Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The British Minister39 called at my request. I said that I had engaged in a lengthy conference with the two ranking Japanese representatives, including Mr. Kurusu,40 who is here for the purpose of carrying on conversations with this Government. I added that the conversation related to the question of a proposed peaceful settlement for the Pacific area. I stated that nothing was agreed upon at this meeting and that the discussion included the subject of two opposing policies—of conquest by force on the one hand and a policy of peace, law and order on the other. I went on to say that the three main points on which we have encountered serious difficulties in former conversations with Ambassador Nomura, namely, the bringing of Japanese troops out of China, the Tripartite Pact and certain phases of commercial policy, were discussed at length; but that the Japanese made no concessions on the troop matter or on the matter of the Tripartite Pact. I told the Minister that the Japanese finally inquired whether a brief temporary partial arrangement could not be worked out that would enable them to improve public sentiment in Japan along the lines of peace rather than of military action. This would also include the idea of Japan’s coming out of China. They said while the United States and maybe Great Britain and the Netherlands East Indies, if they should be so disposed on consultation, would to a partial extent relax embargoes on exports to Japan, Japan on its part would correspondingly take steps in the direction of a peaceful [Page 617] policy and in organizing and educating its public opinion in support of such a policy during the next few months. The Japanese suggested further that the whole question of a general peaceful settlement for the Pacific area would be gradually developed and public opinion in Japan would enable them to meet us more satisfactorily themselves, and presumably satisfactorily to us, on the more difficult questions such as removing their troops from China and the Tripartite Pact. They did not, however, make any definite commitments as to just how far they would comply with our position with respect to these two points.

I said to the British Minister that I had made it clear to the Japanese that if their Government cared to present something on this point, I would give it consideration in the event it appeared to be feasible of consideration, but that I could make no promise, and that if it should be deemed feasible, I would confer with the British, the Dutch, the Chinese and the Australians about any phase of the matter in which they would be interested to which they would give consideration. I also said to the Japanese that, of course, unless Japan decides on a peaceful policy rather than a policy of force and conquest, we could not get far in any kind of discussion but that I could understand why they might need a little time to educate public opinion, as stated.41

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Sir Ronald I. Campbell.
  2. See memorandum of November 18, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 744.
  3. On November 19 the Secretary of State gave the substance of his statement to the Australian and Netherlands Ministers (711.94/2468, 2469).