The following summarizes conversations between diplomats during the immediate time before Pearl Harbor was bombed.
SUMMARY OF THE HULL-NOMURA CONVERSATIONS
Relations between the United States and Japan were growing worse rapidly by the middle of February 1941. The two countries were already in opposite camps. Hostile words, suspicious accusations were rife. The Japanese Foreign Minister, Yosuko Matsuoka, asserted that his country would unswervingly hold to its plan for co-prosperity. "Has America", he cried on January 27, 1941, "any right to object if Japan does dominate the Western Pacific?" United States Ambassador Grew in Tokyo was warned that Pearl Harbor was in danger of attack, while nervous Japanese in Honolulu secretly informed Tokyo on February 15 that the United States might declare war on Japan within three weeks.
In this martial atmosphere a new Japanese Ambassador, Kichisaburo Nomura (an admiral and not a career diplomat) was Feb. 14 introduced to President Roosevelt on February 14, 1941. The meeting was formal but cordial. The President regretted the hostility of the Japanese press and the statements of certain politicians; he complained of Japan's war-like actions, especially the steady encroachment upon Asiatic countries and in particular the southward pressure upon French Indo-China. The Ambassador agreed with the President that relations between the two countries were deteriorating. Though realizing that the militarists in Japan endangered efforts to improve relations, Ambassador Nomura emphatically desired to achieve peace. The two men concluded the meeting hopefully.
On March 8, 1941, Ambassador Nomura called on Secretary Hull.
The discussion soon went to the root of their troubles-economic problems and the embargo acts. After reviewing his belief in liberal commercial agreements which avoid trade difficulties and so eliminate the chief cause of conflicts, Secretary Hull complained of the current tendencies to violence. Ambassador Nomura, dismissing the war cries of Foreign Minister Matsuoka as political fodder for home consumption, hoped that peace might be made with China. The Ambassador suggested that the United States lighten the embargoes, which Secretary Hull implied had been imposed in an effort to stop Japan's military expansion. Ambassador Nomura denied that Japan desired military conquest. Her desire was for good trade relations, and the acts of embargo, far from checking her military expansion, were forcing it upon her. When asked if the Japanese would advance against Singapore and the Dutch East-Indies, Nomura said no, "unless circumstances make it unavoidable", i.e., continuation of the embargo. But it was the opinion of Secretary Hull that Japan's agreement with the Axis rather than the embargo would force Japan into aggression to the south.
Ambassador Nomura did not succeed in his efforts to show that the bone of contention was wholly economic, that Japan had no purely military or political ambitions despite her ties with the Axis. In a second meeting with President Roosevelt, on March 14, 1941, the President would not accept the Ambassador's explanation of the "New Order" as a device to give the Japanese free access to raw materials in the Orient. Rather, Japan's tie to the Tripartite Pact convinced most Americans that the three countries were planning a world grab-Singapore, the Netherlands East Indies, and the Indian Ocean to fall to Japanese aggression. It was up to Japan, the President and Secretary Hull agreed, to prove her good intentions, to prove that economics and not politics were her concern. Removal of embargo restrictions was a most important consideration to the Japanese; the Ambassador seemed to feel that there was some hope on this point, and he reported to Tokyo that this second meeting with President Roosevelt was pleasant throughout.
A month was to pass before Ambassador Nomura would resume these secret informal talks with Secretary Hull. In the meantime he was busy reporting to Tokyo the state of affairs in America. Americans backed their President in aid to Britain. The bulk of their navy, Ambas-
sador Nomura thought, would be concentrated in the Atlantic to convoy ships and bolster the British Isles and, therefore, the United States would be most anxious for peace in the Pacific.
The first proposal to settle Japanese-American relations came not from the officials of either country but from a group of private individuals of both nations. It was presented to the Apr. 9 State Department on April 9, 1941. It sought, among other goals, the resolution of the war in China and an "open door" policy in trade.
On April 14 the Japanese Ambassador revealed to Secretary Hull that he had helped to draw up the April 9 proposal and was ready to use it as a basis for negotiations. The Secretary believed that immediate conversations based on this unofficial proposal should now begin.
Meanwhile American convictions about the aggressive policy Japan were strengthened by the Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact, which Foreign Minister Matsuoka signed in Moscow on April 13. Japan was now free to turn more of her forces southward. Both Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura were concerned over the American reaction to this pact and hastened to Apr. 16 confer again on April 16, 1941.
On this day Secretary Hull found much of the April 9 proposal acceptable, with some modifications, provided Japan would substitute principles of law and order for methods of violence. He wished the Ambassador to ask his government to consider four principles as a basis upon which official negotiations might begin later. These principles, or points, were:
(a) Respect for the territory, integrity, and sovereignty of
(b) Non-interference in the internal affairs of others;
(c) Equality, as of commercial opportunity;
(d) No change in the Pacific status quo except by peaceful
Ambassador Nomura seemed disappointed that the Secretary would not at once agree to the April 9 proposals, Secretary Hull, however, would agree to nothing until the Ambassador had communicated with Tokyo and had obtained his government's acceptance, particularly of the four points. On the following
day the Ambassador sent the entire proposal to Tokyo, favoring it on grounds that it did not conflict with the Tripartite Pact, that it was a step toward accomplishing peace in the Pacific, and that it would serve as a basis for Japanese-American agreement when the war in Europe ended.
Despite Nomura's claim that the proposal did not conflict with the Tripartite Pact, Tokyo's first concern was to ensure the absolute secrecy of these conversations. An exchange of notes between Tokyo and Ambassador Nomura during the last half of April revealed fear in Tokyo that the public would regard the proposal as contravening the spirit of the Tripartite Pact, since it would check Japan's advance to the south and this would free English and American forces in the South West Pacific for use in the European struggle. Ambassador Nomura, arguing to the contrary, believed that the proposed agreement, besides putting the Japanese in a better position to get raw materials and to
terminate the China war, accorded with the spirit of the Tripartite Pact. Germany wished the United States to keep out of the war in Europe. If the proposals succeeded, the Ambassador believed that the United States would remain neutral. Failure of the Japanese-American negotiations would mean
inevitable war between the United States and the Axis in both the European and Pacific areas.
Tokyo delayed its reply to the proposals of April 9-16. Ambassador Nomura, impatient because he wished to conclude an agreement with the United States before opposition might develop, visited Secretary Hull on May 2 to explain the delay on grounds of Japanese politics and to reiterate Japan's irritation at the embargoes.
On the next day, May 3, Foreign Minister Matsuoka replied but withheld sanction of the proposals. Instead, he ordered Ambassador Nomura to make an entirely different proposal to Secretary Hull-a neutrality pact similar to the one recently signed with Russia. On May 7 the Ambassador complied with his orders. Secretary Hull rejected the proposal saying that he would consider only broad principles upon which negotiations might be based. Foreign Minister Matsuoka did not seem cooperative, Hull complained, and had continued making aggressive speeches which conflicted conspicuously with the peace plans of Ambassador Nomura.
After this meeting the Japanese Ambassador informed Tokyo that hedging must cease, that Secretary Hull insisted upon definite and authorized instructions from the government of Japan.
Just when both Ambassador Nomura and Secretary Hull were at the end of their patience awaiting a definite answer from Tokyo, Foreign Minister Matsuoka at last, on May 9, sent an official reply to the proposals of April 9-16. The reply set forth six points for discussion-these were the international and neutral concepts of the countries, their attitude toward the war in Europe, their relation to the China Incident, their trade, their economic activities in the Southwest Pacific, and their policies toward political stability in the Pacific.
Two days later, May 11, Ambassador Nomura gave part of the proposed terms to Secretary Hull. Both men agreed to treat the proposals only as a basis for negotiations, so that they could truthfully deny any rumor that official negotiations were under way. Secretary Hull again complained of the Japanese Foreign Minister's apparently hostile attitude. He feared, too, that the China situation, which would play a most important part in the discussions, might prove a stubborn obstacle. The Secretary stressed his determination to check Hitlerism and territorial violence wherever they might appear.
The statement that the United States would seek to check Hitler disturbed the Ambassador, for in his report to Tokyo, he said that he would try to soften this American stand. On the whole, he was optimistic over the conversations with the Secretary, even those touching the difficult China question. He had told Secretary Hull that Japan would withdraw her troops from China (except in the North where they would remain on guard against the Communists), and that she would not invade the South Pacific, preferring commercial penetration instead.
On the following day, May 12, Ambassador Nomura met Cordell Hull again to present document giving the remainder of the terms received from Tokyo May 9th. These papers contained many details, elaborating upon the basic proposals, together with some additions and deletions. The United States was to urge Chiang Kai-shek to open peace negotiations with Japan, cutting off aid to him if he refused to negotiate. Japan would offer terms to China on the basis of the "Konoye Principles", which included economic cooperation and a joint front against Communism in the North. The United States and Japan would cooperate in the South Pacific. Japan would adhere to the Tripartite Pact and would prevent nations, not already embroiled, from entering the European conflict.
In the days that followed the presentation of these proposals authorized by Tokyo, Foreign Minister Matsuoka troubled his Ambassador in Washington with numerous changes in the terms of the proposals. The Foreign Minister had also offended Ambassador Grew in Tokyo, Secretary Hull told Ambassador Nomura in a conversation on May 14.
Meeting with the Ambassador two days later, on May 16, Secretary Hull reported that his government viewed the Japanese proposals favorably. The United States was ready to notify Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the basic terms for a Sino-Japanese peace. If China and Japan could reach a settlement, the Secretary saw no serious difficulty in the other terms of the proposals.
In meetings on May 20 and 21 Secretary Hull discussed furthe the proposed arrangements to accomplish peace between Japan and China, which he held to be an essential preliminary to peace in the Pacific. Peace in the Pacific he wished to make the central purpose of the proposals, so as to encourage businessmen to
renew commerce in the seas of the Southwest. This impressed the Ambassador, who reported to Tokyo that support of Secretary Hull's aims would be profitable to Japan.
During this period of discussion and amendment of the proposals, friction increased between the Ambassador and his superior, Foreign Minister Matsuoka, who charged that the Ambassador had helped to give Secretary Hull an unfavorable impression of the Foreign Minister's attitude toward the peace discussions.
The Ambassador brought up the matter in the next meeting, May 28, with Secretary Hull, who dwelt on Matsuoka's frequent statements stressing Japan's tie to the Axis. However, Ambassador Nomura believed that the Japanese extremists,
led by Matsuoka, would lose all influence once an agreement with the United States and a repeal of the embargoes had been accomplished.
On May 29 the Ambassador sent Tokyo a summary of the conversations from May 16 to 28 inclusive: the United States desired that both countries enjoy equal opportunities in the South Pacific; the United States insisted upon peace terms before she mediated in the China affair; the United States wished to avoid the word "Communism" in China peace texts because of her relations to Russia and China.
Throughout the month of June numerous conferences were held between Secretary Hull and Ambassador Nomura and between officials associated with them. The first set of terms authorized by Tokyo had been presented on May 11-12. On May 31 the United States presented to Nomura an American version of the terms. Differences of varying importance occasioned a great deal of bickering. All the while Foreign Minister Matsuoka seemed none too cooperative and most eager that the discussions be kept from the public ear, although the Axis nations had now been notified of them and leaks had occasionally reached the newspapers. On June 2 the Ambassador told Secretary Hull that he found the American proposal of May 31 agreeable, except for some of its wording. The Secretary reiterated his concern over the continued loud talk of Foreign Minister Matsuoka.
Disturbed by revisions in wording and policy made by subordinates in a meeting early in June, the Secretary of State on June 6 gave the Ambassador an unofficial statement in which he noted great differences between the original proposal and its revision, differences which tied Japan closer to the Axis, left her relations with China less satisfactory, and avoided clear commitments of policy in the Pacific.
Continued bickering over the terms of the proposals caused Ambassador Nomura to report to his superior on June 8 that "I and my associates are certainly not optimistic but on the other hand, we are not pessimistic". However, the staff members of the Japanese Embassy in Washington were in disagreement, and the discussions were beginning to bog down in a welter of misunderstandings which would bring the Ambassador to his "wit's end" in another month.
On June 10 Foreign Minister Matsuoka rebuked the Ambassador for taking too much upon himself; he wished to remind the Ambassador that good relations with the United States were not so important as adherence to the Tripartite Pact, according to which Japan would seek to keep the United States out of the war and refrain from anti-Axis measures. The impression must be avoided that Japan would not fight if the United States warred on Germany, he said.
Reporting to Tokyo a conversation with Secretary Hull on June 15, Ambassador Nomura said that though the United States had not made any worthwhile concessions, the State Department was keeping the press calm and was restraining the efforts of certain Americans who favored a general oil embargo against Japan.
In reply to the ever changing proposals (the Japanese had offered altered versions on June 8 and 15), Secretary Hull requested Ambassador Nomura to call upon him on June 21 in order to receive a new American revision of the proposal. This revision sought to counter the tendency toward the Axis, of which Secretary Hull had complained when he reviewed some of the previous Japanese versions. Included in this American revision was the stipulation that Japan be not obligated to act against the United States if the latter were drawn into the war in Europe.
Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo that Japan could not accept this revised proposal, but he forwarded it to the Foreign Minister nonetheless. In a follow-up message the Ambassador listed the three chief obstacles: the United States would not yield on any Japanese proposals regarding the war in Europe and self-defense rights; the United States was opposed to Japanese troops in North China; the United States insisted on commercial non-discrimination for China and the Pacific. Even so, the Ambassador believed that if United States were convinced that Japan sincerely desired peace, she would continue negotiations since she herself was so anxious for a peaceful settlement; and to continue negotiations would be well for Japan also, he added, for a break in relations would cause the United States to freeze Japanese credit and to increase trade restrictions.
Meanwhile, on June 22, 1941, Germany had invaded Russia, which now became one of the Allies. On July 3 in a message to Tokyo Ambassador Nomura urged that Japan stay out of the Russian conflict because participation therein would further damage Japan's American relations. He also added that if Japan moved her army to the south, relations with the United States would become hopeless.
Knowing of Japan's planned aggression into French Indo-China, Ambassador Nomura made every effort to conclude an agreement between Japan and the United States before further aggressions could occur. However, he was helpless because Foreign Minister Matsuoka was delaying his answer to the American revision of the proposals offered on June 21. On July 4 the Ambassador sent a note to Secretary Hull (apparently without authorization from Tokyo) asserting that there were no fundamental differences between the governments to retard the adjustment of their relations. In messages to Tokyo on July 7 through July 14 the Ambassador sent reports about American pacifist activities and especially about the rumored German-British peace plans.
During these days conflict among Japanese statesmen increased. Foreign Minister Matsuoka rebuked Ambassador Nomura on several counts, particularly for the American impression that certain members of Prince Konoye's cabinet were unreliable and that there was dissension in the cabinet.
On July 14 the Foreign Minister finally replied to the American proposal of June 21. The proposal had been accompanied by an oral statement which enraged Foreign Minister Matsuoka since he interpreted it as an attempt by the United States to direct Japanese affairs, to change the attitude and the set-up of the government of Japan. The Foreign Minister poured out his wrath upon the Ambassador, charging that he had let himself be molded by American ideas and had then in turn tried to influence his government. Rejecting the American version, the Foreign Minister now submitted a Japanese revision eliminating some of the American proposals and rewording others. He instructed Ambassador Nomura to emphasize in particular that Japan disapproved the unfriendly actions of the United States against Germany. The presentation of this revision was interrupted by changes in the Japanese cabinet and by the occupation of French Indo-China.
The apparent conflict within the Japanese government became obvious when, on July 17, the cabinet was dissolved. Prime Minister Konoye, retained at the Emperor's request, formed a new cabinet in which Foreign Minister Matsuoka was replaced byTeijiro Toyoda. Ambassador Nomura, despite his previous wish to resign (July 14), was retained in Washington. Conferring with Acting Secretary Welles on July 18, the Ambassador said he felt the cabinet change would improve Japanese-American relations. An exchange of notes between the new Foreign Minister and the Washington Embassy reaffirmed the secret and unofficial character of the Hull-Nomura conversations and discussed some of the points of the proposals. The Ambassador wished most of all to know the views of the new Foreign Office on the war in Europe and on the China Incident. He reported, too, that peaceful penetration of French Indo-China would not disturb America, but that violent aggression would terminate negotiations.
Although Ambassador Nomura and his assistants had frequently assured American statesmen that Japan planned no aggressions in the South, American officials knew from decrypted Japanese messages that plans to take over French Indo-China (peaceful penetration in some interpretations) were now being completed.
On July 23, 1941, Foreign Minister Toyoda notified Ambassador Nomura that Japan, having agreed with the Vichy government on the joint-defense of French Indo-China, would begin occupation of the southern part of that country late in July. The Ambassador was to assure the United States that there would be no change in the territorial sovereignty or in the domestic administration of French Indo-China. The Foreign Minister added that the previous cabinet had decided upon the occupation and that he had not yet had time to formulate his own foreign policy. He was particularly anxious that the Hull-Nomura conversations continue and that the United States take no measures such as freezing acts and oil embargoes because Japan would be forced to retaliate and great deterioration in relations would inevitably ensue.
Also on July 23 Ambassador Nomura conferred with Acting Secretary Welles, who repeated what he had told Minister Wakasugi two days before (July 21)-namely, that Japan's policy of occupation was utterly opposed to the policies under informal discussion with Secretary Hull. The occupation of French Indo-China, he said, indicated a policy of conquest, in which this action was but another step in a South Seas offensive. These intentions, he concluded, destroyed any basis for continuing the conversations.
A series of conferences now began in which the Japanese strove to justify their move into Indo-China on grounds of self-defense and of economic necessity to obtain vital materials. They strove both to maintain their claim of peaceful intentions so that the discussions might continue and to stave off further restrictions such as the freezing of funds.
On July 24 a conference with President Roosevelt was arranged. Ambassador Nomura at once sent two reports (July 24 and 25) of this conference to his new superior, who was so concerned that he requested a still more detailed report (July 27); and this the Ambassador sent on July 28. President Roosevelt had attributed the occupation to German pressure rather than to economic needs since the United States had continued to supply Japan with such materials as oil (against public wishes) precisely so that Japan might not feel forced to seize the sources of needed raw materials. If oil shipments to Japan were stopped and Japan sought to seize supplies in the Netherland East Indies, conflict would result. The President proposed that if Japan would withdraw her forces from French Indo-China, he would arrange an agreement with the countries concerned wherebyJapan would be assured of even larger quantities of needed materials at less expense than could be gotten by violence and at the huge cost of war. Ambassador Nomura was not optimistic because withdrawal would entail loss of face; yet he admitted to Foreign Minister Toyoda that such a step would accord with American practices under the Good Neighbor Policy, in which military force was not used. He had denied that the occupation was the result of German pressure, assuring the President that Japan had taken the step on her own initiative.
On July 25 the United States froze Japanese assets; Tokyo retaliated similarly on the 27th. Public opinion in Japan was so aroused, Foreign Minister Toyoda implied to Ambassador Grew on July 27, that there was little chance of President Roosevelt's proposal about French Indo-China being accepted.
On July 28 Ambassador Nomura, after an interview with Mr. Welles, warned Tokyo that Japan was heading for war with many enemies. The warning was underlined by the bombing of the U.S.S. Tutuila in Chungking on July 30. The Japanese were so genuinely concerned by the Ambassador's urgent messages that they harkened to his advice and discontinued bombing Chungking for a time (until about August 8).
Germany did not regard the Hull-Nomura conversations favorably. Foreign Minister Toyoda sought to explain Japanese policy in a message to Berlin on July 31. The occupation of French Indo-China was necessitated by economic needs and by political encirclement. It was a heavy blow to the United States, he added. Though Germany might dislike the conversations with the United States, she could not deny, Toyoda asserted, that Japan had restrained the United States from entering the conflict in Europe. The Foreign Minister concluded that Japan's activities were conforming with the Tripartite Pact.
Ambassador Nomura was getting out of touch with Japanese current thinking. He had not been in Japan for months, in which time many events had influenced public opinion and national policy. Complaining that his hands were tied by ignorance of his government's secret policies, he requested on August 4 that an expert both in Japanese and in foreign affairs be sent to assist him in the even more critical days to come. He suggested Ambassador Kurusu.
President Roosevelt's proposal of July 24 that Japan agree to Aug. 6 withdraw from French Indo China in return for a favorable commercial pact remained unanswered until August 6, when Ambassador Nomura presented terms he had received from Foreign Minister Toyoda the day before. The Foreign Minister hoped now to resume the discussions which had been interrupted since July 14. The proposals offered at that time by previous Foreign Minister Matsuoka had never been presented for discussion. In the meantime affairs had changed for the worse since
both the United States and Japan had been further alarmed, the United States by Japan's occupation of French Indo-China, Japan by the American freezing order. Japan now proposed to withdraw from French Indo-China after the settlement of the China Incident, to guarantee the neutrality of the Philippines, and to cooperate in economic relations, provided the United States and the Allies cease military operations in the Southwest Pacific, cooperate in economic relations (resuming trade as before), and urge the Chiang regime to settle the China Incident. The discussions would remain secret and unofficial as before.
These proposals offered by Toyoda were hardly an adequate answer to President Roosevelt's offer of July 24. Ambassador Nomura reported to his superior that Secretary Hull felt talk was useless as long as Japan remained aggressive. Then Foreign Minister Toyoda on August 7, reviving a suggestion included in the original proposals of April 9, proposed a conference between Aug. 8 Prime Minister Konoye and President Roosevelt. On August 8 Ambassador Nomura was summoned by Secretary Hull to receive the United States answer to Toyoda's proposals. This answer was substantially the offer President Roosevelt had previously made (July 24). The Ambassador complained to Tokyo that the United States had not compromised in the least. He reported also that it was useless to try to arrange a conference between the leaders of the two countries since the Americans refused to negotiate as long as Japan continued military operations.
Although the United States would not compromise, Japan was prepared at least to appear to do so. Foreign Minister Toyoda on August 11 informed his Ambassador that his proposals of August 6 were not necessarily final.
On August 13 Secretary Hull again summoned the Japanese Ambassador to complain of injuries to Americans both in areas controlled by the Japanese and in Chungking, where bombings had been resumed, despite the Japanese promise, after the Tutuila affair (July 30), to cease the attacks.
Three days later Ambassador Nomura called on the Secretary of State in an effort to break the deadlock to which Japanese-American relations had been reduced. Reiterating the peaceful aims of Japan and stressing the cooperation implied in her co-prosperity policy (which he compared with America's Good Neighbor Policy), he again proposed a meeting of Prince Konoye and President Roosevelt. Secretary Hull promised to take the matter up with the President when he returned from the Atlantic conference then in progress with Prime Minister Churchill.
Aug. 17 Immediately upon his return to Washington on August 17, President Roosevelt called Ambassador Nomura to an informal talk. The President had prepared two oral statements for Japan. In the first he referred to his offer of July 24, which Japan had ignored by her occupation of French Indo-China; further aggression, the President added, would compel the United States to take steps to protect her rights and interests. In the second statement President Roosevelt, referring to Japan's desire to resume the Hull-Nomura conversations, said that these discussions could not continue unless Japan changed her policy of force. The next step was up to Japan.
Japan then took two steps-she renewed the request for a meeting between Prince Konoye and President Roosevelt and she undertook the preparation of new proposals. On August 18 Foreign Minister Toyoda persuaded Ambassador Grew in Tokyo to support the proposed meeting of leaders. Ambassador Grew was also impressed by Japan's desire to press new proposals although he had pointed out that her grounds for occupying French Indo-China were inconsistent. Previously she had attributed the aggression to threatened encirclement; now she explained it as a necessary step toward closing the China Incident.
Feeling that President Roosevelt had intended the offer of August 17 to be his last, Ambassador Nomura on August 20 urged Tokyo to speed the new proposals.
On August 23 the Ambassador conferred twice with Secretary Hull both to promise proposals forthcoming from Japan and to speak of Japanese temper aroused by American aid to Russia, particularly oil shipments to Vladivostok through Japanese waters.
On August 28 Ambassador Nomura delivered to President Roosevelt messages from the Japanese government and from Prime Minister Konoye, who said that informal negotiations had been inadequate, that both Japan and the United States continually misconstrued the other's intentions, and that only an immediate conference between the two leaders could hope to solve their difficulties.
President Roosevelt was agreeable to such a meeting but suggested Juneau, Alaska, rather than the vicinity of Hawaii, which Konoye had mentioned, and he did not suggest a date, though the Japanese eagerly wished it to be early. In a conference with Secretary Hull later on this day (Aug. 28), the Ambassador suggested the meeting be held between September 21 and 25. The conversation turned to the principles of the proposed agreement, which the Secretary thought should be agreed upon before the meeting. The next day the Ambassador summarized the conversation in a message to Tokyo, emphasizing that a general agreement upon principles ought to precede the meeting, which he recommended take place at Juneau about September 21.
Although Japan took great care that the American conversations and the proposed meeting of leaders remain secret, news leaks occurred, to the alarm of the Japanese government heads who feared the effect on public opinion and on the success of their plans. In communications with Berlin and with the Italian Ambassador in Washington, Tokyo vaguely discussed Japanese-American relations and merely mentioned that Prince Konoye had sent a message to President Roosevelt.
On September 3 President Roosevelt called Ambassador Nomura to receive his answer to Prince Konoye's personal message on August 28. He desired that, before the meeting with the Prince, the two countries first agree on basic principles, such as the four points which the American government had set forth at the start
of the conversations on April 16.
Since the meeting of leaders now awaited upon an agreement on basic principles, Japan quickly produced new proposals. Foreign Minister Toyoda delivered them to Ambassador Grew in Tokyo on September 4. They were in part as follows: Japan would not advance further in French Indo-China, unless for a justifiable reason; if the United States entered the European war, Japan would interpret independently its obligations to the Tripartite Pact; Japan would withdraw her forces from China after satisfactory agreements had been concluded with China; Japan would cooperate with the United States in trade relations. The Foreign Minister also on this day notified Ambassador Nomura that his government felt confident these concessions would meet the approval of the United States and believed the freezing order would be withdrawn. He instructed the Ambassador not to admit that this order had harmed Japan.
Tokyo's confidence was shared by her Ambassador, who on the same day (Sept. 4) conferred in high spirits with Secretary Hull. The Ambassador declared that in his opinion no basic differences on the principles of peace now existed between Japan and the United States, and he added that there was no question of Japan's attacking the United States if the latter entered the war.
Meanwhile the Japanese leaders seemed feverishly eager to effect the proposed meeting between Prince Konoye and President Roosevelt. On September 4 Ambassador Nomura had mentioned announcing the plan to the public, but Secretary Hull preferred that the preliminary discussion be completed first. The Foreign Minister urged both Ambassador Grew in Tokyo and Ambassador Nomura in Washington to discourage questions in the course of the preliminary discussions so as to speed the date of the meeting. The Prince himself at a private dinner with Ambassador Grew on September 6 declared that he would carry out a peaceful settlement despite the opposition of those Japanese who wanted war. However, he added that the internal situation required the least possible delay in the proposed meeting between himself and President Roosevelt.
Not until September 6 did Secretary Hull receive the new Japanese proposals which Toyoda had delivered to Ambassador Grew in Tokyo two days before. When Ambassador Nomura presented the Secretary with the documents, he said that, in his opinion, they contained
Japan's maximum concessions. The Ambassador remarked in his report to Tokyo on this conference that the Secretary maintained a very cautious attitude and seemed also to doubt the stability of the Japanese cabinet. The Ambassador also relayed to his superior clandestine reports that the President and Prime Minister Churchill hoped continued pressure on Japan might compel her to compromise with the United States; then the Pacific Fleet, they hoped, could be transferred to the Atlantic. However, fearing the internal situation in Japan, President Roosevelt hesitated to demand too much lest Prince Konoye and his cabinet collapse.
On September 10 Ambassador Grew presented to the Japanese Foreign Minister in Tokyo an American statement regarding the latest Japanese proposals of Sept. 4-6, which the State Department was continuing to study. This statement dealt with the China problem: the United States could not assist in this problem unless Japan first accepted the American principles, agree to withdraw her troops, and agree not to discriminate in Chinese commerce. The statement requested Japan to clarify a number of points on principles and on economic matters.
On the same day (Sept. 10) Ambassador Nomura and Secretary Hull met in Washington. The Secretary complained that the new proposals were narrower than the old. The Ambassador answered that the concessions which had been agreed upon previously were omitted from the new proposals. To clear up certain misunderstandings, members of the Japanese Embassy and of the United States Department of State conferred later in this day. The officials debated inconclusively economic problems and certain difficulties relative to the occupation of French Indo-China and of China as well. The United States officials concluded that the Japanese representatives were not definitely informed of their government's intentions, except for its eager desire that Prince Konoye meet with President Roosevelt as soon as possible.
In the week following September 10, numerous messages were exchanged between Tokyo and the Embassy in Washington. Ambassador Nomura, feeling that agreement was possible on all matters except the China problem, urged Tokyo to meet the United States demands. An agreement that Japan would withdraw her troops from China within two years after the return of peace would permit Japan considerable latitude; new circumstances in the future might call for another agreement extending the period of garrisoning troops in China, the Ambassador explained.
While the United States continued to study the Japanese proposals of September 4-6, much bickering arose over certain phraseologies and intents. In conferences in Tokyo between Foreign Minister Toyoda and Ambassador Grew and their associates, the Japanese showed considerable willingness to meet United States demands provided the proposed meeting between the leaders was thereby speeded. The Foreign Minister informed Ambassador Nomura on September 13 that several points in the proposals had been adequately discussed. He urged that prolonged discussions of minutiae be avoided, adding that only a consultation between the two leaders could now succeed. In reply the Ambassador denied that the proposals were as satisfactory as his superior had supposed. Difficulties remained and preliminary conversations must resolve them; in particular, Japan must more explicitly state its China policy before there could be a meeting of the leaders, he said.
Although Secretary Hull had insisted, against Foreign Minister Toyoda, that the Japanese-American conversations be pursued in Washington and although Ambassador Nomura had told his superior (on Sept. 13) that he intended to disregard discussions of the points debated in Tokyo, nonetheless conferences in Tokyo continued. On September 17 Shigemitsu, former Japanese Ambassador to London, sought to assure Ambassador Grew of Japanese support of the conversations and of loyal adherence to any resultant agreement. On the same day Ushiba, Konoye's private secretary, visited United States Counselor Doomen in Tokyo. The officials discussed among other things Japan's failure to state her plan for making terms with China-a failure which Prince Konoye would repair, Ushiba said.
On September 19 Ambassador Nomura discussed the state of affairs with Secretary Hull, who again complained that the new proposals did not clear up any of the points at issue, but
rather they actually narrowed the original Pacific program. To the Ambassador's query whether or not the Japanese troops in China posed the chief problem, the Secretary answered that the difficulty of any agreement on the entire Pacific problem was the main stumbling block. The Ambassador, reporting this conference to Tokyo, implied that the Secretary was intentionally prolonging the conversations. The Ambassador had previously reported (Sept. 17) that the Secretary was most cautious about the proposed meeting of the leaders and that it seemed unlikely the new proposals of September 4-6 would suffice to accomplish a preliminary understanding, chiefly because of the Japanese troops in China.
Firm in his belief that the new proposals and subsequent conversations were adequate, Foreign Minister Toyoda on September 20 ordered his Ambassador in Washington to press for a definite reply. There would be no other proposals, he asserted, except for the China terms which he intended to deliver to Ambassador Grew in a few days, and these terms would be merely a rehash.
On September 22 these terms were presented to the American Ambassador in Tokyo: sovereignty and territorial integrity for China; cooperative defense against Communism, calling for Japanese garrisons; economic cooperation; a fusion of the Chungking and the Nanking governments; Chinese recognition of Manchukuo; and a guarantee that there would be no further annexations and no indemnities. Foreign Minister Toyoda stated that despite the American desire to agree on policy before the meeting of Prince Konoye and President Roosevelt, his government intended that the divergent policies of the two countries be discussed at the meeting and that details be handled through diplomatic channels after the meeting. He urged that there be no delay.
On September 23 Ambassador Nomura handed Secretary Hull the China terms together with two other documents which, he hopefully observed, clarified all disputed points. The meeting between the two leaders, he added, would greatly pacify Japanese public opinion. Reporting to Tokyo, the Ambassador said he tried to obtain a favorable statement from the Secretary on the "leaders conference", but the Secretary of State had refused to commit himself.
Foreign Minister Toyoda on September 26 urged his Ambassador to strive for the utmost efficiency and care in the delicate negotiations. He particularly directed that Ambassador Nomura not alter any Japanese communications without permission from the Home Office. Difficulties had arisen on this score before, and were again to arise. The Ambassador replied that, since the English texts often differed from the Japanese originals, the Foreign Minister should check the English translations made in Tokyo before sending them to Washington.
On September 27 the Japanese government transmitted to Secretary Hull the original proposals in an enlarged redraft which embodied all the proposals recently communicated to the United States. The same draft (except for the inclusion of four articles which did not appear in the draft presented in Washington) had been delivered to Ambassador Grew in Tokyo two days earlier. Also on September 27 Foreign Minister Toyoda asked Ambassador Grew about the proposed meeting of the leaders of the two countries. The Foreign Minister emphasized that if the United States delayed its reply too long, another favorable opportunity might not occur. He suggested a date between October 10 and 15. On the next day the Foreign Minister reported to Ambassador Nomura that pro-Axis feeling was increasing in Japan, but he denied that this was weakening the cabinet. Above all, he wished to convey to United States officials confidence in the dependability of the present government.
Communications with American officials now ceased while the Japanese leaders awaited an answer. Despite their eagerness, they decided not to press further proposals for fear of creating inconsistencies, though Ambassador Nomura suggested certain measures to meet objections which he expected the United States might raise. From Tokyo Ambassador Grew reported domestic opposition to any Japanese military withdrawal, but still he recommended to the United States a policy of constructive conciliation rather than one of economic strangulation. Anticipating that Ambassador Nomura might be asked to elucidate certain phrases in the proposals, Foreign Minister Toyoda coached him at length and showed willingness to compromise.
On October 2 the eagerly anticipated reply to the Japanese proposals (Sept. 4-6, redrafted Sept. 27) was presented to Ambassador Nomura. Secretary Hull reviewed at great length the diplomatic events of August and September. The proposals presented on September 6 were disappointing, he said, because they were narrowed down from former broad assurances by unnecessary qualifying phrases. Inconsistencies in Japanese statements and policies would not aid the cause of peace. A meeting between Prime Minister Konoye and President Roosevelt could not hope to succeed while the Japanese government insisted on qualifying and circumscribing its program. President Roosevelt was still interested in such a meeting but an agreement on fundamental principles must first be accomplished. Ambassador Nomura, disappointed, felt that Japan's internal situation would prevent further concessions at this time.
Foreign Minister Toyoda was still hopeful, however. He informed Ambassador Nomura that negotiations could easily continue because only three points of divergence remained: economic activity in the Pacific, withdrawal of Japanese troops, and the interpretation of the Tripartite Pact. Yet, Japanese disappointment at the American reply of October 2 was shaking the Konoye cabinet. The Foreign Minister, receiving no word that the negotiations would open as he had hoped, summoned Ambassador Grew on October 7 to complain that the October 2 memorandum of Secretary Hull reported Prince Konoye as having fully subscribed to the four points, whereas actually (when at dinner with Ambassador Grew on Sept. 6) he had accepted the four point program only "in principle", so as to allow latitude in its application.
During the remaining days of the Konoye cabinet (which fell Oct.16, 1941) the conversations remained deadlocked. Foreign Minister Toyoda reviewed the conversations in a message to his Ambassador in Berlin on October 8. He attributed the negotiations to severe economic difficulties in Japan and to a desire to keep the United States out of the European war. They did not depart from the principles of the Tripartite Pact, Toyoda asserted.
Also on October 8 Ambassador Nomura reported to Tokyo that the United States would not agree to the meeting of the two leaders until Japan applied the four principles to the Pacific area. He agreed with Secretary Hull that the proposals of September 6 were too restricted. Japan might accept the four principles without concern, the Ambassador implied, because they were very abstract and could be applied with "some elasticity".
The deadlock in the negotiations was threatening the existence of Prime Minister Konoye's cabinet. The Foreign Minister seemed to think only a meeting between the two leaders could preserve his government, for he tried desperately to break the deadlock and effect the meeting. Discussion between representatives of the two governments in Tokyo and Washington was now further imperiled by news of additional troop landings in French Indo-China. Consequently, Foreign Minister Toyoda asked the Japanese War Minister to restrain military activities in that country. He also ordered Ambassador Nomura to obtain exactly the opinions of United States officials on the points of the proposals. He wished to know just what commitments the United States desired Japan to make, he told Ambassador Grew on October 10. He added significantly that he could easily control public opinion after the meeting between Prince Konoye and President Roosevelt hadbeen convened. He was certain that at the meeting Japan would make extensive commitments which she could not make beforehand.
A basic difficulty in the relations of the two countries was their inability to pursue the conversations at the same level; the United States dealt largely with broad principles and generalities while the Japanese seemed to think only in terms of concrete commitments of limited application, as Minister Wakasugi pointed out when reporting to Tokyo on a conference Oct. 13 with Under Secretary of State Welles on October 13.
In a conference with Rear Admiral Turner on Oct. 15 Mr. Terasaki, of the Japanese Foreign Office, criticized American policies in the Orient as idealistic and characterized talk of principles as a "sort of hobby among the rich". Also on October 15 Foreign Minister Toyoda ordered Minister Wakasugi to avoid debating with American officials the United States desire for basic principles and the Japanese desire to clarify differences, since the United States might then insist on the four basic principles which Japan wished to leave out of any agreement.
From THE "MAGIC" BACKGROUND OF PEARL HARBOR, Department of Defense, 1978, VOLUME V, pp. 58-76.