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XIV DISCUSSIONS WITH JAPAN 1941-PEARL HARBOR Secretary Hull's Statement on Japanese Aggression, January 15

Secretary Hull discussed Japan's actions in the Far East, on January 15, 1941, at a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives on the Lend-Lease bill. The Secretary recounted the various steps in Japan's program of expansion, including the conquest of Manchuria, the denunciation of the naval treaty of 1922, the intensified construction of military and naval armaments, and the large-scale military operations against China which had begun in July 1937. He said it was clear that "Japan has been actuated from the start by broad and ambitious plans for establishing herself in a dominant position in the entire region of the Western Pacific"; that Japan's leaders had openly declared their intention to achieve and maintain that position by force of arms and thus to make themselves masters of an area containing almost one half of the entire population of the world.

The Secretary said that notwithstanding the course which Japan had followed during recent years, the United States Government had made repeated efforts to persuade Japan that its best interests lay in the development of friendly relations with the United States and with other countries which believed in orderly and peaceful international processes. ( )

Report That Japan Might Attack Pearl Harbor

Ambassador Grew reported to the Department of State on January 27, 1941 that one of his diplomatic colleagues had told a member of the Embassy staff that there were reports from many sources, including a Japanese source, that Japanese military forces planned a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor in case of "trouble" with the United States. ( )

Arrival of Ambassador Nomura

Shortly thereafter the new Japanese Ambassador, Admiral Nomura, presented his credentials to President Roosevelt, and on March 8, 1941 Secretary Hull had his first extended conversation with the Ambassador. The Secretary pointed out that the efforts of the United

States to bring about organization of the world along liberal commercial lines had been impeded by movements of military conquest in various parts of the world. He inquired of the Ambassador whether the military groups in control of the Japanese Government could possibly expect the United States "to sit absolutely quiet while two or three nations before our very eyes organized naval and military forces and went out and conquered the balance of the earth, including the seven seas and all trade routes and the other four continents". The Secretary inquired further what would countries like the United States gain by remaining complacent in the face of a movement to substitute force and conquest for law and justice. The Ambassador sought to minimize the view that such military conquest was in the mind of his Government, and he said that embargoes by the United States were of increasing concern to Japan and that he did not believe there would be any further military movements by the Japanese Government unless compelled by the policy of increasing embargoes on the part of the United States. Secretary Hull replied that this was a matter entirely in the hands of the Japanese Government because Japan had taken the initiative in military expansion and seizure of territory, thereby creating an increasing concern on the part of the United States and other countries as to the full extent of Japan's contemplated conquests by force. He referred to the terms of the Tripartite Pact and to public declarations of Hitler and of Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka that their countries were out to establish by military force a new world order under their control. The Secretary said that, whatever interpretation the Ambassador might give these statements and military activities in harmony with them, the people of the United States had become thoroughly aroused and viewed with most serious concern the German and Japanese movements to take charge of the seas and the other continents for their own arbitrary control and pecuniary profit at the expense of the welfare of all of the victims of such a course. He said that these apprehensions would remain so long as Hitler continued his "avowed course of unlimited conquest and tyrannical rule and so long as the Japanese Army and Navy increase their occupation by force of other and distant areas". ()

Exploratory Conversations

Meanwhile, reports had been received in the United States that elements in the Japanese Government and certain private groups in Japan would welcome negotiations between the two Governments looking toward a settlement of the issues between the United States and Japan.

President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Hull well realized the probability that Japan had already gone so far in a policy of conquest that it would be impossible to persuade her to stop. Nevertheless, entertainment of even a faint hope that there might be worked out a fair and peaceful settlement in the Far Eastern area impelled this Government to agree to participate in exploratory conversations in order to ascertain whether there was sufficient agreement on basic issues to warrant entry upon more formal negotiations. Furthermore, there was the desirability of guarding against Japanese advances upon the relatively weak defenses of United States territory in the western Pacific and of territory of friendly nations in that area.

Accordingly, in the spring of 1941 the Secretary of State and the Japanese Ambassador began a series of conversations in which they discussed the issues between the two countries. In a conversation on May 11 Secretary Hull told Ambassador Nomura that if Japan really desired a settlement of the Pacific situation on a basis of peace and friendliness, there should be no serious difficulty. The Secretary inquired why it was that Japan persisted in using the slogan "New Order in Greater East Asia" unless Japan was using it as a cloak to continue her policy of conquest by force. He repeated that we were profoundly convinced that Hitlerism would prove not only a "scourge" to other parts of the world, as it had in Europe, but that it would be applied to Japan herself just as quickly as it had been applied to countries in Europe which had trusted Hitler. The Ambassador said that it would be "an incalculable loss to both Japan and the United States, as well as to civilization, if our two countries should become engaged in war". The Secretary rejoined that unless the civilization of the world was to run the great risk of being destroyed by Hitler, the united efforts of nations like Japan, the United States, and Great Britain would be required to shape the course of the world in a different direction. He said that steps looking toward the gradual development of basic programs for both the transition and the postwar periods could not be taken too soon. He re-emphasized that the United States was determined that Hitler should not get control of the seas, and that we should feel obliged to resist indefinitely such effort on Hitler's part. Since Hitler had avowed his movement to be one for world control, the United States did not, he said, propose to commit suicide as so many countries in continental Europe had done, by trusting Hitler and waiting until it was too late to resist; we proposed to resist when and where such resistance would be most effective, whether within our own boundaries, on the high seas, or in aid of such countries as Great Britain. (

Japanese Proposal of May 12

On the following day, May 12, 1941, the Japanese Ambassador handed to the Secretary of State, as under instruction from his Government, a proposal for a general settlement between the United States and Japan. This proposal served to reveal authoritatively for the first time what the Japanese Government had in mind as a basis for agreement.

The proposal contained in the beginning a statement expressing the hope that "our nations may establish a just peace in the Pacific". It stated that the Tripartite Pact was "defensive and designed to prevent the nations which are not at present directly affected by the European war from engaging in it". It included an undertaking by the United States forthwith to "request the Chiang Kai-shek regime to negotiate peace with Japan". The Japanese stated that the United States would be expected also to "discontinue her assistance to the Chiang Kai-shek regime" in case the latter should decline to enter into such negotiations. They explained also that Japan's attitude toward China would include the principles of neighborly friendship; no annexations and no indemnities; independence of "Manchukuo"; mutual respect of sovereignty and territories; "withdrawal of Japanese troops from Chinese territory in accordance with an agreement to be concluded between Japan and China"; and joint defense against communism, which would involve the right of Japan to station troops in Chinese territory. The Japanese proposal contained also a mutual undertaking by the United States and Japan that each would supply the commodities which the other required; a mutual undertaking that steps would be taken to bring about resumption of normal trade relations between the two countries; and an undertaking by the United States that as "Japanese expansion in the direction of the southwestern Pacific area is declared to be of peaceful nature, American cooperation shall be given in the production and procurement of natural resources (such as oil, rubber, tin, nickel) which Japan needs". The proposal also contained an undertaking that the United States and Japan should "jointly guarantee the independence of the Philippine Islands on the condition that the Philippine Islands shall maintain a status of permanent neutrality”. ( )

United States Proposal of June 21

Although the Japanese Ambassador constantly professed his Government's desire to adopt peaceful courses and although the general provisions of the Japanese proposal of May 12 contained affirmations of Japan's peaceful intent, the Japanese Government insisted upon

maintaining its alignment with the Axis, insisted upon the stationing of an unspecified number of Japanese troops in large areas of China for an indefinite period, refused to commit itself to a policy precluding the retention by Japan of a preferential economic position in China and in the western Pacific, and refused to commit itself unreservedly to a general policy of peace. It was felt by the United States Government that an explicit understanding on these points was necessary in view of Japan's current course and in view of repeated affirmations by many responsible Japanese officials, including Foreign Minister Matsuoka, of Japan's determination to pursue a policy of cooperation with its Axis partners.

The Secretary of State, on June 21, 1941, handed to the Japanese Ambassador a document containing a comprehensive statement of the attitude of the United States. This included a proposal of the following points: 1. Affirmation by both Governments that their national policies were directed toward the foundation of a lasting peace and the inauguration of a new era of reciprocal confidence and cooperation between the two peoples. 2. A suggested formula that the "Government of Japan maintains that the purpose of the Tripartite Pact was, and is, defensive and is designed to contribute to the prevention of an unprovoked extension of the European war" and that the "Government of the United States maintains that its attitude toward the European hostilities is and will continue to be determined solely and exclusively by considerations of protection and self-defense". (For an explanation of the United States concept of selfdefense, the Japanese, in a separate statement, were referred to Secretary Hull's address of April 24, 1941; see page 100.) 3. A suggestion by the United States to China that China and Japan enter into negotiations, provided that Japan first communicate to and discuss with the United States the general terms which Japan contemplated proposing to China. 4. Mutual assurances by the United States and Japan that each would supply the other with such commodities as were required and were available and that steps would be taken to resume normal trade relations between the two countries. 5. Provision for cooperation between the two countries toward obtaining non-discriminatory access by peaceful means to supplies of natural resources which each needed. 6. A mutual affirmation that the basic policy of each country was one of peace throughout the Pacific area and a mutual disclaimer of territorial designs there. 7. A provision that Japan declare its willingness to negotiate with the United States, at such time as the latter might desire, with a view to concluding a treaty for the neutralization of the Philippine Islands, when Philippine independence should have been achieved. ( )

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