From: Washington (Nomura)
17 October 1941
#966 (In 6 parts, complete)
Wakasugi met and talked with Hull and Welles for about an hour and a half, from 4:30 p. m. on the 17th. The following is the gist of their talk:
1. Wakasugi stated that he would like to further discuss the three points involved in the U. S.-Japanese negotiations with the understanding that neither side commit itself to what is said here in view of the fact that we were not in receipt of instructions from the new cabinet as yet. Hull expressed his agreement to this proposal and then inquired what the outstanding points were in the respective proposals.
In reply, Wakasugi read those paragraphs pertaining to the right of self-defense under the terms of the Tripartite Pact as contained in our proposal of 25 September, and the U. S. proposal of 21 June. He went on to explain the features in accordance with the various instructions from Tokyo, pointing out that we had made the right of self-defense on which the U. S. placed much emphasis, a mutual right. Did that not satisfy the U. S. demands?, Wakasugi asked.
Hull replied that during the tenure of the former Foreign Minister it was loudly broadcast that the purpose of the Tripartite Pact was to prevent the United States from entering the war. Since the United States may be forced to enter the war for self-defense purposes, the United States could not help but have doubts as to Japan's true motives The United States has no intention of taking military aggression against any nation; her only intention is to consider ways and means of defending herself, he explained repeatedly.
Wakasugi, therefore, pointed out that fundamentally the thing called "right of self-defense" was put in motion in the direction it is intended to be used by the state which invokes its use. Therefore, it is natural that depending on the intentions of another, we should restrain ourselves from fulfilling our duties under the terms of an agreement.
That is why we definitely established the fact in our proposal that our intentions are strictly self-preservation and that application of any phases thereof, would be absolutely on behalf of self-preservation. Self-preservation, as we have used the term, implies that Japan and Japan alone shall determine the means of carrying it out without depending on any foreign country whether it be Britain, the United States or Germany, or any other. There are no other implications or interpretations to the phrases from our viewpoint
Fundamentally, Wakasugi continued, wasn't it a self-evident fact that political agreements such as the Tripartite Pact cannot limit the signatories to any political commitments against a third country?
In the light of the Imperial Rescript published at the time of the signing of the Tripartite Pact, the spirit and the aims of said Pact should be evident. In the final analysis, that Pact's real mission is the contribution to world peace and does not support any intent of aggression and aggrandizement.
Hull listened carefully to Wakasugi's detailed explanations. Apparently the Secretary suspects that, basically, the nature of the Pact could be twisted at will to suit the needs of either a Japanese cabinet favoring military aggression or a cabinet favoring peace. Wakasugi, therefore, asked whether it was not true that unless suspicions were allayed, it would be impossible to come to agreements with any country. Was it not true, he continued, that when viewed through eyes of suspicion there would be much that could be questioned, even in the so-called defense measures of the United States?
In any event, it was agreed that both of the proposals in question shall be given careful study after which a reply would be submitted.
2. Hull places the most emphasis on matters pertaining to non-discrimination in trade. He urged that we listen carefully to Welles' explanation of how Japan would actually profit by such a system. Hull then went on to point out that materialization of the nondiscrimination in trade matters has been his main objective since his assumption of post many years ago and described the progress he has made in various quarters. As an example, of the success of his program, he pointed to the recently signed trade agreement with Argentina. He seemed particularly proud of this accomplishment and added that even the self-interested British appeasement policy had been prevented in Central and South America. (What was meant exactly by this was not made clear).
Hull went on to say that if this policy were limited merely to the southwest Pacific area, it would not be of much value. Unless this principle is applied to the entire Pacific area (including China) the contribution it would make toward peace would be negligible. There is more probability that world peace, under present world conditions, can be attained through adjustments in trade relations than through adjustments of political relations between nations, he claimed.
It cannot be doubted for a moment, he continued, that if Japan adopts this basic policy and applies it in the Far East, that she will have the advantage over all countries in her area because of her geographical position, her race, and because of her business acumen. He urged repeatedly that the concrete and positive advantages be pointed out to our government. Will you please therefore, be thoroughly advised of this phase and let us know your opinions thereof.
Wakasugi then said that he would admit that the various principles set forth by the United States were indeed fine and as guiding principles no one could possibly find fault with them. The cold facts are, however, that different means have to be used by each individual nation in order to survive. In spite of this fact it is the United States' custom to measure the others needs by a ruler which measures the needs of her own country, which is the most blessed from the stand point of nature, of any nation in the world. The fact that the position and circumstances of other countries differ from those of the United States apparently is not taken into consideration by the United States, Wakasugi said.
Japan occupies only a small corner of what is known as the Far East; moreover, she has been occupied for over four years with the China incident. She has, therefore, a number of circumstances which are peculiar to herself. So though she may want to comply with all of what the United States suggests, it is impossible for her to immediately do so. For example, for obvious and unavoidable reasons, Japan has established various organs and put into effect various systems in China to cope with temporary conditions and circumstances. Even if we tried to comply with the basic principles advanced by the United States, we could not do so overnight where these are concerned. It would be an absolute impossibility from a practical and actual standpoint.
If the United States' principles are to be applied to the world at the end of the war, it is indeed a worthy undertaking and merits serious consideration. However, it is not in the realm of practicality to attempt to apply these principles at a time when the whole world is in a chaotic condition. It is asking too much of Japan to expect her to accept these principles under such world conditions, and to expect her, in turn, to apply them immediately to the Far East area which has been undergoing particularly unfavorable conditions.
Therefore, Wakasugi continued, the immediate need is to discuss matters which Japan is capable at the present time of carrying out. These actual problems should be worked out to the maximum point of possibility under present circumstances and in this manner, the first opening to the road of joint and cooperative action should be found.
Hull replied that he well understood Japan's position and the circumstances in which she was involved. However, he continued, the United States also has to cope with domestic problems. For example, there are complaints from U. S. business men in China who have been squeezed out or whose activities have been curtailed because of the monopolistic attitude Japan has assumed in the China trade. When these complaints are voiced, because of the make-up of the United States, they cannot be left unnoticed.
Returning again to fundamentals, it is an unalterable fact, the Secretary continued, that the United States' basic principle is advantageous to Japan. For this reason he desired acceptance of it by Japan, the Secretary repeated. He agreed to compare the two proposals on this point, too, and to submit a reply after so doing.
In conclusion Hull asked what the conditions were in Japan. Wakasugi replied that the general public were very strained. The government is being forced to take an immediate and decisive turn to either the right or the left. The people are apparently ready to jump at a chance for an understanding with the United States and because of the sensitiveness of the Japanese people, the tension will no doubt be immediately relieved if there is the slightest gesture on the part of the United States to warrant it.
Although it may be true that more time will be required before an agreement can be reached on the weighty items, however, there would be made favorable reactions if even minor matters, such as the following, were cleared up: releasing of the Itukusima Maru and the Syoyo Maru which have been tied up in San Francisco for over a month because the money with which to pay for their fuel has been frozen, releasing of funds with which to pay for fuel for those ships which are coming over here at present. (There is some interference from the Treasury Department in this instance).
As Wakasugi mentioned these items, Welles took down the names of the vessels and other pertinent facts and promised to take the matter up with bureaus concerned.
JD-1: 5968(D) Navy Trans. 10-21-41 (2)
(EXHIBITS OF JOINT COMMITTEE , EXHIBIT NO. 1 INTERCEPTED DIPLOMATIC MESSAGES SENT BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN JULY l AND DECEMBER 8, 1941)