Front Page Titles (by Subject) 7: Road to War: The Pacific - America's Second Crusade
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7: Road to War: The Pacific - William Henry Chamberlin, America’s Second Crusade 
America’s Second Crusade (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Amagi, 2008).
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Road to War: The Pacific
By 1941 the United States had become deeply involved in the Pacific, as well as in the Atlantic theater of World War II. The Roosevelt Administration was striving to block and discourage Japan’s expansion by a variety of measures short of war: economic discrimination, aid to China, diplomatic warnings, display of naval force.
There was, to be sure, no undeclared naval war in the Pacific. Until December 7, 1941, no deadlier missiles than notes were exchanged between Washington and Tokyo. But there was an element of finality about the blow in the Pacific, when it fell at Pearl Harbor. This was allout war. When Hitler declared war three days later, the Administration’s dilemma was happily resolved. There were no longer inhibitions on the use of American manpower and resources everywhere in the global struggle.
The war cloud which burst at Pearl Harbor had begun to form ten years earlier. The Japanese military commanders in September 1931 seized Mukden, capital of the semi-independent Chinese regime in Manchuria. This action followed a series of disputes between the Japanese and Manchurian authorities about the implementation of Japan’s somewhat vaguely defined economic rights in South Manchuria. Japan had replaced Russia as the dominant power in that area after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. Japan’s privileges in South Manchuria included the right to maintain troops and armed railway guards.
The seizure of Mukden was the beginning of a process which only ended when all Manchuria, with an area three times that of Japan proper, had been brought under Japanese control. A new state, Manchukuo, was set up. The nominal ruler was a shadowy emperor, descendant of the former Chinese dynasty. The real power was in the hands of Japanese army officers and civilian officials, many of whom were attached as “advisers” to Manchukuo ministries. Manchuria was soon covered with a network of new railways and roads. Industries were developed and expanded. The productive power of the region was greatly stimulated by the inflow of Japanese capital and technical knowledge. It is worth pointing out also that hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrated to Manchukuo during the period of Japanese control.
The American Secretary of State at that time, Henry L. Stimson, vigorously opposed the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. He could not resort to war because of the opposition of President Hoover and the distinctly nonbellicose state of American public opinion. But in a note of January 7, 1932, he committed the American Government to a policy of passive resistance, of refusing to recognize “any situation, treaty or agreement” which might be brought about by methods incompatible with the Kellogg Pact, which outlawed war.
The League of Nations, acting on the appeal of China as a member, sent the Lytton Commission to investigate the situation in Manchuria. The only effect of this intervention was Japan’s withdrawal from the League. The American refusal to recognize Manchukuo, a refusal in which states belonging to the League associated themselves, also led to no practical consequences, except perhaps to discourage foreign investment which might or might not have taken place under other circumstances.
Several years of uneasy tension followed. Japan denounced the naval limitation agreement which had been concluded at Washington in 1922. This had established a 5:5:3 ratio between the navies of the United States, Great Britain, and Japan. Its abrogation left each of these powers free to build up naval strength at will. The United States adhered to the so-called Stimson Doctrine of not recognizing Manchukuo. Apart from this, its policy in the Far East during the first few years of the Roosevelt Administration was rather passive.
A new crisis arose when large-scale war between Japan and China began in the summer of 1937. By the autumn of 1938 the Japanese forces had occupied the largest Chinese cities and most of the country’s limited network of railways. But the Chinese Nationalist Government held out in its new far-inland capital, Chungking. And Japanese control was not effectively consolidated far from the large centers and lines of communication.
A war waged over a large expanse of Chinese territory inevitably led to incidents affecting the security of American lives and property. American business communities were located in the larger cities, and several thousand American missionaries lived in China, some in the cities, many in smaller towns throughout the country.
The American economic stake in China was not large. American investments were about 200 million dollars, as compared with 1,200 million dollars in the case of British investments. The prospect of vast trade with China, which had encouraged America to take over the Philippines, had never materialized. Despite its huge population, China, because of its extreme poverty and economic backwardness, had never taken a large part in world trade.
China’s purchases in the United States in 1936, the last prewar year, were about 55 million dollars. Japan’s were more than four times that amount. For Japan, despite its smaller population, was far more advanced than China in the development of its industry, shipping, and international trade.
From a purely economic standpoint, there was no reason for America to run a risk of war with Japan by actively supporting China against Japan. But American Far Eastern policy was influenced by various non-economic motives.
There was sentimental sympathy for China as the “underdog” in the struggle against Japan. This was nourished by missionaries and other American residents of China. The “Open Door” policy for China, enunciated by Secretary of State John Hay about the turn of the century, was regarded as a sacrosanct tradition of American diplomacy and was seldom subjected to critical and realistic examination. Considerations of prestige made it difficult to surrender established rights under pressure. The groups which believed in a permanent crusade against aggression, in a policy of perpetual war for the sake of perpetual peace, were quick to mobilize American opinion against Japan. Some of the considerations which helped to shape American policy were outlined by Secretary Hull in a communication to Vice-President Garner, published on May 10, 1938:
The interest and concern of the United States in the Far Eastern situation, in the European situation and in situations on this continent are not measured by the number of American citizens residing in a particular country at a particular moment nor by the amount of investment by American citizens there nor by the volume of trade. There is a broader and more fundamental interest—which is that orderly processes in international relationships be maintained.
The situation was further complicated because the majority of the American people had no more desire to fight in the Orient than to see their young men shipped to the battlefields of Europe. Public sympathy was for China and against Japan; but there was no desire to die for the abstract slogan, “that orderly processes in international relationships be maintained.”
A wistful desire to have one’s cake and eat it too is reflected in the public-opinion polls of the time. A Gallup poll in the autumn of 1937 showed 59 per cent of those questioned for China, 1 per cent for Japan, and 40 per cent indifferent. But another poll, taken almost simultaneously, revealed a majority in favor of withdrawing American troops from China. (At that time small detachments of Marines were maintained in Shanghai and in the Peking-Tientsin area.) Polls in the summer of 1939 revealed 66 per cent in favor of a movement to stop buying Japanese goods, but only 6 per cent wished to fight Japan in order to protect American interests in China.
The most serious incident affecting America’s relations with Japan before Pearl Harbor was the sinking of the United States gunboat Panay by Japanese bombers on December 12, 1937. This closely followed the capture of Nanking, the Chinese capital; and the Japanese military leaders were in an exuberant, trigger-happy mood. Four lives were lost in the bombing, one of the victims being an Italian journalist. However, the sinking of the Panay failed to kindle any war flames in the United States, and the Japanese Government was quick to proffer apologies and pay an indemnity of two and a quarter million dollars.
After the autumn of 1938 the war in China became a stalemate. The Japanese were baffled and held back from further large-scale operations, not so much by Chinese resistance as by the vast size and poor communications of the country. The Chinese lacked the military organization, the airplanes, the heavy artillery which would have enabled them to defeat the Japanese in the open field and retake the large cities which the invaders had captured. The war became a long endurance contest.
The march of events in Europe affected the course of this oriental war. As the attention of powers with large Far Eastern interests, Britain, France, and the Netherlands, became absorbed by the threat of German expansion, Japan saw its opportunities for conquest enhanced. At the same time, the United States cast its weight more and more into the scales, taking a sharper tone in communications and cautiously moving toward the imposition of economic sanctions on Japan. A forceful move by the United States often followed a gesture of weakness or conciliation on the part of Britain.
So, soon after the conclusion of the Munich agreement had revealed British and French weakness, the American Government, on October 6, 1938, set forth its case against Japanese expansion in China in a strongly worded note. The Japanese Government and the Chinese administrations under Japanese control were accused of various violations of American commercial rights. The note called for the elimination of discriminatory exchange control and of monopolies and preferences calculated to injure American trade and industry and the stoppage of Japanese interference with American property and other rights. The note stiffly reaffirmed American rights under the Nine Power Treaty and under the Open Door commercial policy in China.
Japan’s reply, on November 18, was partly a denial of specific charges, partly a contention that the status quo in China was being rendered obsolete by the movement of events. The Japanese Prime Minister, Prince Fumimaro Konoye, had already described Japan’s aim as the establishment of a new order, based on “the tripartite relationship of mutual aid and co-ordination between Japan, Manchukuo and China in political, economic, cultural and other fields.”
Another American note, of December 31, tartly denied that “there was any need or warrant for any one power to take upon itself to prescribe what shall be the terms and conditions of a ‘new order’ in areas not under its sovereignty and to constitute itself the repository of authority and the agent of destiny in regard thereto.”
With war imminent in Europe, the British Ambassador in Tokyo, Sir Robert Craigie, concluded an agreement with the Japanese Foreign Office on July 24, 1939, which bordered on recognition of Japanese belligerent rights in China. Neither Japan nor China had ever formally recognized that a war was in progress. Sir Robert Craigie’s step followed a period of prolonged harassment of British nationals by the Japanese military authorities in the North China port of Tientsin.
America’s response to this British move of retreat was swift. Senator Vandenberg on July 18 had introduced into the Senate a resolution in favor of abrogating the United States-Japanese commercial treaty. Without waiting for action on this resolution, Secretary Hull on July 26 gave the six-months’ notice required for denouncing the treaty. This opened the door for discriminatory economic measures, forbidden under the terms of the treaty.
During the next year there were no sensational developments in American-Japanese relations. The impulse to apply embargoes and other economic restraints against Japan was restrained by the outbreak of war in Europe, but the year from July 1940 to July 1941 was marked by a number of American measures which reflected rising tension in the Pacific.
President Roosevelt in July 1940 placed under license exports of machine tools, chemicals, nonferrous metals, oil products, scrap metal, and aviation gasoline outside the Western Hemisphere.
On September 25, 1940, China received a loan of 25 million dollars for currency stabilization. An embargo on all exports of scrap iron and steel, except to Britain and nations of the Western Hemisphere, was declared on September 26.
American nationals were warned to leave the Far East on October 8.
China received an additional 100 million dollars loan on November 30.
China became eligible for lend-lease aid on March 11, 1941.
On April 26, 1941, there was a monetary stabilization accord with China.
The climax, and the prelude to Pearl Harbor, occurred on July 25, 1941. On that date the President froze all Japanese assets in the United States, amounting to 130 million dollars. This was followed by similar action on the part of Great Britain and the Netherlands Indies. What this amounted to was an economic blockade of Japan, a cessation of all trade relations.
It has already been pointed out that, in the opinion of Nathaniel Peffer, an experienced student of Far Eastern affairs, “when the President ordered the freezing of the Japanese assets in this country in 1941, he was decreeing a state of war with Japan.” Certainly the imposition of a commercial blockade on Japan, like many of the President’s moves in the Atlantic, was not a measure calculated to keep America out of war.
Indeed, Roosevelt himself, on the very eve of the freezing order, had publicly expressed the opinion that a complete blockade of Japan would precipitate war. He was outlining the reasons for the government’s decision not to cut off all oil supplies to Japan:
It was very essential, from our own selfish point of view of defense, to prevent a war from starting in the South Pacific. So our foreign policy was trying to stop a war from breaking out down there. At the same time . . . we wanted to keep that line of supplies from Australia and New Zealand going to the Near East. . . . So it was essential for Great Britain to try to keep the peace down there in the South Pacific.
All right. And now here is a nation called Japan. Whether they had at that time aggressive purposes to enlarge their empire southward, they didn’t have any oil of their own up in the north. Now, if we cut the oil off, they probably would have gone down to the Netherlands East Indies1 a year ago, and we would have had war. [Italics supplied.]2
It is surprising that the war-making decision of July 25 excited slight reaction at the time, even in isolationist circles. There were several reasons for this apathetic reaction of American public opinion.
Attention was generally focussed on developments in the Atlantic, so that the likelihood that war might come in the Pacific was overlooked. There was a tendency, very marked if one studies the periodicals of the time, to underestimate Japanese striking power. Some publicists spread the comforting idea that Japan was so weak that it either would not dare to fight or would be crushed with little difficulty by the air and naval power available to the United States and its prospective allies in the Pacific.
There was also at that time a general disposition to overestimate the chances of peaceful coercion, to assume that Japan could be brought into line by boycotts and embargoes. This stemmed from wishful thinking, from the American desire to “stop” Japan without going to war.
Even the minority report on the Congressional Pearl Harbor investigation, signed by Senators Brewster and Ferguson, although it is severely critical of many Administration steps before Pearl Harbor, says little about the momentous decision of July 25. The seriousness of this decision was, however, understood in high military and naval circles.
The Navy’s War Plans Division, in a report drafted on July 19, disapproved of the impending embargo. According to its estimate, Japan already had in stock enough oil for eighteen months of war operations. The embargo could not, therefore, exercise an immediate paralyzing effect and was rather calculated to harden Japan’s determination and to precipitate war. A warning sent by General Marshall and Admiral Stark to American military and naval commanders in the Pacific when the embargo was about to be imposed, on July 25, ended as follows:
“The Chief of Naval Operations and the Army Chief of Staff do not anticipate immediate hostile reaction by the Japanese through the use of military means, but you are furnished this information in order that you may take appropriate precautionary measures against any possible eventualities.”
Japan’s higher councils were divided during the critical period before Pearl Harbor. There was an extremist group, composed of the more fire-eating generals and admirals and of some civilian leaders, a group which saw in Europe’s difficulty Japan’s opportunity to build up a vast Asiatic empire. There is no evidence that even these militarists worked out plans for invading the American continent.
There were also influential statesmen, with access to the Emperor, who disliked the idea of breaking with the West, who believed that Japan could support its fast-growing population through industrial leadership and commercial expansion, without resorting to force. The Japanese Ambassador to the United States in 1941, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, belonged to this moderate group. Hull credits Nomura with “having been honestly sincere in trying to avert war between his country and mine.”3
Conversations between Hull and Nomura, with a view to finding a basis of settlement, began in February 1941 and continued until the eve of Pearl Harbor. There were forty or fifty meetings. Hull entered these conversations in a pessimistic mood; he did not believe there was one chance of success in a hundred.4 And he showed little flexibility or imagination. He insisted on giving Nomura long lectures on the virtues of peace, free trade, and international morality. He showed little interest in the face-saving compromises and adjustments which might have made possible a substantial Japanese withdrawal from China and a gradual dissociation of Japan from its loose association with the Axis.
Early in 1941 two Catholic ecclesiastics with experience in the Far Eastern mission field, Bishop James Edward Walsh, Superior General of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society, and Father Drought, returned to the United States from Japan. They had talked with a number of highly placed Japanese, including Foreign Minister Matsuoka, who often talked publicly in bellicose language. They carried away the impression that there was a serious desire in Japan to reach an agreement with America on the Chinese question and to modify the Japanese commitment to the Axis.
With the consent and approval of Roosevelt and Hull, Bishop Walsh and Father Drought established contacts with some members of the Japanese Embassy in Washington and carried on informal conversations, in which Postmaster General Frank Walker also took part. A Japanese draft proposal emerged from these talks and was submitted to Hull on April 9.
According to this proposal Japan would feel bound by her military obligations under the Tripartite Pact only if one of the partners was “aggressively attacked” by a power not involved in the European war. Hull objected to this on the ground that it left Japan free to interpret the somewhat elastic phrase, “aggressive action.” Hull, like Roosevelt, was already anticipating American initiative in precipitating a shooting war in the Atlantic.
The terms which were proposed for peace in China were as follows. Chiang Kai-shek was to negotiate with Japan, on the basis of China’s independence, withdrawal of Japanese troops in accordance with an agreement to be reached between Japan and China; no acquisition of Chinese territory and no indemnities. There was to be a fusion of the Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei governments.5 There was to be large-scale immigration of Japanese into China, and Chiang was to recognize Manchukuo.
It was proposed that America should sponsor these terms. If Chiang accepted, Japan would consider itself bound by these conditions and would discuss joint defense against communism and economic cooperation. To a negotiator genuinely anxious to obtain a Far Eastern settlement without war, these terms would have seemed well worth examining. They were certainly better than anything China could reasonably hope to obtain by its own armed force. But instead of examining the practical details of such a settlement, Hull replied with an enunciation of four very general abstract principles:
1. Respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each and all nations.
2. Support of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
3. Support of the principle of equality, including equality of commercial opportunity.
4. Non-disturbance of the status quo in the Pacific except as the status quo may be altered by peaceful means.6
No one can say with certainty whether the Japanese moderates, among whom the Prime Minister at that time, Prince Konoye, must be reckoned, could have checked the career of southward expansion on which the military and naval extremists had set their hearts. But obviously the Japanese moderates could not hope to succeed without more co-operation from Washington than Secretary Hull’s moral lectures.
What is certain is that at no time during the critical months before Pearl Harbor did the American Government offer even the most modest quid pro quo for a reorientation of Japanese policy. The United States was not willing to commit itself even to such a small gesture as recognition of the long-accomplished fact of the existence of Manchukuo. The attitude of consistent stiff negativism in Washington was an important factor in eliminating any possibility of a peaceful settlement in the Pacific.
Even at that time it might have seemed debatable whether the United States was bound by considerations of morality or of political interest to fight Japan on the assumption that a fully independent and friendly China would emerge from the debris of a large-scale Far Eastern war. And the China that is shaping up five years after the downfall of Japan is closely dependent on the Soviet Union and bitterly hostile to the United States.
What is perhaps most surprising, as one reviews the tangled course of events in the last months before Pearl Harbor, is the inability of the Roosevelt Administration either to make a constructive move toward peace or to take effective precautions against war. The able and experienced American Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew, cabled to the State Department on January 27, 1941, a warning of a possible attack on Pearl Harbor. This was based on information from the Peruvian Minister, who stated he had heard from many sources, including a Japanese one, “that a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor was planned by the Japanese in the event of ‘trouble’ between Japan and the United States, that the attack would involve the use of all the Japanese military facilities.” The State Department passed on this information to the War and Navy Departments.7
Given a Japanese decision to risk war with the United States, a surprise blow at the American Pacific fleet, concentrated at the great Hawaiian base, was a very probable development. Japanese military and naval teaching had always emphasized the importance of secrecy and surprise. The experience of the war in Europe showed that certain operations which would not have been technically feasible in World War I could be carried out because of the increased range of air power.
But the orders and information sent by the higher military authorities in Washington to General Walter C. Short and Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, respectively commanders of the military and naval forces at Pearl Harbor, were notably lacking in precision and urgency. The commanders on the spot were encouraged to maintain a normal, “business as usual” attitude until the attack actually took place.
This was all the stranger and less excusable because United States cryptoanalysts, through an operation known as MAGIC, had cracked the code used in communications from Tokyo to members of the Japanese diplomatic corps throughout the world. This created a situation suggestive of playing poker while watching your opponent’s cards in a mirror.
Why it was possible for Japan, despite this handicap, to start the war with a stunning surprise blow is one of the great mysteries of history. The Army Pearl Harbor Board which reported its findings to the Secretary of War on October 20, 1944, voiced the following criticism:
Washington was in possession of essential facts as to the enemy’s intentions and proposals.
This information showed clearly that war was inevitable and late in November absolutely imminent. . . .
The messages actually sent to Hawaii by the Army and Navy gave only a small fraction of this information. It would have been possible to have sent safely, information ample for the purpose of orienting the commanders in Hawaii, or positive directives for an all-out alert. . . .
In the first days of December this information grew more critical and indicative of the approaching war. Officers in relatively minor positions who were charged with the responsibility of receiving and evaluating such information were so deeply impressed with its significance and the growing tenseness of our relations with Japan, which pointed only to war and war almost immediately, that such officers approached the Chief of the War Plans Division (General [Leonard T.] Gerow) and the secretary of the General Staff (Colonel [now Lieutenant General Walter Bedell] Smith) for the purpose of having sent to the department commanders a true picture of the war atmosphere which, at that time, pervaded the War Department and which was uppermost in the thinking of these officers in close contact with it. The efforts of these subordinates to have such information sent to the field were unsuccessful.8
Was this merely the carelessness of overworked men, underestimating the chances of a Japanese surprise stroke at America’s main citadel in the Pacific? Or was there, on the part of the directors of American foreign policy, from the President down, a deeper and subtler motive in not demanding maximum alertness? Was there a feeling, perhaps subconscious and unavowed, that a decisive blow, marking the transition from nominal peace to outright war, might be struck in the Pacific and that this blow was more likely to be delivered if there were no vigorous preparations to ward it off?
With MAGIC supplementing other sources of intelligence, the State, War, and Navy Departments were kept in close and prompt touch with important Japanese Government decisions. The German invasion of Russia placed before the Japanese Cabinet the necessity of such a decision. Von Ribbentrop was urging the Japanese Government to invade Siberia and take advantage of the promised Soviet military collapse.
But the Japanese Cabinet decided otherwise. There was no oil in Siberia. The United States, with a tender solicitude for Soviet interests that seems strange in the retrospect of 1950, was almost threatening war in the event of a Japanese move hostile to Russia.
So the Japanese Cabinet resolution, confirmed by a solemn Imperial Council9 on July 2, was against the Siberian adventure and in favor of a move to the south. The Army was authorized to occupy the southern part of French Indo-China. From this vantage point there was a triple threat, to the Philippines, to Malaya and Siam, and to the Netherlands East Indies. However, Prime Minister Konoye still hoped that war with the West could be avoided. As he says in the memoir which he wrote before committing suicide, following the end of the war:
“There was a good prospect that we might use the advance of the Japanese troops in Indo-China as the basis of a compromise in the Japanese-American talks then under way. I am confident I will be able to prevent a war.”10
Konoye made a desperate effort, a sincere effort, in the judgment of Ambassador Grew, to reach a settlement with the United States in August and September 1941. His desire was for a personal meeting with Roosevelt, and he was willing to make the important concession of taking the initiative and going to American soil, to Alaska or Honolulu, for the conference.
There had been an informal proposal for a Konoye-Roosevelt meeting in April. Admiral Toyoda, who had succeeded the bellicose and garrulous Matsuoka as Foreign Minister after the German attack on Russia, developed this suggestion in a talk with Grew on August 18. Toyoda intimated that Japan would be willing to withdraw from Indo-China as soon as the China affair was settled and suggested that Konoye should go to Honolulu to meet Roosevelt. Admiral Nomura repeated the invitation to Roosevelt on August 23.
Roosevelt at first was favorably impressed by the prospect of the meeting. He indicated a preference for Juneau, Alaska, over Honolulu. However, he accepted Hull’s suggestion that there should be no talk until there had been a preliminary agreement about the points at issue.
It was on this obstacle that the proposed meeting, which might have staved off the Pacific war, foundered. There was no willingness on Hull’s part to leave any room for give-and-take, to allow some scope for negotiation after the meeting began.
As a consequence, although the Japanese proposal was never flatly rejected, it was allowed to perish from long neglect. That Konoye was eager for the meeting and was willing to take considerable risks, political and personal,11 in order to bring it about is evident from Grew’s account of his experience in the preliminary talks in Tokyo. The United States at that time had an excellent diplomatic team in Tokyo. Grew was a veteran career diplomat of seasoned judgment and long experience. His counselor, Eugene Dooman, possessed an unusual and remarkable mastery of the difficult and complex Japanese language.
On September 6, Konoye and his secretary, Ushiba, invited Grew and Dooman to dinner at the home of a Japanese friend under circumstances of extreme privacy. Konoye professed willingness to accept Hull’s four principles and said the Ministers of War and the Navy had given complete agreement to his plan. A full general and a full admiral would accompany him, so that the services would be committed to accept the results of the conference. The Vice-Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Navy would also take part.
The Japanese Prime Minister emphasized the importance of the time factor. He could not guarantee a settlement six months or a year in the future. Now he was confident of success. When Grew raised the point that Japanese words in the past had not always corresponded with Japanese actions, Konoye assured him that any commitments he (Konoye) would undertake would bear no resemblance to the irresponsible assurances of the past. The Premier added that if President Roosevelt would desire to communicate suggestions personally and confidentially he would be glad to arrange subsequent secret meetings with Grew. Konoye expressed his earnest hope that “in view of the present internal situation in Japan the projected meeting with the President could be arranged with the least possible delay.”
There were later talks between Ushiba and Dooman and between Toyoda and Grew. The Japanese proposals, as set forth by Toyoda, were in substance those which Nomura had presented in the spring.
Grew strongly recommended the meeting in a report to the Secretary of State on September 29. This report may be summarized as follows:
The Ambassador, while admitting that risks will inevitably be involved, no matter what course is pursued toward Japan, offers his carefully studied belief that there would be substantial hope at the very least of preventing the Far Eastern situation from becoming worse and perhaps of insuring definitely constructive results, if an agreement along the lines of the preliminary discussions were brought to a head by the proposed meeting of the heads of the two governments. . . . He raises the questions whether the United States is not now given the opportunity to halt Japan’s program without war, or an immediate risk of war, and further whether through failure to use the present opportunity the United States will not face a greatly increased risk of war. The Ambassador states his firm belief in an affirmative answer to these two questions.
The Ambassador does not consider unlikely the possibility of Prince Konoye’s being in a position to give President Roosevelt a more explicit and satisfactory engagement than has already been vouchsafed in the course of the preliminary conversations.
Grew further warned of the possibility of serious Japanese reaction if the preliminary discussion should drag on in the hope of obtaining clear-cut commitments. He predicted:
The logical outcome of this will be the downfall of the Konoye Cabinet and the formation of a military dictatorship which will lack either the disposition or the temperament to avoid colliding head-on with the United States.12
Grew notes on October 1 that a Japanese friend of high standing informed him that political circles now know of Konoye’s intention, and that the proposal is generally approved, even among the military, because of the economic necessity of reaching a settlement with the United States. About the same time the Ambassador made the following comment in his diary:
For a Prime Minister of Japan thus to shatter all precedent and tradition in this land of subservience to precedent and tradition, to wish to come hat in hand, so to speak, to meet the President of the United States on American soil, is a gauge of the determination of the Government to undo the vast harm already accomplished in alienating our powerful and progressively angry country. . . . Prince Konoye’s warship is ready waiting to take him to Honolulu or Alaska or any other place designated by the President and his staff of the highest military, naval and civilian officers is chosen and rarin’ to go.
But Hull was unmoved and immovable. He sometimes expressed the view that the maintenance in power of the Konoye Cabinet afforded the best prospect of keeping the peace. But he refused to give this Cabinet any diplomatic encouragement. Konoye resigned on October 16 and was succeeded by General Hideki Tojo.
From this time events began to move at a swifter pace. The blockade of Japan by America, Great Britain, and the Netherlands Indies was beginning to pinch. It became increasingly clear from the public statements of Japan’s leaders and from the private messages intercepted by MAGIC that the sands of peace were running out, that the United States must choose between some kind of compromise and a strong probability of war. The suggestion of a time limit began to appear in the Japanese secret communications. So the new Japanese Foreign Minister, Shigenori Togo, sent this message to Nomura:
Because of various circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that all arrangements for the signing of this agreement be completed by the 25th of this month. I realize that this is a difficult order, but under the circumstances it is an unavoidable one. Please understand this thoroughly and tackle the problem of saving the Japanese-American relations from falling into a chaotic condition.13
Another Japanese envoy, Saburo Kurusu, a career diplomat with an American wife, was rushed to Washington in mid-November, the transpacific Clipper being held for him at Hong Kong. Kurusu arrived in Washington on November 17 and was received by Roosevelt and Hull. It was later suggested that Kurusu possessed advance knowledge of the blow that was being prepared against Pearl Harbor. But it seems more probable that his coming to Washington was merely in line with the familiar Japanese practice of having more than one man responsible for action in a moment of grave crisis.
Nomura’s desire to avoid war was unquestionably genuine, as indicated by his intercepted message of November 19:
After exhausting our strength by four years of the China Incident, following right upon the Manchurian Incident, the present is hardly an opportune time for venturing upon another long-drawn-out war on a large scale. I think it would be better to fix up a temporary “truce” now in the spirit of “give-and-take” and make this the prelude to greater achievements later.14
Tokyo offered Nomura and Kurusu a slight relaxation of the original time limit on November 22. The envoys were informed that it would be satisfactory if an agreement were reached by the twenty-ninth. This communication, which, of course, was available to high American officials, ended on this ominous note:
“This time we mean it, that the deadline absolutely cannot be changed. After that things are automatically going to happen.”
The background of this warning was that on November 25 a Japanese task force under the command of Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto was to take off, with Pearl Harbor as its objective. The advancement of the time limit was apparently because it was realized in Tokyo that this force could be turned back without committing any act of aggression if an agreement were reached while the expedition was in its early stages.
The Japanese Government had worked out for discussion a Plan A and a Plan B, the latter the limit in concessions. Plan B, submitted to Hull by Nomura and Kurusu on November 20, was worded as follows:
Japan and the United States to make no armed advance in any region in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific area.
Japan to withdraw her troops from Indo-China when peace is restored between Japan and China or when an equitable peace is established in the Pacific area.
Japan and the United States to co-operate toward acquiring goods and commodities which the two countries need in the Netherlands East Indies.
Japan and the United States to restore their commercial relations to those prevailing prior to the freezing of assets, and the United States to supply Japan a required quantity of oil.
The United States to refrain from such measures and actions as would prejudice endeavors for the restoration of peace between Japan and China.
These proposals met with no favor in the eyes of Secretary Hull. He did not believe the Japanese offer to withdraw from southern Indo-China was adequate compensation for the lifting of the American blockade. However, he seriously considered a counterproposal, aimed at creating a three months’ modus vivendi. This was the only conciliatory move the American Government seems to have thought of making during the protracted negotiations with Japan in 1941, and this move was not made.
An undated memorandum in Roosevelt’s handwriting seems to have contained the germ of the modus vivendi idea:
“US to resume economic relations . . . some oil and rice now—more later. Japan to send no more troops . . . US to introduce Japanese to Chinese, but . . . to take no part in their conversations.”
Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury, who liked to have a finger in every diplomatic pie, set his staff to work preparing a detailed blueprint of a temporary economic truce. Some features of the Treasury plan were incorporated in the scheme which was finally approved by Hull after being worked over by State Department experts.
This scheme provided for mutual American and Japanese pledges against aggressive moves in the Pacific, for Japanese withdrawal from southern Indo-China, and for limitation of Japanese forces in northern Indo-China to 25,000 men. The quid pro quo was to be a relaxation of the blockade, permitting Japan to export freely and to import limited supplies of cotton, oil, food, and medical supplies.
No one can say whether the influence of the Japanese moderates would have been strong enough to stop the planned attack in return for these restricted American concessions. But the offer was never made. Hull dropped his one experiment in conciliation under pressure from China and Great Britain.
Eden and Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek and his brother-in-law, T. V. Soong, and Owen Lattimore, American adviser to Chiang,15 all eagerly took a hand in blocking this tentative move toward peace. The modus vivendi had been cautiously framed with a view to offering minimum concessions. But Eden, in a message of November 25, wanted to make stiffer demands on the Japanese: complete withdrawal from Indo-China and suspension of military activities in China.
Lattimore reported from Chungking that any modus vivendi now arrived at with Japan would be disastrous to Chinese belief in America. Chiang Kai-shek, according to Lattimore, questioned his ability to hold the situation together “if the Chinese national trust in America is undermined by reports of Japan’s escaping military defeat by diplomatic victory.”
The idea that Japan faced military defeat as a result of any past, present, or prospective action by China was unrealistic, if not downright ludicrous. But in the fevered atmosphere of the time, it was a good propaganda line. Hull later declared that “Chiang has sent numerous hysterical cable messages to different Cabinet officers and high officials in the Government—other than the State Department.”
As a climax Churchill introduced himself into the situation with a special message which reached Roosevelt on November 26:
Of course it is for you to handle this business and we certainly do not want an additional war. There is only one point that disquiets us. What about Chiang? Is he not having a very thin diet? Our anxiety is about China. If they collapse our joint danger would enormously increase. We are sure that the regard of the United States for the Chinese cause will govern your action. We feel that the Japanese are most unsure of themselves.
Under this barrage of foreign criticism Hull’s impulse to offer the truce arrangement wilted. As Secretary of War Stimson records in his diary for November 26: “Hull told me over the telephone this morning that he had about made up his mind not to give the proposition that Knox and I had passed on the other day to the Japanese, but to kick the whole thing over, to tell them he had no proposition at all.”
On the previous day, November 25, there had been an important council at the White House, with the President, Hull, Stimson, Knox, Marshall, and Stark present. The spirit of this meeting is reflected in Stimson’s comment in his diary:
“The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”
Here, perhaps, is a clue both to the abandonment of the truce proposal and to the curious absence of concern for normal precautionary measures at Pearl Harbor.
Secretary Hull certainly made a notable contribution to the end suggested by Stimson when, after discarding his compromise proposal, he handed the Japanese envoys what amounted to a demand for unconditional surrender in a set of ten proposals presented to them on November 26. One of these proposals was that Japan should withdraw its forces from Indo-China and from China. Another demanded that there should be no support of any government in China other than the National Government (Chiang Kai-shek).
There was a suggestion for a multilateral nonaggression pact among the governments principally concerned in the Pacific. Only on these terms, which amounted to relinquishment by Japan of everything it had gained on the mainland during the preceding ten years, would the United States consent to restore normal economic relations. After reading these proposals, Kurusu remarked that when they were communicated to Tokyo the Government would be likely to throw up its hands.
Technically, Hull’s ten points did not constitute an ultimatum. No time limit was set, and counterproposals were not excluded. But when one considers the circumstances under which they were presented, and their completely uncompromising character, one may feel that the Army Board which investigated the Pearl Harbor attack was justified in describing Hull’s communication as “the document that touched the button that started the war.”
Maximum pressure, short of war, had been applied to Japan four months earlier, when the economic blockade was put into effect. Refusal to abandon or even relax this blockade except on condition that Japan surrender unconditionally on the points at issue in all probability meant war. Hull seems to have realized this when he told Stimson on November 27 that “he had broken the whole matter off.” The Secretary of State added: “I have washed my hands of it and it is now in the hands of you and Knox, the Army and the Navy.” It is difficult to reconcile this candid statement with Hull’s later assertion that “we labored desperately during the next two weeks [after November 22] striving to the last for peace or at least more time.”16
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor achieved the effect of a devastating military surprise. But there was, or should have been, no element of political surprise. After November 26 the President, the Secretary of State, the heads of the armed services had every reason to expect hostile Japanese action anywhere at almost any moment. Apart from the virtual rupture of the negotiations, there were repeated hints of impending action in the intercepted Japanese communications. Some of these pointed clearly to Pearl Harbor as a possible Japanese military objective.
For example, a message from Tokyo to Japanese agents in Honolulu on November 29, the day after which “things were automatically going to happen,” read:
“We have been receiving reports from you on ship movements, but in future you will also report even when there are no movements.”
Still more suggestive was a message of December 2:
In view of the present situation, the presence in port of warships, airplane carriers, and cruisers is of the utmost importance. Hereafter to the utmost of your ability let me know day by day. Wire in each case whether or not there are any observation balloons above Pearl Harbor or if there are any indications that any will be sent up. Also advise me whether or not the warships are provided with antimine nets.17
Thanks to the deciphering of the Japanese code, the American Government did not have to wait long for an authentic Japanese reaction to Hull’s ten-point message. Foreign Minister Togo informed Nomura and Kurusu on November 28 that the American proposal was humiliating, unexpected, and regrettable. The Foreign Minister continued:
The Imperial Government can by no means use it as a basis for negotiations. Therefore, with a report of the views of the Imperial Government which I will send you in two or three days, the negotiations will be de facto ruptured. This is inevitable. However, I do not wish you to give the impression that the negotiations are broken off. Merely say to them that you are awaiting instructions.
It was a reasonable deduction from this message that Japan was preparing a secret blow for which an outward pretense of continuing negotiations was a necessary mask. And there was strong reason to suspect that Hawaii might be the target of this blow.
There was no reason to conceal Japanese movements elsewhere. There had been diplomatic discussion of the presence of Japanese troops in Indo-China. As early as November 28 it was known in Washington that a Japanese flotilla, escorting a force of some twenty-five thousand men, was steaming down the China coast toward an unknown destination. Only the main objective of the impending offensive, Pearl Harbor, with the big warships of the Pacific fleet berthed at anchor and hundreds of airplanes on the ground, did not visibly figure in Japanese calculations. This fact alone might have been regarded as suspicious by an alert intelligence service, especially in view of the Japanese fondness for secrecy and surprise.
But the messages which were sent from Washington to General Short and Admiral Kimmel did not convey the full gravity of the situation. Nowhere was it suggested that Pearl Harbor be put on a war footing, or that an attack might be imminent. General Marshall’s message to General Short of November 27 read as follows:
Negotiations with Japan appear to be terminated to all practical purposes with only the barest possibilities that the Japanese Government might come back and offer to continue. Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities cannot, repeat cannot, be avoided the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act. This policy should not, repeat not, be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your successful defense of the Philippines. Prior to hostile Japanese action you are directed to take such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary but these measures should not, repeat not, be carried out so as to alarm the civil population or disclose intent.
The Chief of Naval Operations sent a more specific warning to Kimmel, and to Admiral Hart in the Philippines.
This despatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan looking toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected in the next few days. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of naval task forces indicate an amphibious expedition against either the Philippines, Thai, or Kra peninsula, or possibly Borneo.
This Navy warning was not so weakened by qualifications and reservations as the Army’s. However, it pointed to the likelihood of Japanese action in places far away from Hawaii. As for Marshall’s message to Short, the Army Board which investigated Pearl Harbor offered the following criticism:
Had a full war message, unadulterated, been despatched, or had direct orders for a full, all-out alert been sent, Hawaii could have been ready to meet the attack with what it had. What resulted was failure at both ends of the line. Responsibility lay both in Washington and in Hawaii.
Short received no further information after the message of November 27 except three communications of November 27 and 28 suggesting possible danger from sabotage. When Short, years later, was able to state his case before a congressional committee of investigation he testified:
The impression conveyed to me by this message [of November 27] was that the avoidance of war was paramount and the greatest fear of the War Department was that some international incident might occur in Hawaii and be regarded in Washington as an overt act. . . .
No mention was made of a probable attack on Hawaii since the alert message of June 18, 1940. An examination of the various military estimates prepared by G-218 shows that in no estimate did G-2 ever indicate an attack upon Hawaii. There was nothing in the message directing me to be prepared to meet an air raid or an all-out attack. “Hostile action at any moment” meant to me that as far as Hawaii was concerned the War Department was predicting sabotage. Sabotage is a form of hostile action.
Of course, if Short and Kimmel had been of the stature of Napoleon and Nelson, they would have taken more active defense measures on their own initiative. But the consistent failure of Washington to keep them fully informed of the intense gravity of the situation remains amazing.
It is all the more amazing because there is strong reason to believe that a direct war warning, in the form of a deciphered Japanese code message, reached the Navy Department in Washington on December 4. The Japanese signal that war with the United States had been decided on was the phrase “East Wind Rain,” inserted in the daily Japanese language news broadcast. According to the testimony of Captain L. F. Safford, chief of the radio intelligence unit, Office of Naval Communications, in the Navy Department, this decisive phrase appeared in a Japanese broadcast designed for London and was picked up in Washington on the morning of December 4.
Safford’s testimony was at first supported by Lieutenant Commander (later Captain) Alvin D. Kramer, senior language officer for Navy communications intelligence. Subsequently Kramer changed his testimony before the Congressional investigating committee. First he said that England was the country referred to in the code message. Later he declared that “the ‘winds’ message was phony.” There are indications that strong pressure was brought to bear from high quarters to discredit the “winds” message. Secretary of War Stimson, after receiving and temporarily suppressing the Army Board report on Pearl Harbor, started three personal investigations, directed by Major General Myron C. Cramer, Major Henry C. Clausen, and Colonel Carter W. Clarke.
When the Navy Court of Inquiry turned in its report on Pearl Harbor, Secretary James Forrestal instituted another investigation. This was headed by Admiral H. K. Hewitt; but the most active role was played by Lieutenant Commander John Sonnett. Safford testifies that Sonnett “attempted to make me reverse my testimony regarding the ‘winds’ message and to make me believe I was suffering from hallucinations.”19
Safford, however, stuck to his story. He affirmed that when he could not find the “winds” message in the Navy files, he became suspicious of a conspiracy. Asked by committee counsel why he thought anyone might want to destroy the message, he replied: “Because it was the unheeded warning of war.” Questioned why there was a failure to make use of the message when it came in, if it meant war, he answered: “That question has puzzled me for four years. I don’t know the answer.”20
Still another question to which there is no clear answer is the strange neglect of the final tip-off—the text of the Japanese reply to Hull’s note of November 26. It was apparently the Japanese design to communicate this reply to the State Department almost simultaneously with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course the Japanese Foreign Office did not know that the contents of the communication would be known in advance to the highest authorities in Washington because of the cracking of the code.
The Japanese reply was sent in fourteen parts, of which the first thirteen were available to Lieutenant Commander ad Kramer, in the Navy Department, early in the evening of December 6. The message was definitely unfavorable and truculent in tone. Part 13 characterized Hull’s ten points as follows:
“The proposal in question ignores Japan’s sacrifices in the four years of the China Affair, menaces the very existence of the Empire and disparages its honor and prestige. Therefore, viewed in its entirety, the Japanese Government regrets that it cannot accept the proposal as a basis of negotiation.”
Kramer appraised this communication as so important that he brought it to the attention of the President himself. Roosevelt read it at his desk while Harry Hopkins paced the floor. Roosevelt then showed it to Hopkins, with the remark: “This means war.” Hopkins observed it was too bad that we could not strike the first blow and avert a Japanese surprise attack. Roosevelt’s comment was:
“No, we can’t do that. We are a democracy. We are a peaceful people. We have a good record.”
Under questioning by the Congressional committee neither General Marshall nor Admiral Stark could give any clear account of what he was doing on the evening of December 6. The secretary of the General Staff, Colonel (later Lieutenant General) W. Bedell Smith, seems to have made no attempt to bring the important information conveyed by the Japanese note to the attention of his chief, Marshall, who was in his quarters at Fort Myer.
The next morning there was still more definite evidence of imminent war. The fourteenth section of the Japanese communication was decoded and contained such decisive sentences as these:
Thus the earnest hope of the Japanese Government to adjust Japanese-American relations and preserve and promote the peace of the Pacific through co-operation with the American Government has finally been lost. The Japanese Government regrets . . . that in view of the attitude of the American Government it cannot but consider that it is impossible to reach an agreement through further negotiations.
Still more significant was another message from Tokyo instructing the Japanese Ambassador to present this note to the United States Government at 1 p.m. on December 7. Here was not only the date, but the hour when hostilities might be expected to commence. An alert mind might have reckoned that 1 p.m. in Washington was dawn in Honolulu, the most probable moment for an air attack.
Efforts to reach Marshall early in the morning of the seventh failed. The General had gone for a horseback ride. When he reached his office in the War Department it was already eleven, two hours before the Japanese deadline. When he realized the significance of the last section of the Japanese note, he decided to send a warning to Short in Hawaii and to MacArthur in the Philippines, worded as follows:
Japanese are presenting at 1 p.m. eastern standard time today what amounts to an ultimatum, also they are under orders to destroy their code machine immediately. Just what significance the hour set may have we do not know, but be on alert accordingly. Inform naval authorities of this communication. Marshall.
The Chief of Staff had at his disposal a “scrambler” telephone, which makes of conversations a jumble of meaningless sounds, to be reassembled at the other end. He could have reached Short by this means in a few minutes. But, as the climax of a long series of curious blunders in Washington, Marshall chose to send this belated last warning by the slower method of cable communication. It reached Short after the raid was over.
Was the failure to order military alert in Pearl Harbor despite all the ominous information at the disposal of the Washington authorities merely the result of lack of foresight and imagination? Or was there a subtler purpose, of which one might find a hint in Stimson’s expressed desire to maneuver the Japanese into the position of firing the first shot? Had there been a state of visible preparedness in Hawaii, the Japanese attack, so dependent for success on surprise, might have been scared off or reduced to the proportions of an incident.
The evidence is not decisive; a case can be made for either interpretation of the known facts. What is certain is that the Japanese, although they tipped their hand repeatedly in deciphered messages which they considered secret, achieved full surprise and complete military victory in the attack which burst on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7.
They killed some 2,500 American soldiers and sailors, and sank or crippled eight battleships, three cruisers, and three destroyers—all at a loss to themselves of twenty-nine aircraft, five midget submarines, and one fleet submarine.
The Japanese envoys were slow in decoding their note. They were received by Hull after two. By this time the Secretary of State not only knew the contents of the communication, but had been informed by Roosevelt of a report, still unconfirmed, that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Naturally the reception was brief and frigid. After making an appearance of reading the note Hull glared sternly at Nomura and said:
I must say that in all my conversations with you during the last nine months I have never uttered one word of untruth. This is borne out absolutely by the record. In all my fifty years of public service I have never seen a document more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions—infamous falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any government on this planet was capable of uttering them.
From the Japanese standpoint Pearl Harbor was worse than a crime; it was a blunder. For it plunged Japan into a war that could not be won with an enemy enormously superior in technology and industrial power and completely immune to direct Japanese attack on its munitions centers.
Politically it would have been much wiser for the Japanese to have moved against Dutch and British possessions, by-passing the Philippines. America would probably have entered the war in any case. But public opinion would have been very divided. However, Japan’s military and naval leaders were conditioned to think only in strategic terms. And the prospect of knocking out the American Pacific fleet in one swift surprise action was an irresistible temptation. Perhaps some future discovery will prove or disprove the suspicion that this temptation was deliberately spread before their eyes.
The fundamental cause of the war was the clash between Japan’s ambitions on the Asiatic mainland and the American determination to underwrite the cause of China. There is no evidence that the Japanese militarists in their wildest dreams thought of invading the American continent. Nor would the Philippines have been worth a war with the United States.
Such well-qualified witnesses as Roosevelt and Stimson confirm the view that the war was over China. Roosevelt, speaking at a dinner of the Foreign Policy Association in 1944, said:
“We could have compromised with Japan and bargained for a place in a Japanese-dominated Asia by selling out the heart’s blood of the Chinese people. And we rejected that!”
Stimson concurs in this viewpoint in the following words:
“If at any time the United States had been willing to concede to Japan a free hand in China there would have been no war in the Pacific.”21
The imposition of the commercial blockade of Japan in July; the failure to accept Konoye’s pleas for a meeting; the dropping of the idea of a proposed modus vivendi; Hull’s uncompromising note of November 26—these were all steppingstones to war. These measures possessed little justification except as part of a crusade for China. The necessity and wisdom of this crusade seem questionable, to put it mildly, when one considers that the principal result of the war in the Far East was the emergence in China of a regime subservient to Moscow and bitterly hostile to the United States.
Despite the shock of a severe military defeat, leading figures in the Roosevelt Administration greeted the news of Pearl Harbor with relief, if not with positive joy. The Japanese had extricated this Administration from the awkward position in which it found itself in the last months of 1941.
Every step that could be represented, however disingenuously, as short of war had been taken in the Atlantic. But the Nazi power was unbroken. Churchill was clamoring for more aid. And Congress was balking at measures far less serious than a declaration of war.
Stimson wrote in his diary on December 7:
“When the news first came that Japan had attacked us, my first feeling was of relief that indecision was over and that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people.”
Roosevelt seems to have shared this feeling of relief. Postmaster General Walker remarked to Frances Perkins after the Cabinet meeting on the night of December 7:
“I think the Boss really feels more relief than he has had for weeks.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, recalling Pearl Harbor day in an article in the New York Times Magazine of October 8, 1944, observes:
“December 7 was just like any of the later D-days to us. We clustered at the radio and waited for more details—but it was far from the shock it proved to the country in general. We had expected something of the sort for a long time.”
Overseas tributes to Roosevelt’s skill in having “maneuvered the Japanese into the position of firing the first shot” were heartfelt and outspoken. Winston Churchill ecstatically told the House of Commons on February 15, 1942:
When I survey and compute the power of the United States and its vast resources and feel that they are now in it with us, with the British commonwealth of nations, all together, however long it may last, till death or victory, I cannot believe that there is any other fact in the whole world which can compare with that. This is what I have dreamed of, aimed at and worked for, and now it has come to pass.
And Captain Oliver Lyttleton, a British Cabinet Minister, told the American Chamber of Commerce in London on June 20, 1944: “America provoked Japan to such an extent that the Japanese were forced to attack Pearl Harbor. It is a travesty on history to say that America was forced into war.”22
[1. ] The only proved oil deposits of importance within the range of Japanese striking power are in the Netherlands East Indies.
[2. ] Davis and Lindley, How War Came, 258.
[3. ] Hull, Memoirs, 2:987.
[4. ] Ibid., 985.
[5. ] Wang Ching-wei was the most eminent figure in the Kuomintang who had consented to co-operate with the Japanese by setting up an administration under their sponsorship in Nanking.
[6. ] Hull, Memoirs, 2:995.
[7. ] Ibid., 984.
[8. ] U.S. Army. The Army Pearl Harbor Board. Report to the Secretary of War (October 20, 1944). Vol. 39, Chap. 3 (pp. 103-4) of the Hearings before the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. . . . Since the war was still in progress, the Board was not in a position to state that the Japanese code had been cracked.
[9. ] These Councils, held in the presence of the Emperor with the participation of the highest military and naval officers and civilian officials, were a familiar and regular mark of important Japanese state decisions.
[10. ] See the New York Times of December 23, 1945, for a report of the memoir, as published in the Tokyo newspaper Asahi.
[11. ] Assassination had been the fate of many Japanese statesmen who opposed the extreme militarists.
[12. ] Grew, Ten Years in Japan, 456-62.
[13. ] Hull, Memoirs, 2:1056-57.
[14. ] See Pearl Harbor: Intercepted Japanese Diplomatic Messages. Joint Congressional Committee, Exhibit I, p. 158.
[15. ] Mr. Lattimore’s appointment as adviser to Chiang is somewhat ironical, in view of his subsequent expressions of sympathy with the Chinese Communists.
[16. ] Hull, Memoirs, 2:1074. There is a direct conflict of testimony between Stimson and Hull as to whether the Secretary of State said that he had “washed his hands” of the situation. Stimson’s diary for November 27, 1941, records that Hull told Stimson that day: “I have washed my hands of it and it is now in the hands of you and Knox, the Army and the Navy” (Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, 389). In his memoirs published seven years later Hull asserts: “I did not make, and could not have made in the light of what occurred, the statement later attributed to me that I had ‘washed my hands’ of the matter” (1080).
It seems reasonable to prefer Stimson’s testimony, set down on the day when the remark is alleged to have been made, to Hull’s recollection years afterwards, when he may be presumed to have desired to present his record in as pacific a light as possible. In any event, the remark which Stimson says Hull made to him represents the reality of the situation after the Secretary of State had decided to throw over the idea of offering the Japanese a standstill formula.
[17. ] Morgenstern, Pearl Harbor, 249.
[18. ] The Army Military Intelligence.
[19. ] See the hearing before the Joint Congressional Committee Investigating Pearl Harbor, of February 2, 1946.
[20. ] Morgenstern, Pearl Harbor, 219. This book contains an admirable summary of some of the salient points brought out in the Congressional investigation.
[21. ] Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, 256.
[22. ] See AP dispatch from London in the Chicago Tribune of June 21, 1944.