assume my post, the President said to me, informally, that he was a friend of Japan. Moreover, the President and few of the persons very close to him, realize that the Japanese national traits differ from those of Germany and Italy, and also that Japan is not an aggressive nation in the sense that Germany and Italy are. The same persons started to believe, too, that it would be to the interest of the United States to bring about closer relations between the United States and Japan, (please carefully note, however, that they do not consider this an absolute necessity).

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 89

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 6 of 8.

3. Because of the conditions outlined above, unless some action is taken right now with regard to U.S.-Japanese relations, the desire on the part of the President and others to bring about closer relations may cool off. Moreover, the United States may adopt a policy of applying vigorous economic pressure on Japan. For the sake of preserving her national life, Japan may then be forced to make armed overtures in the direction of the south, which, of course, is accompanied by the danger of a total war between Japan and the United States.

Assuming that recovery of U.S.-Japanese relations is a possibility, I was confronted with the problem of when would be the most opportune time to do so. I find that there are three possible times in which this may occur:

(a) At a time when the trend of the European war is not clearly defined.
(b) At a time when it is clear that Germany is the victor.
(c) At a time when the belligerents have lost interest in the war upon its having become a stalemate.

In the case of (a) the important thing is that both countries (Translator's note: Japan and the U.S. is no doubt implied) stand on equal terms. Of course, it may be argued that if we wait until such a time that Germany's victory cannot be questioned, there would be no chance of our standing in an unfavorable position. However, from the standpoint of Japan, it would be to her best interest to have the China Incident settled before the conclusion of the European war. If this is done, we would have freedom of action to meet the post war conditions. This would be of great help to us in promoting our national powers and we would be able to wield considerable influence in the international scene.

Although plan (b) is an exceedingly desirable one from the general viewpoint, if we have to sit in on the international scene carrying the heavy load which is the China Incident, we would be considerably handicapped. Moreover, we would not be free to promote our national powers in a manner in which we would wish. Hence, there is the danger that Japanese demands will be restrained by third powers. Finally, at this time, it is impossible for any person to say as to when the time will come when German victory will become a certainty.

Trans. 5-13-41


No. 90

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 7 of 8.

(d) in that (though this possibility is a small one) there is a good chance that the United States will have entered the war by then and that the opportunity for revising U.S.-Japanese relations will have been lost forever.

After looking at the matter from these various angles, I have come to the conclusion that plan (a) is the best and the sooner that it is carried out the more advantageous it would be to us.

Next, the matter of the contents of the proposal to correct U.S.-Japanese relations was tackled. In doing so, first consideration was given to attainment of the goal of the Tripartite Pact and to the prevention of a U.S.-Japanese war. In doing so, it was discovered that it was first necessary to clarify our relationship with Germany; the United States' relationship with England; the problems surrounding the China Incident and the Southward program; the problems surrounding the policy of economic squeezing, etc. These matters, it became evident, would all have to be considered as inter-related problems.

With the atmosphere between the U.S. and Japan the way it is at present, there is exceedingly little hope of success of anything like a trade agreement which would touch merely one phase of the whole. At the same time, one must feel pessimistic as to the success of any settlement which is based upon philosophical or idealistic beliefs, such as, for example, our New Order in East Asia program or the plan to bring about peace and quiet throughout the world through a "New Order" program. Should we bring up any of these things, it would tend only to have our sincerity suspected.

As a matter of fact, in the process of drawing up this "understanding agreement" we strongly urged that the "New Order" be given recognition and that a proposal be made to mediate in the Great War. It is now absolutely certain that they cannot be made to accept either of these.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 91

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo (Gaimudaijin)

7 May 1941
# 277.

Part 8 of 8. 

It is natural and inevitable that the U.S. will make much use of such fundamental doctrines as the "non-recognition of territorial alterations as the result of aggression", "disapproval of warlike acts", etc. There is a great danger that such phrases will spell the doom of the attempts to revive U.S.-Japanese relations.

(In connection with the "understanding" agreement the United States has already advocated the following points:

1. Absolutely guaranteeing the territorial integrity not only of each other but also of every other state in the world, and to respect the rights of those countries.

2. To support the fundamental policy of non-intervention in domestic issues of the said countries.

3. Adherence to the basic principle of equal opportunity-including commercial-to all.


4. Non-alteration of the status quo in the Pacific except where changes were brought about by peaceful means.

Fearing, however, that these would give rise to lengthy discussions as to basic principles, they were held down.)

In other words, we have mutually agreed to limit the expressing of our innermost feelings concerning our views on the world, and will express even these only when it is absolutely necessary.

It is true that it would be exceedingly difficult to wipe away at one stroke the various complicated problems which have been accumulating over a period of many years. However, I firmly believe that should we once start out in the direction of an "understanding", the various complications would gradually become untangled until the point is reached where a true friendship will be born.

I further believe that should we make the present talks an actuality, we may be able to restrain the U.S. with regard to the present war, and may even be able to change her attitude entirely.

In the meantime, however, I am of the belief that we should concentrate our efforts to bringing about the agreement.

In the hopes that we will meet with success in our undertakings, I have written this report at great length.

The end.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 92

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

8 May 1941
# 279.

Secret outside the department.

Without a single question of doubt it is becoming clear that the situation here in this country is taking an ever stiffening trend, especially in view of the attitude expressed by the Secretary of State yesterday morning and the speeches of the Secretaries of War and Navy and WILKE.

I believe that this may be but the reaction to our delays with regard to the "understanding proposal" or maybe they are beginning to fear possible failure or again it may be the course of action decided upon by the Cabinet which met today. If that be the case, all our efforts to date will come to naught. These are the authoritative intelligences that have come to me.

As for myself, I believe that the time is ripe for bringing about an understanding. 

Translator's Note: The last paragraph of the text was not clear, but in the light of the context and the ungarbled portions, it is felt that this is reasonably accurate.

Trans. 5-9-41


No. 93

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

May 8, 1941
# 280.

To the Chief of the Telegraphic Bureau from WAKASUGI.

The situation in the United States is momentarily becoming more pressing and as the number of urgent messages from Japan is great and call for immediate decision, do not waste a moment's time. Please arrange to have this submitted to His Excellency for his perusal.

Trans. 5-9-41

No. 94

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

May 8, 1941
# 282.

Secret outside the department.

As I have told you in my successive communications, the situation in this country is momentarily becoming more pressing. Though I do not know whether or not you intend on the one hand to start negotiations along the lines of our "understanding proposal", should you decide to commence negotiations they should be undertaken without the slightest delay. Therefore, please wire your instructions (details could follow in a later message) at the very latest by the 9th (Japanese or American time?).

Trans. 5-9-41

No. 95

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

May 10, 1941
# 290.

The certain influential Cabinet member told me confidentially as follows:

"Though arguments for actuating the convoy system within American Government circles is extremely strong; the President, considering Japan-American relations, seems to have been able to control it to date. In view of the increasing clamor of those demanding convoys, in day before yesterday's, the 8th, Cabinet meeting the President too seemed to be on the verge of following the trend. In his foreign policy speech on the 14th of this month, he is scheduled to refer to it. However, should Japan-American negotiations be started by that date, he plans to change even the details of that speech. In the event that negotiations are not undertaken, Japan-American conversations will end in absolute failure."

Trans. 5-14-41


No. 96

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

May 8, 1941
# 281.

Part 1 of 2a.

In the ever tightening situation in the United States, as you noted in your wire, yesterday the 7th, urgent questions were put to me. Since the next few days here will bear close watching, I began making preparatory plans for ameliorating the situation through a certain influential Cabinet member upon whom I called late last night. This afternoon I contacted the said influential Cabinet member and the purport of our private conversations is as follows:

1. "On the morning of the 8th when I talked with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State made the following confidential statements to me:

a. 'I am fully appreciative of Ambassador NOMURA's efforts and persistence for the maintenance of peace in view of current developments in the situation and in this I have not changed the slightest. Please transmit this to His Excellency.'
b. 'The key to an early settlement of this matter lies only in the hand of the Foreign Minister. I am well aware that as much as the Ambassador would like to do, this is a question which he cannot settle to his own liking.'
c. 'To date we have made some progress in spite of some changes and revisions, but as for continuing talks so soon after the Ambassador's instructions have been received from his home Government with regard to the oral statement and, at this late date, to be forced to make additional changes, makes us wonder what Japan's true intention can be.'
d. 'Whether it is incorrect communication of rumor that the Foreign Minister suggested in his speech that the President should come to Japan himself to learn the true situation, etc., I do not know; but this cannot be regarded but as the bait by means of which the Cabinet's anti-Japanese opinions have stiffened (it seemed as though he were referring to STIMSON and KNOX).'
e. 'Judging from such intelligences as are available to us, we cannot help but feel that possibly the Foreign Minister stands in rather an embarrassing position as far as the German authorities are concerned.' ".


a See I, 97.

Trans. 5-10-41

No. 97

FROM: Washington (Nomura)
TO: Tokyo

May 8, 1941
# 281.

Part 2 of 2a.

2. The certain Cabinet member asked HULL: "In spite of the outcome of today's urgently called secret Cabinet meeting, how would it be to give them a little more time for study?" HULL replied: "Should there be any hope of some kind of an answer during the interval that, too, would become but one proposal; but because of the attitude which exists in the Cabinet on this question, it would be hard for me to give any assurances at this time."

3. When I asked him with regard to the subject under discussion in today's extraordinary and secret Cabinet meeting, the certain Cabinet member merely replied that it would be only possible to imagine what it was in the light of his press conference (but I interpret this to


be a hint that the subject under discussion was the convoy question). However, it would seem that during the coming week the President will make some kind of declaration; but when I asked whether or not he would include in his declaration his considerations of this draft, he merely glowered at me fixedly.


a Part 1, See I, 96.

Trans. 5-10-41

No. 98

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington (Nomura)

9 May 1941
# 201.

Regarding your # 277a, 279b, 281c, 282d.

I fully appreciate the situation that you are confronted with. I am also aware of the reasons that you are in such a rush. Moreover, it goes without saying that I feel very much the same way as you do about this matter.

As I said in our telephone conversation yesterday [e], we have other things to take into careful consideration, such as our relations with our allies, relations between Japan and the Soviet Union, the general situation in the Far East, as well as various domestic conditions. For these reasons it is impossible for us at this end to act with the speed which you desire. I feel confident that you can appreciate this fact.

As I said over the telephone yesterday [e], I would like to come to some decision during today, the 9th. With this in mind, I am doing everything possible. However, there is a certain reason why this decision may be (one?) day delayed.

Please bear this in mind.


a See I, 84-91.
b See I, 92, dated 8 May. Nomura emphatically reports that the speeches of Knox, Stimson, and Wilkie indicate a trend which will make action impossible unless taken at once.
c See I, 96, 97.
d See I, 94, dated 8 May, in which Nomura tells Matsuoka instructions must be sent by the 9th, as situation is pressing.
e Ambassador Nomura called Foreign Minister Matsuoka on the Trans-Pacific telephone on 8 May 1941 from 0110 to 0116 (zone plus 5 time), (1510 to 1516, zone minus nine time) (Tokyo), 8 May.

Trans. 5-9-41

No. 99

FROM: Tokyo (Matsuoka)
TO: Washington (Nomura)

9 May 1941
# 202.

4 parts, complete.

(Part 1)

Regarding my # 201a.

If you believe that it is necessary, please advise the Secretary of State confidentially along the following lines in addition to that I have previously given you:


1. It is this Minister's greatest desire to see United States-Japanese relations relieved of their present strain. I am most anxious to see the United States discontinue its policy of aiding Chiang Kai-Shek, and also to have the United States urge peace between China and Japan.

That there is no doubt as to this Minister's sincerity with regards to the above, should be clearly seen upon taking into consideration my (recent actions?).

2. In its over-anxiousness to aid England, the United States is forcing Germany to assume that in actuality the United States is more interested in attacking Germany.

Please point out to the United States that the continuance of this policy on their part will force us to take enemy-like actions against the United States. This Minister desires, above everything else, to prevent animosity. I plead to the United States-nay, the (entire world?)-that the United States withhold any move which will force us to become her enemy.

I am convinced that the President and the Secretary of State are well aware of the above-my most cherished hopes-because they are acquainted with the things I have done.

(Part 2)

3. Should matters progress without being checked, Japan will be forced to live up to her obligations under the Japan-Germany-Italy Tripartite Pact. It has already been made clear that Japan has every intention of living up to her promises.

4. An "Understanding" agreement, in spite of all the bolstering that it could be given, would disappear like pricked bubbles, if matters are allowed to develop to the extent mentioned above.

Both parties must make an effort to control matters now. It is because this Minister does not want to see any further unfavorable development, that he clearly stated Japan's standpoint [c] before any negotiations were begun.

5. The "Oral Statement" [c] which I sent to you earlier, should have been sent to you as soon as I returned, on 22 April [b]. However, I had to give other matters, including the Japan-Soviet Union neutrality pact, my attention, and on top of that I became ill with my usual sickness.

As a habit of mine, I like to handle these matters myself and do not leave them for my subordinates to handle.

(Part 3)

In other words, I merely jotted down the things I saw, and heard, and the things that impressed me most deeply while on my visit to Europe. I did this at the first opportunity I had upon returning to my desk after recovering from my illness, and had absolutely no ulterior motive in doing so.

I picked out those parts of the notes which I thought would be of interest to the President and the Secretary of State. Had I known that they had first hand knowledge, I would have realized that my statements were superfluous.

It was only my interest in promoting world peace that motivated me to dispatch the "Oral Statement"; there was absolutely no other reason for doing so. The other parties may think that I was being unnecessarily meddlesome. However, there is such a proverb as, "You can't know too much." (?) and I thought that the impressions I got, and the first hand observations I made may have been of some value as reference material.

6. As you are aware, there were certain quarters in the United States which desired me to visit the U.S. Moreover, rumors of such a trip were reported in the press. This aroused considerable suspicion in our country, as well as in Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union. Therefore, I definitely denied harboring such intentions when I was questioned by newspapermen. However, there was a newspaperman who further said that there were those who thought that there was a need for me to go to the United States in order to become better acquainted with it. I thought that I was fairly well acquainted with the United States and saw no reason for going there for that purpose.


(Part 4)

Then he asked, how would it be to have the President and the Secretary of State come to visit Japan so that they may become better acquainted with conditions in Japan:

To this, I replied that probably it would be undiplomatic to urge the President and Secretary of State, who no doubt are exceedingly busy, to come for a visit at this time. However, I added, if they would consider it, it would be very nice.

You should realize that there was no reason for me to bring up such a subject at the time. Moreover, you should have no doubt, after reading the reports, that the facts had been twisted.

Translator's note: this sentence somewhat illegible; translation only approximate.

The mere fact, however, that the United States takes an exceedingly antagonistic attitude, even over such a minor incident as that, would seem to prove that the United States is out to give a twist to everything. Of course, it is natural that there should be some minor arguments. However, it is equally natural that we become highly on edge when they quibble about every little thing. (You need not go out of your way to bring the contents of this paragraph to the Secretary's attention. However, if the conversation runs along a line wherein you could conveniently insert it, it may be used to advantage.)

7. The rumors that I, as Minister, am experiencing considerable difficulty because of having taken a stand on the side of Germany are entirely without basis of truth. I have in no way suffered from taking the stand that I have.


a See I, 98.
b The date Matsuoka arrived in Tokyo from his European trip.
c See I, 67(Tok-Wash # 191 of 3 May) for text of this "Oral Statement".

Trans. 5-9-41

No. 100

FROM: Washington
TO: Tokyo

9 May 1941
# 285.

I can appreciate your feeling of anxiety concerning the effect upon the Tripartite Alliance, which an adjustment of relations between Japan and the United States might have, but from the standpoint of the larger aspects of the situation I believe such adjustment would not in the least be to the disadvantage of Germany and Italy. Recently in talking to the President I told him of the influence Japan and the United States could wield in cooperating together for world peace. (The Secretary of State was present at the time.)

It was with the same idea that I told Mr. Hull that peace in the Pacific would be the first step toward later peace in Europe. At another time when I expressed the same thought to a certain Cabinet member, he replied that he would place his "hopes" on this (he is a Catholic believer), and this idea might well become the occasion for endeavors that would lead to a bettering of Japanese-American relations, which I think would also be profitable from the standpoint of the Tripartite Alliance.

Trans. 5-12-41


No. 101

FROM: Washington
TO: Tokyo

9 May 1941

The items in your # 202 [a] are all well understood from the facts that you have already reported. Since yesterday morning, the 8th, I have been trying in every way, mainly along the lines of your message, to clear up their misunderstandings, and have endeavored to push along our conversations on these same lines. Therefore, I wish you would consider past happenings as having been settled for the present, and make your attitude clear so that we can go ahead with these conversations.


a See I, 99.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 102

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

9 May 1941
# 204.

Re my # 201a.

Our opinion regarding the revision is given in separate telegram # 205b and our reasons for the revision are given in separate telegram # 206c. Please begin negotiations at once for the above-mentioned revision.


a See I, 98.
b See I, 103-107.
c Not used.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 103

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

9 May 1941
# 205.

Part 3 of 7, Parts 1 and 2 missing.

... (continued from Part 2) ... alluding to the important questions that have made this understanding difficult, both countries should be convinced as to which problems could suitably and profitably be made the subjects of discussion in the conference, and those which it would not be profitable to consider would not be included. We recognize that the relations between the two governments could be improved in a marked way if the situation as to the following point could be made clear, or improved.

(1) The international and national concepts held by the two countries, Japan and America.
(2) The attitude of both governments to the European war.
(3) The relations of both governments to the China incident. (The above are the same as in your # 234 [a].)
(4) Trade between the two countries.


a See I, 46.

Trans. 5-12-41


No. 104

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

9 May 1941
# 205.

Part 4 of 7, Parts 1 and 2 missing.

(5) Economic activities of both countries in the Southwestern Pacific areas.
(6) The policies of both governments in regard to the political stability of the Pacific.

With the aforementioned articles we take up consideration of these points:

(1) International and national concepts held by Japan and the United States:

We recognize that both Japan and the United States are independent nations on a mutually equal footing. If both governments desire the establishment of lasting peace, and a new era based upon the confidence and cooperation of both countries in their mutual relations, they will make it clear that both countries are agreed in their national ----- and both governments will adopt the policy of equality for all nations and all races.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 105

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

9 May 1941
# 205.

Part 5 of 7, (Parts 1 and 2 missing).

Both governments will preserve respectively the national concepts based upon their distinctive traditions, and those moral principles which are the basis for social and national life, and will resist with firm determination any foreign ideas which are contrary to the same.

(2) The attitudes of both governments toward the European war:

With a view to bringing about world peace the governments of Japan and the United States will cooperate in trying to prevent the spread of the war in Europe, and to bring about the restoration of peace as soon as possible.

Trans. 5-12-41

No. 106

FROM: Tokyo
TO: Washington

9 May 1941
# 205.

Part 6 of 7, (Parts 1 and 2 missing).a

(3) The relations of both countries to the China incident.

The United States government will recognize the three principles enunciated by Premier Konoye, the treaty based upon the same that has been concluded with the Nanking government, and the principles brought out in the joint statement made by Japan, Manchukuo, and China; and, trusting in the good neighbor policy of the Japanese government, will advise the