Explanation by Chief of Naval General Staff Nagano
at the Imperial Conference of 6 September 1941.

The Prime Minister has just given a generalized explanation, stating that the Empire should concentrate her efforts on surmounting the present crisis by peaceful ways und means in order to insure the Empire's future development and stability. From the operational standpoint of Imperial General Headquarters, based on the assumption that a peaceful solution has not been found and war is inevitable, the Empire's oil supply, as well as the stockpiles of many other important war materials, is being depleted day by day with the result that the national defense power is gradually diminishing. If this deplorable situation is left unchecked, I believe that, after a lapse of some time, the nation's vitality will deteriorate and ultimately fall into dire straits. On the other hand, the defense of military installations and key points of Britain, the United States and other countries in the Far East, as well as military preparations of these nations, particularly those of the United States, are being strengthened and augmented at a fantastic tempo. By the latter half of next year, military preparations of the United States will have made such rapid strides that we will find it difficult to oppose them. Therefore, wasting time now can prove disastrous for the Empire. Such being the case, if our minimum demands for the Empire's self-existence and self-defense are not recognized in diplomatic negotiations and if ultimately a war becomes inevitable, I believe that it


is imperative for the Empire that it should first make the fullest preparations and lose no time in carrying out positive operations with firm determination, in order that it can find a way out of the difficult situation.

In regard to the prospect of war, we can perceive a strong possibility that the opponent will carry on a prolonged war. Therefore, the Empire must resolve and prepare for it. If the opponent should attempt a short and decisive action and challenge us by advancing with the main force of its naval strength, it would be a desirable situation. At this time, when the European war is still being fought, the naval strength which Britain can afford to dispatch to the Far East will be subjected to considerable restriction. Therefore, in case we intercept the combined Anglo-American Fleet on our anticipated area of decisive battle, I am confident that the chances are in our favor if we take into account full utilization of land based aircraft. However, even when the Empire gains a victory in this decisive battle, such a victory alone would not end the war. In all probability, the opponent will then switch to a prolonged war based on the strength of his superiority in industrial power and resources.

Our Empire has not means by which to subjugate the enemy by invasion operations or to break his will to fight. Moreover, a long war is what we least desire because of the meagerness of our domestic resources. However, if we should enter into a long war, the first requisite for enduring it is to promptly occupy, at the outset, the ene-


my's strategic points and areas rich in natural resources, complete a solid operational setup and, at the same time, acquire from our sphere of influence vitally needed matarials. If this first-stage operation should be accomplished promptly, the Empire then will be in a position to secure strategic points in the Southwest Pacific, even if military preparations of the United States develop as scheduled, and we shall be able to establish the foundation for a long war by maintaining an invincible position. It is my belief that the course of events thereafter will be mostly determined by the nation's total strength and the development of the world situation.

Thus, success or failure of the first-stage operations will have a tremendous bearing on the outcome of the war. However, the prerequisites for augmenting the probabilities of success in the first-stage operations are, first, to decide upon the declaration of war promptly while considering the actual war potential of both sides; secondly, to take the initiative without being circumvented by the opponent; and thirdly, to take into consideration the weather conditions in the theater of operations from the viewpoint of facilitating operations.

Based upon the aforementioned considerations, we have set the time for vital decision as given in this plan.

Needless to say, we intend to push preparations for military operations prudently, taking into full account the developments of diplomatic negotiations. I would like to add one more word. We must seek with utmost efforts the way by which we can surmount the present crisis


peacefully and insure the development and stability of the Empire. We must avoid any war which can be avoided. But at the same time, for the future interest of our Empire we must not be forced into a position where we would have to fight under extremely disadvantageous conditions.

My views on the aspect of military preparations, as given in my explanation herein, have been prepared solely on the assumption that war cannot be avoided.


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