11 November 1941
#764 (In 3 parts, complete)
1. On the 11th, the British Ambassador, while calling on me on some other business, brought up the subject of the conversations. He advised me that he reported my talks of the other day (see contents of 2 of my message #723.*) to his home government, to which his government replied along the following lines, he said:
"The British Government is not aware of the details of the conversations being conducted in Washington. Since its success would be of interest to Britain and Japan, it is fervently hoping for the success thereof. However, unless the basis of discussion is first settled upon, it would be useless to go ahead and enter into negotiations of the details. The British Government feels that discussions as to the basic principles could safely be left up to the U. S. Government. However, as soon as the real negotiations begin, the United States is to confer with Great Britain according to arrangement. Therefore, when that time arrives, negotiations will be carried on jointly with the United States and Japan."
2. I replied that in the matters being discussed between Japan and the United States there were some phases which greatly affected Great Britain. In the event of an agreement between Japan and the United States, Japan will simultaneously seek Britain's agreement. I wish to arrange matters so that the two agreements may be signed at exactly the same time. In view of the fact that to do the above is necessary, we have already requested the United States to give their approval to the terms, I said to the British Ambassador.
The British Ambassador said that he was not aware as to how much progress had been made between the United States and Japan, but he assumed that they were still in the preliminary stages.
I, therefore, replied that his assumption may have fitted in the past, but that at present they had already entered into the realm of the actual negotiations. Moreover, the Imperial Government has already submitted its final proposal, thus bringing the negotiations to the final phase. We have made this fact absolutely clear to the United States, I added.
I went on to say that I hear that the British Prime Minister made a speech at a luncheon given by the Mayor of London in which he stated that though he did not know the developments in the U. S.-Japanese negotiations, he would issue a warning to Japan. Would it not be more to the point, I challenged, if, instead of making threats without knowing of what he spoke, he were to try to more clearly understand the issues and to cooperate in an effort to clear them up? However, I said, with the U. S.-Japanese talks in the phase they are today, and in view of the fact that I realized that there were certain relationships between the United States and Great Britain, I have no intention of urging or opposing British participation in these talks at this time.
The Imperial Government has made the maximum concessions she can in drawing up its final proposal, I explained. We are of the opinion that the United States will find no objectionable points in it. I believe that it will be possible to sign the agreement within a week to ten days, I said. If, unfortunately, the United States refuses to accept those terms, it would be useless to continue the negotiations. Our domestic political situation will permit no further delays in reaching a decision.
I am making superhuman efforts at this time, I pointed out, in the attempt to ride out the crisis in the U. S.-Japanese and the British-Japanese relations. There are factions in the country which insist that there is no need for negotiating and point out the uselessness of doing so. The negotiations being continued only after these factions were checked.
For these reasons, it is absolutely impossible that there be any further delays.
A speedy settlement can be made depending entirely upon the attitude of Britain and the United States, I said, and suggested that his country give serious consideration to this, and cooperate in bringing about an early agreement.
In the above manner, I pointed out the criticalness of the situation. The Ambassador listened to what I said very attentively, giving indications that he was realizing for the first time how critical the situation was. He advised me that he would send his government a report of the above conversation and that he himself would do his best to bring about a speedy settlement.
3. Thus, there are indications that the United States Government is still under the impression that the negotiations are in the preliminary stages and that we are still merely exchanging opinions. This is further supported by the words of President Roosevelt reported by you in your message #1070** (that part in which he says that he hopes that these preliminary discussions will lead to the basis of the real negotiations. etc.)
That the United States takes this lazy and easy going attitude in spite of the fact that as far as we are concerned, this is the final phase, is exceedingly unfortunate. Therefore, it is my fervent hope that Your Excellency will do everything in your power to make them realize this fact and bring about an agreement at the earliest possible moment.
JD-1: 6417 (D) Navy Trans. 11-12-41 (S-TT)
*JD-1: 6228 (S.I.S. #24293-94).
(EXHIBITS OF JOINT COMMITTEE , EXHIBIT NO. 1 INTERCEPTED DIPLOMATIC MESSAGES SENT BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN JULY l AND DECEMBER 8, 1941)