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116 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 994 WASHINGTON, 18 November 1941, 11.06 p.m.


In the temporary absence of the British Ambassador [2] from
Washington, Secretary of State [3] sent for British Minister [4]
today. Owing to his inability to see representatives of all
interested Governments, Secretary of State asked British Minister
to inform me and Netherlands Minister [5] of what he had to say.

By reason of its importance I repeat here terms of the message
which the British Minister is telegraphing to London tonight.

Message begins:

(1) Mr. Hull sent for me this afternoon to inform me of the
present position of the conversations with the Japanese. Before
beginning he asked me to request that what he told me would not be
sent by you to any other post and would be distributed only to one
or two of the highest officials in the Foreign Office.

(2) After recapitulating the history of these conversations, their
interruption by Japanese action in Indo-China, their resumption
with Konoye's [6] message to the President [7] and re-emphasising
their exploratory character and United States Government stand on
basic principles, he said that Kurusu [8] had expressed great
anxiety to avert a clash of arms but had said that the opinion in
Japan was such that an explosion might occur if agreement between
the two Governments could not be reached.

Mr. Hull had in turn stated the anxiety of the United States
Government to avoid war, but had laid stress on principles which
the United States Government could not abandon. In the first place
there could be no hitch-up [without having] [9] peaceful
settlement between United States and Japan and Axis. If Japan had
any different ideas on this point he could tell them that they
would not get six inches in a thousand years with United States
Government who would not have anything to do with the greatest
butcher in history. In the second place Japan must withdraw her
troops from China. United States could not find a basis for
negotiation of a general settlement unless this was done. Kurusu
said Japanese opinion was such that the Government could not do
this at any rate at once and Japan would have to keep some troops
in China. Secretary of State said in that case no agreement could
be reached on this point. Thirdly there was the question of
Japanese commercial policy. No agreement had been possible on this

(3) Mr. Hull said Kurusu had been 'in a great state' over the
breakdown on all these three points and had asked whether there
was not some way round the difficulty. Could not some means be
found of giving Japanese Government time to educate public opinion
away from its present state of mind towards one in which basis of
negotiations with United States would be possible? For instance if
Japanese were now to withdraw their troops from Indo-China could
United States Government and other countries concerned ease their
economic pressure to point of sending small quantities of rice and
oil, far below full requirements of Japan, Japanese guaranteeing
that nothing would find its way to the Japanese forces? Mr. Hull
replied that he was ready to think whether this suggestion was
attractive enough to warrant it being even considered. [10] (4)
Japanese were now communicating with their Government. In the
meantime Secretary of State wished to inform you of the position
reached in case you desired to make any comments.

(5) Chinese Ambassador [11] was received just after me. I saw him
afterwards. He had received similar information and expressed
satisfaction over position taken by Mr. Hull.

Message ends.


1 Inserted from the Washington copy on file AA : A3300, 99.

'Bronx' indicated that the cablegram was to go to Curtin as well
as to Evatt.

2 Lord Halifax.

3 Cordell Hull.

4 Sir Ronald I. Campbell.

5 Dr Alexandre Loudon.

6 Japanese Prime Minister until 16 October.

7 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

8 Japanese special envoy to the United States.

9 Corrected from the copy of Campbell's message dispatched by the
U.K. Dominions Office to the Commonwealth Govt in circular
cablegram M368 of 20 November (on file AA : A1608, A41/1/5, iii).

10 In a subsequent interview with Casey, Hull indicated that he
intended to regard Kurusu's proposal merely as a 'truce' a means
of buying more time. See Casey's cablegram 996 of 19 November on
file AA : A981, Japan 178.

11 Dr Hu Shih.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 178]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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