711.94/2471: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

5392. From the President to the Former Naval Person.80

“On November 20 the Japanese Ambassador communicated to us proposals for a modus vivendi. He has represented that the conclusion of such a modus vivendi might give the Japanese Government opportunity to develop public sentiment in Japan in support of a liberal and comprehensive program of peace covering the Pacific area and that the domestic political situation in Japan was so acute as to render urgent some relief such as was envisaged in the proposal. The proposal calls for a commitment on the part of Japan to transfer to northern Indochina all the Japanese forces now stationed in southern Indochina pending the restoration of peace between Japan and China or the establishment of general peace in the Pacific area when Japan would withdraw all its troops from Indochina, commitments on the part of the United States to supply Japan a required quantity of petroleum products and to refrain from measures prejudicial to Japan’s efforts to restore peace with China and mutual commitments to make no armed advancement in the southeastern Asiatic and southern Pacific areas (the formula offered would apparently not exclude advancement into China from Indochina), to cooperate toward obtaining goods required by either in the Netherlands East Indies and [Page 649] to restore commercial relations to those prevailing prior to the adoption of freezing measures.

This Government proposes to inform the Japanese Government that in the opinion of this Government the Japanese proposals contain features not in harmony with the fundamental principles which underlie the proposed general settlement and to which each Government has declared that it is committed. It is also proposed to offer to the Japanese Government an alternative proposal for a modus vivendi which will contain mutual pledges of peaceful intent, a reciprocal undertaking not to make armed advancement into areas which would include northeastern Asia and the northern Pacific area, southeast Asia and the southern Pacific area, an undertaking by Japan to withdraw its forces from southern French Indochina, not to replace those forces, to limit those in northern Indochina to the number there on July 26, 1941, which number shall not be subject to replacement and shall not in any case exceed 25,000 and not to send additional forces to Indochina. This Government would undertake to modify its freezing orders to the extent to permit exports from the United States to Japan of bunkers and ship supplies, food products and pharmaceuticals with certain qualifications, raw cotton up to $600,000 monthly, petroleum on a monthly basis for civilian needs, the proportionate amount to be exported from this country to be determined after consultation with the British and Dutch Governments. The United States would permit imports in general provided that raw silk constitute at least two-thirds in value of such imports. The proceeds of such imports would be available for the purchase of the designated exports from the United States and for the payment of interest and principal of Japanese obligations within the United States. This Government would undertake to approach the British, Dutch and Australian Governments on the question of their taking similar economic measures. Provision is made that the modus vivendi shall remain in force for three months with the understanding that at the instance of either party the two parties shall confer to determine whether the prospects of reaching a peaceful settlement covering the entire Pacific area warrant extension of the modus vivendi.

The British Ambassador has been informed and is informing your Foreign Minister.81

This seems to me a fair proposition for the Japanese but its acceptance or rejection is really a matter of internal Japanese politics. I am not very hopeful and we must all be prepared for real trouble, possibly soon. Roosevelt”.

  1. Code name for Winston Churchill.
  2. Remainder of text added by President Roosevelt to draft of telegram.