Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)27

Proposal: A truce or standstill agreement whereby the countries actually or potentially engaged in hostilities in the Pacific area undertake [Page 602] each to refrain for ninety days from any movement or use of armed force against any of the other parties.

It is assumed that along with this proposal there goes proposal of a provision that Japan shall reduce her armed forces in Indochina to the number which she had there on July 26, 1941 and shall not send new contingents of armed forces or matériel to that area.

It is understood that the plan also contemplates an undertaking by the United States to suggest to the Government of Japan and to the Government of China that those governments enter into direct negotiations with a view to ascertaining whether there exists a basis for peaceful settlement of the difficulties existing between them.

It is further understood that the proposal outlined in the first paragraph above is not to be construed as calling for discontinuance by the United States of aid to China.


It is our belief that if such plan is offered for the consideration of the Japanese Government, the matter should be handled by the Department of State rather than as a project personally put forward by the President to the Emperor.

It is our belief that the Japanese Government would not accept such a plan in its entirety but in all probability would respond with an approach through their Foreign Office suggesting that the project be made a subject of discussion; and that the Japanese Government would contend for a termination of American aid to China or for a very substantial lifting of the restrictions upon exports which are in effect in this country in so far as Japan is concerned, or both, or for cessation of American, British and Dutch defensive preparations in the southern Pacific, or all of these.

It is our belief that if the matter took such a turn, there would result an impairment of the President’s prestige and of this Government’s position in negotiation and in defense of its position: we would be unable to accept the amendments which the Japanese Government offered and thus would have the onus of failure of the project.

  1. Penciled notation on file copy: “About Nov. 15?” Another copy of the same paper bears penciled notation: “About November 24, 1941”.