Memorandum by Mr. Max W. Schmidt, of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs52

It might well prove beneficial to the best interests of the United States should the Japanese Government now decide to follow a course of action designed to cause Japan to turn away from the Axis and in the direction of cooperation with the United States. The suggestion is offered that by emphasizing to the Japanese Government at this moment the unalterable opposition of the United States to aggression, the possibility of the United States becoming involved with Germany at some unpredictable moment in the future, the lack of aggressive intent on the part of the United States and the continued willingness of this Government to consider settlement of Pacific problems on the basis of well-enunciated principles of order, justice and equity, this Government might influence important decisions now being formulated in Japan. The American position is well-known to the Japanese Government, but an emphatic and brief reiteration of that position would, it is believed, be of value at this juncture. The Secretary or the Under Secretary might wish to call in Admiral Nomura and, after conveying to him the substance of the Department’s telegram no. —. June —, 1941 to Ambassador Grew make further remarks along the following lines:53

This Government is thoroughly convinced that the program of Hitlerism is a menace to every nation and believes that that menace, even to Japan, is clearly demonstrated by the most recent volte face of Germany in its attack on Russia. This Government perceives that the position of Japan in the long run is likely to become increasingly difficult as a consequence of the Russo-German war, regardless of the final outcome or which nation is victorious.

The Government of the United States has on numerous occasions clearly made known to the world its attitude toward the forces of aggression which threaten to destroy the freedom of all nations. Officers of this Government have repeatedly emphasized their belief in international self-restraint, in processes of peaceful negotiation and agreement and in the development of a program of mutually beneficial trade based on principles of reciprocity and equality of treatment for all as means of promoting economic security and stability the world over. That belief is no less strongly held today.

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While standing unalterably opposed to the employment of force and the resort to aggressive use of arms, the United States has expressed its willingness to consider and to discuss alteration of existing situations through peaceful processes and on a basis of equity and justice for all nations.

While resolute in its determination to exercise to the fullest extent the right of self-defense and to take all measures to protect its security, the United States has not and does not intend to assume an aggressive attitude toward any nation.

The utter lack of morality in the policies pursued by Hitler and the rapid expansion of Hitler’s field of aggression and attack preclude the possibility of accuracy in any attempt to predict at what moment the United States, or even Japan, may suddenly find itself forced by the dictates of self-defense to take up arms against Hitler.

  1. Penciled notation on file copy: “Telegram to Tokyo drafted June 30—Including statement on Russo-Japanese relations.”
  2. Telegram referred to may be No. 355, June 27, 2 p.m., p. 987; no record of a conversation such as suggested here has been found in Department files. Apparently the action recommended by Mr. Schmidt was not taken.