Memorandum by Mr. Joseph W. Ballantine to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: In case the Japanese should ask you today for further clarification or amplification of the attitude you expressed in response to the suggestion made by the Japanese Ambassador as to whether we could do anything for them in the way of trade should Japan withdraw from Indochina,47 it is suggested that you offer comment along lines as follows:

As has been indicated on numerous occasions to the Japanese Ambassador we appreciate the difficult situation with which liberal-minded leaders are faced in Japan in dealing with public opinion and we have indicated also that we are prepared to be patient while the [Page 622] Japanese Government is taking steps to develop a public opinion in favor of a broad-gauge program in the Pacific area such as the one we have been talking about. We have also indicated that this Government would be prepared to be helpful in any appropriate way in assisting the Japanese Government in this matter. By way of assisting toward strengthening the position of the Japanese Government vis-à-vis public opinion, I would be prepared to discuss with the Japanese Government, through you, a proposal for a resumption of limited trade between Japan and the United States as a provisional and tentative measure during the continuance of our conversations provided that the Japanese Government would forthwith desist from augmenting its armed forces in Indochina and forthwith begin withdrawal from Indochina of the forces which it has placed there, undertake to complete that withdrawal as rapidly as possible, and undertake not to use these forces during the continuance of these conversations in offensive military operations anywhere. It would be assumed, of course, by this Government that the statements which have been given by the Japanese Government in regard to its peaceful intentions would still stand.

It is probable that the Japanese Government would not agree to make the withdrawals above referred to unless we would agree to remove entirely our freezing restrictions. If we agree to remove our freezing restrictions, the Japanese should agree reciprocally and simultaneously to remove theirs. FE is of the opinion that it would be worth doing this for the gains that would be achieved. FE would of course not contemplate any alteration of our present export controls.49

  1. See Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, pp. 744, 750.
  2. The Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck) on November 19 commented as follows: “I have considerable misgiving regarding the advisability of the Secretary’s making a commitment of the sort outlined here unless there be coupled with it and it be made contingent upon a promise on Japan’s part that the troops which she withdraws from Chungking [Indochina] shall not during the continuance of these conversations be used in or toward the launching of any new offensive operations (including operations in and against China).”