18 November 1941*
#1131 (Part 1 & 2 of 5)
(Foreign Office Secret)
(Chief of Office routing)
On the 18th, I, together with Ambassador Kurusu called on Secretary Hull at 10:30 in the morning and we conversed for two hours and forty-five minutes.
Hull (in his customary tone): "I am one who worried about Hitler's activities right from the beginning. However, at that time, no one paid any attention. He is a man who does not know how to stop once he starts. The United States will no doubt become his objective in the near future." (So saying, he repeated his theory which he expounded on the 17th). "In the event that Hitler continues to be victorious, Japan should be thinking of his coming on to the East
*Translator's note: Date is evidently the 18th, though the first two
parts were encoded with key for 17th.
Asiatic stage. If Japan doesn't see this for herself, I can't feel sorry for her." (He continued in his usual vein, bringing up again a description of the 'confused era (?)' and the turn about in Germany's attitude toward the Soviet Union).
"The basis of the national policy of the United States is and will be the maintenance of peace. Therefore, it is impossible for the United States to ever condone the policies of Hitler which depends on expansion through the force of arms.
"As long as Japan is tied to Hitler by means of the Tripartite Pact, there shelf be great difficulties in adjusting Japanese-U. S. relations".
Placing emphasis on Japan's part in the Tripartite Pact the Secretary went on to describe his point of view.
Hull: "Even if an agreement is reached between Japan and the United States at this time, it would be impossible at this time to shake the general U. S. public's conviction that, as Germany is pursuing a policy of expansion by force of arms, Japan is doing likewise in the Far East.
"Of the extremists in the United States, there are those who even say that the United States has become Hitler's partner in his policy of aggression, through her relationship with Japan.
"Even if some agreement is reached between Japan and the United States under present circumstances, it could mean no more than the existing agreement between Japan and the U. S. S. R., under which, the agreement notwithstanding, enormous forces, which are constantly being increased, have to be facing each other at all times.
"Unless the fundamental trouble is removed, it will be impossible to expect any progress in our talks."
Kurusu: "If something is impossible to do, it simply can't be done, regardless of what fancy words may be used to dress it up.
"Even if you tell us to abrogate, or at least to make ineffective, the Tripartite Pact at this time, that is something that is impossible for us to do."
Hull: "The United States is not in a position to demand that you nullify the effect of the Tripartite Pact. The only thing I say is that although I can comprehend the circumstances making it possible for Japan to maintain the status quo of her relationship to the Tripartite Pact and at the same time seek an agreement with the United States, in view of the nature of the United States, it is impossible to completely disregard the effects of public opinion."
Kurusu: "The alliance in question does not advocate, or even condone, expansion through the force of arms."
Hull: "If that is the case, it is a useless instrument unless some definite proof as to its purposes are presented."
Nomura: "It would be difficult to do so within any limited time. The situation in the southwestern Pacific area is at present very critical. To counter Japan's sending of troops to French Indo-China, Britain is increasing her armed forces in Singapore while the United States is doing likewise in the Philippine Islands.
JD-1: 6664 (D) Navy Trans. 11-22-41 (1)
From: Washington (Nomura)
November 18, 1941
#1131 (Part 3 Of 5) [a] (To be handled in government code.)
"If we both undertake to increase our military strength at any time, something which we would regret might occur. Therefore, since even though we keep fighting each other with broad, idealistic arguments there would be no end to them, let us first relax this tension for the time being. To do this we should return to the situation prior to the exercise of the freezing order. I mean Japan should evacuate southern French Indo-China, and in return the United States should rescind the freezing order. If the atmosphere is calm in this manner, there will be no need of sending warships to Singapore or strengthening military facilities in the Philippines. Then we would like to confine these talks." HULL said, "While we are not yet agreed on fundamental questions, it would be futile to do what you say as a temporary stop-gap measure. We hope that as first of the East Asiatic nations, Japan will take the leadership for a policy of peace. However, if a policy of armed conquest is to dominate Japan, we will consider it a danger to world peace, and we will not, by any means, yield. (To this both I and Ambassador KURUSU had something to say). If the leaders of the Japanese Government will show that they will exert a peaceful policy in any event, why then in turn, I will not object to getting in touch with Great Britain, the Netherlands, etc., and consider returning to the status prior to the exercise of the freezing order. However, this is so that Japanese politics will turn more and more toward a peaceful trend."
Army 25086. 11/21/41 (1)
[a] Part 1 and 2 not available.
From: Washington (Nomura)
November 18, 1941
#1131 (Part 4 of 5) (To be handled in government code)
Concerning the China question, HULL asked a question about the stationing of troops. I explained what you said in Proposal A of your #726 [a] (of course, I didn't mention the twenty-five years you spoke of), and HULL let it go at that. Referring again to the China question, he said that England, the Netherlands and China had all contacted him, and KURUSU wanted to know on what points they were concerned. HULL said that he assumed that Great Britain was mainly interested in the principle of equality of treatment in commerce; that it was the same in the case of the Netherlands; and as for China, she merely spoke in generalities without going into definite matters. Now concerning the principle of equality of treatment, the following conversation took place: HULL: "Have you received any reply from Tokyo on our proposal of the 15th?" (See my #1095. [b]) KURUSU: "Well, we have a general answer, but further study is necessary. I haven't enough to tell you yet. You seem to mean that the United States can't bear the responsibility of other countries.
Well, aren't we pretty much in the same position? Until peace is established between Japan and China, we could say the same thing about the China question, I think. You see, Japan and the United States are in different economic positions. You Americans are in an advantageous position relative to the various nations when it comes to commercial negotiations. We do not have the advantageous bargaining position that you have.
Army 25087 Trans. 11/21/41 (1)
[a] S.I.S. Nos. 24334, 5, 6, 7.
[b] S.I.S. #24930 which gives an explanation of the U. S.'s stand on the "non-discriminatory treatment in commerce" matter.
From: Washington (Nomura)
November 18, 1941
#1131 (Part 5 of 5) (To be handled in government code)
"There is a remarkable difference between the extent to which the economy of the United States depends on foreign trade and that to which ours does. You cannot measure them by the same rule. When the economic set-up is suddenly disrupted, great turbulence ensues. Take, for example, the question of controlled exchange in North China. If that were abolished now, the economy of a hundred million Chinese would be thrown into chaos. Now out of consideration of the welfare of the Chinese people alone, we could not do such a thing as that." HULL: "I well understand that. When I was insisting on the principle of equality of treatment in commerce, I had the postwar situation in mind. I rather think that in post-war economic reconstruction, probably the principle of non-discrimination will be an all-encompassing one. What I would like to see is Japan and the United States working together for the principle of non-discrimination. Now all along I've fought against the preferential system of the British Empire resulting from the Ottawa Conference, and now we are talking it over with England. I don't want you to tell any body about this, but don't you know, only lately Great Britain is coming around to my point of view." (In this connection, see the newspaper article quoted in separate wire #1132. [a]
Army 25088 Trans. 11/21/41 (1).
[a] Not available.
(EXHIBITS OF JOINT COMMITTEE , EXHIBIT NO. 1 INTERCEPTED DIPLOMATIC MESSAGES SENT BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN JULY l AND DECEMBER 8, 1941)