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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

(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
(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

(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

(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]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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