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133 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 1045 WASHINGTON, 27 November 1941, 9.54 p.m.


Reference my telegram No. 1040. [2]

I saw the Secretary of State. He was depressed and upset by the
turn of events. He blamed the Chinese principally for torpedoing
of the modus vivendi. We said that he would have liked stronger
support from British and Dutch Governments but did not stress. He
said that it would have been completely impossible to have
implemented the modus vivendi in face of strong Chinese opposition
and that he had now dropped it entirely. I suggested that further
discussion between himself or others with Chinese might salvage
the position, but he said that it would be no use now. [3]
Secretary of State showed me several telegrams of yesterday and
today from Consular Officers in Indo-China indicating considerable
Japanese troop reinforcements in Indo-China in recent days. These
reports appeared to me to vary widely but they indicated
considerable military activity. Secretary of State said that they
believed that the Japanese probably intended to invade Thailand
from Indo-China and to attempt to cut the Burma Road from there.

Some of their reports mentioned possibility of the Japanese 'going
for' Kra Isthmus.

In short Secretary of State expects Japanese to initiate further
aggression at an early date, possibly within three or four days
although he has little or nothing of a positive nature to indicate
where it will be, other than above-mentioned indication that it
will be based on Indo-China.

I saw Sumner Welles [4] immediately afterwards. He repeated the
substance of what the Secretary of State had said. He held the
same views and added that it was apparent that the Japanese had
started their military preparations 'at least some days ago'.

The President [5] saw the Japanese Ambassador [6] and Kurusu [7]
with the Secretary of State this afternoon. The Secretary of State
told me nothing of consequence [happened] other than the
restatement of the position by each side. Kurusu had no
instructions from his Government to return.

I tried to draw both the Secretary of State and Sumner Welles as
to what action the United States would take if the Japanese
invaded Thailand but they would not make any commitments.

Please see also my telegram No. 1044 regarding Japanese naval
activity. [8]


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

2 Dispatched 27 November. On file cited in note 1. It reported
that the U.S. Secretary of State (Cordell Hull) was not now
inclined to proceed with the modus vivendi owing to the 'sharp
Chinese reaction and evident reserve of British Government'.

3 Casey had already attempted to persuade T. V, Soong (Chiang Kai-
shek's personal representative in the United States) that the
modus vivendi would not be detrimental to China's interests. Soong
had called on Casey 'in great distress at China "being sold down
the river" by the possibility of an "appeasing" agreement with
Japan' and Casey had 'endeavoured to put proposal in better
perspective'. See cablegram 1027 of 25 November on the file cited
in note 1. Casey later recorded the sequence of events surrounding
the dropping of the modus vivendi in a diary note dated 2 December
(On file AA : A3300, 100) 'by reason of the possibility of the
legend growing up here that we were in some way or other
responsible for the killing of the modus vivendi'.

4 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

5 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

6 Admiral Kichisaburo, Nomura.

7 Japanese special envoy to the United States.

8 Dispatched 28 November. On file AA : A981, Pacific 8, ii.

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