Memorandum Prepared for the Secretary of State7

As the Japanese Ambassador will recall, in our previous conversations I have referred a number of times to the principles which during recent years this Government has followed in relations with the other countries of this hemisphere and to the practical application of those principles by all the countries of this hemisphere. In this connection, I wish to call the Ambassador’s attention to the “Declaration of American Principles”8 adopted by all the American States on December 24, 1938 at Lima, Peru. I would like to read this Declaration and to give the Ambassador a copy thereof.

I wish to inquire whether in the Ambassador’s opinion his Government would be likely to agree to the various principles set forth in the Declaration.

With express reference to the proposals under discussion, I realize that those proposals contain references to and application of a number of the principles embodied in the Declaration of Lima. I wish to inquire whether the Ambassador would be agreeable and whether he thinks his Government would be agreeable to broadening a number of the propositions set forth in the proposals under reference so as to make them reflect more clearly harmony with the broad gauge program of the Declaration of Lima. More particularly, I would welcome the Ambassador’s opinion as to his Government’s attitude on questions as follows:

Respect for the sovereignty of China.
The principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries, specifically China.
The principle of equality of commercial opportunity, with special reference to China.
Maintenance of the status quo in the Pacific except as the status quo may be altered by peaceful means.

I wish also to raise for the Ambassador’s consideration the question whether, should the President agree to act as mediator and the Chinese and the Japanese should then proceed to negotiate, it is not necessary that provision be made for an armistice, so that the negotiations may be conducted in a favorable atmosphere, free from any suggestion of duress.


If a reasonably satisfactory answer is given by the Ambassador to the questions, the Ambassador might be informed that, if the Ambassador will consult his Government and present under authorization proposals in line with the answer to the questions, the Secretary would be prepared to examine the new draft and possibly to furnish the Ambassador with a counter draft, which would serve as a means of clarifying for purposes of discussion our views and facilitate efforts to reconcile possible differences in our respective views.

If the Ambassador says that before asking his Government for instructions he would like to know whether this Government would be prepared to give favorable consideration to the proposals, the Secretary might say that we consider that the proposals as a whole offer a starting point for discussion, and that we feel optimistic that on the basis of mutual good will our differences can be adjusted and reconciled.

If the Japanese Ambassador’s replies to the questions presented are reasonably satisfactory, the Secretary might inform the Ambassador that, in as much as Chinese and British interests are involved, we feel that at some stage before any agreement is signed, we would wish to inform the Chinese and the British Governments of the subject matter of the negotiations.

  1. Not signed or initialed. Notation on file copy: “Memorandum of April 15–16, 1941 containing suggestions for a possible conversation with the Japanese Ambassador. (See the memorandum of conversation of April 16, 1941.)” For latter, see Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 406.
  2. Department of State, Press Releases, December 31, 1938, p. 494.