Memorandum Prepared for the Secretary of State85


The outline of proposals presented on April 985a by John Doe on behalf of his associates is in a number of respects less promising from point of view of the principles and policies of the United States than previous drafts. To illustrate:

Previous drafts displayed much more of a multilateral attitude than does the present proposal, which relates almost exclusively to arrangements affecting primarily two countries, the United States and Japan. The elimination of emphasis on multilateral rights and interests affords distinctly less promise that rights and interests of all the various nations concerned in the Pacific area would be respected.
The statement in the present proposal as to Japan’s relationship to the tripartite alliance shows less willingness on Japan’s part than is shown in previous drafts to divorce itself in fact from the alliance. In fact, the wording of the present proposal on this point does not go beyond what Japanese leaders have affirmed publicly on many occasions.
The present proposal, in the section describing possible peace terms between China and Japan, contains those words of ominous connotation “joint defense against communist activities”. In previous drafts there was expressed provision that the Chinese Government would itself assume responsibility for suppression of communistic activities within Chinese territory. The wording of the present proposal would permit Japan to demand, as it has consistently demanded for at least five years, the right to station Japanese troops in China for the purpose indicated. With such a provision, the present proposal with regard to a settlement of the conflict between China and Japan represents no recession in fact from the terms embodied in the treaty between Japan and the Wang Ching-wei regime.
Under section numbered IV, “Naval, aerial and Mercantile Marine relations in the Pacific”, subsection (a), there is a provision which recalls vividly something that the Japanese Government has been striving for for years, namely, that a line be drawn in the Pacific [Page 136] Ocean at the 180th meridian, that that part of the ocean lying eastward of that line be regarded as the sphere of the United States Navy, and that that part lying westward of that line be regarded as the sphere of the Japanese Navy.
In the same section numbered IV, subsection (c), there is an extremely equivocal provision for the release to the United States of a certain percentage of Japanese merchant tonnage. Previous drafts, on the contrary, contain express provision for release of Japanese merchant tonnage for the carrying of supplies to Great Britain.
Previous drafts contain definite provision for stopping Japan’s trade with Germany. The present draft contains no such provision.


The comment made by Mr. Hornbeck in his memorandum of April 7 describes succinctly the fundamental question presented. For convenience of reference, that comment is repeated, as follows:

[Here follows quotation of comment in paragraph numbered 2, “Regarding Section ‘III. China Conflict’”, printed on page 124.]


It is suggested that you ask the Japanese Ambassador to call; that you tell him that you understand that he has been collaborating to some extent with some of his nationals in preparation of proposals directed toward the improvement of relations between the United States and Japan; that in reference to this whole question of relations between our two countries there are, in the opinion of this Government, certain fundamental questions which present themselves for consideration. It is suggested that you then raise with the Ambassador questions along the lines set forth in the attached statement.

It is believed that you should decline at this stage to be drawn into discussion of the John Doe proposals as such or of particular aspects of those proposals.


One. The Question of Respect for the Rights of Other Nations.

In the opinion of this Government no system of order can be built up in any society without respect for the rights of other nations. An orderly system in the international community cannot be created unless nations abstain from the use of force in the pursuit of national policy and avoid interference in the internal affairs of other nations. Essential to this program is the settlement of disputes between nations by peaceful processes of negotiation.

Question is raised as to the attitude of the Japanese Government on this point.

Two. Performance by Nations of Established Obligations and Observance of International Agreements.

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In the opinion of this Government no system of order can be built up in any society except on the basis of performance by nations of established obligations and observance of international agreements. It is of course recognized that agreements may be modified and existing situations changed, when there is need therefor, by orderly processes of negotiation and fair dealing between nations and in accordance with the generally accepted principles of international law.

Question is raised as to the attitude of the Japanese Government on this point.

Three. Reduction of Armaments.

This Government recognizes the necessity of maintaining armed forces adequate for national self-defense. It is at the same time committed to a program directed toward reduction through international agreement of armaments in proportion to reductions or increases made by other countries.

Question is raised as to the attitude of the Japanese Government on this point.

Four. Effective Equality of Treatment.

This Government believes in the establishment of effective quality of treatment so that all nations may share in the opportunities and advantages which are needful for peaceful and full development of national life. Equality of treatment means juridical equality, and full and fair equality among states in political, in cultural, and in economic matters as well. Equality of treatment applied in cultural matters will make possible access by all peoples to that which is best in civilization upon the widest possible basis. Equality of treatment applied in economic matters will make possible access to raw materials and to other essential commodities so that they may be enjoyed by all.

This Government is convinced that sound economic relationships between states are indispensable in the development of an equitable and lasting world system. Such relationships can best be promoted, this Government believes, by the application to the widest extent of the principle of equality of commercial treatment and by the maximum liberalization of the principle of nondiscrimination in trade. The natural result of the attempt by one country to except particular areas from the application of these principles is the setting up of claims by other countries in turn for the exception of other areas and the creation of a series of regional, economic blocs based upon preferences and discriminations. The individual states within such blocs thus lose the advantages of supplying to a wide range of markets those goods which individual states can produce most efficiently, and they likewise lose the benefit of obtaining needed materials from the least expensive sources.

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At present there are areas of the world which are impoverished, where standards of living are low, and where productive capacity is limited. By a policy of force it might, of course, be possible for one nation to denude occupied territories of existing forms of natural and other wealth. Once this wealth has been gathered, however, there would be no substantial basis remaining on which to build for future and general economic well-being and progress. On the other hand, if the nations cooperate toward utilizing all available resources of capital, technical skills, and progressive economic leadership for the purpose of building up not only their own economies but also the economy of such undeveloped territories, this Government believes that the result will be to increase manyfold the purchasing power of the peoples of the world, to raise the standards of living of the inhabitants of such territories, to create conditions conducive to maintenance of peace, and to bring about far-reaching advantages of a lasting character to all those concerned.

Question is raised as to the attitude of the Japanese Government on this point.

Five. Cooperation with Other Nations by Peaceful and Practicable Means.

This Government avoids entering into alliances or entangling commitments, but believes in cooperative effort with other nations by peaceful and practicable means.

Question is raised as to the attitude of the Japanese Government on this point.

As illustrative of the manner in which this Government has given practical application to these fundamental principles, reference is made to the relations which have been developed among the American Republics. The principles mentioned were specifically affirmed by the United States and all other American Republics in the Declaration of American Principles of December 24, 1938, agreed upon at Lima, Peru. That Declaration reads as follows:

[Here follows text printed in Department of State, Press Releases, December 31, 1938, page 494.]

At intervals during the past fifty years, conferences of the American states have been held at which problems of mutual interest have been discussed on a basis of equality, each state having a full, free and equal voice. A network of treaties and agreements has resulted providing for the peaceful settlement of disputes and making possible cooperation and consultation in political, social, cultural, economic, financial, and legal matters. Provision has been made for meetings of the Foreign Ministers of all the American states, and permanent committees have been instituted to deal with economic and financial questions and matters relating to neutrality.

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The principles to which practical and concrete expression has been given in the relations between the United States and the other American Republics are based upon respect for existing sovereignties. These principles have at no time involved a policy of aggression. Under these principles the United States has not asserted or sought to establish political supremacy within this hemisphere and it has not assumed the right to enjoy exclusive or preferential advantages of an economic or commercial nature within this hemisphere. The title to or control by non-American powers of their possessions in this hemisphere has never been questioned.

The Government of the United States is convinced that the principles which have been and are being given practical application in relations between the American Republics are applicable to all areas of the world, including the Pacific area, and that adherence to and application of these principles furnishes the only sound basis for peaceful, healthy and enduring international relations.

  1. Notation on file copy: “Memorandum of comment by FE on proposals presented on April 9, 1941, by ‘John Doe’.”
  2. Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 398.