The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt 30

There is attached a redraft of your proposed message to the Emperor of Japan.

In view of (a) the attitude shown by the Japanese Minister here in a two-hour conversation last evening with Mr. Welles and myself,31 indicating that the Japanese Government desires to continue its exploratory conversations with us, coupled with the fact that the Japanese Minister is, at his request, coming to call again this afternoon for a further extended discussion, (b) the message received by Ambassador Grew from Prince Konoye (through Prince Konoye’s private secretary) (reported in Mr. Grew’s telegram 1646, October 17, 11 a.m.32) that the new Japanese cabinet would be one sincerely desirous of improving relations with the United States and of continuing the exploratory conversations, and (c) the word we have that General Tojo, a Konoye adherent and a “moderate”, has been designated by [Page 521] the Emperor to form a new cabinet, we incline to the view that it would be premature to send the proposed message to the Emperor pending further clarification of the situation in Japan and of the probable attitude of the new government.


Redraft by the Department of State of “Proposed Message From the President to the Emperor of Japan33

Only once and in person and on an emergency situation have I addressed Your Imperial Majesty on matters of state. I feel I should again address Your Majesty because of a deeper and more far-reaching emergency which appears to be in the process of formation. As Your Majesty knows, conversations have been in progress between representatives of our two Governments for many months for the purpose of preventing any extension of armed conflict in the Pacific area. That has been our great purpose as I think it has equally been the great purpose of Your Majesty.

I personally would have been happy even to travel thousands of miles to meet with your Prime Minister, if in advance one or two basic accords could have been realized so that the success of such a conference would have been assured. I hoped that these accords would be reached. The first related to the integrity of China and the second related to an assurance that neither Japan nor the United States would wage war in or adjacent to the Pacific area.

If persistent reports are true that the Japanese Government is considering armed attacks against the Soviet Union or against British or Dutch or independent territory in the south, the obvious result would, of necessity, be an extension of the Atlantic and European and Near Eastern theaters of war to the whole of the Pacific area. Such attacks would necessarily involve American interests.

The United States opposes any procedure of conquest. It would like to see peace between Japan and China. It would like to see freedom of the seas maintained and trade conducted on a fair basis. If Japan could join with us to preserve peace in the Pacific we would be only too happy to resume normal commercial relations, with the sole exception of certain articles which we must keep at home for our own defense and that of all of the Americas against possible aggression from abroad.

If on the other hand Japan were to start new military operations, the United States, in accordance with her policy of peace, would be very [Page 522] seriously concerned and would have to seek, by taking any and all steps which it might deem necessary, to prevent any extension of such condition of war.

  1. Drafted by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton) and approved by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck).
  2. See memorandum by the Secretary of State, October 16 and 17, 1941, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 687.
  3. Not printed, but see memorandum by the Counselor of Embassy in Japan, October 17, 1941, ibid., p. 689.
  4. Notation on file copy: “The proposed message was not sent and no further action was taken.”