From: Washington (Nomura)
23 November 1941
#1159 (In 4 parts, complete)
On the 22nd, I, together with Ambassador Kurusu, called on the Secretary of State, Hull. (Ballantine was also present). The resume of our conversation follows:
Hull: "I conferred with the Ambassador and Ministers of Britain, Australia, and the Netherlands on the 22nd." (The press reports that this conference lasted for about two and a half hours.) "I sought their opinion on the Japanese proposals. They all said that if Japan's intentions are assuredly pacific, then they would wholeheartedly favor, them. They said that it would be the source of much joy to them to cooperate in the matter of resuming trade relations with Japan under those circumstances.
"However, they said, we are not sure of Japan's real intentions as yet, for while on the one hand she apparently indicates her desire for peace by dispatching a special envoy, the tone of the politicians and press of Japan seems to be in direct opposition.
"The diplomats who called on me also pointed out that just prior to the application of the freezing order, Japanese imports of petroleum took a very sudden upward swing, disproving any contention that it was to be used solely for peaceful undertakings, but that it was being stored away by the navy.
"They further expressed the opinion that the embargo should be lifted only in slow degrees.
"These diplomats, however, said that they would seek their home governments' instructions regarding the Japanese proposals and would submit their replies by the coming Monday. Upon receiving these advices, I shall make a reply to you."
Thus the Secretary seemed to feel considerable concern over the recent trend of Japan's public opinion. He pointed out that a clear statement by the Japanese Government of its desire for peace would have a most important reaction on the public opinion of the United States. (Ballantine said that a clear statement of attitude from the government of Japan to the Japanese people, which would of course be cabled abroad, would bear more fruit than propagandistic reports sent through press channels for foreign consumption only) and in turn would have a most favorable bearing on the chances of a settlement He even went on to say that was it not the duty of every politician to strive for peace up to the day before war is found to be unavoidable? The President and the Secretary of State, he said * * * (two or three lines too badly garbled).
I then said: "Leaving British, Australian and Dutch opinions aside for the time being, what is the attitude of the United States itself regarding our proposal?"
His subsequent reply, which he made by taking up the proposal paragraph by paragraph, was a complete evasion. However, there were indications that what the United States, Britain, Australia, etc. actually desire is to dissolve the crisis in the south Pacific, so that the fighting powers they have to maintain in this area to keep things under control, may be transferred for action in other parts.
He pointed out that since that is their main objective, the assurances given by Japan in her proposals were insufficient.
I said: "Our troop concentrations m the northern part of French Indo-China are aimed at cutting Chungking's life line. Therefore, they are, for the most part, directed towards Yunnan. As such, they do not and are not intended to form a threat to the south Pacific area."
After I pointed out this fact, Kurusu said that the acceptance of our proposal would naturally lead to the conditions desired not only by the United States, but by the other nations he referred to. To this, Hull replied that what these countries desired was a quick turn-about in the situation.
Hull: "With regard to resumption of trade, a rapid change in the situation can be wrought here, too, once Japan's Pacific intentions have been ascertained. This change for the better can be brought about in a mere matter of days."
Regarding aid to China, Hull said:
"We must take into consideration the possibility of a U.S. mediation when considering the possibility of cutting off aid to Chiang. If we promise Japan that we shall cease aiding China, the United States could no longer be considered a fair and neutral party to propose peace between China and Japan.
"Moreover, if it is terminated immediately upon the beginning of the negotiations, the promise would be utterly without value. In any event, the so-called 'aid to Chiang Kai-shek' is not as great as is commonly publicized.
"It is Japan's desire to improve the situation which has reached a critical stage by first settling the outstanding factors involved. Since that is the desire expressed by your proposals, we cannot at this time concur in Japan's demands with regard to stopping aid to Chiang."
He went on to say that he did not believe that the time was as yet ripe for the President to suggest peace to China.
I said "I feel that on Monday the United States will submit some sort of a counter proposal to us. I further feel that this proposal will contain a suggestion that Japan join in some plan to maintain peace on the Pacific and in some kind of a trade agreement. No doubt it will be necessary for the United States and Japan to come to some preliminary agreement, after which it would be submitted to the other countries for their approval."
Kurusu: "If it is intended that a sort of a group be formed by those nations and that if they expect to make it appear as if we were 'voted down' by the majority of the voters, we wish to state now that we shall be absolutely unable to accept such a proposal."
JD-1: 6839 (D) Navy Trans. 11-26-41 (2)
*Part 2 badly garbled; considerable reconstruction work contained.
(EXHIBITS OF JOINT COMMITTEE , EXHIBIT NO. 1 INTERCEPTED DIPLOMATIC MESSAGES SENT BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN JULY l AND DECEMBER 8, 1941)