Testimony by Prime Minister Tojo before the
International Military Tribunal for the Far East

Relating to Japan's Decision to go to War

At 1000 hours on 27 November 1941, the Government and the Imperial General Headquarters held a Liaison Conference at the Imperial Palace. (The United States proposal of 26 November had not arrived at the time the conference opened.) The Foreign Minister gave details of the circumstances and difficulties of the United-States-Japanese negotiations.

In the meantime, the gist of the United States proposal was reported by our Army and Naval attaches in Washington. (Monograph 147, Appendix 9) At 1400 hours on the 27th, a further Liaison Conference was called to discuss the items of this proposal. All were dumbfounded at the severity of the United States demands. The main conclusions arrived at, after deliberation, were, as I recall them, the following:

1. The United States memorandum of 26 November 1941 was an ultimatum to Japan.

2. Japan could not accept it. It would appear that the United States proposed these conditions knowing full well that they were unacceptable to Japan. Moreover, the memorandum was made with the full knowledge and consent of the other countries concerned.

3. Taking into consideration the recent measures taken by the United States against Japan and its present attitude, it would seem


that the United States had already decided upon war against Japan. Putting it bluntly, Japan felt it necessary to guard against attack from the United States at any time.

It was decided, therefore, that since there was no hope in further negotiations with the United States, Japan should act in accordance with the decisions made at the Imperial Conference of 5 November. (Monograph 147, Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part III.) The Liaison Conference could not make the final decision and it was necessary to hold an Imperial conference. The next Imperial Conference was scheduled to be held on 1 December, at which all members of the Cabinet, representing the Japanese Government, were to be present. This period between the two conferences was allowed deliberately as it was known that the Emperor was deeply disturbed by the situation and desired to hear the opinions of the Senior Statesmen on the matter.

At 1000 hours on 28 November a Cabinet meeting was held at which, as I recall, Foreign Minister Togo gave a detailed report of the United States-Japanese negotiations. The decision arrived at at the Liaison Conference of the previous day was discussed and all Cabinet ministers expressed agreement with this decision. However, the actual decision to open hostilities was deferred until after the Imperial Conference to be held on 1 December.

Just prior to the opening of the Cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Togo saw me and reported on the telegram of 26 November from Ambassador


Nomura concerning his suggestion that the Emperor send a message to President Roosevelt. He also told me that he had already communicated with Navy Minister Shimada in this regard.

After careful study we reached the conclusion that this would not solve the current impasse. Moreover, after having received Secretary Hull's telegram it was obvious that for the Emperor to send such a message was out of the question. Apparently the ambassador's telegram had been dispatched before he had received Hull's note. Accordingly, the Japanese Ambassador in Washington was informed that his suggestion wee not considered appropriate at this time.

The following are some facts that came to my knowledge after the war, but of which I was not aware during this critical time:

1. The United States authorities had succeeded in deciphering our secret code and knew our decision of 28 November before it was officially presented to them.

2. The United States State Department knew that Japan's proposition of 20 November 1941 (Plan B) would be the final one from Japan to the United States.

3. That prior to Hull's note of 26 November, the United States had formed a draft of a modus vivendi, based on President Roosevelt's idea, to allow them to carry on diplomatic negotiations with the idea of gaining time for the United States army and Navy to build up their armaments, but this temporary agreement was abandoned because of the strong opposition of the British and Chungking Governments. In con-


sequence, the note of 26 November was adopted, although the United States realized that it would not be acceptable to Japan.

4. By the end of November 1941, the United States, together with Great Britain, had decided to wage war against Japan, and, moreover, the United States was determined to force Japan to commit the first overt act.

During our many anxious hours during the latter part of November, we never dreamed that the United States was acting in this manner.