144 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 1055 WASHINGTON, 30 November 1941, 5.56 p.m.


Kurusu [2] telephoned last night November 29th and I had an hour with him and the Japanese Ambassador [3] privately at the Japanese Embassy this morning on his invitation. I consulted the British Ambassador [4] first who agreed that such a conversation was worth while. I did not receive the Prime Minister's unnumbered telegram until after the above. [5]

In the course of our telephone conversation on November 28th, you emphasised your wish that some means be found to prevent the complete breakdown of Hull [6]-Kurusu conversations, and that I should do anything and everything in my power to this end.

Although neither Japan nor the United States have stated publicly that the conversations have broken down, they have in fact done so unless some extraordinary means can be evolved to revive them.

This is reflected in the Secretary of State's statement to me which I have reported to you and it is perfectly clear to me that the Secretary of State has said his last word and that he will not on his own initiative reopen the conversations. The British Ambassador has had no instructions that would enable him to make an approach to the Japanese here, so that, as it appeared to me, I was the only person who might possibly be able to reawaken contact between the principal parties and although this involved a certain risk, I believed I should do so.

My talk was with Kurusu principally, the Japanese Ambassador only joining us towards the end.

In the course of the conversation I based myself principally on the line that I suggested to you in my telegram 1053. [7] Kurusu was very friendly and informal and showed every desire for a peaceful solution. He deprecated the belligerent speeches of Japanese statesmen and minimized Japan's Axis connection. He laughed at the statements by Japanese politicians of the 'encirclement' of Japan by the Americans and British.

He blamed China for the virtual breakdown in the conversations with the United States and said that the present situation appeared to mean that the issue of peace or war in the Pacific rested solely in the hands of China. I suggested that an important factor in addition to China's attitude lay in the fact that during the actual course of conversations between himself and the Secretary of State, Japan had been formidably increasing her forces in Southern Indo-China. Kurusu professed ignorance of this.

However, reverting to China as a factor in the present situation, I said that it must be clear to every one that American public opinion towards China made it impossible for American administration to come to [an arrangement] with Japan under which it appeared that China was sacrificed. Kurusu acknowledged this by saying that from the point of view of Japanese public opinion it was equally impossible for Japanese Government to come to an arrangement which inter alia gave one hundred per cent satisfaction to China. He reverted to this argument several times.

I made my position quite clear, that I had no mandate from either Americans or British, but I repeated that if Kurusu had any proposal to make that, as an intermediary, I could pass on to the Secretary of State that had any possibility of getting conversations resumed, I would gladly do so.

Kurusu had no proposal to make other than that discussions on the limited Japanese proposal should be resumed. I made no comment on this but I am to see the Secretary of State in a few hours and will recount the whole of the conversation to him.

In the course of discussion Kurusu asked if I thought that any useful purpose would be served by him seeing the British Ambassador. I have told this to the British Ambassador who asked me to ask the Secretary of State what he considers. Kurusu has had no reply from Japanese Government to United States' memorandum on basic principles. British Ambassador does not believe that he (Kurusu) will get any reply.

I am afraid my effort in seeing Kurusu was without result, but I will now do my best with Secretary of State.

I agreed with Kurusu and Japanese Ambassador that our conversation should be private and should have no publicity whatsoever.


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

2 Japanese special envoy to the United States.

3 Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura.

4 Lord Halifax.

5 Document 141. Curtin's cablegram was dispatched as no. 132 but the copy circulated in Washington (on the file cited in note 1) was unnumbered.

6 U.S. Secretary of State.

7 Document 140.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 178]