17 November 1941
The most emphasis in the talks between Hull, I, and Ambassador Kurusu on the 18th, (lasting about three hours), was placed on matters pertaining to the Triple Alliance. Hull, in his customary manner, denounced the Hitlerian policy of expansion through armed force. He pointed out that as long as Japan is tied up with such a policy through the Tripartite Pact, it would be difficult to adjust Japanese-U. S. relations.
Kurusu then said that it would be impossible to comply if he was demanding of Japan that she abrogate the Tripartite Pact. He also pointed out that the alliance was not aimed at expansion through the force of arms.
Hull said that he was in no position to tell Japan to abrogate the Pact but that as long as there is no substantiating proofs of the real aims of the pact, it serves absolutely no purpose.
Then I and Kurusu explained that it was an impossibility to settle such a basic point in any specified time limit. However, to ease the exceedingly critical situation, the first step would be to mutually return to the situation which existed prior to the date on which the freezing of assets order was put into effect, (in other words, Japan would withdraw from south French Indo-China and the United States would rescind her order to freeze the assets). Talks should then be continued in a more congenial atmosphere, we suggested.
He did not seem particularly receptive to this suggestion. He said that if the government of Japan could make it clear that it wants to pursue a course of peace, then the United States would confer with the British on the subject of returning to the conditions which existed prior to the time that the freezing order went into effect. It is essential, however, that under those conditions, Japan continue to pursue a peaceful policy with ever increasing vigor.
There were indications that Hull, because of his usual cautious nature, was somewhat influenced by the exaggerated reports carried in the press regarding the Premier's speech in the Diet in which he expressed the three basic principles of international relations and intention of increasing the troops in French Indo China.
Details will be sent in a subsequent message.
JD-1: 6722 (D) Navy Trans. 11-22-41 (2)
(EXHIBITS OF JOINT COMMITTEE , EXHIBIT NO. 1 INTERCEPTED DIPLOMATIC MESSAGES SENT BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN JULY l AND DECEMBER 8, 1941)