7 October 1941
#643 (In 3 parts, complete)
I requested the U. S. Ambassador in Tokyo to call on me on the 7th, and he complied. The following is the gist of our conversation, and I forward it to you for your information only.
"I am in receipt of the U. S. memorandum of the 2nd, and I (the Foreign Minister) assume that you (the U. S. Ambassador in Tokyo) have also received notification thereof from your home government. I would consider myself exceedingly fortunate if I were permitted to hear your opinions thereon", I said.
To this the Ambassador replied that he had received a resume of that memo from Washington, but that was all and for that reason he said he had no way of expressing his opinion. I, therefore, said that since the resume undoubtedly limited itself to the listing of all of the more important points, it should facilitate the forming of an opinion. I added that I was striving to reach an understanding through cooperations in the same manner as is the Ambassador, not so much as a diplomat, but rather as a human being. From that viewpoint, what are the views of the U. S. Ambassador, I asked of him, and also asked him if he had not had some communication from his home government which would tend to explain or express opinions on the above mentioned resume.
The Ambassador said he had been cabled the resume only, and nothing more. Without seeing the entire memo, he said, he could not ascertain the tone thereof. He would be very happy if he could be permitted to read the full text, he said. Should, however, he be forced to express an opinion with his inadequate knowledge of the circumstances, he would be inclined to believe that the United States is trying to secure an agreement on the preliminary conditions.
I, therefore, replied that putting things bluntly, from the viewpoint of the sincere efforts we were making in this matter, we were not completely satisfied with the U. S. note referred to at present.
By the above I do not imply that we do not trust the sincerity of the United States, I explained, but say so after taking into consideration the domestic and external circumstances of Japan.
The Ambassador then advised me that even as recently as on the 5th, he wrote up a fourteen page, 3000 word report of the various conditions in Japan based on what he had actually seen and heard himself during his many years of service in Japan. In it, he said that he fully described the real efforts that were being made by us in this matter. However, he did not dwell on this phase of the matter.
2. According to the U. S. memorandum of the 2nd, I continued, the Prime Minister of Japan allegedly stated that he "fully subscribed" to the Four Principles referred to during his conversations with the U. S. Ambassador on the 6th of last month. The record of the meeting, however, shows that the Premier stated that he was in accord with them only in principle. To this the Ambassador replied that being fully aware of the importance of every word of that interview, he had reported it absolutely accurately to his home government. I, therefore, said that it was because I agreed with him as to the importance of the matter that I wished to make this point clear. Our notes of the meeting clearly records that we agreed in principle only. The copies of the U. S. memorandum which were sent to various persons concerned for their perusal and study were corrected from "fully" to "in principle" so as to coincide with the original We have already requested the Ambassador in the United States, I continued, to notify the United States of this correction. I am reporting this matter to His Excellency, I said, because I felt that he was concerned. The only reason we mentioned this matter to Ambassador Nomura was because this memorandum had been handed to him for delivery. There was absolutely no other motive in doing so, I said.
The U. S. Ambassador seemed to be thoroughly satisfied with my explanation and expressed his thanks for reporting it to him.
Continuing, I said that though I had no intention of being too argumentative, there was one item I would like to question the Ambassador about. I pointed out that in doing so, I did not want the friendly relations between himself and myself to be altered in any manner.
After thus prefacing my remarks, I said that fundamentally speaking the Prime Minister's message was a private message addressed to a private party. How, then, I lightly pressed, was it that passages therefrom could be quoted in the memorandum which is an official note?
The Ambassador replied that he could see our point clearly and added that it must have been due to faulty handling of the various papers in the State Department. He said that that was entirely an on-the-spot assumption on his part. He went on to say that he would now be able to definitely state that the Prime Minister was in accord "in principle".
3. Returning to the matter concerning the "fully subscribed" quotation, the Ambassador started to say that he seemed to recall that when that matter was first brought up, Ambassador Nomura had accepted the "Four Principles" unconditionally. I, therefore, said that if there is some misunderstanding on the part of the United States through erroneous handling of some papers by our representative, it may become necessary to correct it at some future date. To attempt to do so now, though, I said, involves the danger of needlessly confusing the issue. (I referred to "Ambassador Nomura's draft" incident of 4 September as an example) and for this reason, I said that I thought it would be better if nothing were done about it at present.
JD-1: (D) Navy Trans. 10-11-41 (1)
(EXHIBITS OF JOINT COMMITTEE , EXHIBIT NO. 1 INTERCEPTED DIPLOMATIC MESSAGES SENT BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN JULY l AND DECEMBER 8, 1941)