123 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, and to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs

Cablegram 1013 WASHINGTON, 23 November 1941, 1.01 a.m.


Reference my telegram No. 1011. [2]

(a) Secretary of State [3] began by reviewing briefly the history of the conversations between himself and Japanese Ambassador [4] over last eight months (I imagine in order to emphasise his consistent maintenance of essential principles), and then produced copy of typed unsigned document which I have telegraphed text in my telegram No. 1012. [5]

(b) He said that this proposal was left with him by Japanese Ambassador after their long discussion on November 18th reported in my telegrams No. 994 [6] and 996. [7] Secretary of State said that this proposal (My 1012) was at the instance of Japanese Government.

(c) Secretary of State commented on numbered clauses of proposal (My 1012) as follows:

(1) 'This would leave Japan free to do what she liked as regards Russia. Kurusu [8] states that Japan regards Japanese-Russian non- aggression Pact [9] as still in existence, although we know how much that is worth. United States would try to get Japanese to agree not to embarrass the shipment by America of aid to Russia via Vladivostok. Clause (1) would also leave the Japanese free to act as they pleased in China itself, but I do not think that we can object to that.' (2) 'The second paragraph of this clause would not be acceptable as it stands. The Japanese would have to get out of whole Indo- China except perhaps for a few thousand troops which would be insufficient to constitute a menace to Burma Road.' (3) 'This evidently means that United States would be required to use its influence with N.E.I. in order to get the Dutch to let Japan have certain additional supplies of petroleum and other products.' (4) 'This clause is not acceptable in this form. We would not consider making a complete restoration of economic conditions as they existed prior to freezing. The most we would do would be a partial restoration, to an extent that we would discuss with all of you, but not to an extent that would aid any subsequent Japanese aggressive action.' (5) 'This means that United States would have to stop sending aid to China, which is not acceptable to us at all. I have repeatedly told the Japanese that we are as unlikely to stop helping China as to stop helping Britain.' (End of quotation of Secretary of State on clauses of Japanese proposal.) [(d) You will notice that although clause one rules out 'armed advancement', it does not rule out continued reinforcement of e.g.

Singapore, Philippines etc.]

(e) Commenting on the whole of the Japanese proposals (my telegram No. 1012) the Secretary of State said the main thing that we all had to consider was whether we thought such a stop-gap arrangement was worth entering into, provided he could get Japanese to accept an arrangement substantially modified in accordance with his above-quoted comments. He agreed that it was very doubtful that Japan would accept substantial amendments that he thought it necessary to insist on. He suggested that there was perhaps one chance in three.

(f) On the other hand he (Secretary of State) believed two or three months delay was most desirable for all of us. It was certainly desired by United States Army and Navy. The only question in his mind was price that it was necessary to pay for this few months delay.

(g) British Ambassador [10] quoted to Secretary of State telegram from British Foreign Secretary [11] on this subject to the effect that if an arrangement could be made that would gain time without sacrificing principles, it would be worth while to respond.

(h) Netherlands Minister [12] said Netherlands Foreign Secretary [13] had telegraphed that he thought such an arrangement worth while if supplies of oil etc. to Japan were not such as to increase Japan's subsequent offensive potentialities. He suggested that Japan should not be allowed to have high-grade petroleum products.

(i) Whilst I have not yet received instructions in the matter, my personal belief was that Australian Government would be in agreement with the proposal amended in accordance with Secretary of State's comments. I thought we should all be willing to pay a considerable price for a three months delay with possibility of a calming down of passion in the meantime.

(j) Chinese Ambassador [14] was concerned to know what supplies quantitatively and qualitatively Japan would be allowed to have.

He pointed out that anything substantial would react to the detriment of China. He admitted the advantage to China in the removal of their present major menace, the threat to the Burma Road.

(k) Secretary of State said he was quite in the dark as to how long the Japanese Government would allow Kurusu to remain here [15] or how far they would go by way of amendment of their present proposal (my 1012). American Ambassador Tokyo [16] emphasizes that tension is acute in Japan and that it was not impossible that extreme elements in Government might swing Japan into war at short notice unless moderate elements were able to show some progress in discussions with United States. Secretary of State believed Japanese negotiators here were under heavy pressure from Tokyo. He (Secretary of State) was inclined to take a gloomy view of the prospects and asked that all Governments concerned should advise him as precisely and concisely as possible and as quickly as possible. He felt it possible that an explosion might come at any time and at short notice. It might well be that we had only a few days in which to endeavour to reach some agreement or face war.

(l) Secretary of State read quickly to us general lines of a document that had been prepared in State Department as a first rough draft of a broad general multilateral agreement to bring peace in Far East and Pacific area. It embodied broad principles on which United States stood, territorial integrity of all others, equality of access to raw materials, nondiscrimination etc.

Everything they (State Department) could think of had been included but the resulting document was only a first draft and needed a great deal of discussion and knocking about. He would not bother us with this now although if he got a chance he would try to direct the minds and attention of Japanese representatives towards these longerrange matters although [without any] commitment. Serious consideration to such a document was still a long way off. It was not yet practical politics. The immediate problem lay in this much more limited proposal made by Japanese.

If we achieved this limited arrangement we would have some time in which to explore the lines of a general agreement provided Japanese Government was willing to use time gained to alter and improve Japanese public opinion towards peaceful solutions and away from aggression.

(m) Since drafting this telegram Secretary of State has [telephoned] British Ambassador to ask if he and Dutch Minister and I would suggest to our Governments that they might give authority to us to reach decisions here as to amount of economic relief that might be given to Japan. In suggesting this Secretary of State emphasises that he feels situation is critical and may well become more so and he wants to be in a position to avoid delay that would be entailed by referring proposals back to our respective Governments. In passing this request on to his Government British Ambassador asks guidance as to commodities suggested and approximate amounts.

(n) No doubt you will give this matter urgent consideration and advise me.

Further telegram follows.

1 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the Washington copy on file AA : A3300, 99.

2 Dispatched 22 November. On the file cited in note 1.

3 Cordell Hull.

4 Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura.

5 Document 122.

6 Document 116.

7 Dispatched 19 November. On the file cited in note 1.

8 Japanese special envoy to the United States.

9 The Treaty of Neutrality between Japan and the U.S.S.R. signed on 13 April in Moscow.

10 Lord Halifax.

11 Anthony Eden.

12 Dr Alexandre Loudon.

13 Dr E. N. van Kleffens.

14 Dr Hu Shih.

15 Casey cabled the following day (cablegram ter 5 on file cited in note 1): 'I am told from a most secret and completely reliable source that there is good reason to believe that Kurusu has been instructed to achieve results one way or the other by November 27th ... The suspicion enters my mind that the above may be a 'plant', although the source has no reason to suspect this.' 16 J. C. Grew.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 178]