27 September 1941
#605 (In 4 parts, complete).
(Translator's Note. This is the gist of the off-the-record statement made by Foreign Minister Toyoda to Ambassador Grew-see Tokyo to Washington #604*-and is written in the first person, Toyoda speaking.)
1. Europe has now fallen into a chaotic condition The flames of war have spread to the Atlantic and they are enveloping the various powers of the world. Fortunately, however, no war has, as yet broken out in the Pacific. The United States and Japan, alone, hold the key to continued peace or war in the Pacific.
Should the United States and Japan come to blows, the Pacific, too, would be immediately thrown into the chaos that is war. World civilization would then come crashing down. No greater misfortune could befall mankind.
In recent times, there have been numerous and various incidents between Japan and the United States. Relations are at an exceedingly sensitive point, and even the slightest thing must be treated with the utmost precaution.
If, at this time, Japanese-U. S. relations were to be adjusted so as to promote friendship between them, the effects would be felt not only by the United States and Japan, but would indeed contribute greatly to a world peace. The Imperial Government desires the adjustment of Japanese-U. S. relations not only for the sake of Japan and the United States, but hopes that at the same time, such a step would become the opening wedge to bringing about peace throughout the world.
2. Since assuming my post two months ago, I have been working on the matter of readjusting Japanese-U. S. relations even to the extent of almost forgetting to eat and sleep. It is with the same objective that Premier Konoye has expressed his willingness to act as a leader in a conference with President Roosevelt.
3. Japan is connected to Germany and Italy by an alliance. The fact that the Premier of Japan had volunteered to meet the President, in itself has given rise to much misunderstanding regarding her relations with Germany and Italy. Thus, there is proof that Japan is making a supreme sacrifice. Moreover, the history of Japan has no precedence of an instance where the Premier himself has gone abroad in behalf of diplomacy. This fact in itself should clearly show the sincerity of the government of Japan in its expressed desire of adjusting the relationship between Japan and the United States, and through that, of maintaining peace on the Pacific, and, indeed, for the world.
4. Maintenance of peace is Japan's sole motivating power. Should there be those who believe that Japan was forced to her knees by U. S. pressure, it would indeed be a sad misconception on their part. Japan desires peace; she is not succumbing to outside pressure. Moreover, Japan is not one to yearn for peace at any price.
The Japanese people have a peculiar characteristic of repelling all outside pressures. We have pointed this fact out previously but I view of the general tone of U. S. newspapers in the past, (it is admitted that this has been considerably toned down of late), I feel that it is necessary to repeat this.
5. Japanese-U. S. relations are exceedingly complicated. Hence, it is quite possible that the entire matter cannot be settled in a day and a night. It is quite possible that not all of the difficult problems can be ironed out by a single meeting between the leaders of the two countries However, the political aspect of such a meeting would have exceedingly far reaching effects. Moreover, those items which have as yet remained unsettled (we do not believe that any of these exist any longer, but assuming that some do) after all of the goings and comings of cables, they could undoubtedly be settled at the conference. It should be unnecessary to point out the turn for the better in U. S.-Japanese relations that this would have.
We are under the impression that in theory, your side is not opposed to the holding of the "leaders' conference". Should, however, in spite of this, the meeting does not materialize for some reason, we doubt if another opportunity such as the present would appear for some time to come. Moreover, it is quite possible that here may be some fearsome reactions from such a failure.
6. Japan has already announced the proposals she will make at the meeting. We have moreover already submitted for your convenience a complete resume in accordance with the lines contained in the United States' proposal of 21 June. I feel certain, therefore, that the United States is fully aware of the Japanese viewpoint by this time.
7. We have, of course, already decided upon the vessel which will transport the Premier and his party; the personnel of his party, including the generals and admirals, have also been decided upon. We are in a position to start at any moment now.
8. Since the situation is as described above, the Imperial Government awaits with expectations the United States' reply at the earliest possible moment. Any further delays would place the government in an exceedingly difficult position from the viewpoint of the Tripartite Pact. Your Excellency is certainly fully aware that there is every possibility of commemorating the first anniversary of the Tripartite Pact, to strengthen the ties of the three powers.
From the viewpoint of the weather there is considerable danger that it will become unfavorable in the North Pacific and in the Alaska area.
9. From both domestic and external circumstances, time is of paramount importance, as I have pointed out previously. It is essential that the meeting be decided upon at all possible speed and it is with this thought uppermost in my mind that I so strongly insist upon this matter at this time. I would consider it to be of greatest fortune if we were to receive a definite reply at the earliest moment.
From our standpoint if the meeting were scheduled from 10 to 15 October, it would meet with our best convenience.
In conclusion, I would like to say that in a negotiation of this type, it is of the utmost importance that each respect the other's reliability and sincerity. Your Excellency is fully cognizant of Premier Konoye, character and his political position. I hardly feel that I can add anything in this respect at this time. However, as I said before, I doubt if another opportunity to adjust Japanese-U. S. relations will present itself because, at present, the Premier and the entire Cabinet are behind the move. At the same time, it is essential, even under present circumstances, that the leaders meet and confer directly and at the earliest possible time. I repeat this last point over and over again.
JD-1: (D) Navy Trans. 9-30-41 (S-TT)
(EXHIBITS OF JOINT COMMITTEE , EXHIBIT NO. 1 INTERCEPTED DIPLOMATIC MESSAGES SENT BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN JULY l AND DECEMBER 8, 1941)